Review: Tom Hanks’ novel shares inside look at moviemaking

“The Making of Another Cinematic Masterpiece” by Tom Hanks (Knopf)

There’s no better person to tell how movies are made than Hollywood icon and film maestro Tom Hanks.

His debut novel traces the story’s life from its inspiration to its appearance on the silver screen. This fictional tale captures the magic of that process, but also the crawly, detailed filmmaking steps that so much of the novel portrays.

Act I is set in the 70s and introduces readers to five-year-old Robbie Anderson, a talented cartoonist, and his hero, Marine Corps veteran uncle Bob Folds. When Uncle Bob left Robbie’s life just as quickly as he entered it, what Robbie left for him was his uncle as a WWII flamethrower superhero. It’s just a cartoon I drew.

Robbie grows up to create full-fledged comics based on the character. Fast-forward to the present, and the cartoon is found among the collection of old cartoons of genius filmmaker Bill Johnson, who was looking for inspiration for a Marvel-esque superhero. The movie he’s itching to make.

From there, the novel takes readers through the nooks and crannies of filmmaking. It frequently deviates from the plot to delve into so many characters involved, yet it never leaks down to the smallest detail. Readers leave long introductions for each, knowing the drinks chosen by the characters, their dating history, and their sense of humor.

Perhaps the heart of the novel functions as an acknowledgment of the unsung heroes of filmmaking. The driver, make-up his artist and personal assistant will be in the spotlight as well, though sometimes at the expense of a bit of story progression.

Bill’s rep once said that Bill’s script had “too many scenes, too many characters, too many pages, and not enough conflict.” The same goes for this novel, but if you’ve got the patience to dive into each of the lovingly crafted characters as much as Hanks would like, you’ll learn interesting aspects of filmmaking and what’s more. You can get a glimpse of what you need. to make a cinematic masterpiece.

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