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Flicker

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,056 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
From the golden age of art movies and underground cinema to X-rated porn, splatter films, and midnight movies, this breathtaking thriller is a tour de force of cinematic fact and fantasy, full of metaphysical mysteries that will haunt the dreams of every moviegoer.

Jonathan Gates could not have anticipated that his student studies would lead him to uncover the secret histor
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Published October 9th 2004 by No Exit (first published 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,314)
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Sheila
May 25, 2016 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars ("I really liked it").

Short version: Despite a troubling (and dated) narrative voice and an off-the-rails ending, I greatly enjoyed this book about hidden film imagery and religious conspiracy.

Long version: The worst part about this book is the narrator/author. He's a curmudgeon (I'm blending the author and narrator together, which I think in this case is fair). He represents the very worst of baby boomer patriarchy. The only women important in this book are ones that sleep with the narr
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Becca Balistreri
Sep 23, 2007 Becca Balistreri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves film
Theodore Roszak knows film and loves it - the technology, the history, the benchmarks. The mystery he devises is complex, believable, and eerie. Every time I see a film, I think for a moment about the implications of his book.

Just keep telling yourself - it's all just a story.
Gregor Xane
Jan 02, 2011 Gregor Xane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Totally engrossing. I am a sucker for this kind of story, however. But it is truly a paragon of the "lone investigator gets in over his head" genre. Fantastic!
Chloe
Dec 01, 2008 Chloe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Films freaks and Conspiracy Junkies
Shelves: mystery-thriller
If, rather than setting his tales in French bookstores or secluded Italian monasteries, Umberto Eco focused his paranoia about secret societies on the world of film, Flicker is the book that he would write. Crammed to overflowing with film lore and history, Flicker is both a crash course in film theory and a horrifying thriller that makes itself known not through any blood and gore but a very tangible creeping dread that suffuses nearly every page.

Flicker follows the life of Jonathon Gates, a yo
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Sonia
Feb 11, 2011 Sonia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have
Flicker pissed me off. Why? Because it was too long, too suspenseful, and I didn't have a whole lot of free time for reading this week. Impatient to unravel the mystery, I stayed up late, I arose early just to find out what the hell was going to happen!

The book is filled with crap I love to hate: snobby sophistication, scholarly intelligence, critics, conspiracy theories, name-dropping, detailed technological descriptions. And yet despite all this and a prolonged (and yes, masterful) suspense, F
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Moira Russell
If you ignore the sexism and the terrible fake Roth sex scenes, it's pretty damn good, especially the last two or three chapters.
Elizabeth K.
Mar 13, 2010 Elizabeth K. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-new-reads
Oy gevalt, this was terrible.

The set-up was intriguing -- Templar-esque conspiracy has been hiding secret subliminal messages in films. Especially at the beginning of the book, the whole classic film culture is so very present that if you are a film history fan at all it's very easy to get sucked in.

Then, it takes a turn for the annoying. Essentially, the authorial voice seems to be an old guy who maintains that the culture of his youth was insightful, poignant and significant, in contrast to
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Krok Zero
Mar 23, 2011 Krok Zero rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spring-2011
Disappointing. Please read Steve Erickson's brilliant Zeroville instead. Zeroville is one of the most profound statements ever made about the cinema; Flicker is a silly, overlong Da Vinci Code–esque thriller disguised (poorly) as a profound statement about the cinema. Early chapters limning the world of late '50s cinephilia and the oeuvre of a fictional German director are rather interesting, but problems quickly arise: (1) Roszak fundamentally misunderstands the evolution of culture in the 20th ...more
M.
Sep 03, 2015 M. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Third Reading: September 1st, 2015
OK so if this book makes me as angry as it does why did I just read it for a third time? (Technically third & a half, as there's been one other time I got it from the library since I moved to California in 2011, but after about 80 pages I think I was disgusted with myself and returned it. This time I just got the eBook and read the fucking thing in a week) I don't know. I blame the fact that I watched John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns (for the 6th time) a wee
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Szplug
Jan 16, 2012 Szplug rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Roszak loves film—he's forgotten more about the movies than I could possibly ever know—and this passion throbs throughout the portions of Flicker that explore the cinematic history of early-modern Hollywood. The entire conceit of a cult B-movie horror director, Max Castle, adumbrating within his forgotten filmography the subliminal strains of a monstrous conspiracy—the evidence for which seeps forth from basement screenings, underground theatres, lusty ex-starlets, and German-accented film crew— ...more
Patrick O'Duffy
Mar 25, 2012 Patrick O'Duffy rated it did not like it
The premise of Flicker is fantastic and compelling - that 1930s B-movie director Max Castle used a fantastic variety of unknown cinematic techniques and tricks to embed hidden messages and images within his horror/noir films, messages that lead back to an ancient religious sect and eventually to a vast conspiracy. There's so much that can be done with that, and reading Flicker is an exercise in impatience, waiting for the story to kick into high gear and the premise to pay off.

It never does.

Ins
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Althea Ann
Sep 26, 2013 Althea Ann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A horror novel for pretentious film buffs. Unfortunately, I tend to dislike books about movies. (Or movies about movies for that matter, although somehow I like books (and movies) about books).
Anyway: A film critic rediscovers the lost work of an obscure German horror director who was lost at sea during WWII, and although his work is generally dismissed as pulp, he finds a plethora of mysterious techniques at use in the work, making use of subliminal techniques to accentuate the horror of the st
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Bill Lawrence
Jul 02, 2011 Bill Lawrence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Possibly the best book I have ever read. Brilliant, fascinating and surprising throughout. It reminded why I love movies, cinemas and programming. I bought 3 copies over the years and still have two. I know where the third is, my loan copy to get others to enthused about this book
Tim
Jun 14, 2012 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was totally captivated by this sinister, disturbing book from start to finish. And it takes a lot for a novel to captivate me.
Jeff Raymond
Sometimes a book hits all your interests all at once, and there's really nothing else quite like it out there. Flicker, as a book, is closing in on 25 years old, and yet this book felt far too much like something that was relevant and on-trend today as it may have been when it was written, and that says a lot.

The story, on the surface, is about a man, Jonathan Gates, who falls in with the art film crowd and becomes enamored with a specific filmmaker who specialized just as much in important arts
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Alex Acton
May 18, 2015 Alex Acton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did not see this book coming. At all. It starts simply enough as a fictional story about a young man discovering the beauty and artistry of film, then becoming particularly engrossed in the work of an obscure German director, Max Castle. As the story progresses, our protagonist grows and learns, traveling deeper and deeper into a trench of mystery that gives way to a secret religious order, an underground conspiracy to corrupt mankind and subtle manipulations of some of the most famous films o ...more
Johnny
Nov 05, 2013 Johnny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
At some point, around 100 pages into this book's Stephen King-sized length, I stopped being engaged by the story, or existing in the book's world, and just felt like I was talking a walk around the author's hateful and unsympathetic mind with all its self-congratulatory misconceptions and stunted notions of people, movies, and psychology.

The most startling thing about this book is just how unlikable every single character is. It's a parade of hollow cliches and ill-conceived caricatures that the
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Philip
Aug 18, 2014 Philip rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think what appealed to me about the book initially were the similarities between Flicker and one of my favourite books - The Book of Illusions: A Novel by Paul Auster. Both deal with reclusive characters from the movie industry who have mysteriously disappeared (or in the case of Flicker, died) and a protagonist intrigued by their story. Throw in a mysterious religious conspiracy and I should have been hooked.

Unfortunately Flicker read like the unwanted love child of The Da Vinci Code and a tu
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Chuck Williamson
Nov 05, 2011 Chuck Williamson rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Its nostalgic invocation of 1960s film culture and the gradual regression from art house to grindhouse is so mesmerizing and painstakingly put together that one instantly begins to regret the conspiracy thriller horseshit at the novel's center. Becomes interminably silly as it progresses toward its whimper of an end-game. Desperately in need of a judicious editor. Clunky and shockingly artless at times. Its punchdrunk love for movies captivates even as it gets trapped in narrative cul-de-sacs an ...more
Tyler
Nov 01, 2011 Tyler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. It has many faults: it's a real slow-burner, and in it's final quarter, so much was going on in so little pages in comparison that it seemed quite rushed. But the ride there was epic and I, as a quasi-cinephile without much love for the classics as I did more modern movies, learned a lot about appreciating film and media, about understanding it's ability to manipulate the viewer. Like one of my personal favorite films, NETWORK, Roszak's FLICKER is really dark, a little funny, and ver ...more
Stephanie
Oct 07, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pasty people who enjoy watching movies with the blinds down on a brilliant summer day
Recommended to Stephanie by: Scott
Shelves: hollyrock
Smug cinephiles have a friend in Theodore Rosnak, who sprinkles industry names like grass seed throughout this compelling thriller. A weird combination of Umberto Eco and Patricia Highsmith, Flicker is the story of a film studies scholar whose thesis brings him to grief. It's simultaneously sexy and disturbing, kinda like seeing your hot second grade teacher naked.

And for the love of God, people, stop favorably comparing this book to The DaVinci Code. That's really not a compliment.
Christen Valentine
As a tawdry thriller with an above-average intellectual pedigree, Flicker succeeds, but as a fictional story of cinema mon amour, it fails to live up to the work of its invented movie auteur. For a cinephile, there's much to admire on the surface: namechecking of great works, both academic and forgotten, and a wet dream of sexual compatibility among obsessive film fans. Over time, however, Roszak's reach for exceeds his grasp, as the novel descends into religious conspiracy that wouldn't be out ...more
Caitlin
Sep 10, 2007 Caitlin rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, trash
Enjoyable trash with lots of golden age cinema references. But the writing is awful, the narrator is unbelievable, the sex scenes are putrid, it's 2-300 pages too long. The author's impression of world-renowned film critic discussion of movies is a little over-clearly from the imagination of a undergraduate film student of mediocre intelligence.

But, you know, I finished it. And really wanted to read other things afterwards.
Bill FromPA
The novel covers roughly two decades in the life of the narrator, Jonathan Gates, who starts out as a casual filmgoer, attending foreign films in the late 50s in search of sexually explicit scenes and eventually becomes a film professor at UCLA, a specialist in the films of Max Castle. The fictional Castle is presented as having been a German émigré to Hollywood in the 20s who, after filming a multi-hour unreleasable Biblical epic, was relegated spend the 30s cranking out ultra low budget horror ...more
Rob Dinsmoor
Dec 28, 2014 Rob Dinsmoor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reread this novel every 5-10 years and each time I'm surprised by how much I love it. It follows Jonny, a young film scholar as he delves into the life story of Max Castle, a brilliant German expressionist filmmaker who immigrated to Hollywood and began making B horror movies. In the mix, he uncovers a cabal involving the Templars, a piece of film equipment called the Maltese Cross gear, a subversive film technique called The Flicker, a sect called the Oculus Dei, and a plot to eradicate the h ...more
Peter
Frick'n brilliant right up to the last chapter at which point it hit a steady decline and never recovered.
I was so disappointed I also hit rock bottom and took some considerable effort to recover.

DON'T READ THE LAST CHAPTER, IT IS A SUCKHOLE OF ALL "and suddenly stuff happened".
Okvegascowgirl
Jul 02, 2007 Okvegascowgirl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly one of the most thought-provoking, challenging books I've ever read. Right up there with "The Eight" by Katherine Neville, as far as writing that exposed me to thinking far beyond the realm of anything I'd ever encountered.
Laurens Dubuisson
Sep 19, 2014 Laurens Dubuisson rated it it was ok
Flicker had been brought to my attention as a suggestion by my Film & Literature professor at the university, so naturally I was interested in reading Roszak's book. The first three hundred pages or so really drew me into the world of Jonathan's search for Castle's work, but as secret societies, conspiracy theories, and overzealous plotting began to take over the main storyline, I have to admit I started to dislike it. Although Roszak does a magnificent job on interweaving film history with ...more
Travis
Feb 19, 2012 Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AKA: Liam Dunn, the book.
Giney
Sep 26, 2012 Giney rated it did not like it
‘From the golden age of art movies and underground cinema to X-rated porn, splatter films, and midnight movies, this breathtaking thriller is a tour de force of cinematic fact and fantasy, full of metaphysical mysteries that will haunt the dreams of every moviegoer’

Well, bring it on! Except when the book arrived and the front cover advertised it as ‘Sunset Boulevard meet the DaVinci Code’ I felt some concern. This concern, it turns out, was the wrong reaction. The correct response would have bee
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Theodore Roszak was Professor Emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay. He is best known for his 1969 text, The Making of a Counter Culture.

Roszak first came to public prominence in 1969, with the publication of his The Making of a Counter Culture[5] which chronicled and gave explanation to the European and North American counterculture of the 1960s. He is generally credited wi
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“The art of cinema begins with scraping the chewing gum off the seats.” 4 likes
“Dumnezeu e-n ochi. La fel si Diavolul, de fiecare data cand clipesti.” 2 likes
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