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Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  6,541 ratings  ·  794 reviews
Between 1995 and 1999, Patton Oswalt lived with an unshakable addiction. It wasn’t drugs, alcohol, or sex: it was film. After moving to Los Angeles, Oswalt became a huge film buff (or as he calls it, a sprocket fiend), absorbing classics, cult hits, and new releases at the famous New Beverly Cinema. Silver screen celluloid became Patton’s life schoolbook, informing his not ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Scribner
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  6,541 ratings  ·  794 reviews

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Start your review of Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film
(I received a free advance copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt wrote this unflinching account of his battle with addiction during the late ‘90s, but he didn’t spend his days cooking meth with bikers or whoring himself out for crack. Poor Patton was a movie junkie who found plenty of dealers to get him high in the theaters of Los Angeles.

A double feature of Billy Wilder films at the New Beverly Cinema was the gateway drug that led Patton d
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
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3.5 Stars

Let me begin by saying I was waaaaaaaay not smart enough for this book. I am 100% unapologetically a pop culture aficionado and most certainly not a “sprocket fiend” . . . .

I also have to admit that I have only watched a couple of episodes of The King of Queens (and there’s a WHOLE lot of baggage about the why on that one in the form of “why does the woman in these couple comedies always have to be portrayed as some shrie
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Patton Oswalt was born in January of 1969. Later that summer, on July 20, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two humans to walk around on the surface of the moon – in what some pundits have declared was the high water mark for western civilization. Beginning the downward slide, I showed up in September of that year.

All that to say that Oswalt and I are the same age and we were both raised in the suburbs and attended high school in the 1980s (both graduating in 1987). We both liked c
Jason Koivu
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
A bipolar memoir on two of my favorite subjects, comedy and film.

Comedian Patton Oswalt loves film. There was a period in his life when he was on the fence as to which career path to take. Would he become a comedian or perhaps a director? Silver Screen Fiend takes us down his memory lane of movie binge watching and stand-up routine crafting in a sometimes odd and erratic autobio read.

This book probably only deserves three stars, but I'm going with four, because of my love for the topics, but als
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a fun, manic memoir about Patton Oswalt's obsession with movies in the 1990s. I wanted to read this because I like Patton's comedy and I thought it would be a humorous audiobook. Which it was.

The films that got Patton started on his movie addiction were Sunset Boulevard and Ace in the Hole, both by Billy Wilder. After seeing those, Patton started regularly attending the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, which showed classic films. Patton had decided he wanted to be a director, but inst
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
"Van Gogh entered a room in his mind when he painted The Night Cafe. He acknowledged his damaged (and worsening) psyche and, in acknowledging it, made a deal. He would be able to take newer, more original artistic conceptions out, would be able to capture them in paintings. His psyche found the deal acceptable. It let Vincent leave the room - the Night Cafe - with vistas and visions he hadn't come close to in his career. But something followed him out, and latched on to him like a virus, and he ...more
I strongly recommend listening to this book in its audio format if possible. Oswalt narrates, of course. If you're familiar with any of his work, you'll use his voice, anyway, to narrate this as you read it but he does a better job. Trust me.

True story: I've got a crush on Patton Oswalt. I have for years. Yeeeeeaaaars. I don't even find all his comedy funny. There's just something about him. Maybe it's that he's kind of a pretentious shit sometimes but he knows he's a shit and he both plays that
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Prerequisites for enjoying Patton Oswalt's Silver Screen Fiend: either be a big Oswalt fan (I'm not; I've never seen a single episode of "The King of Queens", never seen his standup comedy routine, wasn't even aware until reading this book he had a small part in one of my fave movies, PT Anderson's "Magnolia") or be, like Oswalt, an addicted cinephile. Bonus enjoyment points if you're from Los Angeles and are familiar with the "rep" and indie theaters Oswalt frequents, like the Nuart,
Lots of filler. Around 30% of this book is a list of the movies he watched over a period of time in the 1990s. That's it. Just a list. If you care that Patton Oswalt watched The English Patient in 1997 at the Vista Theater then you should definitely read this. If you don't care that he watched Swingers in Encino in '95, then you're all set and can move along.

I fell into the second category. I just didn't care. There are touches here and there about his career and friends but for the most part i
Larry H
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I'd rate this 3.5 stars.

I've been a big fan of Patton Oswalt for some time now. I think he's a pretty good actor (he particularly gave a terrific performance in Charlize Theron's Young Adult a few years back), and I love his comedic observations as well. One friend of mine says that Oswalt and I share a similar sense of humor, although clearly only one of us is making a living off of it.

One thing I didn't know I shared with Oswalt was an obsession with the movies. Those of you who know me we
Feb 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, film, bio
I'm a cinephile and I've been known to enjoy this guys standup routines and his more serious acting too, it seemed like a no brainer the moment I saw it on the shelf in my favourite bookshop. And you know what? It's fun, it's interesting, it's on a subject that I can connect with in a very real way and it's a story told in such a way that I can hear his standup voice coming through with each pause and punctuated anecdote. It's exactly what I thought it would be and more - the creative process an ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Not sure what Patton was after with this; it struggles as both memoir and film history/analysis. His writing is compulsively readable but the book winds up being way too brief (with filler galore! Many of the pages are simply lists) yet seems to retread the same points over and over.

On a related note, I hope the culture and/or comedians develop some self-awareness about how, in 2015, it has become increasingly dull for non-comedians to wax on about every last detail about "the biz."
Jen/The Tolkien Gal/ジェニファー
If you’ve ever been addicted to some form of media like books or movies (and heaven knows we’re on Goodreads, so…) you need to read this book.

I love “behind the scenes” books about film or writing processes. This book is beautiful scene in the life of a comedian, struggling actor and movie-OBSESSED man. Patton Oswalt watched almost a movie (or a double feature) every night for a year and ticked it off in five books of his concerning cult classics. I LOVE this book. I love the writing and I love
Sarah Pascarella
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oswalt is my favorite type of fellow English major -- constantly searching for the connections between experiences, events, and people, but without being twee, self-serving, or overly theoretical. Instead, he roots out these connections (often across time, space, and medium) and makes thoughtful insights as to those beneath-the-surface ties that bind us. The fact that he does so humbly and hilariously makes his company even more enjoyable. Chapter 8 made me laugh so hard that I woke my husband u ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bio, show-biz, audible
A tedious and rambling affair, somewhat redeemed by the fact that the audio book was narrated by the author himself. Patton's self-diagnosed film addiction seems like a false premise designed to support several auto-biographical stories about his start in the comedy scene during the 90s. The name-dropping is fun at times, and the film-related tidbits are mildly interesting, but the whole narrative floats around the central premise without really ever attacking it, leaving the reader overall un-s ...more
Rod Hilton
Jan 22, 2016 rated it liked it
UPDATE: Given what has happened with Patton's wife since I wrote this review, it all seems a bit petty now. I'm only leaving it here because there are a few comments, and if I delete it they won't make sense. TL;DR of the review: I wound up reading this book for a weird reason, and it was alright.


Why did I read Patton Oswalt's "Silver Screen Fiend"? To answer that, I have to first tell a bit of a story.

A few years back I wrote a blog post introducing a new order for watching the Star Wars fi
Feb 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
I kept wavering between rating this book 2 or 3 stars, and finally settled on 3 just because I love Patton Oswalt. This is a memoir covering Oswalt's rise to fame in the comedy circuit. There's nothing really new here. He did stand up over and over and over until he was able to meet the right people who offered him TV and movie roles. He talks about his love of movies as well, and there are a few funny anecdotes, but as far as celebrity memoirs go this is pretty forgettable. ...more
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I figured this book would be jam-packed with geeky jokes, but it is more of a self-deprecating memoir of a time in Patton Oswalt's life when he was addicted to movies and thought he was going to be an amazing film maker. He does talk some film nerdery in this book, but the majority is him discussing the mistakes he made in his early years. I think it's great that he is so comfortable talking about his past mistakes and failures, and he does it in such a way that it's entertaining to read about. ...more
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the full-screen flicker
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work, theme, and accidents of geography
Some celebrity memoirs, you can just tell, were ghostwritten. Not this one. Every line of Patton Oswalt's Silver Screen Fiend comes across in his own unmistakable voice, which I kept hearing even though I read the print version, and every line speaks volumes about his four-year-long deep dive into watching movies every chance he got—to the detriment of his work, his relationships, and the safety of Los Angeles' occasional pedestrians.

His own subtitle calls this period, which lasted from May 20,
Nathan Rabin
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Touching, compulsively readable. Devour it in one sleepless night and be hungry for more.
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

*3.5 stars*

Enthusiastically and eloquently narrated and written with a surprising amount of poetry, Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film was an interesting listen for me. I like Patton Oswalt, and I was willing to pay for the audio to hear him in a more intimate setting, but, truly, this book is for movie geeks only. If you are like me, a total movie non-snob and commercialized cinema embracer, most of the references will fly right over your head.
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I ordered Patton Oswalt's latest memoir from Amazon several weeks ago. It arrived on Tuesday January 6, 2015. I began reading it that very day. By the time I retired for the evening I had devoured half the book in several sittings. The next day I finished reading the rest. A fantastic read as compulsive and addictive as the all-consuming passion for cinema that ruled Oswalt's life for years and nearly derailed his every ambition, Silver Screen Fiend documents the famed actor, writer, and stand-u ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
A joyless, mirthless experience. Page after page of nothing, just Oswalt turning a story that should be a paragraph at best into a whole chapter. And his final revelation about cinema "addiction" is as underwhelming as they come. And for you cinephiles out there thinking, "Well at least he's going to write about some good films" don't bother. He just lists them and maybe occasionally gives a plot synopsis.
If you want to see a real great piece of art about cinema addiction, check out the doc Cine
A very interesting addiction comedian memoir mix, and I’ll admit, my knowledge of classic films is such that some of his passions went over my head. But the addiction issues & discussions about the comedian business were very interesting.... but sadly, Very sadly, for me at least, some parts were overshadowed by parts that mentioned Louis CK, which because of what I know now were cringeworthy, and parts that mentioned his late wife, were just sad.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, audible
I've been a big Patton Oswald fan for years and I had no idea he was so passionate about movies. I listened to this on Audible because I wanted to hear him do his own book. It was funny and interesting. What a movie geek!!! I was actually astounded and envious that he was able to see so many old and foreign movies on the big screen in L.A. Maybe because it's the movie capital of the world? I live in the suburbs of Chicago but there's no way I'd find anywhere near the amount of movies from the pa ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oswalt's addiction memoir is not really about addiction, but more about finding your vocation, told in a series of little epiphany moments which are the stock structures in lots of the fiction & memoir I tend to consume. Knowledge of film isn't really required, though it is often presumed in the discussion of escapism and engagement with the world that is the real theme of the story. Oswalt's storytelling here is really engaging and the tangents are as delightful as the main thrust of the story. ...more
Brandon Forsyth
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Patton Oswalt speaks to me. This book made me laugh and weep and smile at all the wry wisdom on display. It's very much a memoir, and it hit me on a very personal level. You can argue that the book takes a while to find itself, and that the writing in the first chapter is trying just a little too hard, but, for me, this book is perfect. ...more
Nov 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
Love film discussion and really enjoy Patton but this didn't do anything for me. ...more
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it
The premise of this book was so intriguing and seemed to hit so many of my interests that I had to read it. I have always liked Patton Oswalt and I love movies, so it seemed to be a good fit. I think maybe if Patton and I were the same age I would have loved this book. There are so many points when reading this that I completely feel connected to and understand the thoughts and feelings of Patton’s 20 year old self. Currently being a 20 something figuring out my own artistic voice and what to do ...more
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm glad I finally read this. ...more
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Patton Oswalt is an American stand-up comedian, writer and actor.

His first wife was the late Michelle McNamara.

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