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Does Hyped 'Salinger' Documentary Promote New Book Release or Vice Versa? (TRAILER)

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood August 26, 2013 at 2:23PM

Shane Salerno's "Salinger" documentary hits theaters September 6, via the Weinstein Company, while the new book upon which its based, also titled "Salinger" (co-authored by director Salerno and David Shields), becomes available September 3. Clearly this is a case of savvy cross-promotion. (Watch the trailer below.)
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J.D. Salinger
J.D. Salinger

Shane Salerno's "Salinger" documentary hits theaters September 6, via the Weinstein Company, while the new book upon which its based, also titled "Salinger" (co-authored by director Salerno and David Shields), becomes available September 3. Clearly this is a case of savvy cross-promotion.

The book "Salinger" received a less-than-glowing review on August 25 by the NY Times' lit critic Michiko Kakutani, faulting it for "sloppy scholarship," and writing that while the high number of interviewees the book-documentary project has boasted from the beginning (more than 200 people over nine years) shows energy on Salerno's part, a number of entries in the volume are actually taken from previous books and articles. 

Kakutani also observes:

“Salinger,” self-promotingly described on its cover as “The Official Book of the Acclaimed Documentary Film,” is not a conventional biography but a kind of companion volume to Mr. Salerno’s documentary of the same name (to be released on Sept. 6). The book takes a montagelike form...

Meanwhile, others have wondered whether the film, site unseen, acts as a sales pitch for the book. NY Post film critic Lou Lumenick tweeted:

"Starting to wonder if this so-far-unscreened SALINGER "documentary" is basically a glorified infomercial for the director's new book."

Based on the trailer, the doc looks to a be a thriller-esque portrait of the enigmatic, reclusive author of "The Catcher in the Rye." Salinger died in January 2010, and hadn't published a work since 1965. Included among the interviewees are Salinger's closest friends and colleagues who have never spoken about him before, and archival footage of the writer. Other notable personalities seen in the film include Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, Tom Wolfe and Gore Vidal, among others, who discuss his cultural impact.

Director Salerno also co-wrote Oliver Stone's "Savages" in 2012.

This article is related to: News, Video, Trailers, Trailers, Salinger


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.