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Books About Film
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.04.2003 10:21 pm    Post subject: Books About Film Reply with quote

Hitchcock/Truffaut by Francois Truffaut - As a filmmaker himself, Truffaut asks Hitch all the right questions. The subtitle of this book is "The definitive study Alfred Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut." I believe it.

The Passion of David Lynch: Wild at Heart in Hollywood by Martha P. Nochimson - Analyzes Lynch's films from Six Men Getting Sick to Lost Highway without tiresomely defining the symbols found in each. Doubt Lynch's work reflects a feminist perspective? You won't after reading this book.

The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg by William Beard - A Freudian analysis of Cronenberg? Get out! Well, aside from the obviousness of the approach, Beard reveals much insight and leitmotifs in Cronenberg's canon, and thematically connects movies as dissimilar as Shivers and M. Butterfly. Covers Stereo to Crash.

Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon - Breathtakingly informative tome that covers Philip K. Dick's source novel, early drafts of the script, production details, critical responses, and just about anything else you've never even though of wondering about. Fantastic.

Classics of the Horror Film by William K. Everson - Ignore Everson's contempt for the state of post-50s horror, and you will find this book to be a treasure trove of info and astute insight.

Nightmare Movies by Kim Newman - Newman picks up where Everson left off and covers films from Night of the Living Dead to the end of the 80s. Erudite and culturally conscious, this book is the best work on the horror film I've read.

Midnight Movies by J. Hoberman & Jonathan Rosenbaum - Spends a wee bit too much time on The Rocky Horror Picture Show for my taste, but covers the 70s midnight movie scene including Jodorowsky, Waters, Lynch, Romero, and a bunch of other people I bet you ain't never heard of in intimate detail, and the impact of underground movies on the era. Man, if I could time travel ...

An Illustrated History of Horror and Science-Fiction Films: The Classic Era, 1895 - 1967 by Carlos Clarens - Easily compares to, and in some regards surpasses Everson in terms of detail and history.
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.10.2003 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BUMP

What? Nobody reads no more?
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Michael Scrutchin
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PostPosted: 09.10.2003 2:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wait... they have books about film?

Amazing.

(I'll post a few of my favorites soon.)
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the night watchman
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PostPosted: 09.10.2003 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael B. Scrutchin wrote:
Wait... they have books about film?

Amazing.



I couldn't believe it myself, at first. They have lots of words that you have to read and stuff, and none of the pictures on the pages move. Still, once you get used to them, they're almost as good as movies.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.10.2003 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I finally got around to thinking about this one.

Since I probably spend more time reading about movies than actually watching them, it's tough to narrow down to a few. I'll try to list a few favorites that aren't often noted. (I must concur on Hitchcock/Truffaut, though, despite feeling that Hitch could have been more forthright and analytical about the aesthetics of his work.)

Conversations With Wilder (Crowe). Every bit the equal of Truffaut's conversation--perhaps even superior, because it makes the reticence of its subject a main point of its investigation.

Planet Hong Kong (Bordwell). I have a particular interest in Asian cinema, and this book is the best I've read on the subject, mostly because Bordwell is an accomplished historian and cultural critic. (He's also based in good ol' Madison, WI!) For a quick primer on Hong Kong cinema, I guess I'd recommend Hong Kong Babylon (Dannen).

Tracy and Hepburn (Kanin). A wonderfully discursive, anecdotal account of the friendship between two of our great stars, told by their close friend (and filmmaker) Garson Kanin. I loved every word--and not just because I read the entire thing while ignoring the lecture of my Human Development prof in college. I read a lot of books during that class, none relating to human development.

Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase (Meade). Highly readable and penetrating bio of one of the few geniuses of American cinema. It helps that the author, Marion Meade, is a first-rate biographer, deservedly respected.

Bogart: In Search of My Father (Stephen Bogart). As told by Bogie's son, we get a surprisingly critical portrait of the merchant of cool. I guess I'm recommending it because it contains wonderful anecdotes about one of Hollywood's golden eras.

My Life and My Films (Renoir). I'm a big Renoir fan--Auguste and Jean--and this book encapsulates why: Just like his movies, this autobiography/memoir by Jean is humanistic, understated, sophisticated.

Images: My Life in Film (Bergman). In a similar way, this read is tough just like Ingmar Bergman's pictures. Often his stories are endless and impenetrable, but it's worth it to gain insights into the conditions around the making of some of the great classics of the last century.

Movie Made America (Sklar). An amazing account of domestic cinema's infant and adolescent years. Robert Sklar, one of America's most distinguished film historians, always connects films and film trends to larger cultural shifts, which I find invaluable.

My Years With Apu (Ray). I knocked Star Wars in another post, and I'd like to offer support by way of contrast: Viewed in quick succession, the Apu Trilogy may be the greatest trilogy I've ever seen; compared to Ray, Lucas is a toymaker, not a filmmaker. This is a slight book, and deceptively superficial--in between Ray's quiet recollections are the vibes of an impassioned artist.

I'll end by recommending the collected works of Pauline Kael, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Andre Bazin, David Thomson, and even William Goldman.

Eric
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 09.12.2003 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of Ray's Apu Trilogy... I was just perusing Michael's DVD release schedule, and noticed that all three titles are scheduled for release on Oct 28. Coolage.

Eric
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Kenji
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PostPosted: 12.11.2004 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll second:



Hitchcock/Truffaut

My Life and My films- Renoir



better still, on general world cinema:



A Narrative History of Film- David Cook

The Oxford History of World Cinema

Film History- Bordwell/Thompson



Highly recommended:



Flickers- Gilbert Adair

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die (Ed Steven Schneider), the best of its type

Film: The Critics' Choice (ed Geoff Andrew)





Geoff Andrew is an excellent British writer, whose Film Handbook, a guide to plenty of top directors, was the best of its type, in the early 90's, but now outdated.



David Thomson's Biographical Dictionary of Film was superb, but the latest editions haven't kept pace with international developments and seem half-hearted.



Mark le Fanu's book The Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky is great though some errors crept in with translation problems in Russia. (I'm really looking forward to his forthcoming Mizoguchi and Japan.) Tarkovsky's own book Sculpting in Time is invaluable for fans.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 12.13.2004 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually didn't like Bordwell/Thompson's Film History: too much stodgy academia, not enough compelling debate about what film is, what distinguishes it as an art form. I don't think it reads like it was written by film lovers, you know? A checkpoint analysis of film technique is all well and good, but if it never goes beyond that, that dismisses a large part of the joy of filmmaking and film-watching.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 12.13.2004 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matt, you've hit on why I enjoy Thomson's Bio. Dictionary of Film; it's such a personal review of history that it reads more as an embrace of how subjectivity has an integral role in the arts. (Doesn't hurt that he he some taste, too.) I've got to agree somewhat with Kenji that the latest edition isn't quite as provocative or astonishing. Thomson does indeed skirt over some of the most important international developments in recent years. (Still, I was glad to see I wasn't alone in considering Jim Carrey a vital force in American movies.)



Eric
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Kenji
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PostPosted: 12.13.2004 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funny you should say that about the Bordwell book, cos although i've always liked it and have it, i wouldn't have placed it among the very best (Cook and the Oxford History are better)- as yeah it is a bit academic, aimed for students- i recently had some contact with him, and as he was so friendly and a fellow Mizoguchi fan, i felt just naturally kinder towards the book. I'm looking forward to his book on film space, centring on Mizoguchi, Hou, Feuillade and Angelopoulos. Hopefully that won't be stodgy. He certainly knows his stuff.



There's a BFI book on my favourite film Sansho Dayu, by Dudley Andrew and Carole Cavanaugh, that's full of useful info and insights, but is just too drily intellectual, without enough genuine love o the subject coming through, for my liking.
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matt header
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PostPosted: 12.13.2004 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That new book about film space and Mizoguchi et al. does sound awesome. I'll have to give him another chance.



Eric, I haven't checked out that Thomson book, but that certainly does sound intriguing. And the more I see of Carrey - definitely after The Truman Show but also after Eternal Sunshine and Man on the Moon - I might have to agree with you about him.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 12.13.2004 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kenji wrote:
I'm looking forward to his book on film space, centring on Mizoguchi, Hou, Feuillade and Angelopoulos.


That does sound terrific. Film space--especially as used by those artists, as well as Kiarostami--is one of my primary theoretical interests. I must confess, though, that I've never see anything by Angelopoulos, but not for lack of effort over the years. His titles are tough to come by around these parts.



Eric
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Kenji
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PostPosted: 12.13.2004 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite a few of his films are due out on dvd in the UK next year, according to Masters of Cinema website. Hopefully they'll be ok for your machine! From what little i've seen he's clearly a master- has been compared to Antonioni (especially) and Tarkovsky-, but he was also a fan of Mizoguchi, Dreyer and Welles.
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beltmann
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PostPosted: 12.13.2004 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My machine is indeed region-free. Hopefully I'll remember to check them out.



(Side note: I like Mizoguchi and Dreyer as much as you do--I've been obsessing over Joan of Arc for years now. Glad to meet a fellow fan!)
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Jim Harper
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PostPosted: 12.18.2004 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vast majority of books I read cover horror films. If I had to choose a list of recommended titles, it would run as follows:



Nightmare Movies by Kim Newman. A fairly exhaustive study of the modern horror film that is probably the best all-round study there is. It's unsurprisingingly focussed on western horror, but it's still essential reading for anyone with an interest in horror post-1968. He's annoyingly snooty about the slasher movie, but you can't have everything.



Psychotronic Guide to Film and Psychotronic Video Guide by Michael Weldon. Absolutely essential for anyone with an interest in anything away from the mainstream.



Mondo Macabro: Weird & Wonderful Cinema Around the World, by Pete Tombs, and Fear Without Frontiers: Horror Cinema Across the Globe edited by Steven Jay Schneider. Both excellent books on world horror cinema that cover films even the hardened cinephile might not have seen.



And of course everything I've ever written. Wink
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