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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:12 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:51 am
Location: Boston, MA
tenia wrote:
I'm wondering if any of you here would already know which ones can be avoided altogether because of how little they add. I'm extremely curious, and don't care about buying stuff about movies I haven't seen or even heard about before, so feel free to add about whichever book you know.
I've only bought 8 so far (Olympia, The General, The Shining, Pandora's Box, The Birth of a Nation, The Thing, Pan's Labyrinth, Night and the City) but have seen about 50 or so that might fit what I'm interested in / curious about.


I would second the recommendation for Camille Paglia on The Birds, which is lots of fun. Salman Rushdie on The Wizard of Oz is superb--very droll, insightful, and deeply felt. Jonathan Rosenbaum on Greed is predictably smart. Michael Wood on Belle de Jour is great. Geoffrey Nowell-Smith on L'Avventura is quite good, if a tad dry. Mark Sanderson on Don't Look Now is impassioned, detailed, and poetic. I quite like David Thompson (not David Thomson) on Last Tango in Paris, which was instrumental in helping me understand and appreciate that film. Many other great titles: Simon Callow on Night of the Hunter, Amy Taubin on Taxi Driver, Michel Chion on Eyes Wide Shut, Yuri Tsivian on Ivan the Terrible...

Some titles I was less impressed by: Charles Maland on City Lights which is overlong and repetitive. Jon Lewis on The Godfather which is very thin on content and does not do justice to the greatness of that film. Iain Sinclair on Crash--overlong, digressive and pretentious. I found the volumes on Snow White and Far From Heaven both quite bad, making extremely simplistic or obvious points with no real depth to the analysis at all.

I will also put in a good word for Sue Vice on Shoah which does an excellent job unpacking that film, given its unwieldiness and challenging nature. Chris Darke on La Jetee was also an appropriately mysterious and poetic meditation on that film.

In short, the quality and style of these books varies widely depending on the author. Some are more highly theoretical; some are academic; some are fanciful and poetic. Looking into the author's background may help give you a sense of what approach they are taking. The ones written by esteemed critics like Rosenbaum, Taubin, J. Hoberman, Robin Wood, et al. are usually safe bets.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:10 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am
Part of my first selection was actually based on the writers, glad to see it's indeed a good filter.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:50 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:41 am
Location: Berlin, Germany
The two BFI books I wasn't a fan of were Murray Pomerance on Marnie and Mark Kermode on The Exorcist. I just couldn't get on with Pomerance's writing style. It's a shame because Marnie is my 2nd favourite Hitchcock. Over the last couple of decades its become the one I've revisited the most. I wished there was more good writing on it. And The Exorcist because.......Kermode.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:11 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:48 pm
Lost Highway wrote:
When it comes to You Must Remember This it's worth checking out the early non-serialised episodes as a start. Her Frances Farmer episode is fantastic, doing the exact opposite of Hollywood Babylon, stripping away the gossip and mythology to arrive at something far less garish and more plausible than the familiar tale of the ultimate Hollywood martyr. The ones of Raquel Welch and Isabella Rossellini are also great, they all are. The Charles Manson series is what got her the most attention, but it's my least favourite stretch, maybe due to over familiarity with the subject matter. It's still more thoughtful than most on the matter.


I was listening to the Theda Bara one today - interesting stuff. I've got the Star Wars ones lined up.

Didn't realise she's dating Rian Johnson either.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:09 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC
Lost Highway wrote:
When it comes to You Must Remember This it's worth checking out the early non-serialised episodes as a start. Her Frances Farmer episode is fantastic, doing the exact opposite of Hollywood Babylon, stripping away the gossip and mythology to arrive at something far less garish and more plausible than the familiar tale of the ultimate Hollywood martyr. The ones of Raquel Welch and Isabella Rossellini are also great, they all are. The Charles Manson series is what got her the most attention, but it's my least favourite stretch, maybe due to over familiarity with the subject matter. It's still more thoughtful than most on the matter.
Even stuff like the Manson series which I didn't think would keep my attention was good. The Seberg Fonda series was cleverly done and excellent.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:18 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:41 am
Location: Berlin, Germany
Talking of podcasts, has anybody checked out The Secret History of Hollywood ? I read it's in the same vein and it too received some praise, but I tried to listen to the series on Val Lewton and it seemed incredibly drawn out with two hours an episode. I also was put off by the style of it and never returned to it. Does anybody like this and should I stick with it ?


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:21 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC
Yes the Warner Brothers/Cagney ones are something like 20 hours long over two episodes. It's a great listen but it's far more dramatized than Longworth's straight reporting which may not be everyone's bag.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:24 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:41 am
Location: Berlin, Germany
Black Hat wrote:
Yes the Warner Brothers/Cagney ones are something like 20 hours long over two episodes. It's a great listen but it's far more dramatized than Longworth's straight reporting which may not be everyone's bag.

OK thanks, I'll probably just stick with You Must Remember This. The length I could cope with, it was the dramatization which put me off.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:54 pm 
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:35 pm
Apologies as this is only tangentially related to film, but there doesn't appear to be an Abbas Kiaorstami thread in the directors subforum and I thought this might be the best place to ask. Has anyone any experience with any of Kiarostami's poetry books available here? I'd like to purchase one for a friend and mentor for whom it seems like a great gift, but I haven't been able to find a whole lot of testimonials. Are the poems/presentation of the books any good? Do they enrich his films? Any specific volume recommended?


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