The Best Books About Film

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Mise En Scene
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#76 Post by Mise En Scene » Mon Oct 03, 2005 8:15 pm

Which book is better, James Monaco's How To Read A Film, or Boggs' Art Of Watching Film? Or are there better books out there? I'm thinking David Bordwell is a level above beginner's level, as far as technical aspects of filmmaking, which is my concern.

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blindside8zao
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#77 Post by blindside8zao » Wed Oct 05, 2005 5:11 am

I am reading a history of narrative film by cook and it has been rewarding thus far, I am about 150 pgs through (it's over 1000 pgs long.) It gives a survey of the history of narrative cinema around the world. I can only read about 3-5 pages at a time though, as there are so many facts listed.

Cronenberg on Cronenberg should be a must for any C-berg fan. Unfortunately, after reading it, you will find most extras on DVDs to be redundant. It acts very much as an event-based study up through M Butterfly but also talks about thematic issues in each work. My only squak is that it doesn't have a Crash chapter.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#78 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Wed Oct 05, 2005 9:22 am

Does anyone have a favorite film article(s)?

Publication, Year, and Issue please, I'd like to track these down.

I'll start with something simple and recent:
L.A. Times, Sept.25, 2005
Cameron Crowe on his use of music in films.
There is a top notch analysis of Friedken's To Live and Die in L.A. here.

Very well-written and with some fantastic observations. Definitely worth a look if you like this movie.

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blindside8zao
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#79 Post by blindside8zao » Thu Oct 06, 2005 10:53 am

I'm doing a paper on the adaptation of Lem's novel Solaris and was wondering what the best books on Tarkovsky are. I am already going to pick of Sculpting in Time, as I was looking to purchase anyways and have waited too long. Can anyone vouch for any other books on him?

ftsoh
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#80 Post by ftsoh » Thu Oct 06, 2005 2:53 pm

Mise En Scene wrote:James Monaco's How To Read A Film
After listening to Monaco's commentary on "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit", I wouldn't want to read anything that he wrote.

Mise En Scene
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#81 Post by Mise En Scene » Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:25 pm

ftsoh wrote:
Mise En Scene wrote:James Monaco's How To Read A Film
After listening to Monaco's commentary on "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit", I wouldn't want to read anything that he wrote.
Thanks for the heads up!

filmfan
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#82 Post by filmfan » Wed Oct 12, 2005 1:44 pm

I just picked up "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson...The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson" by Robert Hofler and have mostly read through this fine book about Hollywood in the Fifties. While focusing on the business of agent Henry Willson and his clientel of male stars, it fills in the missing blanks most books have only alluded to with inuendo in a host of other autobiographies, biographies and film histories.

This seems to fill in the blanks regarding the underside of the talent agency business in general, and the marketing of male movie stars to the public.

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Matt
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#83 Post by Matt » Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:32 am

By the by, Gary Indiana's BFI Film Classics monograph on Viridiana has been canceled. There is no emoticon that can express my level of disappointment.

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the dancing kid
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#84 Post by the dancing kid » Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:29 pm

'A New History of Japanese Cinema' by Isolde Standish is great. If you're read her previous book on Japanese film, 'Myth and Masculinity', it's basically the same format as that. It's not a chronological history like Ritchie's book, but more of an attempt to link different films and genres through thematic connections. She gives a lot of attention to non-canon films and filmmakers as well (mostly post-war stuff), which I really enjoyed. Highly recommended!

'Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film' by Chris D was kind of a let down. I've enjoyed his essays on Japanese exploitation cinema in the past, but this was pretty light on content. It uses the same "plot synopsis + interview" format as Schilling's 'Yakuza Guide', but it also covers a lot of the same territory as other books on the subject, so there isn't a whole lot of new information to be found. I did enjoy a few of the interviews though, particularly the one with Kaji Meiko.

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#85 Post by backstreetsbackalright » Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:41 pm

matt wrote:By the by, Gary Indiana's BFI Film Classics monograph on Viridiana has been canceled. There is no emoticon that can express my level of disappointment.
That's terrible news! Are Artforum/Bookforum squeezing too much from him? Was the Schwarzenegger book too exacting a task? Perhaps someday in the near future Viridiana will enjoy a small theatrical tour, and he'll take on a shorter and glossier analysis of the film then.

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devlinnn
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#86 Post by devlinnn » Fri Oct 14, 2005 8:27 pm

By the by, Gary Indiana's BFI Film Classics monograph on Viridiana has been canceled.
I wouldn't be surprised if the whole range is coming to an end. Rules of the Game, On the Waterfront, Bringing Up Baby, Vampyr and the now vanished Viridiana have had release dates constantly pushed back all year.

(Still holding my breath for Adrian Martin's Wharton on Film: The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth if anyone at the BFI is looking for ideas.)

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Gregory
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#87 Post by Gregory » Fri Oct 14, 2005 9:02 pm

I didn't think the constant delays were anything new for the BFI books. Also, the BFI classics books -- both series, and both previously published titles and new ones -- now retail in the U.S. for $15 per book (up from $13/$14). BFI may not have decided to make this increase if they were planning to discontinue the series. In any case, I'm glad I bought quite a few of them at a reasonable discount online this year and last. I thought the old prices were a bit steep for what are really extended essays. (They only run to around 80-90 pages because of illustrations and because the pages are so small.) Still, many of them I've read are worth it.

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Andre Jurieu
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#88 Post by Andre Jurieu » Fri Oct 14, 2005 9:40 pm

devlinnn wrote:
By the by, Gary Indiana's BFI Film Classics monograph on Viridiana has been canceled.
I wouldn't be surprised if the whole range is coming to an end. Rules of the Game ... have had release dates constantly pushed back all year.
This one has more to do with the writer missing his deadlines.

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#89 Post by David Ehrenstein » Fri Oct 14, 2005 10:45 pm

I reccomend

Films and Feelings and The Crazy Mirror by Raymond Durgnat

Negative Space by Manny Farber

L'Homme Ordinarie du Cinema by Jean-Louis Schefer

The Scorsese Picture: The Art and Life of Martin Scorsese by me

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GringoTex
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#90 Post by GringoTex » Fri Oct 14, 2005 11:35 pm

matt wrote:By the by, Gary Indiana's BFI Film Classics monograph on Viridiana has been canceled. There is no emoticon that can express my level of disappointment.
Poor Bunuel. He did everything in cinema a European could be expected to do- and he did it in Latin American. No respect for the colonized.

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devlinnn
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#91 Post by devlinnn » Fri Oct 14, 2005 11:49 pm

I didn't think the constant delays were anything new for the BFI books.
Very true. But while there are a number of constant delays I attempt and love at least three times a week, waiting for the next BFI Film Classics is not one. They must pay the writers a piffle, or else deadlines would be sought and met with easy satisfaction.

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#92 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sat Oct 15, 2005 9:49 am

It's a shame the BFI series is so backed-up. I hope it hasn't come to an end. Gary's book on Salo is excelllent. And Colin McCable's Performance book is the best writing to date about Donald Cammell and a model of historical scholarship.

If you can find a copy, Oswald Stack's little Pasolini book is excellent as is his Sirk on Sirk .

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#93 Post by Narshty » Sat Oct 15, 2005 11:45 am

Wasn't Sirk on Sirk Jon Halliday's work? In any case, it's a must-have.

Can anyone recommend Victor Perkins' study of The Magnificent Ambersons?

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#94 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sat Oct 15, 2005 12:11 pm

Jon Halliday and Oswald Stack are the same person.

I also highly reccomend Moving Places by Jonathan Rosenbaum and A Twentieth-Century Job by Gulliermo Cabrera Infanta

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Rufus T. Firefly
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#95 Post by Rufus T. Firefly » Sun Oct 16, 2005 12:17 am

Godot wrote:The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film (Mes, Sharp, 2004)
The Yakuza Movie Book: a Guide to Japanese Gangster Films (Shilling, 2003)

Has anyone on the forum read these books, and can offer an opinion of them? (They're not available in my library system, otherwise I'd explore them myself.)
I have both these books, though I cannot say that I have read them. They are better for dipping into, and each has good and bad points.

The Schilling book has no index, annoying because the reviews of individual films are in alphabetical order of title, where the title is the rendering in English of the Japanese title (rendered, not translated). There are bios and interviews with 7 directors and 14 actors. It is useful, but not definitive IMO.

The Mes/Sharp book is better (it has an index) and is set out by director, with bios, filmographies and reviews/analyses of important films. It includes Fukasaku, Suzuki and Imamura, so it isn't restricted to recent films, but the main focus is on the 1990s onwards.

Both books strike me as being of transitory usefulness, that is to say that for the time being they fill a need but neither is likely to be an enduring reference work.

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Godot
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#96 Post by Godot » Mon Oct 17, 2005 5:11 pm

I'm looking forward to Alain Silver's updated version of The Samurai Film, due next month. His 1984 version is informative, featuring essays on directors' works, comments on visual style and historical references.

The two books I've been enjoying the crap out of recently are both out of print, but worth finding used: Who the Devil Made It (Bogdanovich, 1997) and Cinema: A Critical Dictionary (Roud, 1980). The Bogdanovich is a collection of his interviews with directors, including the Lang, Hitchcock, Dwan and Hawks ones (albeit in slightly shortened forms) that are so difficult to find in their limited-volume 1960s editions (for MoMA retrospectives, etc.). His introduction is fun to read as well, a bit self-serving (surprise) but a nice overview of the 1950s-1970s milieu in film appreciation and his connection to various threads. The Roud book is a collection of essays on directors by various writers (many writing for British journals like Movie and Sight and Sound, but also some Americans) from the late 1960s-1970s, and it surpasses Sarris' and Coursodon's (which I really liked) similar volumes in my estimation because of the healthy mix of opinions from the writers. A few directors have two essays (early/late careers): Dreyer, Hitch, Lang, Eisenstein, etc. Some of it pissed me off, but it was never less than completely absorbing. It's in two volumes, about 600 pages each. When I received them, I spent about four hours the first night just poring through the pages, amazed at the collection of writers and wealth of information on films, themes, and styles.

By the way, regarding Library-Man's suggestion to ask my reference librarian to help arrange an inter-library loan, I did so, though I question the degree of her "happiness" in helping me. I listed details for six books, some of which were in local university libraries (according to internet searches). Still no progress on any of them more than three months later. Perhaps the Governator can be called into action?

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#97 Post by Stig Helmer » Thu Oct 20, 2005 3:45 pm

I don't know if this has been mentioned before in this thread, but the excellent publisher Fab Press has just released a must awaited book on Zombie-films (if you are into to that stuff (and I am... :D )). I haven't had the time to read the book yet, but looking though the pages and its contents, it looks very promising indeed. Not many books have been written about the zombie-genre, so this release is indeed welcomed.

The author of "The Book of the Dead", which the book is titled, is Jamie Russell.

Here's a synopsis and a look at the books contents.

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devlinnn
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#98 Post by devlinnn » Sat Oct 22, 2005 1:09 am

Godot wrote:I'm looking forward to Alain Silver's updated version of The Samurai Film, due next month. His 1984 version is informative, featuring essays on directors' works, comments on visual style and historical references.
Sadly, I notice the release date has been pushed back (third time?) to late January, along with those BFI Film Classics we have been waiting for.

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Matt
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#99 Post by Matt » Sat Oct 22, 2005 12:27 pm

Godot wrote:By the way, regarding Library-Man's suggestion to ask my reference librarian to help arrange an inter-library loan, I did so, though I question the degree of her "happiness" in helping me. I listed details for six books, some of which were in local university libraries (according to internet searches). Still no progress on any of them more than three months later. Perhaps the Governator can be called into action?
I'm beginning to learn the filthy secrets of interlibrary loan. Libraries are extremely pleased with themselves if they can fill 70% of the requests. But here's another secret: you should be able to get borrowing privileges from at least one of your nearby colleges or universities quite easily. Contact their circulation or loan services office and find out how.

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Godot
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#100 Post by Godot » Sun Oct 23, 2005 3:18 am

matt wrote:you should be able to get borrowing privileges from at least one of your nearby colleges or universities quite easily. Contact their circulation or loan services office and find out how.

Excellent! I can walk to the nearest university library, which is what makes it particularly galling to endure this long delay. I can even see that two of my requested books are on the shelves of that library as I now type (thanks to internet searching). Grrr.

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