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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Cronenfly
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#876 Post by Cronenfly » Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:21 pm

Zaki wrote:Indiana University Press holds a "Back to School Sale" (40%-60% off; Enter code SCHOOL) until September 15. You might want to look at their Cinema Studies section: http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/index.php?cPath=6043" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
If you don't have the Quandt Bresson book already, $15.98 is a very good price indeed.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#877 Post by Superswede11 » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:48 am

You can get David Bordwell's excellent book "Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema" for free here.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#878 Post by domino harvey » Sun Aug 18, 2013 10:00 am

Jane Feuer's the Hollywood Musical is great and an absolute steal at seven bucks and change.

Per our debate on psychoanalysis, Christian Metz' notorious the Imaginary Signifier is also eligible at around ten bucks and highly recommended but fair warning it is not an easy read.

Stephen Heath's Questions of Cinema is another not easy read but has some fascinating strict film approaches nonetheless, and is another bargain at around twelve bucks.

Though I prefer Metz' Film Semiotics, Peter Wollen's Signs and Meaning in the Cinema is a classic of the practice and only a shade under nine dollars.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#879 Post by YnEoS » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:47 am

So I just finished reading Barry Salt's Film Style and Technology: History and Analysis. Are there any other books out there that contain this kind of level of detailed analysis, perhaps devoted to more specific times and places in film history?

Not so concerned about all the graphs and ASL stuff, but just authors who've made a fairly exhaustive effort to watch a whole ton of films from the period they're analyzing, with some knowledge of what tools and conventions were at the filmmakers' disposal.

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Matt
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#880 Post by Matt » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:54 am

The obvious recommendation seems to be Bordwell, Thompson, and Staiger's The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. I would also recommend Bordwell's On the History of Film Style.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#881 Post by YnEoS » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:47 pm

I owe a lot to Bordwell and Thompson for getting me interested in film history in the first place. But amusingly Barry Salt criticizes that specific book in the afterword to the 2nd edition of Film Style and Technology.
Since the first edition of this book there has been a practical demonstration of the pitfalls for the uninformed trying to do this kind of work, in Bordwell and Thompson's The Classical Hollywood Cinema (Routledge, 1985). Here the authors repeatedly miss key points, or get them wrong because of their incompetence in film technique, aided by their conceit that a Ph.D. in Film Studies, combined with as many footnotes as possible, is all you need to produce useful knowledge. In any case, written sources alone should not be trusted, as I have illustrated at one or two points along the way.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#882 Post by domino harvey » Thu Sep 05, 2013 5:21 pm

Some dude calls Bordwell, Thompson, and Staiger "uninformed" in the afterword because no one would have read any further had it appeared earlier. That work is one of the most seminal and well-respected works of classical Hollywood academic study, period.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#883 Post by YnEoS » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:47 pm

Actually, I think he criticizes them in the beginning of the book as well.

I still found his methodical style of film analysis useful, despite his repeated attempts to make an ass of himself by dismissing the validity of all other methods of study.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#884 Post by YnEoS » Thu Oct 24, 2013 6:54 pm

I've got something of a confused broad request for book recommendations (or more likely several recommendations), so if anyone knows of any good books that are even remotely tangentially related, I would like to hear about them.

Basically I'm looking for some sort of history/industrial study of the american grindhouse circuit, or more broadly anything dealing with international markets for any sort of popular and/or exploitation film industries.

I'm not 100% sure exactly what I'm looking for, but in my head I feel like the best places to start looking would be the history of American independent films and exploitation, as well as Japanese and Italian exploitation films and any other industries that had some sort of popular global influence.


The impetus for this is I've been reading lots of books on HK cinema lately, and I really like hearing about how certain actors are picked because they're popular in some certain foreign market, also what national cinemas various countries are exposed to and how that influences the films they make. Basically I'm trying to get some sort of idea of different perspectives on how global cinema evolved. Rather than frequent histories of various national studios or the evolution of the international arthouse scene, I'm looking for what sort of movies an average filmmaker anywhere in the world would be watching, and how various national/popular cinemas influence each other. I'm also not necessarily looking for things specifically on exploitation/popular genres, it just seems that these are often the most influential and travel the farthest internationally, outside of arthouse circuits.

Sorry if this is somewhat of a confusing post, again it's one of those things where I won't really know exactly what to look for until I read it. So if anyone knows of anything vaguely related that would be extremely helpful, and perhaps after some initial research I'll be able to better phrase exactly what it is what it's looking for.

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Matt
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#885 Post by Matt » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:29 pm

I recommend to you without hesitation Eric Schaefer's Bold! Daring! Shocking! True: A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#886 Post by Matt » Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:17 pm

The University of California press has 770 books available free online, including 16 film titles.

There are a few excellent scholarly books here, including Charles Musser's Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company and Roberta Pearson's Eloquent Gestures: The Transformation of Performance Style in the Griffith Biograph Films. It would be great if they'd put up Lotte Eisner's long-OOP book on Murnau.

You can't download them (at least not easily as PDFs or e-book files), but they can be read via web browser.

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The Best Books About Film

#887 Post by Superswede11 » Mon Jan 20, 2014 5:19 pm

Cinematic States by Gareth Higgins is a great read. Some of his movie picks are better than others (I imagine it will ruffle some board members' feathers that he chose Footloose for Oklahoma) but all the essays are thoughtful, passionate and often times very funny. The chapter on Massachusetts written in the voice of the shark from Jaws and stories like having to prepare for bombings while going to the drive-in in Belfast, alone justify giving this book a read

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#888 Post by knives » Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:34 pm

Does anyone know of good (in print) books on Jonas Mekas particularly with regards to the diary films. Also if there's ever been a book written about Jerzy Kawalerowicz's relationship to Judaism that would be great too.

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Re: Film Criticism

#889 Post by Tom Amolad » Fri Feb 07, 2014 2:55 pm

Could some kind soul direct me to some good books or essays on gender and the western (especially the classical western)? I'm particularly looking for scholarly and semi-scholarly stuff, or classic journalistic statements that themselves that became influential.

Did Robin Wood ever write any essays specifically about gender and the western (or particular westerns)? The concern hovers around his various writings on Hawks, but I'd love to find something more specifically on the topic.

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Re: Film Criticism

#890 Post by Gregory » Fri Feb 07, 2014 3:32 pm

His monograph on Rio Bravo (BFI Film Classics) was really informed by a lot of his usual concerns, including gender and sexuality. There's some more in his early book Howard Hawks, and the 2006 edition has a new introduction along with the 1981 intro, but the westerns are just one facet of his overall analysis of Hawks's work. Aside from that, the western that he wrote most extensively about was probably Heaven's Gate.
The best, most accessible book in this area that I know of is the anthology The Book of the Western, edited by Ian Cameron and Douglas Pye (published in the UK as The Movie Book of the Western). It's just crammed with good essays, many of which incorporate gender, class, race, and other dimensions of the genre. Wood's essays in it are about Drums Along the Mohawk and Duel in the Sun, and both have some discussion of gender and domestic/family roles in the films.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#891 Post by ianthemovie » Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:43 pm

Several years ago I taught an undergraduate writing course on the Western genre and found the following books helpful:

The Western Reader , edited by Jim Kitses and Gregg Rickman - great anthology of writings on the Western genre form the 1960s to the 90s. Authors range from J. Hoberman and Robin Wood to Sherman Alexie and Andre Bazin. Kitses' own "Authorship and Genre: Notes on the Western" (1969) is a good foundational piece.

Horizons West, by Jim Kitses - looks at a handful of major Western auteur filmmakers (Ford, Eastwood, Leone, Peckinpach, et al.) and discusses their themes and styles in relation to the genre as a whole. Very readable and engaging. (Relatedly, Kitses' audio commentary track on the Criterion edition of Stagecoach is very good.)

West of Everything, by Jane Tompkins - great feminist reading of gender in the Western. Tompkins' argument is forceful but even-handed and sensitive (she's clearly a fan of Westerns, even as she's aware of their flaws) and her writing is wonderful. Her background is in 19th-century American lit, not film studies, so she will often discuss the films in reference to novels and other cultural texts (paintings, etc.) from the period. Her analysis doesn't focus so much on particular films (though she discusses Red River at some length) than on the individual elements of genre as a whole (including a whole chapter on horses!). If you're interested in gender and the Western, I would start here.

Ward Churchill's writings on Native American representations are also worth looking at. Very provocative and interesting. Ex. "Fantasies of the Master Race" and "Lawrence of South Dakota" (an analysis of Dances with Wolves).

From Shane to Kill Bill: Rethinking the Western, by Patrick McGee - I recall being frustrated with this books, which I believe takes a more Lacanian/psychoanalytic approach to the genre and was fairly dense, but may or many not be useful to you depending on your needs.

There's also a recent collection of essays on The Searchers, edited by Peter Lehman, in which contributors take a range of critical positions on that film (race, gender, etc.)

I know Robin Wood's BFI monograph on Rio Bravo has already been mentioned but Edward Buscombe's BFI books on The Searchers and Unforgiven are also very good.

J. Hoberman also discusses a number of 1940s and '50s Westerns (The Searchers, High Noon, Fort Apache) in reference to Cold War-era politics in his recent book An Army of Phantoms.

Hope this helps.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#892 Post by Tom Amolad » Sat Feb 08, 2014 3:04 pm

Thanks to you both -- and also to the moderators for moving my question to this more appropriate thread, which my memory had conflated with the criticism thread.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#893 Post by adavis53 » Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:14 pm

Buscombe also has a BFI on Stagecoach that has some good info on Ford and early westerns. Robert Self also wrote an excellent book on Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller which while focusing mostly on the film and revisionist westerns includes some good points contrasting it to classical westerns in styles, tropes, techniques, etc.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#894 Post by Satori » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:19 am

Hi, does anyone know of a good book on the history of pornographic film in the U.S.? I am particularly interested in the changing material contexts of distribution and exhibition, and not so much in textual analysis. A book that covered the intersections between the material histories of mainstream and gay porn would be especially helpful. Thanks.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#895 Post by domino harvey » Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:22 am

You should PM user bamwc2 (don't know if he reads this thread), I think he's teaching or preparing to teach a class (maybe it was write a book?) on the subject

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#896 Post by bamwc2 » Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:08 pm

domino harvey wrote:You should PM user bamwc2 (don't know if he reads this thread), I think he's teaching or preparing to teach a class (maybe it was write a book?) on the subject
Was going to create a course on it for a cross over listing between film/human sexuality minors on sex/sexuality on film. It was never going to be a class on pornography though, and the sample syllabi that I drafted only contained a screening of one film with real sex. However, that was before my university received their official enrollment numbers and realized that some poor recruitment choices resulted in an overall 20% drop in attendance from last year. Consequently, almost all hiring has been frozen, some faculty have consented to go into early retirement, and (what effects me) all non-TT faculty whose contracts were up for renewal this year are getting let go. So, I'm back on the job market now, there will be no human sexuality minor (which I was to oversee), and the course ain't happening either.

As for the books, I'm afraid that I can't recommend anything without further research.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#897 Post by domino harvey » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:22 pm

Well, that's not the kind of getting screwed news I was hoping to hear... Good luck out there!

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#898 Post by ando » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:14 pm

Before I dive into Godard's two disc, Histoirie(s) du cinema, I thought I'd read Michael Witt's Jen-Luc Godard, Cinema Historian, which is apparently something of a companion piece to the film. Has anyone here read it? (The search feature didn't yield anything.)
Last edited by ando on Wed Apr 02, 2014 6:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#899 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Thu Mar 27, 2014 10:57 pm

ando wrote:Before I dive into Godard's two disc, Historie(s) du cinema, I thought I'd read Michael Witt's Jen-Luc Godard, Cinema Historian, which is apparently something of a companion piece to the film. Has anyone here read it? (The search feature didn't yield anything.)
It's supposed to be quite good and just your luck the publisher has copies for half off until April 7th. I still need to order my copy.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#900 Post by ando » Fri Mar 28, 2014 12:13 am

Thanks. Just downloaded an ebook edition which includes very small color plate reproductions (you'd think they'd have designed a more sophisticated epub script by now) but the text's the thing with me, anyway. The paperback edition is handsome (perused a copy at B&N) and a likely keeper.

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