The Best Books About Film

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ianthemovie
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#976 Post by ianthemovie » Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:12 am

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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tenia
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#977 Post by tenia » Fri Jan 05, 2018 5:10 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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Lost Highway
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#978 Post by Lost Highway » Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:50 am

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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Re: The Best Books About Film

#979 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:11 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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Re: The Best Books About Film

#980 Post by Black Hat » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:09 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.
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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Re: The Best Books About Film

#981 Post by Lost Highway » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:18 pm

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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Re: The Best Books About Film

#982 Post by Black Hat » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:21 pm

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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Re: The Best Books About Film

#983 Post by Lost Highway » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:24 pm

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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Re: The Best Books About Film

#984 Post by diamonds » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:54 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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Re: The Best Books About Film

#985 Post by spoon99 » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:59 am

For me, the best book about film is Bordwell et al's The Classical Hollywood Cinema, despite the fact that reading anything by Janet Staiger is a chore.

Just imagine, instead of completely speculative and evidence-free Grand Theorizing, the authors actually did original research, analyzed the results, and explained them clearly, rather than as obfuscating nonsense. Pretty shocking for the film criticism industry.

-R

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#986 Post by Superswede11 » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:33 am

Jonathan Rosenbaum's write-up of the experimental "montage" book PASSAGE DU CINÉMA, 4992, which Godard called “the only book to tell the history of cinema”, has me very excited to read it once my French is good enough. It's apparently also a multimedia project that includes a website, videos, and an "encrypted" version that looks intriguingly incomprehensible. Has anyone read any version of this?

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#987 Post by Ansedonia » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:51 am

Superswede11 wrote:Jonathan Rosenbaum's write-up of the experimental "montage" book PASSAGE DU CINÉMA, 4992, which Godard called “the only book to tell the history of cinema”, has me very excited to read it once my French is good enough. It's apparently also a multimedia project that includes a website, videos, and an "encrypted" version that looks intriguingly incomprehensible. Has anyone read any version of this?
Hello, it's me who composed and edited Passage du cinéma, 4992. I can quite admit that you are intrigued by this book that Jonathan Rosenbaum described as part of a multimedia project.
Here are some lines to contribute to an understanding of this project which is in constant becoming.
The decision not to publish the book in digital form, in French we say "digital version" made me think about the possible ways to interpret this word: "version". Later, I called "version" all the works I had imagined from the book: so, I piled up in my little garden all the paper copies of the work in progress of the book and I called it : « totem version »; so, I started long ago to make a ribbon from the numbers of the maintenance fragments composing the book according to the definite assembly order, assigning them a color (from the prism of light ), and I called it « number version » (not « encrypted version »); then there was the "filmed" version, which already has 4 films, the "exposed" version, and others are in preparation. It's never an idea at first sight, but once the work is done, I think it can become a "version" of Passage du cinéma, 4992.
You see how from a difficulty to find a good solution for a digital version it made me to move,transport, transfer to go to other forms of expression, go to the unknown.
All these versions, current and future, are therefore not copies (it is not a question of "resemblance"); they do not work in the same way (it's not about isomorphism), but it seems to me that they form a network, a constellation and act on each other.
This seems to me quite in agreement with my general approach to cinema (the site I created is called "Opening cinema").
all this is very succinct. I'm sorry I can’t translate the pages of the site into English! Maybe with automatic translation software you will have access to this work in progress!

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#988 Post by Superswede11 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:02 pm

Thanks for the information!

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#989 Post by dda1996a » Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:32 am

Ansedonia wrote:
Superswede11 wrote:Jonathan Rosenbaum's write-up of the experimental "montage" book PASSAGE DU CINÉMA, 4992, which Godard called “the only book to tell the history of cinema”, has me very excited to read it once my French is good enough. It's apparently also a multimedia project that includes a website, videos, and an "encrypted" version that looks intriguingly incomprehensible. Has anyone read any version of this?
Hello, it's me who composed and edited Passage du cinéma, 4992. I can quite admit that you are intrigued by this book that Jonathan Rosenbaum described as part of a multimedia project.
Here are some lines to contribute to an understanding of this project which is in constant becoming.
The decision not to publish the book in digital form, in French we say "digital version" made me think about the possible ways to interpret this word: "version". Later, I called "version" all the works I had imagined from the book: so, I piled up in my little garden all the paper copies of the work in progress of the book and I called it : « totem version »; so, I started long ago to make a ribbon from the numbers of the maintenance fragments composing the book according to the definite assembly order, assigning them a color (from the prism of light ), and I called it « number version » (not « encrypted version »); then there was the "filmed" version, which already has 4 films, the "exposed" version, and others are in preparation. It's never an idea at first sight, but once the work is done, I think it can become a "version" of Passage du cinéma, 4992.
You see how from a difficulty to find a good solution for a digital version it made me to move,transport, transfer to go to other forms of expression, go to the unknown.
All these versions, current and future, are therefore not copies (it is not a question of "resemblance"); they do not work in the same way (it's not about isomorphism), but it seems to me that they form a network, a constellation and act on each other.
This seems to me quite in agreement with my general approach to cinema (the site I created is called "Opening cinema").
all this is very succinct. I'm sorry I can’t translate the pages of the site into English! Maybe with automatic translation software you will have access to this work in progress!
Is translating it into English nigh impossible? This seems fascinating but I don't know a word of French

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#990 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Fri Mar 09, 2018 5:12 am

dda1996a wrote: Is translating it into English nigh impossible? This seems fascinating but I don't know a word of French
Given that it is 992 pages long it would be faster to learn French than have it properly translated.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#991 Post by dda1996a » Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:44 am

That's what I though but there have been longer books being translated into less used languages

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#992 Post by Ansedonia » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:55 pm

Hello, thank you for your interest in this book. Its length is not the main reason that makes a translation almost impossible. I think I was clear in the response message to Superswade11.
Often you learn a language by starting to read a novel. This book is also a bit like a novel. It can be an opportunity to learn French!
It is composed of fragments of interviews published in French magazines. So it's always a very simple French.
Just decide ...

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#993 Post by Godot » Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:40 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:
tenia wrote:I'm currently having a frenzy about BFI Film Classics books and am looking at buying a lot of them. However, considering how many there are and how, in total, it might amount to (both in terms of money, shelf space and time to read them), I'm wondering if any of you here would already know which ones can be avoided altogether because of how little they add...
Is there a way to buy these en masse? I love them, but they're so short I never wind up picking them up
There is a 2-volume hardcover collection of 50 monographs, arranged chronologically. It can be pricey, currently $90 on Amazon, but I bought it 18 months ago for $40, so keep your eyes open on your favorite internet used book seller. Also, I use CamelCamelCamel religiously to check whether current prices are out of norm, whether there are trends in used prices decreasing, etc. You can see my purchase back in 2016 at that $40 on the Camel page. Considering that it has 50 monographs, back when the series started and only covered classics, it's a wonderful deal, even at $90, if you don't already have any of them. When I bought it, I had about 35, but the remaining gaps were around $10 each, so I took the plunge. Plus, this allowed me some back-up relief if the individual volumes (which my oldest son takes with him nearly every day in car trips, etc., because of their small size and light weight) get damaged or lost. I love this series (and the BFI Modern Classics companion series that they released for a few years).

Also, we've discussed this series in years past in other threads, Tenia, so you should check those out for other suggestions and comments. Like this thread. But we also had some discussion on the first page of this very thread, back in 2005, where a few of us posted about our favorites (and I reveal my ignorance). I stand by my recommendation of the Indiana Press guides, though - Naremore on Psycho, Bordwell (as a grad student!) on Passion of Joan of Arc, great stuff and fast reads.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#994 Post by dda1996a » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:47 pm

It's actually $300 new or $85 used now

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#995 Post by Gregory » Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:08 am

Nope.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#996 Post by dda1996a » Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:59 am

How are Godard on Godard and Truffuat's Films in my Life?

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#997 Post by dda1996a » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:50 pm

Don't want to bump but I do want an answer before I get them.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#998 Post by domino harvey » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:55 pm

Godard on Godard is essential, but if you haven't seen many of the often relatively obscure films he discusses, it may not be rewarding. I've found it fun to revisit the compilation the more and more I've seen, though-- it's kind of a living study in my own film viewing over the last dozen years since I first read it

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#999 Post by Rayon Vert » Sun Mar 18, 2018 1:59 pm

I like them both, for what that's worth. The Truffaut one includes many articles and reviews from his days as a Cahiers et al. critic in the 50s, but also later articles (some presentations during festivals devoted to a director, for example) during the 60s and early 70s.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#1000 Post by Godot » Sun Mar 18, 2018 2:12 pm

dda1996a wrote:It's actually $300 new or $85 used now
Three sellers now have it listed for under $32 used in good condition. That's $0.60 per monograph. I highly recommend that for tenia and anyone else who wants to pick up a large number of these wonderful books at a low price.

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