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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repeat
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#901 Post by repeat » Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:32 am

Two exciting new English-language tomes in the Austrian Film Museum's excellent series of publications: Hou Hsiao-hsien and Joe Dante. A nice article on the latter here.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#902 Post by Zaki » Wed May 21, 2014 10:06 am

University of California Press holds a two day 40% off sale (today & tomorrow). The discount code is 14W8436.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#903 Post by greggster59 » Wed May 21, 2014 10:41 am

Taschen gives 2001: A Space Odyssey the Deluxe treatment.

http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalog ... dyssey.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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jindianajonz
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Re: The Best Books About Film

#904 Post by jindianajonz » Wed May 21, 2014 10:49 am

greggster59 wrote:Taschen gives 2001: A Space Odyssey the Deluxe treatment.

http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalog ... dyssey.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I got a catalog from them that showed that; the actual box looked nicer there than the website makes it out to be. It is kind of like the Napoleon box, where it opens up and has a couple different-sized books situated inside. Once they release the inevitable "cheap" edition, I'll probably snag it on Amazon.

Also, the Napoleon book came with an invitation to a party at the Kubrick estate for anyone who bought the expensive limited edition; I'm kind of suprised they didn't do something similar with this release to help justify the cost.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#905 Post by greggster59 » Wed May 21, 2014 10:56 am

Also, the Napoleon book came with an invitation to a party at the Kubrick estate for anyone who bought the expensive limited edition; I'm kind of suprised they didn't do something similar with this release to help justify the cost.
They did in fact send out an invitation. It's for Thursday, June 5 at the Kubrick estate.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#906 Post by Larry Lipton » Wed May 21, 2014 5:31 pm

Any opinions on Duncan Reekie's "Subversion: The Definitive History of Underground Cinema"? Definitive is a big word - and if it lives up to that, is it readable, too?

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#907 Post by LasMatas » Fri May 23, 2014 4:49 pm

"HOLLYWOOD UK" by Alexander Walker and its sequel, "NATIONAL HEROES" are essential reading for anyone looking to understand the intersection between art and commerce in post-war British Cinema.

"MY INDECISION IS FINAL" by Jake Eberts, for both its candid and lucid explication of the Rise and Fall of Goldcrest Film, but also for having one of the all-time great titles.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#908 Post by YnEoS » Mon May 26, 2014 7:22 pm

Can anyone recommend any books or essays that discuss international film distribution and film festivals in the 40s-60s, like distinguishing films made primarily for local audiences and then picking up international attention as opposed to films made specifically for international audiences?

I plan on reading "The International Film Industry, Western Europe and America Since 1945" by Thomas Guback, which Bordwell cites in his "The Art Cinema as Mode of Film Practice" essay, but that was written in 1969 and I'm wondering if any new work has been written on the topic since.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#909 Post by LasMatas » Wed May 28, 2014 3:16 pm

Adrian Turner's "ROBERT BOLT: SCENES FROM TWO LIVES" is a very richly observed account of the great screenwriter and playwright and makes an ideal companion to Kevin Brownlow's "DAVID LEAN". Adrian Turner served as Brownlow's editor on the Lean bio, so it all fits together as a whole.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#910 Post by YnEoS » Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:45 pm

I'm about to finish up the large Film Theory & Criticism anthology, and I'm wondering what's the best course of action for following it up and getting up to date with the current state of film theory. Any big gaps that need filling, more modern key texts that update the main questions, or alternative anthologies that would complement the material discussed here?


I do plan on reading full versions of the key texts and the works of the authors I most enjoyed to try and get a better understanding of their positions.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#911 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:30 pm

A new title from Wallflower Press that looks quite promising: The Struggle for Form: Perspectives on Polish Avant-Garde Film 1916–1989 (Edited by Kamila Kuc and Michael O'Pray). Has anyone here read it? Michael Brooke?

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#912 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:14 pm

For those into tokusatsu, Steve Ryfle's Japan's Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big-G" and Stuart Galbriath IV's Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo are two wonderful resources, packed full of information, historical data, and tales about both the films themselves and the Japanese film industry at the time. Both OOP now, sadly, but wonderful and highly recommended.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#913 Post by knives » Tue Sep 23, 2014 11:15 pm

It doesn't have to be limited to books, but I'm curious if anyone here knows any good sources on screwballs particularly those similar to the Altman musicals book? I'd also love anything specific to off the beaten path films such as Casanova Brown. As aways thanks ahead of time for any and all suggestions.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#914 Post by Gregory » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:03 am

Off the top of my head, my top two suggestions would be (1) Deborah Thomas's Beyond Genre, which has superb chapters on Monkey Business and Palm Beach Story; and (2) though it's not just about screwball comedies (its scope goes up through 1965 and the Doris Day–Rock Hudson sex comedies), Kathrina Glitre's Hollywood Romantic Comedy: States of the Union is great.
Beyond that, one of the earliest books is Stanley Cavell's Pursuits of Happiness, which uses a somewhat narrow critical focus on seven of the best-known films to argue that there is a genre which he calls the "comedy of remarriage." Not a major favorite of mine, but worth reading.
There's not enough on Leo McCarey, and so it's worth seeking out vol. 7 of The Hollywood Professionals by Leland A. Poague, which covers Wilder and McCarey.
Robin Wood's Sexual Politics and Narrative Film has a great chapter on McCarey.
Material on Hawks's comedies is more plentiful and easier to find. McBride's interview book contains disappointingly little about Bringing up Baby.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#915 Post by ianthemovie » Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:16 am

I think Cavell's Pursuits of Happiness is still seen as a foundational theory of screwball/romantic comedy. It's pretty densely theoretical though, so be prepared.

When I wrote an undergrad thesis on screwball comedy a while back I also found Maria DiBattista's Fast-Talking Dames to be good. She mostly focuses on the actresses (Rosalind Russell, Barbara Stanwyck, Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, et al.). Classical Hollywood Comedy is a good anthology of academic essays. James Harvey's Romantic Comedy in Hollywood is more of a history/appreciation, with lots of b&w pictures. He tends to group movies by star or by director (Lubitsch, Sturges, etc.). Harvey discusses a broader range of films and many lesser-known titles, where DiBattista and Cavell tend to stick to the classics.

There is also a good chapter on Rock Hudson and Pillow Talk in Steven Cohan's Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies of the Fifties.

I know people have complained about Marian Keane's audio commentaries, but I found them extremely useful as an introduction to thinking about screwball comedy. Her commentary for The Lady Eve is what made me want to write that thesis. Bob Gilpin's commentary for My Man Godfrey is also pretty good. He may also have a book about screwball comedy and social class.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#916 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:35 pm

Exciting news from Austrian Film Museum (who also published that recent book on Hou Hsiao-hsien): Be Sand, Not Oil: The Life and Work of Amos Vogel.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#917 Post by Numero Trois » Sun Mar 08, 2015 4:14 pm

I'm sure a lot of you guys read this when it first came out-

Conversations with the Great Moviemakers of Hollywood's Golden Age at the American Film Institute by George Stevens, Jr. Easily one of the most impressive interview book I've ever come across. I was especially struck with how self-aware many of them were with the type of films the studios were constantly trying to foist on them. Vidor especially stood out in that regard here. And it's not just for a general audience- there's quite a bit of useful advice that budding filmmakers can get from it.

And the list-
Harold Lloyd, Raoul Walsh, King Vidor, Fritz Lang, Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, Mamoulian, William Wyler, Hitchcock, Cukor, Wilder, Huston, Kazan, Zinneman, Lean, Wise, Lehman, Gene Kelly, Richard Brooks, Renoir, Fellini, Bergman, Satyajit Ray, James Wong Howe, Mervyn Leroy, William Clothier, Ray Bradbury, Stanley Cortez, Hal Wallis

Just outstanding.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#918 Post by Dr Amicus » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:58 am

I've just finished reading Elizabeth Sussex's The Rise and Fall of British Documentary: The Story of the Film Movement Founded by John Grierson. Apart from the obvious problem with the first part of the title, this is a really interesting and entertaining oral history of the Grierson group being an edited transcription of interviews that Elizabeth Sussex carried out with Grierson, Elton, Anstey, Cavalcanti and others in the early 1970s with occasional commentary (both factual and critical) interspersed. It has all the pleasures of an Oral History (some amusing anecdotes, grumpiness galore as Grierson describes the later COI films as shabby) as well as the limitations. With the proviso that the BFI's DVD releases over the past few years have shown that there was life after Grierson et al, this is still pretty much a must read for those interested in the subject - it's just a shame it seems long out of print (my copy, bought via Amazon last year, is an old library copy).

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#919 Post by Cold Bishop » Tue May 05, 2015 3:05 am

I'm curious: does anyone know of any good books about screenplays that aren't simply "how-to's"? Something that gets into it as it's own form? Certainly a really good how-to could cover such things, but I'm hard pressed to find anything like this.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#920 Post by The Doogster » Tue May 05, 2015 3:57 am

Cold Bishop wrote:I'm curious: does anyone know of any good books about screenplays that aren't simply "how-to's"? Something that gets into it as it's own form? Certainly a really good how-to could cover such things, but I'm hard pressed to find anything like this.
The two best books I'v read on screenwriting are:

On Film-Making by Alexander Mackendrick
The Tools of Screenwriting by David Howard and Edward Mabley

The first is conceptual rather than how-to. The second is partly how-to, but it also examines many individual movies to see how the theory works. What I like about these books is that they are "pre-Field" in that they are old-school examples of the art of screenwriting. Syd Field changed everything in the late 70s when he turned everything into a formula.

The "industry standard" is Robert McKee's Story. However, be warned, it is very dense and can come across as preachy and dogmatic. Still, there's lots of good stuff in there. Just not for beginners.

For beginners who don't want to wade through McKee, there is Making A Good Script Great by Linda Seger. It covers all the bases on what a good modern screenplay should do.

From an insider's perspective, check out Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman.

Another good, although very technical, book is Linda Aaronson's The 21st Century Screenplay, which examines the trend in non-linear story-telling. Not for the faint-hearted.

Stay away from a book called Save The Cat by Blake Snyder, unless you want to understand why all modern Hollywood movies feel like the same movie.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#921 Post by MichaelB » Tue May 05, 2015 4:03 am

I'm very glad you brought up the Mackendrick book, because it's not an obvious choice when it comes to screenwriting how-tos (since Mackendrick was a director rather than a screenwriter), and yet it has some absolutely superb examples.

I'm particularly familiar with his notes on Clifford Odets' rewrite of The Sweet Smell of Success, as I edited them recently for the booklet accompanying Arrow's release, and they're a fascinating illustration of how a good script can be made great with the addition of a second screenwriter with decades of experience of dramatic construction. The scene in which J.J. Hunsecker and Tony Falco meet on screen for the first time, with dialogue constantly ricocheting between the two of them and the three people already at Hunsecker's table, is an absolute masterclass in how to convey reams of essential exposition without ever seeming as though you're spoonfeeding the audience. Crucially, all five characters, including the three who never appear again, have their own distinct personalities and motivations, and there are clear reasons over and above overarching narrative ones for them to say what they say at any given moment.

Mackendrick also vividly describes how long this process took, and how many discussions and rewrites were necessary before Odets professed himself satisfied with a scene that plays out utterly naturally and spontaneously in its final form.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#922 Post by The Doogster » Tue May 05, 2015 4:47 am

MichaelB wrote:I'm very glad you brought up the Mackendrick book, because it's not an obvious choice when it comes to screenwriting how-tos (since Mackendrick was a director rather than a screenwriter), and yet it has some absolutely superb examples.
Yes, that example from The Sweet Smell of Success is one of the best examples of screenwriting. Seeing its genesis from beginning to final form constitutes a masterclass.

Mackendrick's analysis of The Third Man is also spectacular. So spectacular that I've got a photocopy of it stuck on the wall next to my computer.

I think the book is essential for anyone involved in story-telling, whether as a writer of novels or screenplays, a director, an actor, or even a film editor.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#923 Post by Ann Harding » Thu Nov 05, 2015 5:06 am

I guess blowing my own horn is not forbidden. I translated in English my biography of Albert Capellani and University Press of Kentucky is releasing it next month. If you are interested in early film making in France and the US, you may want to read Albert Capellani - Pioneer of the Silent Screen.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#924 Post by Tom Amolad » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:43 am

Congratulations on the book!

If promotion of books in which one had a hand isn't verboten, might I mention two I just midwifed?

One is a book by a very smart French philosopher named Peter Szendy, called Apocalypse-Cinema: 2012 and Other Ends of the World. Beyond a series of delightful readings of movies about the apocalypse, Szendy's central claim is that cinema enacts a theory of apocalypse in its claims about the film-world and its termination at the end of the movie. Those in the New York Area can catch Peter in a conversation with Emily Apter about the book at the Albertine Bookstore (a new French-language bookstore on the Upper East Side, which everyone should know about) on February 16, probably at 7.

The second, on Christensen's Haxan, is written by two anthropologists, Richard Baxstrom and Todd Meyers, and is called: Realizing the Witch: Science, Cinema, and the Mastery of the Invisible. The book offers a close readings of the ways this bizarre film undercuts its director's claims to a scientific analysis of female hysteria. In the process, Baxstrom and Meyers sketch a genealogy of modern anthropology as a problematic mediated by the tensions of documentary form's relation to truth and fiction. Those in New York can attend a book discussion at Book Culture (near Columbia) later this Month, on November 24, at 7.

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Re: The Best Books About Film

#925 Post by big ticket » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:46 pm

ando wrote: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.)
I realize I'm quoting a fairly old post, so anyone else with any input may please feel free to chime in, but any recommendations on how to attack these projects? Should I watch Histoire(s) or read the book first? Concurrently? Does it even matter?

Obviously the film was produced well before the book existed, but I'm eager to get the most out of my media!

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