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Film Books

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2003 3:15 am
by wvq
The summer is here, and consequently I have time to do some reading. But I find that I never seem to know what film books are worth my time when I'm wandering the stacks of the library here. The problem is that I decide to read a book on, say, The New German Cinema, and I end up having to choose from twenty books about which I know next to nothing, and I don't really have time to read half of them until I find one that's worthwhile. So I figure I'll pick the brains of the folks here.

What film books have you found especially interesting, enlightening, instructive, eye-opening, etc.? I'm willing to read about pretty much anything, though it would be nice if there was some chance that I'd be able to find a good many of the films discussed in whatever is being recommended to me. (But please don't be shy about recommending something something covering a relatively obscure area of the cinema, as I'm willing to try and track things down.)

I'll also toss out some recommendations of my own. I'm sorry if most of these choices are fairly obvious, but I'm not expert here.

Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan by Robin Wood. (This is my personal favorite of the Wood books I've read, although I also recommend Sexual Politics and Narrative film, a book I just picked up a few days ago, along with his books on Hawks and Hitchcock.)
The Altering Eye by Robert Kolker. (I posted a thread on this being available online, and I'll gladly recommend it to anyone interested in foreign cinema.)
Movies as Politics by Jonathan Rosenbaum. (These are really just reviews taken from the Chicago Reader, but they're all quite good. I also recommend Placing Movies, which is more of the same and may be even better.)
The American Cinema: Directors and Directions by Andrew Sarris. (I'm sure you're all familiar with this, but there it is. Confessions of a Cultist is good as well, though I find I can only take so much of Sarris' prose at one time.)
The New Wave by James Monaco. (I'm sure there are better books about Godard, Truffaut, Rivette, et al. out there, but I'm not too familiar with the literature here.)
Italian Cinema by Peter Bondanella. (Again, I don't doubt that there are better works on this subject. This did involve more than competent coverage of what I take to be the main figures, however.)

And a pair of works on major filmmakers:
Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity by Tom Gunning. (Truly excellent coverage of about half of Lang's oeuvre. There's a lot here that I don't agree with, but it's very thoughtful and intellectually stimulating.)
John Ford: The Man and His Films by Tag Gallagher. (I've been trying to acquaint myself with more of Ford's work, and I picked this up to help me through the process. I think Mr. Gallagher may be trying to do a bit too much here--he tries to say something about nearly every extant Ford film as well as provide some helpful biographical facts. This makes the book very informative but a tad thin in places, despite its nearly 500 pages. Nevertheless, these are mild reservations, and I happily recommend this book to anyone interested in Ford.)

I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, but that's what I can come up with at the moment.

Re: Film Books

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2003 6:30 am
by Gaz
What little reading about film I have done has been rather selective (Fassbinder, Truffaut etc.), but I found Malle on Malle, ed. Philip French, really fascinating. The best thing one can say about a book on film is that it makes you want to go and watch some of the films it discusses, and I found this book to be one such. I highly recommend it if you can find a copy.

As for Malle's films they're more readily available in the US than the UK, but a DVD release for Le Souffle au Coeur, Lacombe Lucien etc. is overdue.