Books to Read
closed book “The true University of these days is a Collection of Books.”
— Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), The Hero as a Man of Letters
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Film Books: cinema masters & film classics to enjoy...
Ingmar Bergman, Images: My Life in Film Ingmar Bergman, Images: My Life in Film (1994), Arcade, ISBN: 1559701862— Ingmar Bergman is a master of film and one of the great creative artists of this century. His career as a movie director, screenwriter, and producer spanned more than 40 years, during which he made such classics as Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Smiles of a Summer Night, Persona, Shame, Cries & Whispers, and Fanny & Alexander. His autobiography, The Magic Lantern (1989), was hailed by Time as “surely one of the finest self-portraits of an artist in our time.” Now, in Images, Bergman reviews over 50 of his films accompanied by 200+ photographs. Bergman relied on annotated scripts, newspapers, and the recollections of others, but especially on his own workbooks and diaries, from which he publishes extracts for the first time. Images is the creator's effort to “account for the sources” of his creation. It is a penetrating, unsentimental portrait of artistry and a fascinating self-portrait, a critical testament and a memoir. Because Bergman's life and films are so intimately intertwined, Images reveals so much about the man while offering countless insights into his work. Bergman takes us into the backstage world of memories and “the blurred X-rays of the soul.” He recounts film-making and explores the themes that bind them together— the preoccupations, anguish, and conflicts. He comments brilliantly and unsparingly on his successes as well as his perceived failures. He recalls the lessons he learned from his colleagues and pays them homage. 5 stars
Donald Richie, Films of Akira Kurosawa Donald Richie, The Films of Akira Kurosawa 3rd Edition, (1999), University California Press, ISBN: 0520220374Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, Yojimbo, Sanjuro, Red Beard, Ran, Dreams... film classics that trigger a flood of memories— all directed by Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998). Upon receiving an Oscars' Lifetime Achievement Award, Kurosawa said “I'm still learning how to make films.” Spoken in his 80's, Kurosawa's humility reminded me of Michelangelo's dying words in his 90's: “I am still learning to paint.” I'm awed that these two artists who have achieved the apex in their craft are still learning like children. This book surveys all of Kurosawa's films in an extraordinary 50-year career. In this incomparable study, Donald Richie, the foremost Japanese film critic, reflects on Kurosawa's life work of 30 feature films and describes his last, unfinished project, a film set in the Edo period to be called The Ocean Was Watching. Each film receives a comprehensive review, with numerous illustrations to underscore his analysis. Excerpts from the film scripts, notes on camera usage and sound, reconstructions of outstanding moments— all these contribute insights into the director's powerful technique. In addition, Richie includes many quotes from his conversations with Kurosawa, allowing ideas and biographical information to emerge in the filmmaker's own words. Avg. Review (3): 5 stars
Akira Kurosawa, Something Like an Autobiography (1995), Random House, ISBN: 0394714393
Bondanella, Cinema of Federico Fellini Peter E. Bondanella, The Cinema of Federico Fellini (1992), Princeton University Press; ISBN: 0691008752 — This major artistic biography of Fellini shows how his active imagination has been shaped by popular culture, literature, and his encounter with the ideas of Carl Jung, especially his dream interpretation. Covering Fellini's entire career, the book links his mature accomplishments to his first job as a cartoonist and his development as a leading neo-realist scriptwriter. The author explores key Fellinian themes to reveal his growth not only as a master of the visual image but also as an astute interpreter of culture and politics. Bondanella draws on a new archive of several dozen manuscripts, obtained from Fellini and his scriptwriters. These previously unexamined documents allow a thorough treatment of Fellini's important part in the rise of Italian neo-realism and cinema in the 1950s. By probing Fellini's recurring themes, the author reinterprets the visual qualities of the director's body of work— and also discloses in the films a critical and intellectual vitality often hidden by Fellini's reputation as a storyteller and entertainer. The book covers all of Fellini's films in analytical chapters arranged by topic instead of chronologically. These associative connections of Fellini's films provide surprising insights for advanced cinema students as well as delights for those who love Fellini's work. 5 stars
Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock François Truffaut, Hitchcock (Revised ed. 1985), Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 0671604295— review: Any interview with Alfred Hitchcock is valuable, but considering that this volume's interviewer is François Truffaut, the conversation is remarkable indeed. Here is a rare opportunity to eavesdrop on two cinematic masters from very different backgrounds as they cover each of Hitch's films in succession. First published in 1967 when Hitchcock was still active, Truffaut later prepared a revised edition that covered the final stages of his career. It's difficult to think of a more informative or entertaining introduction to Hitchcock's art, interests, and peculiar sense of humor. The book is a storehouse of insight and witticism, including the master's impressions of Rear Window, Psycho, Under Capricorn.This is one of the most delightful film books in print. Phillip Lopate raves in New York Times Book Reviewon Hitchcock's and Truffaut's inspired analysis of Notorious (a film they both loved), to their discussions about superior villains, suspense, movie-time versus real time, to Hitchcock's tendency to move his camera from the farthest to the nearest. Avg. Review (7): 4.5 stars
Parker Tyler, Early Classics of the Foreign Film Parker Tyler, Early Classics of the Foreign Film: A Pictorial Treasury (Reprint Ed. 1989), Citadel Press, ISBN: 0806511567Children of Paradise, Gates of Hell, Blue Angel, Ecstasy, 39 Steps, Grand Illusion, Alexander Nevsky, Apu Trilogy, Wild Strawberries, La Dolce Vita, Hiroshima: Mon Amour— these classics and many more are all here. First published in 1962, this is still my favorite guide to foreign films! Parker Tyler, a poet, art & film critic, and author of many film books, re-creates in pictures and text some 75 foreign films which he considers classic. In this pictorial book is a living record of film masters like Eisenstein, Renoir, Lang, Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Bergman, Antonioni, and Fellini. The meaning, style, and whole feel of films ranging in time from Lang's Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) to Antonioni's La Notte (1961) and in technique from Cocteau's Blood of a Poet (1930) to de Sica's Shoe Shine (1946), are conveyed clearly and concisely with a kind of magic. As always, Tyler's critique is broadly cultural in approach, combining keen social and psychological insights with a great sensitivity to aesthetic values. This book is an invaluable guide for the serious student of cinema or those who wish to use it as a checklist for video rental. But anyone interested in the movies, whether as art or entertainment, will find in it challenges for the mind and feasts for the eye. 5 stars

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