Author Topic: Favourite film reference books?  (Read 1403 times)

Jake Thingray

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Favourite film reference books?
« on: September 09, 2010, 08:20:14 PM »
One could argue that these have been made obsolete by the internet, but I still have a soft spot for quite a few, in which for some reason the authors all seemed to be called David. The amount of information in David Shipman's THE GREAT MOVIE STARS is tremendous, compensating for the amount of opinion, although more often than not I find myself in agreement. Only a philistine could dismiss David Thomson (anyone who deliberately doesn't include Roger Moore, in his BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF FILM, has to be all right), although his going on about Nicole Kidman seems evidence of some kind of mid-life crisis. David Quinlan's pithy descriptions, in his directories of stars, character actors and directors, remain a joy; one of his best being that Barry Foster resembled "a serious Jon Pertwee".

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2010, 08:31:29 PM »
When I was a student, I had Leonard Maltin's film guide, and I would read a few pages before bed every night. I got into so many awesome films that way - now, of course, the Leonard Maltin app for the iPhone does the same thing.

My two personal favourites:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Baked-Potatoes-Smokers-Guide-Video/dp/0385478372
I neither confirm or deny my own hobbies, but it's informative and hilarious.

And the "Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film" is awesome too, if a little out of date.

Tiny Poster

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2010, 08:32:13 PM »
When I was a student, I had Leonard Maltin's film guide, and I would read a few pages before bed every night. I got into so many awesome films that way - now, of course, the Leonard Maltin app for the iPhone does the same thing.

Do you listen to Doug Loves Movies?

Catalogue Trousers

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2010, 09:22:13 PM »
Any of Kim Newman's film books are well worth a shufti. I'd also recommend all of the Cult Movies tomes by Danny Peary (with a little help from some friends), although the latter do seem to be as rare as rocking-horse shit on Amazon or Abebooks.

...edit...

....or maybe NOT! £3.82 plus p&p for Vol 1. Get in there!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cult-Movies-Classics-Sleepers-Wonderful/dp/0385281862/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284063791&sr=8-1

Absorb the anus burn

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2010, 09:34:47 PM »
Pauline Kael is a great film critic with loads of interesting points to make. Her books are still in print, I think... I hope!

Serge

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2010, 12:55:15 AM »
I find David Thomson smug and annoying, but I still have his damn reference book on my shelf. The smug, annoying bastard.

A big 'yes!' to Danny Peary's Cult Movies books, too. I remember taking one out of the library when I was a kid and loving it, so I was overjoyed when I found all three [nb]Presuming there haven't been any more since Volume 3?[/nb] in a comic/ cult ephemera-type shop in Nottingham, which is coincidentally where I got his Encyclopedia Of Cult Movie Stars from, too.

Also, Michael J Weldon's 'Psychotronic  Encyclopedia Of Film' is possibly the most entertaining volume on film I own, even if I have only seen one per cent of the movies in it. The same goes for the two volumes of 'Video Trash And Treasures' which I bought back in the early nineties, quite possibly in the same shop I got the Cult Movies books from mentioned above. [nb]Also the same shop I first saw 'Far Side' books in. I used to love shopping in Nottingham.[/nb]

When I've got more time, I might start a sister thread to this about general film books so I can wax on about Joe Queenan and Peter Biskind.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2010, 06:56:42 AM »
Do you listen to Doug Loves Movies?
I do, it's loads of fun.

Also, I'd rather contract an unpleasant disease than read anything Kim Newman had to say on any subject. When I was younger and stupider I tried to read one of his novels, and every time I turn on Channel 4 I see his stupid topiaried face with its unbearably smug expression pontificating on some subject or other.

Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2010, 06:18:09 PM »
Not a book, but in pre-broadband days I used to love Cinemania 95, a CD rom database containing the entirety of Leonard Maltin's book up to that point, and where available Roger Ebert and (truncated, granted) Pauline Kael reviews and sometimes an extra (often actually pretty good) review from some poor uncredited Microsoft employee. The only reason I don't still love it is because I can't find the bloody thing.

Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2010, 06:58:09 PM »
I'm sure in one Maltin book, every film with Keith Carradine refers to him as 'wooden', something I always felt was a bit unfair.

Pauline Kael is a great film critic with loads of interesting points to make. Her books are still in print, I think... I hope!
Kael does have her negative side. In Easy Riders, Raging Bulls there's a bit about her trying to influence film makers - when giving advice, she expected it to be taken and not impressed when it wasn't.

One film  maker she tended to have it in for was Orson Welles - her treatment of him in Raising Kane was, I feel, disgraceful and displayed a considerable lack of objectivity. I think it was in his Movidedrome introduction to F for Fake Alex Cox had an interesting take - that the essay made Hollywood feel better about the treatment of him.

Quote
Ronald Bergan writes: It was Pauline Kael's agnostic and negatively influential views on the auteur theory that drove her, in part, to write Raising Kane in 1971. Her main theory was that Herman J Mankiewicz was virtually the sole author of the script of Citizen Kane, and that Orson Welles had tried to steal credit for the picture from him. Welles was deeply hurt by the piece, and even thought of suing Kael for libel.

Kael admitted that she had deliberately avoided talking to Welles and his colleagues while researching the essay. But by failing to even consider Welles's side of the authorship controversy, she was unable to analyse the case fully.

In 1972, in Esquire, Peter Bogdanovich proved convincingly that Welles had transformed Mankiewicz's script from the literary to the filmic. Remarkable a critic as Kael was, in her efforts to praise the Hollywood screenwriter, she failed to recognise that the screenplay was only one element in a movie that had Welles's stamp on every frame.
The above is from http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2001/sep/05/guardianobituaries.arts1 and worth a read.

However, I've found her to be a most interesting read.

Absorb the anus burn

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2010, 08:49:11 PM »
Thanks Ignatius_S, I didn't know that - I will have to read Raising Kane sometime, but I'm a bit tired of Orson after overdosing on his films for years - and F For Fake is boring, horrible self-indulgent nonsense... At the same time he was hosting a forgotten ITV horror anthology series called "Orson Welles' Great Mysteries' which (for me) trounces anything he did for cinema after 1965.

There is a good 'negative' story about Kael from director Wes Anderson, who persuaded her to come out of retirement / her virtual recluse status to see his film Rushmore. Anyway, she hated it and told him so. She went back home and died. End Of Story.

I worked my way through all of her books and some of her reviews and opinions have stayed with me for twenty years... I love it when she takes a film like 'Invasion Of The Bodysnacthers' (the 1978 version) and says: "For undiluted pleasure and excitement, it may be the best movie of its kind ever made". I checked out loads of 70s American cinema (things like 'The Parallax View') largely on her writings and many of these films are still up there with my all time favourites.

Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2010, 09:42:43 PM »
Is there any Peter Biskind reviews around, internet or in book form?  I'm assuming they exist, but I've only read his more general stuff.

Marty McFly

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2010, 10:36:58 PM »
In Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

Reading this at the moment, not exactly a 'reference' book, but a fascinating one nonetheless for anybody into late 60s and 70s cinema.

Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2010, 11:07:19 PM »
There is a good 'negative' story about Kael from director Wes Anderson, who persuaded her to come out of retirement / her virtual recluse status to see his film Rushmore. Anyway, she hated it and told him so. She went back home and died. End Of Story

Really?

Absorb the anus burn

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2010, 11:19:03 PM »
Sorry yes Bottlerocket, not Rushmore. I get confused with all these compound film names ;-)

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2010, 10:20:18 AM »
The only reason I don't still love it is because I can't find the bloody thing.
http://web2.airmail.net/daniel12/danlinks.htm

seems to have had a link to it. Arse. It sounds intriguing, now I want to check it out.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 11:15:53 AM by Famous Mortimer »

Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2010, 11:15:39 AM »
Ta very much.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2010, 11:19:56 AM »
Ta very much.
Don't bother thanking me, didn't notice the link was dead. Sounds like an excellent project though, I'm surprised no-one's taken it on and run with it.

Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2010, 11:31:29 AM »
There was also an archive of all of Kael's reviews from Cinemania which similarly seems to have disappeared, and all or most of Maltin's reviews used to be on IMDB. I guess someone figured these were all too much of a problem for sales.

I really do wonder how Maltin has managed to see all the stuff he's seen; he also wrote what is arguably the definitive book on the golden age of American Animation (Of Mice and Magic). There really don't seem to be enough hours in the human life, let alone a father's.

Marty McFly

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2010, 09:29:23 PM »
The same goes for the two volumes of 'Video Trash And Treasures' which I bought back in the early nineties

Sounds quite similar to this one I found at a car boot last year..


Glebe

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2010, 08:55:22 PM »
Maltin's guide is terrific, although I certainly don't share all his opinions. The Phonebook-sized Videohound's Golden Movie is (was?) a good read too... although it's so big, inevitably it gets some details wrong.

biggytitbo

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Re: Favourite film reference books?
« Reply #20 on: September 12, 2010, 09:47:08 PM »
Even though he was a grumpy old cunt who didn't like anything after 1948, I devoured the hallowed film guide, virtually me prised the entire book. To those day, if you give me a film title I can tell you who directed it and what year it was made like rain man.