Film Books Round-Up
- Paul Dale
- 30 April 2009
Liberal, Jewish, prolific, daring and bald – there can be little doubt that theatre and film director Otto Preminger (pictured, above) was one of Austria’s greatest gifts to Hollywood. Literary consideration of Preminger’s oeuvre, which includes a handful of genuine greats (The Man with the Golden Arm, Anatomy of a Murder, Angel Face, Advise and Consent, Bunny Lake is Missing) is thin on the ground. Writer, critic and translator Chris Fujiwara’s critical biography The World and Its Double: The Life and Work of Otto Preminger (Faber ••••) seeks to redress this. Fujiwara follows Preminger's career trajectory and output with a forensic closeness. He brings this volatile and much misunderstood filmmaker to life in all his old world glory. This chunky volume was clearly something of a labour of love and is undoubtedly the most rewarding and thorough of biographies about Preminger.
Mark Bould's Lone Star: The Cinema of John Sayles (Wallflower •••) is another in the Director's Cuts series from this progressive publisher. Again it's a series of very highbrow discussions about each of this great filmmaker's works. As with all these books, Bould treads across a critical theory minefield and evokes Gramsci, Marx, Freud and Lukács by way of analysis. When not overpoweringly academic in tone, Bould's prose style is actually a little too flat to maintain interest but still this may be of interest to film studies students.
Carole Zucker's Dark Carnival: The Cinema of Neil Jordon (Wallflower ••••) is slightly better mainly because Jordon's cooperation is evident from the beginning with some interview material and an introduction by his friend and actor Stephen Rea. Also, Jordon's work is so rich in violence, gothic horror and myth that it allows Zucker to move away from the fog and mirrors of critical theory speak and address some fundamental themes in Jordon's work.
Tony Bill's mildly amusing Movie Speak (Workman Publicity •••) is a dictionary of 'How to Talk Like You Belong on a Film Set'. All the technical and slang terms you will ever need to blag your way on to the set of George Clooney's latest film are her – just make sure you know your billy clip (a vice grip) from your BFL (Big Fucking Light) or your Rhubarb (gibberish dialogue) from your Rembrandt (on set painter).