Film Books Round-up

In Talking Movies (Wallflower, 4 Stars) Jason Wood interviews more than 30 contemporary filmmakers including Carlos Reygadas, Richard Linklater, Atom Egoyan, Lucrecia Martel, Elia Suleiman and Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Wood’s project is wonderfully international in scope, and there are numerous good observations from his interviewees. Professional biographer Charlotte Chandler has not one but two biographies out. Bette Davis - The Girl Who Walked Home Alone (Pocket Books, 3 Stars) and the other on Bergman, Ingrid - A Personal Biography (Simon and Schuster, 3 Stars) are hardly great works of biographical research, but they are very engaging examples of celebrity self-examination.

Chandler’s books are basically based on interviews with Davis and Bergman, and as she allows her subjects to open up, whether it is Davis talking lucidly about the ageing process, or Bergman about the importance of love, these are works that definitely allow us to feel close to two of cinema’s most important stars. William J Mann’s Hepburn bio, Kate - The Woman Who Was Katherine Hepburn (Faber, 3 Stars) is an impressively researched tome, and while this is one of those biographies where we learn much about Hepburn’s love affairs and personal quirks, the book is ultimately more scurrilous than revealing. Brian J Robb’s decidedly (and deliberately) superficial run-through of Silent Cinema (Kamera Books, 3 Stars), offers us chapters with titles including ‘The Silent Clowns’, ‘The Dramatic Stars’ and ‘Silent Scandals’, which gives some sense of the book’s expected readership. Sure, there are mentions of Eisenstein and Lang, Keaton and Chaplin, but the book keeps to the surface and rarely offers analytic probes. James Morrison’s The Cinema of Todd Haynes - All That Heaven Allows (Wallflower, 3 Stars) is an academic work full of references to desire, ‘ambisexuality’ and Deleuze - the philosopher looking as if he’s suspiciously been drafted into Anglo-American film studies to replace Derrida as an intellectual touchstone.

(Tony McKibbin)

Post a comment