Film Books Round-Up
The debate about US cinema from the late 1960s continues with Yale graduate Mark Harris’ Scenes from a Revolution (Canongate ••••). It starts with the fairly flaky premise that the 1967 Academy Award ceremony was the night that the new Hollywood was born thanks to the nomination of then radical films as Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate alongside the usual studio pap (Dr Doolitle, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?). From this supposition, however, Harris builds a fresh and detailed portrait of counter-culturalism on the move through American cinema. Harris’ style is easy and lucid and well worth spending time with.
Kamera Books continue their commendable series of books dedicated to encapsulating film genres of the world. DK Holm’s Independent Cinema and Brian Mills’ Horror Films (Kamera •••) are solidly written if fairly simplistic introductions to complex often osmotic genres. They do, however, both come with a DVD of interesting shorts.
For those looking for more heavyweight fare there’s always the newest Projections (Faber ••••). This, the 15th collection of articles and interviews with leading film folk is dedicated to the work of the European Film Academy, a body founded in 1988 as a cinematic brotherhood to bring together filmmakers from across the East/West divide. With an introduction by the mighty Derek Malcolm, some really tasty essays by Wim Wenders and Liv Ullman, and interviews with Jeanne Moreau and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, this is worth anyone’s pocket money. The best film book out anywhere in the world at the moment, however, has to be Tarkovsky (Black Dog Publishing •••••). Edited by film writer Nathan Dunne this beautifully designed, annotated and written hardback is a collection of critical theory essays about the work of the great Russian filmmaker (pictured on the set of Nostalgia). With illuminating contributions from filmmaker Marc Forster and Evgeny Tsymbal and some quite stunning pieces of re-evaluation by academic film theorists James Quandt, Bhaskar Sarkar, Robert Bird and Dunne plus poems by Tarkovsky’s father, Arsene, and an old letter from Jean-Paul Sartre to Tarkovsky, this is a seminal text. At almost £30 it is a coffee book table investment but one you will not regret.