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June 16, 2010


Books about movies: the Brits beat us

BFI Film Classics, Star Wars

The other day I mentioned a new series of short books about individual movies that Soft Skull Press was going to launch later this year. Cool, right? Sort of like the 33 1/3 series of books about individual albums that I like a lot. Everyone's got a movie they've watched enough times they could probably write a book about it, it seems, so this sounded like a wonderful and novel idea.

Except that the British already did it. A film buff friend who knows a thousand times more than I ever will about German expressionism and film noir pointed out that if I'm so psyched about this new series, maybe I should check out BFI's existing series of short books about movies. Ahem.

Since the 90's, the BFI (British Film Institute) has been putting out these great little books as part of its Film Classics series, and they've got some really good ones. Like, well over 100 of them. They've got tons of standard selections like like Star Wars (above), Vertigo, and Lawrence of Arabia, and smart, less popular favorites like Night of the Living Dead, Cat People, and Sweet Smell of Success, which comes out later this summer.

But check these out. They did a book about Groundhog Day. Spirited Away. In August they're putting out Back to the Future. Manohla Dargis did the book about L.A. Confidential ! They got freaking Salman Rushdie to write the book about The Wizard of Oz !

They're all available in the US through Macmillan, and they're all up on Amazon, too. Just about all of them are 10 or 11 bucks, and mostly under 100 pages! Though, mysteriously, no books about Alien or Tootsie.

Wow. Hard to know where to start. Maybe I'll go for Mark Kermode's book on The Exorcist--he's pretty great, and apparently believes it's the greatest movie ever made.

categories: Books, Media, Movies
posted by amy at 3:28 PM | #

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Oh yeah, the BFI books are great! I have the one about CRASH prominently displayed on my shelf---that might be a movie that's more fun to analyze than watch.

Posted by: That Fuzzy Bastard at June 16, 2010 11:05 PM

That's David Cronenberg's Crash, right. The unsexiest movie about sex ever. I've tried to watch it a few times and just don't get anywhere. Maybe it's Cronenberg's worst movie?

Anyway, yeah, definitely a movie that was designed for theorists and not for actual viewing.

Posted by: amy at June 16, 2010 11:21 PM

Agreed, Crash might be more fun to read about than to watch.

They appear to have a few books available on TV shows - Prime Suspect caught my eye.

But thankfully, nothing yet on Starship Troopers, which I will gladly get cracking on after I wrap up my 33 1/3 book on Duran Duran's Rio.

Posted by: ORStylee at June 17, 2010 2:33 AM

Not nearly enough has been written about Starship Troopers, which masterfully treads the line between pro-fascist propaganda piece and soft core gay domination porn better than any move since Out of Africa.

Posted by: T-Rock at June 17, 2010 10:50 AM

Mind you, I love Cronenberg's Crash---I find it unsexy (except the car wash scene, which is yowza), but also quite sad, and weirdly funny. But there's just so much to analyze, especially visually, that the exegisis might be the best part.

Posted by: That Fuzzy Bastard at June 17, 2010 5:45 PM

I'm one of those completely uncool people that finds Starship Troopers almost unwatchable. I know, I know, it's all a big self-aware satire and it's hilarious and ironic. But watching Denise Richards woodenly recite her lines with that blank stare is like nails on a chalkboard.

I definitely need to read ORStylee's forthcoming book about it then should try watching it again--now that I have a deeper appreciation for the comic skills of Neil Patrick Harris, I'll probably see it in a whole new light. And Rio! Yes yes yes! I hope you write about the LP release with the full-length version of "Hold Back the Rain".

I want to check out some of those BFI TV books, too--I'm an adoring fanatic for Prime Suspect, and I bet the Buffy one is more fun than the show was.

Posted by: amy at June 19, 2010 12:14 PM

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