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May 2008, Week 4


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Mon, 26 May 2008 23:33:11 -0400
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A couple not about film that are worth considering:

Matt Madden's 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style - Madden takes the premise from Queneau's book and tells a small incident in 99 different ways in comics form.  Some of it is a bit specifically aimed at comics folk (who else will know Toppfer or ligne clair?) but overall this works better for film than Queneau's prose, some of the latter based on rhetorical devices few of us recognize.

Barthes' S/Z - For conceptually sorting out (or even creating) various threads of an artwork, even if in sometimes excruciating detail and dubious utility it's still one of those books that can change the way you think.

Berger's Ways of Seeing was a great suggestion from another post.

I'd also suggest one or two novels about film.  Day of the Locust and Thomson's Suspects are obvious choices but Tim Lucas' Throat Sprockets effectively portrays both an type of obsessive and narrow cinephilia that's more and more common as well as a psychosexual (for once no other word seems appropriate) engagement with movies.

How-to books have something to offer a purely scholarly approach.  I learned a lot from Michael Caine's Acting in Film, at least in part because some of it is quite specific (don't blink during closeups).  There are a million screenplay books and though McKee's Story is highly regarded I think it's worthless except for people who think writing is essentially painting-by-numbers.  David Mamet's nonfiction is usually much more interesting even if he rambles far too much and thinks more like a playwright than a filmmaker (big surprise huh?).  

Raul Ruiz's Poetics of Cinema is much more sturdy than its title (or most of his films) would suggest.  This Is Orson Welles is a re-readable though certainly individual look at the film business (among many, many other things).  And Pete Tombs' Mondo Macabro if only for its "more things in heaven and earth Horatio" approach to the abundant oddities of world cinema.

-----Original Message-----
>From: James Monaco <[log in to unmask]>
>Sent: May 18, 2008 4:41 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: [SCREEN-L] Books about film
>For a new edition of How to Read a Film we're preparing a list of 100  
>(or so) books everyone learning about the medium should read. Besides  
>the obvious classics I'm looking for more obscure titles -- and not  
>necessarily directly about film (or tv). (For example, I learned a  
>lot about the language of film from Alexander Kira's sixties study,  
>The Bathroom.)
>If you have any suggestions for this list (even if it is your own  
>work) I'd appreciate hearing them.
>Thanks (and apologies for cross-posting).
>James Monaco		212 777 5463
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