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The HTF reading (yes, reading) challenge (1 Viewer)

Rich Malloy

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2000
Messages
3,998
Thanks, Stefan!!! It's now a FIFTH EDITION??? It includes The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project? WOW! My 2nd Edition is clearly way out-of-date. It's the one with a still from the trolley scene in Meet Me in St. Louis on the cover rather than that very cool Citizen Kane shot). I think the last era of film that's covered in the 2nd Edition is the New German Cinema (Fassbinder, Herzog, Wenders).
Would you guys also recommend Bordwell/Thompson's Film History?
Darrin, glad you picked up Sculpting in Time! That final chapter is a perfect compliment to The Sacrifice/Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky disc from Kino. I wish I had it with me now, because there's one chapter in there that's among the most illuminating writing on film I've ever read - it has do with rhythm, editing, etc. - I'll check it out at home and get back to you!
 

Tim Raffey

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 20, 1999
Messages
126
One book I read recently is Turnaroud: A Memoir, by Milos Forman. The first half of it is an autobiography on Forman's life growing up in and around Prague, and the second half is a dated but detailed look at all his films (up to Valmont). Both halves are well written (with Jan Novak), compelling, and informative.
I'd actually be curious to hear what high school students read up there north of the border.
I can't imagine it's much different from what American high school students read. Last year (grade 10) we read Of Mice and Men, and Romeo and Juliet as part of the cirriculum (this year it's A Separate Peace, and MacBeth). Along with those there are various books which are optional under required reading (To Kill a Mockingbird, Fahrenheit 451, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Day of the Triffids are among these). We do have to read other books as part of the course, however.
 

Mitty

Supporting Actor
Joined
Jan 13, 1999
Messages
886
I too would like to join this challenge. One book I have sitting on my shelf that I've taken a while to get around to is Frank Capra's The Name Above the Title.
This will provide an excellent impetus to get started.
I also have a copy of Elia Kazan's A Life which I picked up in a bargain bin about 5 years ago for $5. I honestly don't know how good a book it is or what he talks about in it, but I've been meaning to get into it a little bit.
It'll be easy to find 10 books on film to dive into.
BTW, I've read Sidney Lumet's Making Movies. If you're anything like me, you're rip through it in less than 48 hours. It's a great book and real page turner; very easy reading. It's not an academic book in any way, but you'll learn a lot (he's a big fan of the teamsters :)). It's written in a nice easy conversational style.
Another recommendation, although it's not strictly a book on film, is Charles Bukowski's novel Hollywood. Maybe count it as one if you also read the Barfly screenplay (readily available) as a companion piece. It's one of the funnier books I've read, a thinly veiled account of the making of Barfly (for instance he makes use of the incredibly difficult code name Francis Ford Loppola).
 

anson

Auditioning
Joined
Dec 10, 1998
Messages
6
Count me in, too! I have shelf or two dedicated to film books and screenplays. I've read a number of the books already discussed but do have some on the backburner just waiting to be opened up:
Asian Pop Cinema, Lee Server. Just what is it about Asian films that make them so attractive? This glossy attempts to find out from a pop-culture perspective. Not too much meat here, I think, so should be quick read.
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind. Actually, I'm halfway thru this interesting account (factual, I hope) of how the modern director came to power. Chronicles Hollywood from 1969 thru the 70's. My brief summary of this era: sex and drugs. Lots of it.
Mondo Macabro, Pete Tombs. Tag line: "Weird and Wonderful Cinema Around the World." Contains a discussion of thoroughly twisted cinema around the world. Can't wait! :)
Movies and Money, David Puttman. History of the film business. Might be a bit dry so I'm hoping there's interesting meat in it.
Cinema of Outsiders, Emanual Levy. A rather large tome discussing the history of independent cinema. I'm really looking forward to this one.
Double Lives, Second Chances, Annette Insdorf. Already mentioned above.
On Directing Film, David Mamet. A series of Mr. Mamet's lectures.
Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler, Joe Queenan. You've probably read some of Joe's work in many magazines. This book is one of a couple of his that reprint a number of his articles. I've read about half while waiting in line at Sundance. Half to go!
The Samurai Film , Alain Silver. A history of samurai film, like the title says. I don't know much about this book, but it's sitting there right now.
Digital Filmmaking Handbook, Long & Schenk. A how-to on making films in the digital manner. I've got a DV camcorder sitting here that I need to learn how to use better.
Some books that I have read and recommend:
Spike Mike Slackers & Dykes, John Pierson. Already mentioned above. I loved this book!
Eros In Hell, Jack Hunter. Exploration into the world of erotic and twisted Japanese cinema. Not for the squeamish or prudish. You've been warned :)
The Films of Akira Kurosawa, Donald Ritchie. The author is *the* god of Japanese cinematic writing. This is *the* book on Kurosawa's work. A must-have for fans.
Sundancing, John Anderson. Ever been to Sundance? If you haven't, here's what you're missing. Quite a light yet accurate account of the Sundance experience. Having been to many different festivals, the Sundance experience is unique. Not necessarily better, just different.
Shooting To Kill, Christine Vachon. I learned a lesson from this book: don't get into film production! It's tough work. Don't listen to me, listen to Christine Vachon.
Rebel Withouth A Crew, Robert Rodriguez. Do you believe RR made El Mariachi for $7000? Read this book and judge for yourself. Very enjoyable.
As you can tell, my taste in film books doesn't include too much theory. Thanks to this thread, I'm going to change that. It's certainly an interest of mine, but up 'til now I've always found the practical side of filmmaking more interesting.
 

Darren H

Second Unit
Joined
May 10, 2000
Messages
447
Anson, you've been added to the list, as have your suggestions. I'd be curious to hear what you and others have to say about the Mamet book. I have tremendous respect for him as a writer, but have always been left a bit cold by his film direction (though I'm planning to see State and Main this week). I really enjoyed reading On Directing Film -- it's an interesting window into his thinking process -- but I just didn't buy into many of his theories. Sorry I can't provide a more concrete response. I don't own a copy of it and it's been three or four years since I read it.
 

David Oliver

Second Unit
Joined
Apr 12, 1999
Messages
327
It's interesting that this is brought up. I am taking a night class at the local City College, as part of my never-ending desire to get my butt off the couch, called Film Art and it is using the book Film Art previously mentioned. Looking forward to it. The book is actually in it's sixth edition, check out the details here at the McGraw-Hill website:
http://www.mhhe.com/socscience/art-film/index.htm
and borders actually lists the sith edition
Link Removed
It says it is hard to find and I am not sure why Amazon does not list it, maybe it is only available academically for now.
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Steve Enemark

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 30, 1997
Messages
482
Oh, I'm there. Of course, I've already read four books from the list!
biggrin.gif

Steve's list (so far)
Understanding Movies
Hitchcock (by Truffaut)
Future Noir
Roger Ebert's Book of Film
The Tower Book's in my neighborhood is going under, so I'll pick up at least six unread books there soon, real cheap.
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"Always make the audience suffer as much as possible" - Alfred Hitchcock
 

David Oliver

Second Unit
Joined
Apr 12, 1999
Messages
327
Here is a list of movie-related books I have already read.
1) Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca - Bogart, Bergman, and World War II
Fascinating if you love this movie, because it really outlines how magic was produced in the studio system.
2) Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
Probably the essential book on screenwriting from the inside.
3) Monster: Living Off the Big Screen by John Gregory Dunne
Fasinating story about the writing and making of Up Close & Personal told by one of the movie's screenwriters. Takes you deep inside modern Hollywood.
4) Killer Instinct by Jane Hamsher
Hamsher had just started aproduction compnay and came across a script by an unknown Quentin Tarantino called Natural Born Killers. This book outlines the strange world they call "The Oliver Stone World of Filmmaking"
5) Story By Robert McKee
A one-book course on the most important aspect of any good screenplay: the Story. This is not a "How to write screenplays that sell", this is "How to Write GOOD Screenplays"
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Darren H

Second Unit
Joined
May 10, 2000
Messages
447
I think everything is updated for the moment. I'm really excited by the positive response. I'm thinking that if the suggested reading list gets much longer, I'll have to take a few minutes to force some organization onto it.
Steve, just a reminder. Everyone starts this challenge with 10 to go. I hoped that levelling the playing field from the very beginning would encourage participation from eveyone -- those who have never read a single film book and those who have obviously been studying film for years.
This weekend I finished reading my first book that counts toward the challenge, Tarkovsky's Sculpting in Time. It might take me a few days to write up my thoughts, but, for now, I can at least say that I was so affected by the book that it inspired me to change my sig pic. (How's that for high praise?)
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S&S Challenge: 70 56
Read a book!
 

Pascal A

Second Unit
Joined
Aug 2, 2000
Messages
496
Good heavens! First, Jung Woo looks like Anna Karina, now Darren H. looks like Margarita Terekhova. I'm confused.
confused.gif

Okay, I'll sheepishly ask. Is there a Mascot Status/Underachiever Reading Challenge for those of us who are reading impaired and will probably not be able to get through ten books in one year?
frown.gif
My bookshelf backlog consists of:
Childhood Days: A Memoir - Satyajit Ray
Patterns of Time: Mizoguchi and the 1930s - Donald Kirihara
Reframing Japanese Cinema: Authorship, Genre, History - Arthur Nolletti and David Desser (Editors)
Ozu - Donald Richie
I'm also looking forward to reading (but haven't bought yet):
My Only Great Passion: The Life and Films of Carl Th. Dreyer - Jean Drum and Dale Drum
These books will probably take me through the rest of the year.
For the overall list, I also highly recommend:
Introductory Film Theory:
What is Cinema? Vols. I & 2 - Andre Bazin
Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer - Paul Schrader
Filmmaker Biographies:
Notes on the Cinematographer - Robert Bresson
Robert Bresson - James Quandt
The Films of John Cassavetes: The Adventure of Insecurity - John Cassavetes and Ray Carney
Something Like an Autobiography - Akira Kurosawa
Incidentally, I've sat through lectures/symposia by Professors Annette Insdorf and Ray Carney, and they are both highly articulate and personable. I think that their books should convey this accessibility.
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Strictly Film School
 

DonaldB

Supporting Actor
Joined
Mar 30, 2000
Messages
763
I'm game, count me in.
Might I suggest that everyone be limited to reading only one book devoted to a particular person so that no one simply reads only about those with whom one is already familiar? The point of taking on the challenge is obviously to increase one's knowledge of and appreciation for cinema, and this can only be accomplished by studying as many of the various figures within the world of cinema as possible.
I'd like to recommend that the following titles be added:
The Magic Lantern by Ingmar Bergman
Images: My Life in Film by Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman: A Critical Biography by Peter Cowie
My Last Sigh by Luis Bunuel
Films of Luis Bunuel: Subjectivity and Desire by Peter William Evans
Schrader on Schrader by Paul Schrader and Kevin Jackson
Scorsese on Scorsese by David Thompson
Shock Value: A Tasteful Book about Bad Taste by John Waters
Screening History by Gore Vidal
Novels, 1955-1962: Lolita, Pnin, Pale Fire, Lolita: A Screenplay by Vladimir Nabokov (One shouldn't be required to read Pnin or Pale Fire for the purposes of this challenge, though I would still highly recommend them, especially Pale Fire).
Desire Unlimited: The Cinema of Pedro Almodovar by Paul Julian Smith
The Films of Paul Morrissey by Maruice Yacowar
Agnes Varda by Alison Smith
The Art of Cinema by Jean Cocteau
Beauty and the Beast: Diary of a Film by Jean Cocteau
I, Fellini by Federico Fellini
No, I haven't acutally read all of these.
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Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my name.
 

Darren H

Second Unit
Joined
May 10, 2000
Messages
447
It's about time you two showed up. I've been looking forward to hearing your suggestions.
Pascal, read as much or as little as you like. I'm hoping that this thread will become a place where we can talk about what we're reading. So even if you aren't able to finish ten books this year, I'm sure we would all welcome your response to other ideas and issues that are raised along the way.
Donald, I made an exception to my general "no fiction" rule in the case of Nabokov. Everyone should read Lolita and Pale Fire at some point in their life.
Take another look at the list of books on the first page. I've broken them into categories -- I'm not sure how successfully -- to make them a bit easier to browse. Along the lines of Donald's suggestion: it might be helpful to grab a few from each category as you read.
First, Jung Woo looks like Anna Karina, now Darren H. looks like Margarita Terekhova. I'm confused.
Well, if I'm to be mistaken for a woman, I couldn't think of one more flattering than Terekhova. I imagine that at some point I'll come down from my Mirror obsession and return to my old sig. I kind of like the idea of people imagining me as Jack D. Ripper.
 

Walter Kittel

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 28, 1998
Messages
9,870
Donald,
Good suggestion about limiting one's self to only one work per individual ( although I may cheat and read two about Kubrick. :) )
Darren,
Another book to add to your list, sir. I'm currently reading The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir by Foster Hirsch. This will fit in either the Introduction or Genre Study category of the book list. I've only finished the first few chapters of this book, but I'm pleased with the overall tone and the writing style. The first chapters use examples from Double Indemnity and Scarlet Street to illustrate some of the archetypes that populate the noir genre. I'll post more when I've completed this book; but so far, so good.
- Walter.
 

Aaron Silverman

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 22, 1999
Messages
11,411
Location
Florida
Real Name
Aaron Silverman
Hey gang,
Count me in as a fellow underachiever- I'll never get through 10 books in time! :) But I do have a couple of suggestions.
One is The Art Of Dramatic Writing, by Lajos Egri. This book from the 1940's is mainly about theater, but most of it applies to film too. There are a lot of good ideas in there, although sometimes the way he chooses to back them up makes no sense at all. :) (And don't ask me how to pronounce his name, either!)
A great website to check out is Link Removed,)
 

Pascal A

Second Unit
Joined
Aug 2, 2000
Messages
496
Ah, Aaron! My fellow under-achiever.
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I knew that I couldn't be the only one who fainted at the thought of reading ten books in one year!
Darren, you forgot to add Satyajit Ray's Childhood Days: A Memoir under "Books by Directors." I'll be tackling this first as a companion piece to his Introspections interview, which was ominously recorded a few hours before a heart attack.
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Strictly Film School
 

Steve Enemark

Second Unit
Joined
Jun 30, 1997
Messages
482
Well, I went to the local going-out-of-business bookstore and the only book from this list (that I haven't already read) was Kubrick: A Visual Analysis. Oh well, maybe I'll try online.
However, I found a book that might find a place on the reading list: Hitchcock's Notebooks by Dan Aulier. It's a fascinating-looking book featuring truckloads of Hitch's letters, script developments, and storyboards. I haven't read it yet, but it looks like a treasure trove for the Hitchcock fan.
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sigpic.jpg

"Always make the audience suffer as much as possible" - Alfred Hitchcock
 

Darren H

Second Unit
Joined
May 10, 2000
Messages
447
Pascal, sorry about that omission. I was doing a lot of copying and pasting that day -- I figured I had probably lost one or two titles in the process.
Steve, I'll be curious to hear what you have to say about Hitchcock's Notebooks. That's one I pick up almost every time I stop into a bookstore, but I never end up buying it. Before I discovered the HTF, I used to spend a lot of time reading alt.movies.hitchcock. Dan Aulier posted there pretty frequently (and probably still does). I think he also recently published a book-length study of the production of Vertigo.
One other addition to the reading list: I found a copy of Dreyer in Double Reflection : Translation of Carl Dreyer's Writings About the Film at my local used book store. Looks really interesting.
 

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