Book Review: The Coen Brothers – The Iconic Filmmakers and Their Work

Cover.jpgPublisher: Aurum Press

Release Date: November 09, 2017

Ian Nathan’s wonderful new book on the Coen Brothers and films can best be described as a career biography that blends “behind the scenes” information with scholarly analysis. It is an essential text for anyone with an affection for those with an affection for the Coen filmography. The in-depth and informative text re-examines their entire output with an emphasis on the films that they directed themselves. It covers their early lives to their indie debut with Blood Simple to their most recent release of Hail Caesar! Packed with stunning images from the Kobal archives, the book also mentions their upcoming mini-series, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

What’s more, the presentation is really quite special as the hardback book is housed in an attractive slipcase that is extremely sturdy. Everything about the book earns our enthusiastic approval and recommendation.

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Book Review: Close Encounters of the Third Kind – The Ultimate Visual History

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Publisher: Harper Design

Release Date: October 24, 2017

There are two kinds of coffee table books. The first category includes books that are quick cash-in products and have been built around a generous helping of still photography that includes the occasional quote or caption spread throughout the pages. If these books offer text, it is usually generalized fluff that offers very little in the way of actual information. Needless to say, these books are quite disappointing to the discerning reader.

The second category is quite different. These books offer much more to the discerning reader. The images mix organically with textual information in a way that creates a relationship between these two ingredients, and the result is incredibly informative and extremely entertaining. It is our pleasure to assure readers that Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Ultimate Visual History belongs to this second category.

A Glipse Inside # 1

It is described by Harper design as a “fully authorized behind-the-scenes book exploring the creation, production, and legacy of this iconic film” and we feel that the book more than lives up to this description. Created in conjunction with Sony Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, it details the complete creative journey behind the making of the film and examines its cultural impact. The book features a wealth of rare and never-before-seen images from the archives—including on-set photography, concept art, storyboards, and even script pages in an effort to create a visual narrative of the film’s journey to the big screen. Interviews with some of the key contributors were utilized in an effort to create a first-hand commentary about the making of this film classic.

A Glimpse Inside # 2

Needless to say, we can wholeheartedly recommend this excellent book to anyone who has an affection for the film or Steven Spielberg.

Book Review: Tarantino – A Retrospective

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Publisher: Insight Editions

Release Date: October 03, 2017

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1963, Quentin Tarantino spent many Saturday evenings during his childhood accompanying his mother to the movies, nourishing a love of film that was, over the course of his life, to become all-consuming. It is just as well, because he would grow up to be one of American cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers. Known for his highly cinematic visual style, out-of-sequence storytelling, and grandiose violence, Tarantino’s films have provoked both praise and criticism over the course of his career. They’ve also won him a host of awards—including Oscars, Golden Globes, and BAFTA awards—usually for his original screenplays. His oeuvre includes the cult classic Pulp Fiction, bloody revenge saga Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, and historical epics Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight. This stunning retrospective catalogs each of Quentin Tarantino’s movies in detail, from My Best Friend’s Birthday to The Hateful Eight. The book is a tribute to a unique directing and writing talent, celebrating an uncompromising, passionate director’s enthralling career at the heart of cult filmmaking.

Make no mistake about this, Tarantino: A Retrospective isn’t merely coffee-table fluff with a lot of great photographs and artwork (although, there are plenty of great photos to be found throughout the book). This is an informative examination of the director’s career! Tom Shone’s text is a seamless mixture of career biography, retrospective appreciation, and film criticism. Surprisingly, there aren’t many essential books available about the director. This makes Shone’s text all the more essential for fans of the director, but it almost seems a bit premature when one considers the fact that Tarantino has consistently insisted that he will only make ten films before he retires from making movies. With eight films under his belt, one wonders why Shone didn’t wait a few years to release the book so that it could include those two new projects. We can’t answer this question with any authority, but we can say with absolute certainty that fans will be very happy that they didn’t have to wait!

Book Interview: Grace Kelly: Hollywood Dream Girl

hitchcockmaster

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Publisher: Dey Street Books

Release Date: October 24, 2017

A Glimpse Inside #2

“Mr. Hitchcock taught me everything about cinema. It was thanks to him that I understood that murder scenes should be shot like love scenes and love scenes like murder scenes.” -Grace Kelly

The creative relationship between Grace Kelly and Alfred Hitchcock was one of the most mutually beneficial in the history of cinema. It’s nearly impossible to even discuss the director’s work without mentioning Grace Kelly’s name. However, she was so much more than the master’s temporary muse. No movie star of the 1950s was more beautiful, sophisticated, or glamorous than Grace Kelly. The epitome of elegance, the patrician young blonde from Philadelphia conquered Hollywood and won an Academy Award for Best Actress in just six years, then married a prince in a storybook royal wedding. Today, more than thirty years after her death, Grace Kelly remains an inspiring fashion icon. This…

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Book Review: Reconstructing Strangelove – Inside Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Nightmare Comedy’

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Publisher: Wallflower Press

Release Date: January 2017

Mick Broderick offers Kubrick scholars a rare glimpse into the creation of what may very well be the director’s most important film: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The text makes use of Kubrick’s own production papers from the Stanley Kubrick Archives in order to dissect the film’s creative evolution as well as its legitimacy in terms of how accurate the film’s depiction of nuclear warfare policies actually were. Several popular myths about the film’s production are proven false even as others are confirmed. Broderick doesn’t try to document the film’s creation and the reader shouldn’t expect a comprehensive examination of the film’s creation. Instead, we are given a scholarly examination of how the film was shaped by the cold war environment, the scientists and world leaders who created that environment, and Kubrick’s creative collaborators. It earns an easy recommendation for fans of the director and for those who admire the film itself.

Review by: Devon Powell

Book Review: The Making of ‘The Wizard of Oz’

The Making of 'The Wizard of Oz'

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Release Date: October 1, 2013

The question before us is as follows:

Is The Making of ‘The Wizard of Oza good book or a bad book?

Aljean Harmetz’s seminal text about the production of MGM’s 1939 classic trumps all of the Oz texts that followed it, and this 75th Anniversary edition of the book gives fans of the film a good opportunity to visit this text if they haven’t already indulged. This compressive history of the production is superior even to the various documentaries on the subject (it covers more territory).

These pages go beyond the film to discuss the climate and methods of studio filmmaking (particularly at MGM). It goes a long way to dispel a lot of untrue myths that surrounded the production, and should exponentially enhance one’s enjoyment of the film. Other books may provide a larger array of stills and production images, but no amount of eye candy can replace the research that went into this book. It receives a most enthusiastic recommendation.

Review by: Devon Powell

Book Review: Chainsaw Confidential

Chainsaw Confidential

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Release Date: September 24, 2013

Gunnar Hansen has written an incredibly lucid text on the making of one of cinema’s most beloved (and hated) horror films. Chainsaw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie chronicles the story of how the original 1974 version of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ was created and the impact that it had on future horror films. Better yet, fans will learn the story from one of the film’s most instrumental actors. Yes, Gunnar Hansen is the man that portrayed “Leatherface.” However, we are not limited to his personal perspective. Hansen has seen fit to conduct interviews with other members of the cast and crew, and he has put these interviews to excellent use.

It must be said that the book is an enjoyable and interesting reading experience. Horror fans that have not yet read the book should remedy this immediately.

Review by: Devon Powell