Book Review: Paul Thomas Anderson — Masterworks

Distributor: Abrams Books

Release Date: October 20, 2020

Adam Nayman’s (author of The Coen Brothers: This Book Really Ties the Films Together) career spanning examination of Paul Thomas Anderson’s filmography is one of only two books about the director’s work and the only comprehensive text that covers each of his films to date. Each of the director’s eight films is discussed and examined in some detail, but Nayman organizes his book quite differently than similar books. Instead of examining Anderson’s work in chronological order, he presents his essays in the order of the era that each of his movies are set (with the notable exception of Phantom Thread): There Will Be Blood, The Master, Inherent Vice, Boogie Nights, Hard Eight, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and Phantom Thread. Anderson’s influences, his style, and the recurring themes of alienation, reinvention, ambition, and destiny that course through his movies are analyzed in enough detail to add enormously to the reader’s appreciation of these films.

This would be more than enough to warrant our enthusiasm for this volume, but Nayman also includes a selection of interviews with seven of Anderson’s closest collaborators — including JoAnne Sellar (producer), Dylan Tichenor (editor), Robert Elswit (cinematographer), Jonny Greenwood (composer), Jack Fisk (production designer), Mark Bridges (costume designer), and Vicky Krieps (actor) — and illuminated by film stills, archival photos, original illustrations, and an appropriately psychedelic design aesthetic. It’s a wonderful gift for anyone who admires the Anderson’s work and may very well earn him a few new fans.

Production Design

Book Review: Film Craft: Production Design


Publisher: Focal Press

Release Date: October 1, 2012

The FilmCraft book series focuses on specific disciplines within the filmmaking profession using interviews from noteworthy professionals in the field. This volume by Fionnuala Halligan features interviews with sixteen production designers, and profiles of five other production designers.

The production designers interviewed in this volume are:

Ken Adam

Jim Bissell

Rick Carter

William Chang Suk-ping

Stuart Craig

Nathan Crowley

Dante Ferretti

Jack Fisk

Antxón Gómez

Sarah Greenwood

Grant Major

Alex McDowell

John Myhre

Eve Stewart

Yohei Taneda

Dean Tavoularis

The production designers profiled are:

John Box

Cedric Gibbons

William Cameron Menzies

Ferdinando Scarfiotti

Richard Sylbert

There may be a number of people that question the choice of production designers interviewed in this volume, but it would be nearly impossible to include every relevant artist currently working in this field. The individuals chosen for this volume come from very diverse backgrounds. This makes each of the interviews unique and valuable. Any reservations that one initially has are likely to fade once they start reading the book.

There is a wealth of conflicting information related to the readers. The idea that holds the volume together is that each of the artists has a unique approach to their job that set them apart from others working in the field. The book is especially valuable due to the fact that many people do not understand what a production designer actually does.

The text is illustrated with wonderful photos and concept sketches from recognizable films. This makes the book a visual treat. FilmCraft: Production Design will be a treasured addition to the libraries of anyone who loves the cinema, and a wonderful resource of inspiration to future filmmakers.

Review by: Devon Powell