Saturday, June 6, 2009

Reading Movies Meme


Courtesy of MovieMan at The Dancing Image, this meme has been floating around all week and has been quite great to see. Those tagged were asked to pick the 10 most influential film books to their development as writers, scholars, and cinephiles of all sorts. I was thrilled to be tagged in MovieMan's initial post and since then Brandon was tagged by another friend – Jeremy Richey of the always wonderful Moon in the Gutter. Not wanting to cut ourselves short on things that have led this site to its fruitful existence, Brandon and I have each chosen ten books with, kind of surprisingly, no overlap.

I can't speak for Brandon (perhaps he will comment on this post with more explanation on his choices if anyone is curious) but this was especially difficult for me as I feel like my views are in a constant state of flux. With very little access to Films growing up, film books didn't enter the equation for me until late high school and early college when I really got going. But even since then, having just gone through grad school in film studies, I had to decide what makes these books influential. So, this really ends up being a mixed bag of things that first got me interested in studying movies and more scholarly works that have really influenced my own current writing and thoughts towards cinema as I look towards more schooling and an academic career. Its a tough call on all accounts, so I hope this is representative of some of my influences and may explain, as MovieMan hoped for, where some of my experimental/genre slant comes from. Who knows. Nonetheless, here are the books. I'll leave further explanation and discussion for what I hope is a lively comment section.


Brandon Colvin's Reading Movies Meme Selections

Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson
Film Theory and Criticism edited by Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen
Movie Journal: The Rise of the New American Cinema 1959-1971 by Jonas Mekas
Lynch on Lynch by Chris Rodley
Everything by David Bordwell, especially Poetics of Cinema
Terrence Malick by Lloyd Michaels
Godard on Godard by Jean-Luc Godard
The film criticism of Jim Emerson, Roger Ebert, Manohla Dargis, and everyone who has ever written for the Village Voice
Tarkovsky edited by Nathan Dunne
Film Comment


James Hansen's Reading Movies Meme Selections

Cinema 2 by Gilles Deleuze
The Cinema, Or The Imaginary Man by Edgar Morin (translated by Lorraine Mortimer)
Dogme Uncut by Jack Stevenson
Film As Subversive Art by Amos Vogel
Hard Core by Linda Williams (and mostly everything else by Linda Williams too)
The Magic Hour by Jim Hoberman
Manifestoes of Surrealism by Andre Breton
Men, Women, and Chain Saws by Carol Clover
Nathan Lee (duh)
Roger Ebert's 1990 Movie Companion (most notably the discussion of Lynch's Wild At Heart entitled, if I'm recalling correctly, "The Case Against David Lynch")

More recent additions to my repertoire that would be on this list if I had a little more time to absorb them:
Change Mummified by Philip Rosen
Cinema of Attractions Reloaded edited by Wanda Strauven
Collecting Visible Evidence edited by Jane Gaines and Michael Renov
Devotional Cinema by Nathaniel Dorsky
The Most Typical Avant Garde by David James

(Update!) Chuck Williamson's List
THE PARADE'S GONE BY by Kevin Brownlow
MOVIE-MADE AMERICA by Robert Sklar
WHAT IS CINEMA? by Andre Bazin
BABEL AND BABYLON: SPECTATORSHIP IN AMERICAN SILENT FILM by Miriam Bratu Hansen
VISUAL AND OTHER PLEASURES by Laura Mulvey
CINEMA AND SPECTATORSHIP by Judith Mayne
CINEMA, OR THE OTHER MAN by Edgar Morrin
A HISTORY OF THE FRENCH NEW WAVE CINEMA by Richard Neupert
POST-THEORY: RECONSTRUCTING FILM STUDIES by David Bordwell
EARLY CINEMA: SPACE, FRAME, NARRATIVE ed. by Thomas Eisaesser and Adam Barker
FILM COMMENT

Thanks again to MovieMan and Jeremy for calling upon us to make these lists! Hope they share something about ourselves and maybe give some of you something to check out.

9 comments:

Jacob Shoaf said...

I've read somewhere in the neighborhood of four from Brandon's list and somewhere in the neighborhood of one from yours (assuming a readership of James). My "to wait for cheap copies of on ebay" list just got longer.

Brandon - I'm surprised that Roy Armes book you told me about didn't make the cut. You seemed pretty pumped about it. Were these all just so much better or were you wanting to give Armes more time to be absorbed/applied or some third option?

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks guys for submitting your lists. I enjoyed reading both of them and got some great ideas for some books I need to check out asap.

Brandon Colvin said...

The Armes book is solid, but it's nowhere near those other ones. I was just shocked at how overlooked it is, mostly.

As for explaining my choices, I would have to agree with James in that this is a mixture of formative works and things I've become very interested in recently or that I think are particularly insightful. My list is a little more auteur-centered, which is somewhat unfashionable, but I still get a lot out of books about/by specific directors, probably because my cinematic interest is a little more linked to my creative endeavors than purely academic analysis.

James Hansen said...

Jacob and Jeremy- Thanks for the kind comments. Hope you guys check out some of the books at some point. If theres' one thing this meme has shown, however, its that its quite hard to get to everything.

Brandon- Not sure auteur-centric books (or writing, certainly) is unfashionable. I'm usually the grumpy one trying to fight the fight and take that down a notch, or at least make people reconsider ways of thinking. Seems like most of the book lists I've seen are director-centric books, which isn't a big surprise. Even I'd rather read a book about Godard than a bunch of, say, Marxist theory. They are totally good stuff. Just, of late, my interest has skewed a different direction. But whatever direction people take in their cinephilia, and whatever they use the books for, is awesome by me. You've got a great list there.

Brandon Colvin said...

But auteur-centric criticism is a little behind the times in a way. I didn't say it wasn't popular, just not fashionable. I feel like a lot of prominent film scholars/critics/etc. frown upon auteurism in the name of diversifying the discipline, which I wholeheartedly support. I was mostly just admitting that I'm aware that focusing on particular directors isn't really the cutting edge of film studies.

Chuck Williamson said...

Sure, auteur-centric criticism might no longer be de rigeur in academia, but I definitely find much of it useful--particularly when I go through binges with particular directors.

Some might say auteur theory is dead... but I've also heard many make that argument about the discipline of film studies itself. I've read a few premature declarations stating that traditional film studies is dead, or at least folded into cultural studies as a smaller subset of a more all-consuming interdisciplinary heading. Not sure if I'm buying the "death" of film studies yet--but, hey, I've heard people chatter about it.

With that said, great books, guys. I'm 3 and 2, it seems. Brandon and I both seem to refer to Braudy and Cohen's anthology as our personal bibles--and I still need to read that Jonas Mekas book, damn it (but it's out-of-print and VERY hard to find). And James--loved the shout-out to Morin. I love CINEMA, OR THE OTHER MAN, and am actually in the middle of THE STARS right now (which, by the way, is fantastic).

And though nobody asked--here's my list.

THE PARADE'S GONE BY by Kevin Brownlow
MOVIE-MADE AMERICA by Robert Sklar
WHAT IS CINEMA? by Andre Bazin
BABEL AND BABYLON: SPECTATORSHIP IN AMERICAN SILENT FILM by Miriam Bratu Hansen
VISUAL AND OTHER PLEASURES by Laura Mulvey
CINEMA AND SPECTATORSHIP by Judith Mayne
CINEMA, OR THE OTHER MAN by Edgar Morrin
A HISTORY OF THE FRENCH NEW WAVE CINEMA by Richard Neupert
POST-THEORY: RECONSTRUCTING FILM STUDIES by David Bordwell
EARLY CINEMA: SPACE, FRAME, NARRATIVE ed. by Thomas Eisaesser and Adam Barker
FILM COMMENT

MovieMan0283 said...

James and Brandon, thanks for participating (and sorry I'm only writing a response now!).

Two great lists - and I'm especially enticed with that "The Case Against David Lynch" essay which I tried to google without any luck. Perhaps it could be an Out 1 featured text in the future, assuming it's not too long and James still has it on hand? (Sort of like I did for the Truffaut essays?) That would be awesome...

The discussion on auteurism is interesting. I still find it useful even as in my writing I've moved away from it (and formalism in general) - probably just because it's easier to write about film from a thematic and sociological point of view.

Chuck,

Your list made me realize I have not seen What is Cinema? on a single one of the 40 lists! What an oversight!

If you put up your list as a blog post (no such thing as "too late" as I've proved...) I will definitely link up to it as part of the "canon."

James Hansen said...

MovieMan- Thanks for the comments. I've added Chuck's list at last!

I'll look for the Ebert book. It was a book my stepmom had and I remember pouring over the Lynch entry after I started getting into him. If I can find it, I'll type it up or something of the sort. I guess I probably have the title wrong since no one else can seem to find it. Such is memory...

MovieMan0283 said...

James and Chuck - thanks, and I will add those entries to the list. I eagerly await the possibility of that Lynch piece, James - thanks!