As the year 2014 recedes into the rear view mirror, what better time to consider some pleasure reading for movie lovers? The Screen Actors Guild Awards have been handed out, and so have the Golden Globes. The Academy Awards will be held on February 22. Here's some reading for the cinephile's bedside table -- a selection of books published in 2014 about the world of film.
Five Hollywood directors abandoned successful careers to volunteer for military duty in World War II. Frank Capra, William Wyler, John Ford, John Huston, and George Stevens contributed to the war effort by doing what they did best: movie making. They documented the war and created cinematic propaganda. Wyler filmed a combat mission of the Memphis Belle (a B-17 heavy bomber aircraft) over Germany. Ford got hit by shrapnel while filming the Battle of Midway. Stevens captured the landing of the troops in Normandy, the liberation of Paris and the horrors of the concentration camp, Dachau. His work was used as evidence in the Nuremberg trials. Harris shows how these legendary directors were profoundly affected by their experiences during the war.
The $11 billion year: from Sundance to the Oscars, an inside look at the changing Hollywood system by Anne Thompson.
Thompson focuses on 2012, a watershed year for the movie industry in Hollywood. "From executive firings and hirings to the stories behind films that almost never made it to the screen, Thompson's journalistic flair makes her analysis of the film industry a compelling and page-turning read." Kirkus book review.
Meryl Streep: anatomy of an actor by Karina Longworth.
This book looks at the brilliant career of three time academy award winner Streep, focusing on ten pivotal performances, including her turns as Margaret Thatcher (The Iron Lady), Julia Child (Julie and Julia) and Sophie Zawistowska (Sophie’s choice), a performance so emotionally devastating I haven’t been able to watch it again. Lavishly illustrated, with lots of interesting biographical details and quotes, such as this one, from 2006, in which Streep modestly sums up a career that's still going full throttle: “My achievement, if you can call it that, is that I’ve basically pretended to be extraordinary people my entire life and now I’m being mistaken for one.” Other actors put under the spot light in the Cahiers du Cinema’s "Anatomy of an Actor" series: Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, and Marlon Brando.
"Picking up where A story lately told leaves off, when Anjelica Huston is 22 years old, Watch Me is a chronicle of her glamorous and eventful Hollywood years. She writes about falling in love with Jack Nicholson and her adventurous, turbulent, high-profile, spirited 17-year relationship with him and his intoxicating circle of friends. She movingly and beautifully writes about the death of her father John Huston and her marriage to sculptor Robert Graham. She is candid, mischievous, warm, passionate, funny, and a fabulous story teller.”
In 2012, cult film director John Waters set out from home carrying homemade signs inscribed with declarations such as “I’m not psycho” and “midlife crisis.” Thus began a nine day hitchhiking adventure from Baltimore to San Francisco. Along the way the director know as “the pope of trash” formed an unlikely friendship with a young republican in a corvette, got picked up by an indie band on tour, and met an assortment of ‘ordinary’ Americans. Library Journal calls Carsick a “rollicking, raunchy romp that delivers big-time laughs.”
Have you seen any film crews on the streets our city? You don’t get out much if you answered no to that question. Toronto has been the star of many movies, but just like an actor, it usually isn’t playing itself. In Good Will Hunting Toronto played the role of Boston, and the University of Toronto played the role of Harvard University. In Mean girls, Toronto played the role of Evanston, Illinois. Toronto plays jazz age Chicago in the Academy Award winning 2002 movie musical Chicago. World film locations: Toronto explores the role that the city has played in many films, including Pacific Rim, Cinderella Man, and American Psycho. The author of this book will be giving a talk at North York Central Library on Wednesday September 16 on the history of filmmaking in Toronto.
Toronto Theatres and the golden age of the silver screen by Doug Taylor.
“Movie houses first started popping up around Toronto in the 1910s and '20s, in an era without television and before radio had permeated every household. A century later the surviving, defunct, and reinvented movie houses of Toronto's past are filled with captivating stories. Explore fifty historic Toronto movie houses and theaters, and discover their roles as repositories of memories for a city that continues to grow its cinema legacy. Features stunning historic photography.” If you are interested in the history of movie theatres in Toronto, you might also like to have a look at The nabes: Toronto’s wonderful neighbourhood movie houses, which provides a visual record of neighborhood theatres of the past.
Werner Herzog: a guide for the perplexed by Paul Cronin.
An updated edition of interviews with director Werner Herzog, whose impressive list of credits includes such diverse projects as the unforgettable documentary Grizzly man, the tragic story of grizzly bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell, and the cult crime movie Bad Lieutenant: port of call New Orleans. Among the Herzogian gems of wisdom in the book: “There is nothing wrong with spending the night in jail if it means you get the shot you need.” Reviewed in The Independent and The Telegraph.
The science of interstellar by Kip S. Thorne.
“Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie's jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne's scientific insights--many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar--describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible.”