Although we value our obsessive desires to take in as many first-run and repertory screenings as possible, we cinephiles occasionally like to step out of the dark screening room and pick up a book related to the artform we hold dearest. The best film writing helps to expand on its inspiration, draw parallels, contextualize and provoke discussion. With this in mind—and with it being the holiday season—we thought now would be as good a time as any to list ten film-related books released in 2013 that we’re most looking forward to this season. It’s quite possible you have read a few of these titles already, and if so, we’re mighty jealous (and would like to speak to you about a possible bartering system in the future).
Released earlier this year, The Wes Anderson Collection, from RogerEbert.com editor and New York magazine television critic Matt Zoller Seitz, is one of the most beautiful-looking books of 2013. Its plethora of colorful artwork and on-set photos aren’t all that’s to it, however. In-depth interviews and essays on the filmmaker’s work round out this major addition to the cinema canon; Seitz’s personal history and connection to the filmmaker (he was the first person to review a Wes Anderson film) adds extra depth to the material.
Although we can rest assured that Peter Rainer, film critic for the Christian Science Monitor, is still going strong, there’s perhaps no better way to catch up with the writer’s work than with this new anthology of reviews. We love volumes of a single film critic’s work (valuing personal voices and discoveries) and so we’re pretty amped for this one. “When I was starting out in the '70s as a critic, “ Rainer told the Los Angeles Times, “everyone felt that the more you wrote about a movie the better a critic you were. There were critics like Andrew Sarris and especially Pauline Kael who were terrific and wrote long, but a lot of times people who went on and on were just going on and on. James Agee, who for me was probably the greatest of all movie critics, if you go back and look at many of his reviews, they are not a whole lot longer than what you might get in a standard good newspaper today.”
Did you happen to attend our final NYFF Live talk during the 51st New York Film Festival this past Fall? David Picker, former President of such famed movie studios as United Artists and Columbia, was on hand in our amphitheater to discuss his first book, Musts, Maybes and Nevers, a new work equal part memoir and Hollywood tell-all. If his talk was any indication, this publication, filled with exciting gossip and off-screen stories, will have us racing to get to the next page at record speed.
The always hard at work David Thomson (The Big Screen, a full-length work he published last year, was the subject of an NYFF talk in 2012) returns with Moments That Made the Movies, a three hundred page event filled with insight and film stills. Does Thomson include the moments that made the movies? While we’re looking forward to a hearty debate, we’re also excited to discover the much praised classics we may have missed.
A glimpse into the life of one of the most imagintative filmmakers ever? As you get ready for your annual Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas screening with your beloved family (or with strangers; it's fantastic either way), now is an appropriate time to learn more about the man, who sadly died at the early age of 53, behind it. With a new Muppets film due out in March, we have a feeling this biography will also prove valuable for younger generations for years to come. Author Brian Jay Jones has his heart in the right place: “Biographers have the unique responsibility—and privilege—of living with their subjects for the years they’re doing their research and writing. Frankly, I couldn’t have asked for better company over the last five years. Jim Henson has been part of my life—and probably part of yours—for nearly as long as I can remember. I was two when Sesame Street premiered in 1969, and nine when The Muppet Show debuted in 1976. That practically makes me Muppets Generation 1.0. Why would I choose to write about Jim Henson, then? Heck, why wouldn’t I?”
Another collection dedicated to the voice of a single film critic? We’re on board! Geoffrey O’Brien is a writer you’re most likely familiar with, especially if you’ve picked up a recent copy of Artforum or Film Comment. And if you’re as much of a lover of the Criterion Collection as we are, then chances are you’ve read a number of O’Brien’s essays (Young Mr. Lincoln, The Killers, The Lady Vanishes and many more) multiple times over. Now the good folks at Counterpoint have released a collection of O’Brien’s work, grouping the writer’s increasing output into a chronological, movie-adoring compendium.
Are you the biggest Francis Ford Coppola fan out there? Did you throw a party earlier this year with friends, sitting back and drinking a selection from the auteur’s famous winery while discussing the intricacies of Jack and streaming Twixt on Netflix? If you answered 'yes,' then The Godfather Family Album, with a never-ending series of screengrabs and very rare on-set photos taken on the set of all three Godfather films (many never before seen), is undoubtedly for you. This is a heavy, jam-packed book well worth lifting.
Alright, so we're somewhat cheating with this one. Meryl Streep: Anatomy of an Actor, the third long-form filmmaker/actor profile from film critic Karina Longworth, won't be released until January 15th. And although it can currently be pre-ordered at many online book store locations, it's true that you won't be able to give it to a loved one until after the new year. Longworth realizes that the holidays are a great time for gift-giving, however, and is taking it upon herself to provide a gift to pre-order purchasers (that is, if you provide proof of purchase by 6PM EST on Monday, December 16th) as a way to show her appreciation. Self-created posters and t-shirts are available for those who pre-order the book this weekend — a book that, if Longworth's and Cashier du Cinema's track record is any indication, is not to be missed.
B. Ruby Rich has long been the go-to source when it comes to New Queer Cinema (heck, she invented the term in her original 1992 article published in the Village Voice), so we were very excited when we heard about her latest expansion on the subject, New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut. Needless to say, we’re thankful that many of her “hard to find” reviews and essays from the past are now immortalized in this new publication. “Ruby Rich's New Queer Cinema is funny and deeply insightful,” praised influential film producer Christine Vachon. “I loved going back to the good, bad old days of the ’90s and seeing how those times (and their intense sense of urgency) exploded into an auteur-driven cinema today.”
The past few years have been quite good to the director of The French Connection and The Exorcist. Oscar-winning director William Friedkin has been heaped with exuberant praise for his recent adaptations of two Tracy Letts plays, Bug and Killer Joe, and now the celebrated filmmaker has released a memoir providing memorable insights and antidotes. We’re above saying that we’re so excited that are heads are about to spin, but we’re hoping for this book just the same.
In celebration of The Discreet Charm of George Cukor, our complete 50-film retrospective celebrating the expansive filmography of the late Hollywood director, copies of of author Fernando Ganzo's George Cukor: On/Off Hollywood will be on sale at our merchandise stand located in the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center. And, of course, New York Film Festival Gold, our celebration of the 50-year history of NYFF featuring fascinating essays and gorgeous stills from some of the best films of the past half-century makes a great holiday gift too!