Books on cinema - round-up
How the Movie Brats Took Over Edinburgh, Tough Without A Gun, The Faber Book of French Cinema
This article is from 2011.
As is always the way in Scotland, summer is kind of here, and now is the time to lie in the grass with that growing pile of tosh novels. But let’s face it, you are going to win a lot more kudos from your film-obsessed mates if you create a tower of ciné-lit under that recalcitrant sun.
Best to start with something thin to get you going. Matthew Lloyd’s 80 page How the Movie Brats Took Over Edinburgh (St Andrews Film Studies ●●●●) takes its lead from Kieron Corless and Chris Darke’s excellent 2007 book Cannes: Inside the World’s Premier Film Festival by making a case for change by looking back to look forward. Though initially academic in style Lloyd builds an intriguing portrait of how, between 1968-1980, the Edinburgh International Film Festival became a leading proponent of influence and change by a total commitment to cinéphilia and political agendas. For anyone who cares about the continued health of Scotland’s leading film festival, it’s a compelling and well-researched read, and one that the new team in charge of the festival have no doubt studied at great length (the book is even proudly on sale at the box office of Edinburgh’s Filmhouse). Lloyd certainly knows where the bodies are buried.
Stefan Kanfer’s Tough Without A Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart (Faber ●●●●) takes a chisel to the profile of one of the golden age of cinema’s most cherished performers and details the real story: how a privileged middle class child of academics became Hollywood’s number one tough guy. Like his other biographies of Marlon Brando, Lucille Ball and Groucho Marx, this is a sober and measured account of a conflicted personality that deserves to find a readership.
Charles Drazin’s heavyweight The Faber Book of French Cinema (Faber ●●●) is an indulgent, occasional draggy evaluation of the very essence of Gallic cinema, and that’s what makes it so good. Drazin traces a line of artistic pride and dissent from Georges Méliès to Jacques Audiard which is defined not by financial worth but by intelligence and a sense of natural identity. Drazin’s book will have you revisiting those French jewels of yesteryear quicker than you can say ‘Lumière brothers’.