Every time I visit a bookstore, I always scan the store’s selection of film books in search of some rare and unique volume that is unlike any that I own. I’m sure that I’m not alone among cinephiles in this, so this post is a tool for those movie lovers who, like me, are hunting down such books with little reward. Below, I have compiled a list of film books that I own, enjoy, and would recommend to any of my blog’s readers.
“The Great Movies” by Roger Ebert
In my opinion, this should be the first volume in anyone’s collection of movie books. Ebert’s one-hundred essays are filled to the brim with cool facts, wonderful insight, and accessible, yet respectable writing. Followed by “The Great Movies II” and “The Great Movies III, I have revisited this book (and its sequels) more than any other book on film. It is movie writing at its best.
“Moviemaker’s Master Class” by Laurent Tirard
If you have ever wished that you could ask a famous director about his filmmaking methods, then this book is for you. In this insightful book, twenty internationally acclaimed directors outline their thoughts on filmmaking. The interviewed directors include Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Joel and Ethan Coen, David Cronenberg, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Jean-Luc Godard and more. This is a book that I reread often and still find absolutely fascinating.
“Scorsese by Ebert” by Roger Ebert
“Scorsese by Ebert” is a film-by-film analysis of the master director’s entire career, from the 1970s, when Ebert championed Scorsese’s debut film, all the way to the filmmaker’s recent two-part documentary on Bob Dylan. It contains Ebert’s original reviews of all of Scorsese’s movies as well as a lengthy interview with the director and reconsiderations of several of the movies. Shutter Island and Hugo were both released after the book was published, so they are not included. Nonetheless, this a must-own for any Scorsese fan.
“Lynch on Lynch” edited by Chris Rodley
Another film-by-film analysis of another important career, “Lynch on Lynch” is as close as most adoring film buffs will ever get to talking to the great director about the creative process, painting, photography, and most importantly, filmmaking. Anyone who has ever seen one of Lynch’s films will find this book intriguing. It should be noted that this book is also a part of a series: There is a “Fellini on Fellini,” a “Burton on Burton,” etc.
“Making Movies” by Sidney Lumet
Lumet’s book breaks down the long, collaborative process of filmmaking into easy-to-understand chapters in which he examines the role of nearly everyone on the set. Unlike the first four books on this list, “Making Movies” is meant to be read cover-to-cover. The book is never boring though, not only does Lumet paint a picture of Hollywood processes in vivid detail, he also writes about his personal experiences and never hesitates to use his films as examples. This book seriously tempted me to embark on a Sidney Lumet marathon.
I am aware that there are many other great books on film out there. I have not designed this list to be a definitive list; it’s just a list of five books that I enjoy very much. If you’d like to recommend a book that you own, leave a comment. I am looking for something new to read.