Foreign cinema has always provided a rich gateway into another’s culture and social history. Film not in the English language has provided some of the most influential,
Foreign cinema has always provided a rich gateway into another’s culture and social history. Film not in the English language has provided some of the most influential, insightful and thought provoking cinema of our time. This is evident in our second feature on film where we look at some new books which delve into important periods of French, Italian, Polish and Iranian cinema.
1. Cinema Italiano by Howard Hughes, £14.99 (I.B. Tauris)
In this chunky paperback established film writer Howard Huges discusses both Italian popular and art house cinema. He analyses every genre from scandal epics to sci-fi films and explores famous Italian classics, such as Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, to hidden gems like Antonio Margheriti’s, Battle of the Worlds. Most interestingly, he looks at the nation’s penchant for cashing in on a successful film by creating dozens of flaccid imitations; the Italians made a lot of cinema and launched legendary stars such as Sophia Loren. In fact, during its heyday from 1950s to the late 1970s Italian cinema was second only to Hollywood. Huges also looks at the influence of American money on Italian cinema and its use of A and Z list Hollywood stars in Italian made films.
Best for: Italian cinema aficionados looking to learn more about their epic out-put of movies. Equally exciting for foreign cinema virgins looking to find some hidden gems and movie classics. To Buy, Click Here
Clip of La Dolce Vita
2. Je t’aime…moi non plus Franco-British Cinema Relations, Edited by Lucy Mazdon and Catherine Wheatley, £55 (Berghahn books)
This book is for the discerning film enthusiast. As its title fittingly suggests (it’s taken from one French-British collaboration between Serge Gainsburg and Jane Birkin) this book contains a series of well thought-out and methodically approached essays concerning Franco-British relationships in cinema. It explores their clear differences and shared interests, both of which have played a vital part in their coming together. Leading experts provide insights into relations between French and British cinematic cultures at the level of production, exhibition and distribution, reception, representation and personnel. It features insightful chapters on the history of the Anglo-French film co-production agreement and the 1990s French New Realism, to name but a few. The quality and high standard of its content is perhaps the reason for its hefty price tag.
Best for: Film students and discerning film readers. To Buy, Click Here.
French urban cinema featured in the last chapter: La Haine’s Trailer
3. From Iran To Hollywood and Some Places In-Between by Christopher Gow, £17.89 (I.B Tauris)
It is refreshing to see the elegant cinema of Iran highlighted outside of university lecture rooms and also not just focussing on Abbas Kiarostami’s The Kite Runner or his 1997 Palm d’Or winner, Taste of Cherry, though Gow does cites these as his inspiration for the book, but he also talks much more broadly. Gow attempts to look at New Wave Iranian cinema, which he says traces back to the early 1960s, and not just post revolution or from Kiarostami’s Where is the Friend’s Home? in 1987, which most scholars pick it up from. Through this book he aims to recontextualise New Iranian Cinema in relation to Iranian émigré cinema. It sounds heavy, but stick with it and it will provide a wealth of interesting knowledge of Iran and its motion picture magic. Gow also personalises the book with his own experiences of discovering Iranian cinema and his passion clearly shines through.
Best for: Those intrigued about Iranian cinema and want to learn more. To Buy, Click Here.
A Taste of Cherry Trailer
4. Jerzy Skolimowski The Cinema of a Nonconformist by Ewa Mazierska (Berghahn books)
Ewa Mazierska’s monograph on polish director Jerzy Skolimowski (Eastern Promises) is described as an ‘desperately overdue book’ by analytical film journal Sight and Sound, and indeed it is true that there isn’t another book on Skolimowski that studies his work so comprehensively. It is also fair to say he is far less well known than fellow Polish director Roman Polanski, and his following is more of a cult one. Mazierska addresses the main features of Skolimowski’s films, such as their affinity to autobiographism and surrealism, while discussing their characters, narratives, visual style, soundtracks, and the uses of literature. She draws on a wide range of cinematic and literary texts, situating Skolimowski’s work within the context of Polish and world cinema, and drawing parallels between his work and that of two directors, with whom he tends to be compared, Roman Polański and Jean-Luc Godard.
Best for: Films students, as a gift for your Polish friend or for someone who genuinely wants to learn about the work of this great Polish director. To Buy, Click Here.
Eastern Promises Trailer
Bonus Review: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, General Editor Steven Jay Schneider, £20 (Cassell Illustrated)
Because we know all film fanatics love a good film list and this really is the ultimate list of movies to see before you die, but how many of the 1001 movies in this whopper of a book have you seen? It’s about as comprehensive as you are going to get and could provide lots of inspiration on how to fill those cold winter months. Guardian film critic Jason Solomons provides the preface to the book, and as he says ‘1001 – now that’s what I call a list’. But is even this huge number big enough to cover all the films to see before you die? For now it is, so get stuck in. By the time you get through this one they’ll undoubtedly be another.
Best for: Any serious film fan, especially one with an empty coffee table or a book shelf with gaping holes.To Buy, Click Here.