With the holidays fast approaching I thought I would recommend an eclectic selection of my favorite film books released in 2017 in case you’re looking for gifts to please the cinephiles in your life. My picks include a variety of reading material for all budgets and tastes including many titles that are closely linked to films currently streaming on FilmStruck.
Unchained Melody: The Films of Meiko Kaji by Tom Mes
If you appreciate Japanese cinema you’ve undoubtedly encountered the work of Tom Mes. Mes was one of the founders and editors of the highly influential and much missed Midnight Eye website. He’s also written or co-authored a number of books about Japanese cinema including Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike and Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto. His latest offering is the first English language book focusing on the career of the beloved Japanese actress and recording artist, Meiko Kaji. It’s a slim but essential volume jampacked with information about Kaji and the Japanese film industry that made her a star. The book is published by Arrow Video, which has released many of Kaji’s most popular films on DVD and Blu-ray including LADY SNOWBLOOD (’73) and LADY SNOWBLOOD 2 (’74), both of which you can stream on FilmStruck.
Eat What You Watch: A Cookbook for Movie Lovers by Andrew Rea
Foodies, film fans and home chefs will enjoy this collection of recipes based on food seen in movies. The book was compiled by self-taught chef and filmmaker Andrew Rea, creator of the popular YouTube cooking series Binging with Babish, and it includes creative photos that accompany his recipes and celebrate the movies that inspired them. You can cook up some of Charlie Chaplin’s dancing dinner rolls from THE GOLD RUSH (’25) or make mouthwatering tonkotsu ramen inspired by TAMPOPO (’85) while streaming the movies on FilmStruck. The book is published by Dovetail Press and available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin edited by Samm Deighan
This richly illustrated collection contains an assortment of insightful essays focusing on the work of French horror and fantasy filmmaker Jean Rollin. The contributors are all female film journalists, critics and scholars who offer a unique and at times, distinctly feminine, view of Rollin’s filmography. If you’re already a fan you’ll appreciate the thoughtful consideration given to his output by contributors such as Kat Ellinger, Heather Drain and Alison Natasi and if you’re unfamiliar with the director, the book is a wonderful introduction to Rollin’s multilayered body of work. Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin is published by Spectacular Optical and is available to purchase on their website.
Cats on Film by Anne Bilson
Author and film journalist Anne Bilson’s latest book is a smart, shrewd and at times laugh-out-loud study of cats in film and the various roles they’ve played throughout cinema history. The book covers an impressive 100 movies in all including a number of titles now streaming on FilmStruck such as THE THIRD MAN (’39), THE LEOPARD (’63), THE SOFT SKIN (’69) and HOUSE (’77). If you love cats and enjoying seeing our feline friends on screen, you’ll appreciate Bilson’s keen-eyed observations. Cats on Film is available on Amazon and you can find updates at catsonfilm.net
Eisenstein on Paper: Graphic Works by the Master of Film by Naum Kleiman
Many FilmStruck subscribers are undoubtedly familiar with the films of pioneering Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein (BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN (’25), ALEXANDER NEVSKY (’38), IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART I & II [‘44-45]) but some may be unaware that he was also a skilled and prolific artist. Eisenstein sketched regularly, and this dense, gorgeous coffee table book collects more than 500 of his illustrations and graphic works including storyboard ideas for his films. Kleiman wrote the informative text that contextualizes Eisenstein’s artistic endeavors and director Martin Scorsese provides the book’s foreword. Eisenstein on Paper: Graphic Works by the Master of Film is published by Thames & Hudson and is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1970-1979 by Roberto Curti
Film historian and writer Roberto Curti delves into the macabre, surreal and sexy world of 1970s Italian horror cinema in this welcome follow-up to his previous book, Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1957-1969. Both volumes are required reading for serious-minded genre fans who should admire Curti’s passion, broad research and attention to detail. Born in Parma, Italy and currently based in Cortona, the author’s background makes him the perfect guide to help readers navigate the dark corridors and spiraling staircases found in the work of filmmakers such as Antonio Margheriti, Pupi Avati and Mario Bava who is currently the focus of a director’s spotlight on FilmStruck where you can stream several of his films. The book is published by McFarland and can currently be purchased on their website or at Amazon.
Slapstick Divas: The Women of Silent Comedy by Steve Massa
If you think women aren’t particularly funny and have contributed little to the history of cinematic comedy, film historian Steve Massa is here to prove you wrong. His latest book provides a refreshing and timely consideration of the female comedians and funny ladies who appeared in silent films. These talented ladies have often been overshadowed by their male costars but in this densely illustrated collection of biographical sketches the author spotlights an impressive 450 women who worked tirelessly in front of and behind the camera during the silent era. FilmStruck subscribers should recognize a few of the names that appear in Massa’s book including Edna Purviance who starred alongside Charlie Chaplin in many of his most beloved films and Bebe Daniels who worked regularly with Harold Lloyd. Slapstick Divas: The Women of Silent Comedy is published by BearManor Media and is available on their website and at Amazon.
Agnès Varda Between Film Photography and Art by Rebecca J. DeRoo
An intimate scholarly look at the life and work of French feminist director and artist Agnès Varda, who is often referred to as the “mother” of the French New Wave. Dr. DeRoo teaches courses on visual arts and history at the Rochester Institute of Technology and she was given unparalleled access to Varda as well as her archives while compiling her study. Her new book offers readers a fresh perspective and new appreciation for one of France’s most admired filmmakers. It’s also a great companion while you’re enjoying the large selection of Varda films available on FilmStruck. The book is published by University of California Press and is available on their website and at Amazon.
by Kimberly Lindbergs
Originally published at FilmStruck.com