My first Book of the Week is The Film Handbook by Geoff Andrew and published in 1990.
This is a book that lists a MASSIVE range of auteurs and directors, gives a potted history of their film career so far and then names selected highlights from their filmography that every film fan should see whether they are a casual viewer or a serious cineaste.
Sounds basic doesn’t it? But that’s the beauty of this book. The other thing I love about this tome is the fact that it introduced me to the work of many directors I had never heard of before. It’s scope is huge with prominent and obscure directors from many different countries getting the recognition they so rightly deserve but very rarely do. The same can be said regarding ‘cult’ directors with there being no film snobbery within the pages of this book. Which is perfect for this website!
There’s also an introduction by a certain Mr Martin Scorsese who voices the opinion that the book is indispensable even if he disagrees with Andrews’ opinion on some directors and films. And so, if this book is held in such high esteem by Mr Scorsese, it must be bloody good!
This weeks Poster of the Week goes to the classic sci-fi nightmare that is Westworld from 1973.
There are so many brilliant images here that sum up the movie- the iconic image of Brynner’s demented robot gunslinger, the technician sat in front of a bank of monitors and control panels, the technological font used for the film’s title, the tagline that has indeed gone worng…
And whilst we’re at it, take a look at the similarly brilliant posters for the film’s sequel Futureworld, (loving this tagline too) and Westworld’s Japanese and Belgian posters. All gorgeous.
This week’s soundtrack chosen to be recommended for all you lovers of film excellence is Carter Burwell’s genius soundtrack for the Coen Brother’s 1984 masterpiece Blood Simple. Their modern take on a Texan film noir has the perfect musical accompaniment with the music on this collection.
The simmering, brooding action of the movie is matched by the simplistic and poignant soundscapes on offer here. This soundtrack features the best use of simple but effective piano music since John Carpenter’s Halloween.
The gorgeous title track, the multi-layered Chain Gang, the marimba heavy build of Monkey Chant…all of these tracks are stellar and I’m so glad that they were finally released on record 3 years after the film’s release. Paired with the similarly excellent music for the equally excellent Raising Arizona on the same album, this makes this album an essential addition to any self respecting film music fan’s collection.
And whilst you’re at it, don’t forget to download It’s The Same Old Song by The Four Tops which unfortunately isn’t on this collection but features prominently in the movie.
I’ve uploaded the audiobooks for two John Waters books onto YouTube.
Shock Value from 1981 is here whilst Crackpot from 1986 is here. Both are classic texts and extremely funny. Listen to ‘How To Become Famous’ on Crackpot to listen to Waters laughing at how outrageous his own text is.
I’ve decided to add Book of the Week to the already existing Soundtrack and Poster of the Week. I think I’ll publish these every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Theres been a delay in any more essays and analyses of films as I’m working on an essay that has already ballooned to over 10,000 words and it’s not even finished yet. I don’t wanna jinx it so I won’t announce which film it’s about but you won’t be disappointed. This film has been derided as either one of the worst films ever made, a camp car crash of a movie, or (and this is the worst criticism you can ever give a movie) ‘so bad it’s good’ *gag*. It’s none of these and in fact in my mind it’s one of the best pieces of High Art ever made.
This week’s Poster of the Week is one that is framed and adorns one of the walls in my flat! It’s artist Brian Bysouth’s extraordinary poster for the 1976 ‘body switch’ comedy Freaky Friday.
The attention to detail is amazing with several scenes and characters from the film being depicted and drawn so well!
I’m so glad that a film that is now seen as a family viewing classic that effortlessly captured the goofy 70’s zeitgeist of it’s time should have a poster drawn with such love and imagination by an artist such as Bysouth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I saw this artwork outside a cinema back then and didn’t know anything about the film, I’d instantly venture inside to investigate further which is one of the effects of great film artwork.