Read Instead…in Print

A photo of a good book about cinema. No discursive, pretentious analyses, no verbose scrutiny. Because the idea is to invite you to read the book, not read about it here. But instead of using social media, I use my journal. Back to basics. Take it as a wish to break free of over-reliance on social media (even if it’s just for posting a photo of a good book) for presenting my work, cultural finds and interests. These are things to be enjoyed as stand-alone pieces in a more substantial and meaningful way than showing them in the black hole of Instagram thronged with an audience with a short attention span. This is also a look through my voluminous collection of books about film that I use as research in my adamant decision to rely less and less on the online and more on more on print materials.

Read instead…in print #9.

Bertrand Tavernier’s Amis Américains: Entretiens avec les grands auteurs d’Hollywood (at the second edition) is a beauty of a book that makes me shout with joy. It’s, hands down, one of my all time favourite books about film, and, by that, I refer to books that treat the world of cinema at large, not deal with just one film. I do believe that the French write the best books about film and their passion for cinema can hardly be equaled. And, further more, this one is the most expansively and expressively illustrated, with posters, beautiful film stills (so carefully chosen and exquisitely reproduced that these alone make you want to watch or re-watch those films), film magazine covers. Tavernier talks about so many films and so many filmmakers with the sheer enthusiasm of a cinephile and also with the broad and deep knowledge of a filmmaker, but he wears that knowledge lightly. His dialogues about movies are like dialogues between friends, which, in my experience (and not only), are better than any official, critical review. But probably the most satisfying part of this book is that it’s not just about the past, but about contemporary filmmakers (his favourites), too. It’s a treasure of films, past and present. Bertrand Tavernier had hope in the future of cinema, and that should give us hope, too.

This is how Tavernier explains to Thierry Frémaux, the editor, why he released a second edition of the book: “The book had become untraceable and I wanted this new edition to be enriched. Having never ceased to deepen my knowledge of American cinema, I had the possibility to complete one text or another, to annotate here, to adjust there, to add a chapter on André De Toth. I don’t consider myself a historian, but I try to make my approach empirical, scholarly and transparent. Nothing is final and showing that a critical opinion or a historical interpretation can evolve seems like a healthy approach to me. Therefore, this book becomes the testimony of my permanent relationship with the American cinema.

I always try not to fall into nostalgia or into the arrogant evocation of a past to which nothing would be comparable today. I don’t have a collector’s spirit, I don’t consult my archives, I see very little of my films. In fact, I’d rather look at other people’s pasts than my own. And I look to the future: then my doubts dissipate. This is why I wanted this book, which opens with John Ford, to end with a visit to contemporary filmmakers, who are also cinephiles, such as Quentin Tarantino, Alexander Payne and Joe Dante.”


Bonnie Lee and the leather jacket flying men in “Only Angels Have Wings”

Read instead…in print #8: Once Upon a Time in the West: Shooting a Masterpiece

Very, very natural and herself: Katharine Hepburn in Howard Hawks’ “Bringing Up Baby”

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