"We asked a number of critics to choose the five film books that have proved most useful and/or inspirational and/or important to them," writes editor Nick James in an essay prefacing Sight & Sound's Film Book poll package. "Halfway through our survey, it looked as if [David] Thomson's [A Biographical Dictionary of Film] would be a clear winner. As the last entries came in, however, five works emerged that are more or less equally loved and admired, standing clear of the rest of the field and with just two votes (or mentions) separating first from last. They are André Bazin's What is Cinema?, Robert Bresson's Notes on the Cinematographer, Andrew Sarris's The American Cinema, Thomson's Biographical Dictionary and François Truffaut's Hitchcock."
In all, 51 critics and writers were polled and we'll be able to see the full results in the June issue. Meantime, S&S is giving us a sneak peek at several comments submitted with the votes.
The New Yorker's Richard Brody reminds us that almost exactly one year ago now the Dancing Image sent a film books meme out and about. Damn, that was one fine meme. At any rate, Richard Brody: "What's of particular interest regarding the Sight & Sound list — and where it coheres with my own, despite the lack of overlap of particular titles — is its Franco-centrism (apart, of course, from Thomson's magnum opus)."
As Daniel Kasman noted back in 2008, you can listen to the tapes that would become Hitchcock/Truffaut at If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats.
IN OTHER NEWS
"In the decades since its invention, the mixtape has taken on many forms, from a symbol of affection to a work of art in its own right. Video mixtapes fall into the latter category: new works of art constituted from existing video footage. Entertaining, shocking, and sometimes puzzling, video mixtapes represent a democratization of video-art and challenge our ideas of viewership." At Not Coming to a Theater Near You, David Carter presents a history and a guide.
Samplings from the Spring 2010 of BOMB: Anne Collier's interview with TJ Wilcox, José Castillo's with Carlos Reygadas and Howard Altmann's with Patricia Clarkson.
Today was a big day for us, but there's other awards news to note as well: The Tony Nominations and the Turner Prize shortlist.
Kiyoshi Kurosawa "is one of the most tirelessly fascinating directors at work today," writes Michael Atkinson at IFC.com: "[H]e almost single-handedly lit the fuse for the J-horror movement, but actually his best-known films, from Cure (1997) to Pulse (2001) to Doppelganger (2003), aren't genre films but confrontational parables about instability and dislocation, often garlicked up with a Buñuelian sense of the absurd and a taste for metaphors that can sometimes get beautifully out of hand....
"Thus, Tokyo Sonata may be the Kiyoshi Kurosawa movie for people who don't much like Kiyoshi Kurosawa movies, in that KK addresses his obsessions straight on, on a small scale that makes perfect domestic sense (most of the way), and with a happy ending yet. What possessed him? We should know better than to ask. Bright Future (2003) or Charisma (1999) are inscrutable question marks (and perhaps my favorites for that reason), and KK's career is filled with comedies and strange stuff we don't see over here. Whatever: the new film is palm-sized, brilliantly composed, typically eloquent and often creepily funny."
"If Rock 'n' Roll High School isn't the greatest rock and rebellion film of all time, it is certainly in the running, a pure, cheerfully juvenile blast of blitzkrieg guitar rock, Looney Tunes sight gags, teenage hormones and rebellion against authority because it's there." Sean Axmaker: "The new Rock 'n' Roll High School: 30th Anniversary Special Edition DVD arrives this week [today] and the Blu-ray edition arrives on May 11. What does it look like on Blu-ray? Just like I imagine it did on first run: a pristine record of a technically imperfect film."
For The Bronze, Adam Cook on Vivre sa vie: "Taking his inspiration from Brecht, Sartre and Bresson, Godard was able to examine an existential struggle with a simultaneous distance and intimacy." This "is a unique work of a master auteur, made at a point when he neither lamented about the strain between he and [Anna] Karina nor infused his films with political ideals. Vivre sa Vie, then, is a film lacking the messy urgency of Godard's typical 60s work, instead possessing a remarkable patience."
FESTS AND EVENTS
Last Address is the name of both an exhibition at New York University's Kimmel Center eulogizing a generation of NYC artists who have died of AIDS and an eight-minute film by Ira Sachs. For Artforum, Ara H Merjian, briefly on the film's "haunting melancholy."
"Following the first Terracotta last year, festival director Joey Leung has once again been scouring the Far East for his second mixtape of Asian blockbusters and mysterious oddities." For Electric Sheep, Richard Badley previews this year's edition, running Thursday through Sunday at the Prince Charles Cinema in London.
The 3rd Subversive Film Festival is on in Zagreb through May 25.
Newly announced lineups: Cinéma de la Plage (May 13 through 22) at Cannes and the Los Angeles Film Festival (June 17 through 27).