Here is the second half of my response to the book meme (here’s Part I in case you missed it). Thanks again to The Film Doctor for tagging me and to Movieman0283 for suggesting such a productive meme.
- One of the books that I found myself constantly revisiting when writing the book was Barbara Klinger’s Beyond the Multiplex, one of the best books out there on the implications of watching movies at home. Klinger looks at a variety of phenomena including home theater systems, DVD collecting, repeat film viewing, and online videos shorts to consider shifts in viewing practices as movie watching increasingly migrates into the home. In a similar context, I found myself learning a lot from Anna McCarthy’s Ambient Television, especially in her discussion of how TV, typically associated with the home, “shapes and often dominates public spaces.” Although McCarthy primarily addresses television as a medium, her book helped me to make sense of the increasing significance of mobile devices (such as iPods) in accessing movie content.
- Another book that came to me as I was finishing Reinventing Cinema was John Thornton Caldwell’s Production Culture, which examines the “cultural practices and belief systems of Los Angeles–based film and video production workers.” In particular, I found Caldwell’s analysis of “industrial self-reflexivity,” especially as it is expressed in DVD commentary tracks, making-of documentaries, promotional texts, and user-generated content, to be incredibly helpful.
- In addition to the many scholarly books that have been important to me, I’d also like to list some books that capture, at least in part, the pleasures of movie watching. Few recent books on film are more readable than Mark Harris’s Pictures at a Revolution, a history of the five films nominated for Best Picture Oscars in 1968, a pivotal year not only in the history of Hollywood but in the larger political world. As a fan of Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, two of the nominated films, I love the behind-the-scenes narratives that Harris masterfully weaves together. As someone interested in the history of Hollywood, I find it an immensely readable resource. Finally, Harris quietly captures the social and political change taking place while these films were being made.
- Although it’s a slightly flawed and clunky book, I’ve always liked Alberto Fuguet’s novel, The Movies of My Life, in which the protagonist, seismologist Beltran Soler, narrates the story of his life in relationship to movies that were important to him, both during his years living in the U.S. and his life in Chile. Beltran starts his memoirs during a layover in a Los Angeles hotel room, a setting that seems apt for thinking about film’s powerful influence in our lives.
- Another book that taps into both my cinephilia and my appreciation of those who have written so eloquently about film is Philip Lopate’s indispensible collection, American Movie Critics: From Silents Until Now, a collection of film reviews dating from the earliest days of the genre to the present, at a moment when film criticism is itself rapidly transforming as some of our most insightful critics write not for newspapers and magazines but for blogs and other websites. The book is a great resource for tracing the debates about ongoing, but ever-changing, role of movies in our daily lives, as they played out on the pages of local and national newspapers and magazines.
I’m supposed to tag five other people, but I’m always hesitant to do that, so consider this an open invitation to join the meme. When you do, be sure to link back to the origins of the meme at The Dancing Image.