Books: Del Toro, Andersen, and More

On Film / The Daily — Dec 7, 2017


“I think that every movie gets better the second time around if you love it,” Guillermo del Toro tells Matt Zoller Seitz in an excerpt from a new book by Seitz and Simon Abrams, Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. “And sometimes you don’t understand why, but it has a pull on you and you want to see it again. Some of the movies I like most, I liked on the second and third viewing, and disliked on the first viewing, but something kept bringing me back to them.” The conversation touches not only on the film at hand (image above) but also Andy Muschietti’s Mama (2013), which del Toro produced, paranoid thrillers, and Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), specifically, its politics. “Every film is a political film,” adds del Toro. “The good ones are!” interjects Seitz. Del Toro: “And the bad ones, momentarily, too!”

“I don’t think you can understand the structure of a film unless you take notes,” Thom Andersen tells Jordan Cronk in the Los Angeles Review of Books. “By that I mean the perspective of the film—not just the camera perspective but the dramaturgical perspective.” The occasion for Cronk’s conversation with the director of Red Hollywood (1996), Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003), and The Thoughts That Once We Had (2015) is the newish collection Slow Writing: Thom Andersen on Cinema. Further into the discussion, Andersen argues that “even though Warhol’s paintings are worth millions and his films are worth nothing, without the films the paintings would be worthless.” And: “The worst I can say about most people writing about film is I don’t see the point in what they’re doing.”

Noah Isenberg, whose own latest book is We’ll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Movie, reviews four for the New York Times:

In Movies That Mattered: More Reviews From a Transformative Decade, a collection of reviews Dave Kehr wrote for the Chicago Reader and Chicago magazine from 1974 to 1986, “Kehr advances a ‘big picture’ perspective,” writes Ben Sachs in the Reader, “developing arguments about cinema as a whole across multiple essays about individual movies. Movies That Mattered flows remarkably well: an appreciation of French director Jacques Rivette seems to grow directly out of the essay that precedes it, a think piece on Hollywood sequels (both consider how filmmakers create new narrative strategies out of familiar genre elements), while notions of tradition and personal integrity connect back-to-back reviews of Robert Aldrich’s Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1976) and Stanley Donen’s Movie Movie (1978).”

For Fast Company, Melissa Locker talks with John Waters about Make Trouble, his new book and vinyl record, and about “how he stays creative in the current political environment, and why he will never fundraise on Kickstarter.”

Catherine Grant alerts us to a new freely accessible book, Nocturnal Fabulations: Ecology, Vitality and Opacity in the Cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, with chapters by Érik Bordeleau, Toni Pape, Ronald Rose-Antoinette, and Adam Szymanski and an introduction by Erin Manning.

At the Film Stage, Christopher Schobert has capsule reviews of Francis Ford Coppola’s “fascinating” Live Cinema and Its Techniques, Beverly Gray’s Seduced by Mrs. Robinson: How The Graduate Became the Touchstone of a Generation, and many more.

And finally for now, A Book of Book Lists: A Bibliophile’s Compendium, put together Alex Johnson, includes a list of plays once owned by Marilyn Monroe, “including those by Henry James, Norman Corwin, and Eugene O’Neill,” as Belle Hutton notes at AnOther. She finds this list “telling of the star’s intellect and broad literary interest (the plays range in period from Elizabethan to modern American).”

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