CITIZEN SPIELBERG by Lester D. Friedman – Book Review by Diane Carson

Lester D. Friedman’s Citizen Spielberg offers a serious, sustained, long overdue analysis of director Steven Spielberg’s entire filmography. Informed by a thorough knowledge of the wide-ranging criticism on Spielberg, Friedman assesses existing scholarship and, in many instances, establishes a fresh, insightful, and convincing new perspective. He fairly evaluates dismissive attitudes toward this prolific, popular director while offering a thoughtful, evenhanded consideration of Spielberg’s films.

Read more

CAMERA MAN: BUSTER KEATON, THE DAWN OF CINEMA AND THE INVENTION OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY – Book Review by Diane Carson

Buster Keaton certainly deserves the enduring praise his technical and aesthetic achievements have earned over the years. With this in mind, fans and scholars may wonder if his career warrants a new book. Happily, and perhaps surprisingly, Dana Stevens’ Camera Man: Buster Keaton, The Dawn of Cinema, and The Invention of the Twentieth Century confirms that the answer is a solid “Yes.” Stevens’ research proves so much more has remained to be said, primarily and essentially in the realm of cultural contextualization as well as acknowledgement of Keaton’s comic creativity and personal problems. Camera Man achieves what a thorough, insightful portrait should: it presents the subject as a complex human being, succeeding and failing, generous and foolish, inspired and self-defeating, and, in the case of Buster Keaton, a comic genius of his very distinctive time.

Read more

THE VELVET QUEEN – Review by Leslie Combemale

The current state of the world suggests we’d be ill advised to watch a documentary about the loss of yet another majestic animal to extinction. The Velvet Queen, or La Panthère des Neiges, as it’s called in its country of origin, France, is absolutely nothing like that. This documentary is really a celebration of the grandeur and beauty of Tibet and all its creatures, but especially the rare, elusive, beautiful beast, the snow leopard. It makes for joyful and meditative viewing, which for some will be exactly what is needed at this reflective time of the year.

Read more

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas’ Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study – Book Review by Marietta Steinhart (Guest Post)

To mark the ten-year anniversary of her compelling book Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, Australian film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (who is a member of AWFJ) has released a seriously revised, second edition, including an exciting new chapter on women-directed rape-revenge films before and after the #MeToo Era. A lot has happened since 2011 and if the author sounds angry, she says, it’s because she is.

Read more

ReFocus: The Films of Elaine May – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (Exclusive Book Excerpt)

Across her impressive career, the manifestation of Elaine May’s remarkable skillset reveals itself primarily through a three-pronged attack of writer, filmmaker, and performer. That these overlap so significantly in her 1971 debut feature film as director-writer-actor A New Leaf typify how difficult it is at times to individually extract each thread for analysis, yet this chapter seeks to do precisely that.

Read more

Godard and Sound: Acoustic Innovation in the Late Films of Jean-Luc Godard — Book Review by Kathleen Sachs (Guest Post, Exclusive)

Albertine Fox does a fantastic job summarizing the book’s theoretical mission in the first chapter. The book is not only a good resource for the topic at hand; it also provides ‘mini-lessons’ on subjects with which readers may be unfamiliar. This reflects the author’s thoughtfulness—she doesn’t assume that everyone reading is familiar with every reference, and she elaborates in such a way that even those who are familiar will glean something new from how she connects the ideas to her own.

Read more

Albertine Fox’s is not only a good resource for the topic at hand; it also provides ‘mini-lessons’ on subjects with which readers may be unfamiliar. This reflects the author’s thoughtfulness—she doesn’t assume that everyone reading is familiar with every reference, and she elaborates in such a way that even those who are familiar will glean something new from how she connects the ideas to her own.

Read more

Anne Thompson’s THE $11 BILLION YEAR (Exclusive Excerpt)

After reporting on everything movies for 25 years, Hollywood pundit Anne Thompson, an AWFJ member, has written her first book. It’s fascinating. We preview it here, with an exclusive excerpt from Chapter Seven: Women, Politics and Zero Dark Thirty. After reading AWFJ’s exclusive excerpt, you can purchase The $11 Billion Year in its entirety from HarperCollins Publishers or book sellers.

Read more