- Observations on film art - http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog -

Unassigned reading

DB here:

Thanks to the digital engineering efforts of Andy Adams, of Flak magazine [1], some older research articles of mine are now archived on the site. See the list on the left, or click here [2]. The pieces range from discussions of particular filmmakers (Feuillade, Preminger) and film techniques (e.g., jump cuts) to more general questions about film theory, history, and criticism. Also included is Lingua Franca‘s profile of me. I’ve added some supplementary comments to give a little context. Andy will be adding a couple more essays in the week to come.

This spring my Poetics of Cinema [3]collects other previously published essays, all revised. That collection includes several new pieces as well.

Also, I’ve added two new book reports, one [4] on James Mottram’s The Sundance Kids, the other [5] on Joe Eszterhas’s Devil’s Guide to Hollywood.

A great gift for the film fan on your holiday list: The wonderful book [6] by Teruyo Nogami, Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa, trans. Juliet Winters Carpenter. This is a trip back to a golden era of Japanese cinema.

Ms. Nogami started as a minor functionary at Toho, shifted to Daiei, and then worked as scriptgirl for Kurosawa. As sharp, funny, and moving as any Japanese film of the 1940s and 1950s, her book gives an engrossing account of the social interactions around moviemaking. You get a sense of the desperate energy of Japanese film production in the late 1940s, when Tokyoites scrabbled for food. Film stock was scarce–directors sometimes could afford to make only one take–and people worked around the clock. To keep going during all-night shoots, crew members injected themselves with philopon (aka speed).

Of course Kurosawa stands at stage center, treated reverently but also with keen observation. You’ll want to read about his relations with producers, composers, cameramen, and tigers. But there are other featured players too. As a schoolgirl Ms. Nogami corresponded with the important 1930s director Mansako Itami, and she took sisterly care of his son Juzo, who would grow up to direct Tampopo and A Taxing Woman.

In all, a document of moviemaking’s many dimensions–technical, financial, artistic, and personal. Donald Richie contributes a warm foreword, and we should thank Marty Gross of Marty Gross Films [7] for initiating the translation.