David Bordwell's website on cinema   click for CV




Perplexing Plots: Popular Storytelling and the Poetics of Murder

On the History of Film Style pdf online

Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling

Film Art: An Introduction

Christopher Nolan: A Labyrinth of Linkages pdf online

Pandora’s Digital Box: Films, Files, and the Future of Movies pdf online

Planet Hong Kong, second edition pdf online

The Way Hollywood Tells It pdf online

Poetics of Cinema pdf online

Figures Traced In Light

Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema pdf online

Exporting Entertainment: America in the World Film Market 1907–1934 pdf online


Hou Hsiao-hsien: A new video lecture!

CinemaScope: The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses

How Motion Pictures Became the Movies

Constructive editing in Pickpocket: A video essay


Rex Stout: Logomachizing

Lessons with Bazin: Six Paths to a Poetics

A Celestial Cinémathèque? or, Film Archives and Me: A Semi-Personal History

Shklovsky and His “Monument to a Scientific Error”

Murder Culture: Adventures in 1940s Suspense

The Viewer’s Share: Models of Mind in Explaining Film

Common Sense + Film Theory = Common-Sense Film Theory?

Mad Detective: Doubling Down

The Classical Hollywood Cinema Twenty-Five Years Along

Nordisk and the Tableau Aesthetic

William Cameron Menzies: One Forceful, Impressive Idea

Another Shaw Production: Anamorphic Adventures in Hong Kong

Paolo Gioli’s Vertical Cinema

(Re)Discovering Charles Dekeukeleire

Doing Film History

The Hook: Scene Transitions in Classical Cinema

Anatomy of the Action Picture

Hearing Voices

Preface, Croatian edition, On the History of Film Style

Slavoj Žižek: Say Anything

Film and the Historical Return

Studying Cinema


Book Reports

Observations on film art

Archive for August 2023

Another dispatch from Ennui-sur-Blasé


DB here:

Hardcore Wes Anderson admirers will be happy to learn of the latest entry in the series of massive auteur monographs devoted to the work of the director. After a synoptic volume, The Wes Anderson Collection, there followed one devoted to The Grand Budapest Hotel and another to Isle of Dogs. Now we have one on The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun. Delayed a bit by Covid, it emerges as just as splendid as its predecessors.ƒteem

Matt Zoller Seitz, impresario of the series, has compiled all the materials we’ve come to expect. There are the usual frolicsome illustrations by Max Dalton. We get to roam through production documents, sketches, storyboards, and interviews with participants, including extras and peripheral contributors. Anderson’s appetite for material is endless, so we learn of layers of citations, shout-outs, and subterranean influences. Binding it all is Seitz’s commentary, both a narrative of the project’s development and an ongoing conversation with Anderson himself.

Seitz is not only a dynamic critic but an imaginative book-maker, with daring conceptions of design and illustration. His gifts are apparent not only in this series but in his nearly phantasmagoric compendium on Oliver Stone and in his more austere but no less forceful The Deadwood Bible. The Anderson enterprise began as a website, and each book has the centrifugal energy of a nest of hyperlinks, with new bits piling onto a single page.

Seitzian ingenuity also emerges in clever ways to evoke, if only as riffs, the obsessive, occasionally silly whimsy that drives the director and his characters. The first book in the series provided a word count for each chapter; the Grand Budapest Hotel volume assigns contributors the role of concierges (“The Society of the Crossed Pens”). In the spirit of a movie about a magazine, The French Dispatch entry includes a magazine, Fondu enchaîné (“Dissolve”). In this English-language feast of cinephilia several critics provide close considerations of the film. (Full disclosure: I’m one of those critics.) The expansive range of these essays nicely miniaturizes the whole book’s urge to explore anything, no matter how remote, that can illuminate the film and Anderson’s creative process.

In all, it’s a collection that I think will delight any Anderson admirer. It teems with the same energy that has animated his body of work for twenty-five years and counting. How fast that time has gone!

Thanks to Ben Adler for all his help on this and other projects.

Full disclosure #2: Matt has kindly co-dedicated the book to Kristin and me. We accept it with gratitude from a generous friend.

David Bordwell
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