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In eleven feature films across two decades, Christian Petzold has established himself as the most critically celebrated director in contemporary Germany. The best-known and most influential member of the Berlin School, Petzold's career reflects the trajectory of German film from 1970s New German Cinema to more popular fare in the 1990s and back again to critically engaged and politically committed filmmaking. His combination of critical celebration and popular success underscores Petzold's singular cinematic achievement: the deliberate and shrewd negotiation of art cinema and popular Hollywood genre.
The Cinema of Errol Morris offers close analyses of the director’s films—from box office successes like The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War to Morris’s early works like Vernon, Florida and controversial films like Standard Operating Procedure. Film scholar David Resha’s reappraisal of Morris’s films allows us to rethink the traditional distinction between stylistically conservative documentaries, which are closely invested in evidence and reality, and stylistically adventurous films, which artfully call to question such claims of nonfiction and truth. According to Resha, Errol Morris does not fit neatly in this division of the documentary tradition. Rather, his experiments with documentary conventions constitute another way to investigate reality—in particular, to examine the ways in which his subjects understand, and misunderstand, themselves and the world around them. Seen within the nonfiction tradition, an Errol Morris documentary is a flexible form of lively, engaging storytelling and shrewd, cutting, in-depth reportage.
Sergei Parajanov (1924–90) flouted the rules of both filmmaking and society in the Soviet Union and paid a heavy personal price. An ethnic Armenian in the multicultural atmosphere of Tbilisi, Georgia, he was one of the most innovative directors of postwar Soviet cinema. Parajanov succeeded in creating a small but marvelous body of work whose style embraces such diverse influences as folk art, medieval miniature painting, early cinema, Russian and European art films, surrealism, and Armenian, Georgian, and Ukrainian cultural motifs.
A Conversation with Thirty-nine Filmmakers from around the World
In Cinema Today, Elena Oumano has ingeniously crafted a conversation from her personal and individual interviews with a distinguished group of international cinema legends. She follows a lively symposium-in-print format, with the filmmakers' words and thoughts grouped together under various key cinema topics. Collectively these artists reflect on and explore issues and concerns of modern filmmaking, from the practical to the aesthetic, including the process, cinematic rhythm and structure, and the many aspects of the media: business, the viewer, and cinema's place in society.
Widely regarded as one of the most innovative and passionate filmmakers working in France today, Claire Denis has continued to make beautiful and challenging films since the 1988 release of her first feature, Chocolat. Judith Mayne's comprehensive study of these films traces Denis's career and discusses her major feature films in rich detail. Born in Paris but having grown up in Africa, Denis explores in her films the legacies of French colonialism and the complex relationships between sexuality, gender, and race. From the adult woman who observes her past as a child in Cameroon to the Lithuanian immigrant who arrives in Paris and watches a serial killer to the disgraced French Foreign Legionnaire attempting to make sense of his past, the subjects of Denis's films continually revisit themes of watching, bearing witness, and making contact, as well as displacement, masculinity, and the migratory subject.
An Actor's Voice
Late in Claude Rains’s distinguished career, a reverent film journalist wrote that Rains “was as much a cinematic institution as the medium itself.” Given his childhood speech impediments and his origins in a destitute London neighborhood, the ascent of Claude Rains (1889–1967) to the stage and screen is remarkable. Rains’s difficulties in his formative years provided reserves of gravitas and sensitivity, from which he drew inspiration for acclaimed performances in The Invisible Man (1933), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Casablanca (1942), Notorious (1946), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and other classic films. In Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice, noted Hollywood historian David J. Skal draws on more than thirty hours of newly released Rains interviews to create the first full-length biography of the actor who was nominated multiple times for an Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Skal’s portrait of the gifted actor also benefits from the insights of Jessica Rains, who provides firsthand accounts of the enigmatic man behind her father’s refined screen presence and genteel public persona. As Skal shows, numerous contradictions informed the life and career of Claude Rains. He possessed an air of nobility and became an emblem of sophistication, but he never shed the insecurities that traced back to his upbringing in an abusive and poverty-stricken family. Though deeply self-conscious about his short stature, Rains drew notorious ardor from female fans and was married six times. His public displays of dry wit and good humor masked inner demons that drove Rains to alcoholism and its devastating consequences. Skal’s layered depiction of Claude Rains reveals a complex, almost inscrutable man whose nuanced characterizations were, in no small way, based on the more shadowy parts of his psyche. With unprecedented access to episodes from Rains’s private life, Skal tells the full story of the consummate character actor of his generation. Claude Rains: An Actor’s Voice, gives voice to the struggles and innermost concerns that influenced Rains’s performances and helped him become a universally respected Hollywood legend.
She Walked in Beauty
Claudette Colbert's mixture of beauty, sophistication, wit, and vivacity quickly made her one of the film industry's most famous and highest-paid stars of the 1930s and 1940s. Though she began her career on the New York stage, she was beloved for her roles in such films as Preston Sturges's The Palm Beach Story, Cecil B. DeMille's Cleopatra, and Frank Capra's It Happened One Night, for which she won an Academy Award. She showed remarkable prescience by becoming one of the first Hollywood stars to embrace television, and she also returned to Broadway in her later career. This is the first major biography of Colbert (1903-1996) published in over twenty years. Bernard F. Dick chronicles Colbert's long career, but also explores her early life in Paris and New York. Along with discussing how she left her mark on Broadway, Hollywood, radio, and television, the book explores Colbert's lifelong interests in painting, fashion design, and commercial art. Using correspondence, interviews, periodicals, film archives, and other research materials, the biography reveals a smart, talented actress who conquered Hollywood and remains one of America's most captivating screen icons. Bernard F. Dick is professor of communication and English at Fairleigh Dickinson University and is the author of Hal Wallis: Producer to the Stars; Engulfed: The Death of Paramount Pictures and the Birth of Corporate Hollywood; Forever Mame: The Life of Rosalind Russell (University Press of Mississippi); and other books.
Interviews, Revised and Updated
Clint Eastwood (b. 1930) is the only popular American dramatic star to have shaped his own career almost entirely through films of his own producing, frequently under his own direction; no other dramatic star has directed himself so often. He is also one of the most prolific active directors, with thirty-three features to his credit since 1971.As a star, he is often recalled primarily for two early roles--the "Man with No Name" of three European-made Westerns, and the uncompromising cop "Dirty" Harry Callahan. But on his own as a director, Eastwood has steered a remarkable course. A film industry insider who works through the established Hollywood system and respects its traditions, he remains an outsider by steadfastly refusing to heed cultural and aesthetic trends in film production and film style. His films as director have examined an eclectic variety of themes, ranging from the artist's life to the nature of heroism, while frequently calling into question the ethos of masculinity and his own star image. Yet they have remained accessible to a popular audience worldwide. With two Best Director and two Best Picture Oscars to his credit, Eastwood now ranks among the most highly honored living filmmakers.These interviews range over the more than four decades of Eastwood's directorial career, with an emphasis on practical filmmaking issues and his philosophy as a filmmaker. Nearly a third are from European sources--several appearing here in English for the first time.
Refuting virtually every previous account of the founding and development of the American motion picture industry, this entertaining biography pays tribute to a pioneer whose many innovations helped to create Hollywood as we know it today.
Colley Cibber changed the course of the English-speaking theater. One of the most complete theater men in the history of the stage, he fostered the change from drama as the handmaiden of literature to theater as an independent and lively art. In the process, Cibber became one of London's brightest stars, one of its most popular playwrights and, for thirty years, manager of the most important theater in England, Drury Lane.
Yet above all, Cibber was an actor, and this fact governed his life and career. In his plays, he demonstrated a remarkable awareness of the audience in the playhouse, while the character of a fool, which he created for the stage, gradually became the mask he wore in private life. The man himself achieved fame and wealth and gained powerful friends who gave him the post of Poet Laureate. But the mask and his success brought equally powerful enemies who made him the target of their ridicule and succeeded in destroying his reputation.
Since then the distorted image created by Pope and Fielding has amused generations of readers, but it does not explain how such a supposed fool remained a favorite with the public throughout his career, had more plays in the repertory than any other contemporary author, successfully managed a major theatrical company, or wrote the best theatrical history of his age. This biography looks at the man behind that distorting mask, his position in his own time, and his contribution to the theater.