Film on Paper: The Inner Life of Movies

Film on Paper: The Inner Life of Movies

by Richard Schickel
     
 

In absorbing essays on books about film, the distinguished critic Richard Schickel offers more insights into moviemaking on every page than a reader will find in an entire shelf of film encyclopedias. His trenchant observations about films, actors, directors, producers, and the machinations of an always fascinating industry are consistently authoritative and

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Overview

In absorbing essays on books about film, the distinguished critic Richard Schickel offers more insights into moviemaking on every page than a reader will find in an entire shelf of film encyclopedias. His trenchant observations about films, actors, directors, producers, and the machinations of an always fascinating industry are consistently authoritative and entertaining. Here are charming but clear-eyed appraisals of Hollywood's major players, its low comedy and high self-regard, its bedrock of bourgeois values, its strange and convoluted affair with sex, and its relentless drive to give the customers what they want, regardless of critical failings. Film on Paper promises to be one of the most enjoyable movie books of the year.

Editorial Reviews

Jeanine Basinger
This truly entertaining collection of essays on film books illustrates a remarkable phenomenon: someone who actually knows what a movie is shrewdly reviews books about the movies. What a concept! And what fun to read! Schickel is tough, but he never attacks a book to prove how clever he is. His respect for film shines through, and there's much to be learned as well as enjoyed.
Robert Towne
Its subtitle in 'the inner life of movies.' Which is really Richard's musings on the musings of others who have written about the creators and creations of movies, the art form which has run the gamut from 'the moving pictures' to FILM over the past 100 years. For sensible judgment, entertaining and original insight, and sheer anecdotal delight, Richard Schickel is the Dr Johnson of our time, with one exception—Richard's judgments are considerably more reliable than the good doctor's, more kindly and no less witty or trenchant for all that.
Foreword Reviews - Joe Taylor
Schickel is a superb writer who has earned his stripes as a critic of culture and its artifacts.
Simply Chaplin - David Noon
Schickel is an endlessly entertaining writer. Film on Paper is an outstanding read and well worth the time for anyone who enjoys film, good writing, or both.
Midwest Book Review
College-level libraries…will find moving this collection of short essays on books about film, coming from a critic who not only reviews these books but uses them to discuss movie content, actor approaches, director and producer influences, and how the film industry operates as a whole.
Publishers Weekly

Schickel, film critic for Timemagazine, contends the majority books on film are by "hack journalists or dull-witted academics." To help movie fans size up those books, Schickel has compiled his own book reviews into a user-friendly collection. It's well written and has the added virtue of expounding on the history of cinema. Originally published in the Los Angeles Times, Schickel's reviews cover books written between 1989 and 2007. He admits that covering the movie industry can be a daunting task. Myths that surround it are accepted without analysis. Directors' bios or interviews can be tricky, he adds, since the subjects often "refuse to illuminate their work." A notable exception is On Film-makingby Alexander Mackendrick (The Guns of Navarone), which he calls a valuable guide for a novice director. Yet standard texts, such as The Genius of the System, are slammed for faulty logic rather than applauded for solid insights. For Schickel, Edward Epstein's The Big Pictureillustrates the worst offenses: obvious deductions, vague theories and substandard writing. Yet he gives credit where it is due, honoring the commendable research in The Dame in the Kimono, an examination of the Hays Code. Schickel sets a high bar for film books and provides a trusted stamp of approval. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Seasoned Time film critic Schickel (Elia Kazan: A Biography, 2005, etc.) devastates a few dozen books about the movie industry, offering his own wittily informative insights in their stead. Rather than straightforward reviews, this loose collection features detailed mini-essays (most originally published in the Los Angeles Times Book Review) offering pithy, opinionated commentary on the state of film criticism and brief lectures in movie history, each about 1,300 words long. Schickel laments two particularly unsuccessful kinds of movie books: laudatory biographies written by starry-eyed fans posing as critics or historians, which offer no illuminating analysis of the celebrity lives they chronicle; and overly dry, scholarly works by writers he's not convinced actually watch the movies they dissect. In his little sermons, Schickel tries to fill in these gaps, bemoaning the authors' foibles and sparing no one's feelings as he elaborates on what they should have said and known. His reiteration of favorite themes throughout-the contemporary dearth of knowledgeable, sensitive film writers and the rise of the auteur theory-allows his critical animus to shine through, unencumbered by the pesky footnotes that accompany larger works of film criticism. He's generous to the few gems he finds, among them Andrew Sarris's "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet": The American Talking Film History and Memory 1927-1949 (1998) and Alexander Mackendrick's On Film-making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director (2004). Here, Schickel confines himself to the more restrictive book-review format to explore their merits, even though it provides him less scope for airing his own theories. An enjoyable bedsidecompanion for cinephiles of a classic bent, as well as amateurs who want to learn a bit more about the history of film without lugging home a library.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566637596
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
04/25/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 9.03(h) x 0.91(d)

What People are saying about this

Jeanine Basinger
"This truly entertaining collection of essays on film books illustrates a remarkable phenomenon: someone who actually knows what a movie is shrewdly reviews books about the movies. What a concept! And what fun to read! Schickel is tough, but he never attacks a book to prove how clever he is. His respect for film shines through, and there's much to be learned as well as enjoyed."

Meet the Author

Best known as a film critic for Time, Richard Schickel also makes award-winning documentary films about films and filmmakers. He is the author or co-author of more than thirty books. He lives in Los Angeles.

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