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AlbertV

What Books Are You Currently Reading or Read?

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It's all about the style:A survey of martial arts styles depicted in Chinese cinema,by Blake Mathews a good and informative read(can only get it on the kindle though)

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A Pictorial History of the Western (1969/1975) by William K. Everson
 
While this book does cover westerns up to the published date, the majority of the book covers American westerns from the beginning of cinema through the 1940s.  There is so much information that I was dumbstruck by how much I did not know about silent and “b” westerns.  No matter how much you learn about cinema, there is always more to learn.
 
The book is too lean from the 1950s through the 1960s.  He dismisses The Wild Bunch (though does give it certain praise) because of the violence, which does seem much more tame these days because of the overabundance of screened gore that would follow this movie.  He completely ignores Anthony Mann except for one picture of Winchester ’73.  While he rightfully has great things to say about John Ford (even has a dedicated chapter), he considers She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and The Wagon Master to be his western classics post-1946 (both very good films), but strangely downplays what would be among Ford’s most famous films now The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.  He states: “…a mere seven months remain of the sixties, and the entire decade has given us only one truly outstanding Western – Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country…”  While that is a truly outstanding film, I disagree with it tremendously (mentioning two other outstanding films above, plus he did not even mention The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – though non-American westerns were not in the scope of this book.) * 
 
It might sound like there is too much negativity (or too much nitpicking), but this book is easily worth having for its knowledge and much writing of early western stars such as Broncho Billy Anderson, William S. Hart and Tom Mix.  Of course it has a lot to say about important western stars as John Wayne, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry too.  Plus it has an assortment of movie stills, posters and pertinent pictures.  I do expect to be revisiting this book if I happen to watch an earlier western – a good sign that this is a worthy addition to my cinematic library.
 
Everson is responsible for finding, archiving and keeping alive many films that would have been discarded.  He was an author, a professor and very few people have seen as many films as he did.  To read more about him check out this biography.  David Bordwell also writes about him here.
 
* Another aspect I disagreed with when he wrote about Kurosawa: “… Yojimbo, which itself was a deliberate attempt to adapt the style and visuals of John Ford’s Westerns to the Japanese idiom.” John Ford was certainly an influence, but so was a lot of other westerns, non-westerns, detective books, etc…  I do not feel he was trying to adapt anything with this movie.  I wrote about the movie here.

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Finished Chain Saw Confidential (2013) by Gunnar Hansen, which was his first person POV on the making of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I loved this book! He was able to get most of his co-stars (except Jim Siedow and Paul A. Partain, who had died before he wrote the book) as well as crew members Daniel Pearl (DOP), Mary Church (stuntwoman), Larry Carroll (editor), and Kim Henkel (co-writer/producer), as well as get some points of view from Stuart Gordon and Doug "Pinhead" Bradley on their analysis of scenes.

 

There are some fun anecdotes that Hansen revealed including what has to be my favorite: The epic six-minute chase sequence between Burns and Hansen was enhanced with well, some "special" brownies provided by caterer Sally Nicolaou, whose husband Ted was the sound recorder for the film. Ted Nicolaou would go on to become a horror film director himself, his best known films being the Subspecies series for Full Moon Pictures in the 1990's.

 

Hansen does take a chapter with his views on the horror film genre as well as reveal that while the film made him famous, he and the other cast and crew got screwed over on the deal involving the film in terms of residuals (didn't bother him much as he was a part-time teacher after production ended), but how he stopped making movies after The Demon Lover until he made his comeback in the 80's and to this day, makes the occasion film. However, it is clear that writing will and has always been Hansen's first love and the book speaks for itself.

 

I highly recommend this to not only any TCM fan, but any horror film fan in general. Plus, you get to finally see how he looked on the set without the Leatherface mask.

Edited by AlbertV

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If I can stretch the meaning of "reading" to include audio books, I am just starting Neil Gaiman's American Gods. I have always wanted to get into some of his work namely the Sandman Series but because of time it seemed most convenient to do the audio book. I like it so far.

 

I posted this link under the Chinese Culture thread but I'll post it here also. This is a free database of all sorts of books. they are also in a variety of formats. there is enough free content to keep anyone busy for years!

https://www.gutenberg.org/

 

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Classics of the Silent Screen (1959/1971) by Joe Franklin
 
For fans of silent cinema and those wanting to learn more this is a pretty good book to start.  It is divided into two main parts: one of what the author considers Fifty Great Films (not his top 50 silents, but a combination of what he considers important as in artistic as well as box-office triumphs) which I list below and part two consists of Seventy-Five Great Stars which I will not list J.  It is important to note that this book is about American cinema and not world-wide cinema.
 
The author is quite a D.W. Griffith fan that he and his actors dominates the book. I like Griffith but not to the point of hyperbole that the author reaches for.  I found it weird that Roscoe Arbuckle was almost completely ignored except for one image.  Not only is Arbuckle not even listed among the Seventy-Five stars he is not even mentioned (except one picture) in the Buster Keaton section.  Arbuckle was a huge star who started Keaton in show business.  His infamous downfall (wrongly accused) was one of the biggest scandals of the 1920s.  I would have included Charley Chase in as well though the author mentions him as underrated in the prologue.
 
But still I have sections of this many times, finally reading it from end-to-end last week.  There is so much information that there is so much to glean from.  Now there have been several discoveries of silent film (unfortunately no London After Midnight or longer version of Greed) since the original publication in 1959, but his choices here are solid even if I disagree with a few picks.
 
This was edited by William K. Everson whom I had reviewed an earlier book by.  He had a big influence and was possibly a coauthor on it [Parallel Play; pg 45; Tim Page]* He would later go on to write American Silent Film in 1978 a book I just purchased.  
 
* I know of no definitive proof.  Some even state that Everson wrote most/all of the book. The book does read like his western book and there is an inordinate amount of D.W. Griffith love.
 
Here are the movies discussed (order by book and timeline).  It is a pretty good list and while I have some qualms I will not spout off too much until I watch a few more on the list I have not seen.  The ones in bold are ones I have seen.
 
The Great Train Robbery
The Perils of Pauline
The Spoilers
The Birth of a Nation
Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages
Hell's Hinges
Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl
When the Clouds Roll by
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Way Down East
The Mark of Zorro
Tol'able David
Orphans of the Storm
Nanook of the North
The Last of the Mohicans
Safety Last!
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Greed
The Covered Wagon
The Ten Commandments
The Iron Horse
Sherlock Jr.
Peter Pan
The Big Parade
The Gold Rush
The Phantom of the Opera
The Lost World
A Kiss for Cinderella
The Son of the Sheik
Sparrows
The Scarlet Letter
Stella Dallas
The Black Pirate
Don Juan
7th Heaven
Flesh and the Devil
What Price Glory
The General
Wings
The Strong Man
White Gold
Sunrise
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beau Geste
The Cat and the Canary
White Shadows in the South Seas
Our Dancing Daughters
The Crowd
City Lights
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas
 
List Challenges
IMDB list

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Ninja - 100 Years of the Shadow Warriors, written by John Man. It is an in-depth look of the ninja, from how the 'cast' first evolved, adapting to surrounds, the myths and untrue stories, to the current day ninja. 

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I just recently read Jet Li: A Biography by James Robert Parish. It was a surprisingly insightful look into Jet's life and film career. I especially love the part where Jet says that while filming the fight scenes for Kids From Shaolin, it wasn't uncommon for one of the actors to go into shock from the heat. They would quickly get revived and would have shoot the scene again.

 

I'm not much of a reader. I think the only other book that I've read before that was probably The Fault in Our Stars because I had some friends who wouldn't leave me alone until I read it. It was quite good even though everyone in the book talks like they're 60.

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I'm about to finish the 6-volume manga series Night of the Beasts by Chika Shiomi. It's the story of loner Aria, who one days meets the very engimatic Sakura. Despite her attempts to ward him off, she feels attracted to him. However, he holds a deadly secret...he's been possessed by a 400-year old demon named Kagara and his targets are all of Aria's blood relatives. As she delves to find a way to deal with the whole situation, Aria soon learns something about herself that she has never imagined would happen to her...she is the possessor of the white demon Kuguri, the only beast capable of stopping Kagara. 

Edited by AlbertV

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Been revisiting a collection of old-school Incredible Hulk stories.

hulk-integrale-1962-1964_zpsen3zgdkg.jpg

 

This volume contains the first 6 stories of The Hulk, from the character's creation in May 1962 to the sixth issue in March 1963. The cover mentions 1964 only because this is the revisited print which also includes the first 3 issues of the Avengers which end with Banner disappearing following a fight against Namor the Submariner - I'm a bit bummed they didn't include the Fantastic Four crossover from (I think) 1963. Yeah, it's technically a FF story, but still those anthologies often include crossovers or issues from other series - and with the little they have here, adding one story (even if a rehash) would be nice, especially when you don't have really big guns of the Marvel universe outside Hulk himself in the Hulk series (unless General Ross and Rick Jones count ?).

 

Even revisited with the addition of 3 Avenger stories, this still feels short and its original tag price of 25€ seems a bit exaggerated - though I admit it's a very nicely put together book with nice artwork and colors (the artwork is by Jack Kirby in all but one story, the 6th Hulk one which was drawn by Spider-Man and Doctor Strange artist Steve Ditko), very easy to read text that is well-translated (I think the translations were redone for those), and I like the fact it includes full page prints of the original covers at the end). You only get 6 stories (9 if we count the Avengers ones) and every now and then you get a rehash of the origin story of The Hulk (seen in the first issue), which BTW is a bit strange cause in the flashback he'll be gray but he's green in the following story. 

Cause let's not ignore the elephant in the room, Marvel's green giant was initially gray and following a printing mistake while making issue #3, he ended up green - the color remained because green is easier to spot than gray and Marvel didn't have iconic heroes of that color at the time (then again, their rooster in late 1962 was pretty limited).

 

Another element you'll notice changes a lot is the way Banner transforms into the Hulk. Initially he changes only at night and every night the transformation happens. Then he invents a machine that can douse him in gamma radiations so that he can change back and forth any time (initially operated by his sidekick Ricky Jones, it then automatically sends rays whenever Banner or his alter-ego stands in front of it), and following a trip in outer space where radiations cause crazy shit, he falls under Jones' control and does anything he says. The remaining intelligence of Banner in the Hulk is also a bit subjected to change - at points Hulk seems intelligent and can speak clearly, but there are also points where he's the mindless behemoth destroying everything that stands in his way that he's usually portrayed as. However, the characterization of Banner and his alternate self are already very elaborate with Banner being worried of what the Hulk could do should he get loose, and Hulk despizing Banner.

 

For the most part, these stories are a bit similar to what we'd see later in the TV show with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno: Banner turns into Hulk and ends saving the day, but everyone thinks Hulk is a monster and you have that one guy who wants to get the monster (here it's old General Ross whose daughter Betty serves as a love interest).

Being by Stan Lee, they are also creative in what happens though, and you can see themes and plot points re-used in other series like Hulk stopping invaders from outer space or an underground tyrant (like the Fantastic Four in several 1960s stories), as well as thwarting an invasion (which would happen a few years later in Tales of Suspense when Iron Man fights Titanium Man in Vietnam in a 1967 issue - a very nicely done storyline BTW).

 

 

 

Edited by Secret Executioner
Adding the 1960s Hulk theme. :p

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Just finished:

When Pride Still Mattered - biography of Vince Lombardi... probably wouldn't be happy with the Packers' performance last Sunday.

 

Currently reading:

Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An) - the character from "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame." A few of his original stories from the 18th century, translated by Robert Van Gulik who later went on to use the same character in a series of mysteries in the 50s and 60s.

 

Off and on reading:

Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - an absolute bear of a book, but interesting in chunks of a few hundred pages at a time.

Van Gulik and Shirer.  Great.

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Well I'm trying to get to 50 books for the year (11 more to go).  Not sure I will make it.  Here is what I've read so far:

 

  1. Code of the Samurai: A Modern Translation of the Bushido Shoshinshu of Taira Shigesuke (1999)  by Thomas Cleary (Translator), Taira Shigesuke SLY
  2. Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking 4th Edition (1995) by Vincent Ruggiero
  3. Chasing Dragons: An Introduction to The Martial Arts Film (2006) by David West
  4. The Hobbit (1937) by J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. Money Master the Game (2014) by Tony Robbins
  6. Not Cool (2014) by Greg Gutfeld
  7. Chang Cheh: A Memoir (2004) by Chang Cheh, preface by John Woo, Sek Kei edited by Wong Ain-ling
  8. Akira Kurosawa Interviews (2008) edited by Bert Cardullo
  9. Letters of the Dragon (1998) by Bruce Lee Volume 5 Edited by John Little
  10. Kung Fu Cult Masters (2003) by Leon Hunt
  11. The Joy of Hate (2012) by Greg Gutfeld
  12. Be Careful What You Wish For (2014) by Jeffrey Archer
  13. Buddha’s Brain (2009) Rick Hanson with Richard Mendius, Foreward by Daniel J. Siegel, Preface by Jack Kornfield.
  14. My Wonderful World of Slapstick (1960/1982) by Buster Keaton and Charles Samuels, intro by Dwight MacDonald.
  15. Ty Cobb A Terrible Beauty (2015) by Charles Leerhsen
  16. Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me (1990) by Bob Hope with Melville Shavelson
  17. Beam Me Up, Scotty (1996) by James Doohan with Peter David
  18. Pure Drivel (1998) by Steve Martin
  19. The Wind and the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Graham
  20. The Reagan Diaries (2009) by Ronald Reagan edited by Douglas Brinkley
  21. Charlie Chaplin: A Bio-bibliography (1983) by Wes D. Gehring
  22. The Marx Brothers: Their World of Comedy (1969) by Allen Eyles
  23. Buster Keaton: Tempest In A Flat Hat (2005) by Edward McPherson
  24. Warner Brothers Directors (1978) by William R. Meyer
  25. Fit for the Chase (1969) by Raymond Lee
  26. John Wayne: The Life and Legend (2014) by Scott Eyman
  27. The Rise and Fall of the Matinee Idol (1974) edited by Anthony Curtis
  28. Plunder And Deceit (2015) by Mark Levin
  29. The Hollywood Posse (1975/1996) by Diana Serra Cary
  30. A Pictorial History of the Western (1969/1975) by William K. Everson
  31. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (2011) by David Eagleman
  32. Classics of the Silent Screen (1959/1971) by Joe Franklin
  33. Why a Duck (1980) by Richard J. Anobile, Introduction by Groucho Marx
  34. The Jungle (1906) by Upton Sinclair
  35. The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway
  36. The Chaplin Encyclopedia (1997) by Glenn Mitchell
  37. Civilization: The West and the Rest (2011) by Niall Ferguson
  38. Treasure Island (1883) by Robert Lewis Stevenson
  39. How to Be Right (2015) by Greg Gutfeld

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Finished Night of the Beasts, had an ending I didn't expect but was good nonetheless. I read volumes 1-4 of the Rurouni Kenshin manga so far, but someone decided to check the rest out so now I have to wait. 

 

I started up on Mythology, which revolves around the comic art of Alex Ross. I am digging it. I got the book from a co-worker who has been cleaning out his book/comic/graphic novel collection. 

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Just finished Stanley Kubrick's The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film, that came out earlier this year on the small Centipede Press label. It is a very well put together 750 page compilation of mostly new essays about the film and interviews from the cast and crew. While the essays were interesting and approached the subject from many different angles, my favorite part of the book were the interviews, including Lia Beldam, the young woman in the bathroom, and a very insightful interview with co-writer Diane Johnson.

 

http://www.centipedepress.com/studieshorror/shining.html

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Just finished Stanley Kubrick's The Shining: Studies in the Horror Film, that came out earlier this year on the small Centipede Press label. It is a very well put together 750 page compilation of mostly new essays about the film and interviews from the cast and crew. While the essays were interesting and approached the subject from many different angles, my favorite part of the book were the interviews, including Lia Beldam, the young woman in the bathroom, and a very insightful interview with co-writer Diane Johnson.

 

http://www.centipedepress.com/studieshorror/shining.html

That certainly sounds interesting. :nerd: 

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Greek Myths: A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys (1852) by Nathanial Hawthorne
 
Fun take on the retelling of six Greek Myths from the author mainly known today for The Scarlet Letter.  I like the playful retelling by the lead character as a superb raconteur who is sometimes criticized (by one adult in the book as being too Gothic) and sometimes lauded by his own versions of the mythical tales.  I like the ending and how today it would be considered postmodern (or at least self-reflexive). I know this was considered a kid’s book in its time, but with the archaic diction I think it would be a bit difficult for most young’uns.

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It's all about the style:A survey of martial arts styles depicted in Chinese cinema,by Blake Mathews a good and informative read(can only get it on the kindle though)

Thanks for Reading. It is available on paperback now!

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This weekend I finished Encyclopedia of Monsters by Jeff Rovin. That was really the type of a book that every sci-fi/horror fan should have in the collection. It was close to 400 (large) pages of monsters, be they from movies, TV, books, comics, or even toys! And Rovin is such a completist that even when space allows him to only write complete entries about a handful of monsters from a given series (Conan stories, for example), he at leasts mentions all the other monsters that showed up in the series in the observation section. There's also an appendix about places where monsters dwell, which allows him to mention several different prehistoric lost worlds that didn't quite feature original monsters deserving of their own entry. It's a great book overall.

 

Now I'm Reading Sein Language  by Jerry Seinfeld. A lot of the stuff I had heard in one of his stand-up presentations, but there are still some great laugh-out-loud moments in the book.

Edited by DrNgor

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Reading The Filthy Truth, the autobiography of 90's comedian Andrew "Dice" Clay, from his humble beginnings in Brooklyn to his meteoric rise as one of the most renowned stand up comics to his fall in the late 90s and early 2000s to his redemption in films directed by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen.

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Charles Dickens' Master Humphrey's Clock.

 

Haven't read that much so far, but it sounds very promising - I love the way it is written, but again we're talking of Charles Dickens here, someone who had a great writing style.  :cool 

Edited by Secret Executioner

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Charles Dickens' Master Humphrey's Clock.

Haven't read that much so far, but it sounds very promising - I love the way it is written, but again we're talking of Charles Dickens here, someone who had a great writing style.  :cool 

I have not read that one, though I am debating on reading The Christmas Carol before Christmas.  I like Dickens as well as much literature in the 19th century.  But with Poe and Melville I always need a dictionary handy with the superannuated diction that furrows my countenance.

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American Silent Film (1978) by William K. Everson

 

For those getting into silent film this is not a bad place to start.  I do think Classics of the Silent Screen (1959/1971) by Joe Franklin (which Everson was a part of writing this book) is another good starting read and more focused on actors and movies.  Now Everson is a little too D.W. Griffith centric, a big chunk of the book is about him, and while he will write about some of the foibles of Griffith he still varies toward the hagiography and actually does not agree with some of the racial problems with some of the films like Birth of a Nation. I also feel he shortchanges the silent comedy a bit here and does not write enough on it.  It has its own genre section but still it was not enough considering how important it was and still is.

He is quite fair to sound films and will give examples on where he thinks they work better: like the work of W.C. Fields (though a lot of his silent output is missing.)  Though I disagree dramatically with his condemnation of the Ben-Hur remake (in his western book he poo-poos many westerns after 1960.)  And he does discuss a bit of non-American silent films as well though mostly in relation to what was released in the United States such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).  He has a small section at the end discussing several others.  I do think he shortchanges them, but it is not necessarily his fault as we have more access to them now than he did.  Here is David Bordwell on the subject:

Earlier generations of film historians, for example, were inclined to treat D.W. Griffith as the most important figure in the U.S. silent cinema because it seemed that he invented a number of editing techniques that became widespread. More recent historians have developed a counterargument, thanks to the greater availability of films by other directors and a more comparison-based method. These scholars claim that Griffith developed certain tendencies that were already present, pushing them to a new level of expression. Moreover, his most original techniques were not picked up by others, so in some respects other directors had more influence on standard editing practice. As an individual Griffith remains important, but he is probably not the Great Innovator that people once considered him.

But I doubt I will ever see anywhere near the amount of silent films he has seen and he was even limited to film prints during much of his lifetime.  Silent films for the most part are so much easier to find today with DVD releases (VHS if you need to) and so many on youtube.  I am going through a Kino set of Edison films right now for example. And there has been several discoveries since the writing of this book (though unfortunately most silent films are no longer extant.) There is much to be learned from this book though and would make a nice addition to anyone’s cinema book library.

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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Just finished Andrew Dice Clay's autobiography The Filthy Truth and now am starting Paul Fischer's book A Kim Jong-Il Production which depicts the true story of kidnapped actress Choi Eun-Hee and her ex-husband, filmmaker Shin Sang-Ok, who were practically forced (and eventually respected) by Kim Jong-Il to make films in North Korea. They eventually made their escape in Vienna's U.S. Embassy.

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