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piiskoor

Another fine mess

Reader fan critic teacher reader fan.

Currently reading

McGlue
Ottessa Moshfegh
Knife Fight and Other Struggles
David Nickle
Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Andrew Solomon
The Good Lord Bird
James McBride
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie
Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (New Edition)
Derek Bok
Dissident Gardens
Jonathan Lethem
Nightmare Movies: Horror on Screen Since the 1960s
Kim Newman
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood
James Gleick
Complete Novels
Dashiell Hammett, Steven Marcus
Picture at a Revolution. Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood - Mark Harris One of the best books about films I've ever read, and a masterfully-crafted, thrilling read at that.

Harris untangles how we got to the Best Picture slate of 1967, a fine representative case study of a shift in Hollywood conventions. And also, obviously, situated in a time of significant cultural change. But unlike many other such film histories, which tend to center on readings of the films (technique and thematics) to make the cultural argument, Harris masterfully traces the complexities of how all these films got made -- from conception to financing to production to marketing and reception. In short, he is capturing something substantive about the industry and the art form. I've really enjoyed reading John Sayles on how he got "Matewan" made, dug the journalistic accounts of big busts (like "Heaven's Gate" and "Bonfire of the Vanities"), and there are a great many excellent studies of film and culture .... but I've never seen someone so seamlessly capture the whole shebang.

Sweeping, yet reads intimately; there's tremendous narrative brio, as he cross-cuts between the five films' histories, and Harris is as fine with precise, funny anecdotes (Mike Nichols directing Dustin Hoffman, the terrors of Rex Harrison on the set of Doolittle) as he is with concise readings of the films (he's particularly good with the technical and thematic significance of "Bonnie & Clyde" and "In the Heat of the Night"). I'd love to teach this book--alongside the films--but then I'd probably just lose myself the job, because the book covers the ground so well. So fuck that. Let the damn kids find it on their own time. You should, too.