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"Films and Feelings", Raymond Durgnat

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We chose not to write a text about this book, as we think that the summary in the back cover gives, indeed, the best description of it. We would like only to give the brief note that Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote about it: "This first collection by the most thoughtful, penetrating, and far-reaching of UK film critics ever remains scandalously overlooked and undervalued. Conceivably more ideas per page can be found here than in the work of any other English-language critic (...)."
Summary: Raymond Durgnat here examines literally hundreds of films-- from Birth of a Nation to those of the 1960's, from Hollywood smashes to 'avant garde' obscurities, from all parts of the world-- in an effort to isolate universals of the language of films and to loft their poetics to an articulate level. Beyond what interest it may possess as a collection of different cinematic topics, this text is offered also as a basis for re-exploring an art-form which seems to pose certain aesthetic pro…

"Million Dollar Movie", Michael Powell

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Michael Powell (1905-1990) was a British filmmaker, for many the most important one right after Alfred Hitchcock (for whom he worked as a still photographer), and a big influence on the movie brats generation, namely in Scorsese and Coppola. His first films as a director were quota-quickies, that is, about one-hour films made with modest resources and quickly, in order to force exhibitors to show more British films and to stimulate the national film industry. It was in 1937 that he made his first major film (as he himself defines it in his memoirs), The Edge of the World, a film of pictorial beauty and rural mysticism, filmed on the island of Foula, where the wind in the local vegetation and the clouds in the sky shape and reflect the turbulence of the characters' emotions. Such pastoral visuals would be repeated in at least three of the best films he signed with Emeric Pressburger, A Canterbury TaleI Know Where I'm Going!, and Going to Earth.
It is by the films he made with …

"A Life in Movies", Michael Powell

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Michael Powell (1905-1990) was a British filmmaker, for many the most important one right after Alfred Hitchcock (for whom he worked as a still photographer), and a big influence on the movie brats generation, namely in Scorsese and Coppola. His first films as a director were quota-quickies, that is, about one-hour films made with modest resources and quickly, in order to force exhibitors to show more British films and to stimulate the national film industry. It was in 1937 that he made his first major film (as he himself defines it in his memoirs), The Edge of the World, a film of pictorial beauty and rural mysticism, filmed on the island of Foula, where the wind in the local vegetation and the clouds in the sky shape and reflect the turbulence of the characters' emotions. Such pastoral visuals would be repeated in at least three of the best films he signed with Emeric Pressburger, A Canterbury Tale, I Know Where I'm Going!, and Going to Earth.
It is by the films he made with …

"My Last Breath", Luis Buñuel

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Luis Buñuel (1900-83) was a Spanish filmmaker, born in Calanda (whose drums he used for the soundtracks of his films, such as Nazarín (1959)), where he had a Catholic education, which to a greater or lesser extent is satirized in his films. In Paris, he made contact with the surrealist movement, where the friendship he formed with Salvador Dalí led to the creation of two controversial films with Freudian interpretations, Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L'Age d'Or (1930). In Spain, Mexico and France, he created his body of work, essentially marked by criticisms of the bourgeoisie with its hypocrisies and neuroses, analyzing humorously the attachment it shows to patriarchy and Catholicism in successive tortuous repressions of desire, where there is no lack of a delicious fetish for legs and feet. Some of his most acclaimed films: Los Olvidados (1950, particularly marked by its social realism), Él (1953), Viridiana (1961), The Exterminating Angel (1962), Diary of a Chambermaid (1964…

"Fun in a Chinese Laundry", Josef von Sternberg

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“His characters generally make their entrance at a moment in their lives when there is no tomorrow. Knowingly or unknowingly, they have reached the end or the bottom, but they will struggle a short time longer, about ninety minutes of screen time, to discover the truth about themselves and those they love.” The words are from The American Cinema by Andrew Sarris in its entry dedicated to Josef von Sternberg, and they correctly (and quite beautifully) resume the romantic side of the films directed by the Austrian-American filmmaker. 
Sternberg (born Jonas Sternberg) began to work in a millinery shop that gave him knowledge of different ornate textiles that he would embody in his mise en scène. In his films, men are attracted to mysterious women in exotic and sometimes turbulent settings (revolutionary China, Imperial Russia, Word War I Austria) in which love, lust, humiliation, sado-masochistic jealousy and sacrifice are all displayed in pictorial compositions with strong games of lig…

"The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era", Thomas Schatz

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Thomas Schatz is the director of undergraduate courses in the radio, TV and film University of Texas (Austin) and author of Hollywood genres. A member of the American Film Institute, he is also a regular contributor to the of American TV PBS and specialized magazines like Wide Angle, Cineaste and Premiere.
The Genius of the System depicts the greatness of Classic Hollywood era, not through the talent of its directors (Hitchcock, Hawks, or Lang), but of the commercial vision and executive talent of the producers of the great studios (Selznick, Zanuck, Mayer, the Warner brothers and Irving Thalberg). By interweaving the histories of Warner Bros., MGM, Universal and Selznick International Pictures, by telling the production stories of such classics as Greed, Frankenstein, Rebecca or Grand Hotel, by looking at the cinema through a business perspective, Schatz diminishes the romanticism of directorial authorship created by critics and historians in the 60s and 70s, studying the direct inte…

"Hitchcock's Films Revisited", Robin Wood

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Robin Wood (1931-2009) was a critic and founder of the film magazine CineAction, a journal also dedicated to a radical political agenda of socialism, feminism, Marxism, and gay rights. Author of several monographs around filmmakers such as Hitchcock or Ingmar Bergman, his literary work emphasizes the consistent and individual vision that each director puts on his films. His critical career began with the publication of the article Psychanalyse de «Psycho»  for Cahiers du Cinéma. His texts show an authorial approach similar to that of the French film magazine, but later on, they focused on semiotic and poststructuralist theories. 
Hitchcock’s Films was one of the first books (and the first full-length study in English) on filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. Originally published in the 60s, under the influence of auteurist criticism, Wood later returned to it in the 80s to make Hitchcock’s Films Revisited, with new essays that reflected his development as a film critic influenced by Marxism and …