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"Howard Hawks, Storyteller", Gerald Mast

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Howard Hawks (1896-1977) was an American filmmaker and one of the most important of the Golden Age of Hollywood. His career went since the silent period to the early 70s, and in it he made some of the best films in each genre, as Bringing Up Baby (comedy), Only Angels Have Wings (drama), Air Force (war movie), Rio Bravo (western), Scarface (gangster film), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (musical) and The Big Sleep (film noir).

In his films, nothing is more important than the friendship between two men and the professionalism with which they carry their work. They are films made with great camera modesty, filmed essentially at the eye level, and with outstanding efficiency in the narrative, unified in spatial and temporal terms. None of his characters make explicit their feelings, and it is by their behaviors that the audience perceives the relationships they establish between them (e.g., when Bogart throws his  matches to Bacall in To Have and Have Not). If Hawks invested so much in his char…

"This is Orson Welles", Orson Welles & Peter Bogdanovich

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Orson Welles (1915-1985) is today remembered for being the author of what is arguably the "best film of all-time", but his artistic career wasn’t easy and involved a series of struggles that could have discouraged anyone. The son of a pianist and an inventor, he was exposed to the fine arts since an early age. He began his professional career as a painter in Ireland (where he sold his paintings on a donkey cart) and as a theatre actor for the Gate Theatre in Dublin. From then, he went to radio with peculiar results (his adaptation of War of the Worlds provoked a mass hysteria - altough its dimension is still debatable - in the American population at the time, who really thought that the Earth was being invaded by Martians), and finally to the studios of the RKO to make Citizen Kane (1941). There, with the precious collaboration of Gregg Toland, he showed his cinematographic experimentalism, developing a baroque visual technique of low angles, great depth of field and exposed…

"Robert Bresson", James Quandt

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Edited by James Quandt (senior programmer at Toronto International Film Festival Cinematheque), Robert Bresson gathers academic essays, interviews and opinions from worldwide filmmakers (such as Scorsese or Michael Haneke) about one of the most acclaimed and influential film directors in history. The adaptation of Journal d'un curé de campagne discussed by André Bazin, the spirituality of his body of work seen by Susan Sontag, the impressive use of sound in Mouchette (1967) studied by Lindley Hanlon, an interview conducted by Godard that reveals much of Bresson’s aesthetic intentions, among many other relevant texts, all this makes this book the most important on the French filmmaker.
Excerpts: "Bresson's aesthetic is, therefore, based essentially on the linguistic system called asyndeton, which consists of eliminating the links between terms or groups of terms that are closely related. More precisely, understatement, ellipsis, and metonymy are the figures used most often…

"The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968", Andrew Sarris

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Andrew Sarris (1928-2012) was an American film critic. He was the one who coined the term "auteur theory" (a not completely correct translation from the french politique des auteurs), brought from Cahiers du Cinéma to the American appreciation, mainly in his influent article Notes on the Autheur Theory. This "policy" is known for focusing criticism mainly in those directors ("authors") whose personal styles and visions of the world are consistent along their bodies of work. He wrote for Film CultureThe Village Voice and The New York Observer.

The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968 is his most famous book, the American film history organized in the form of a guide to the work of two hundred film directors. Even though some of his opinions have become somewhat debatable (regarding Rouben Mamoulian, William Wyler, Stanley Kubrick, among others in the second half of the book), Sarris’s eloquence reveals a passionate writing and way to look a…

"Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film", Tony Pipolo

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Robert Bresson was a French filmmaker, known for his ascetic and austere style, where the protagonists seek redemption in a world inhabited by despair and indifference. His minimalist approach, with characters absent from a background, use of non-professional actors (or "models" as he called them), fixed camera, absence of non-diegetic soundtrack (except in unexpected moments such as religious masses who enclose his films) and the depuration of action without visual embellishments, made him one of the most influential filmmakers in film history. Of his short work (13 feature films and a short film), his most remembered films are Journal d'un curé de campagne (Diary of a Country Priest, 1951), Un condamné à mort s'est échappé (A Man Escaped, 1956) and Pickpocket (1959).
Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film, written by psychoanalyst and former film teacher Tony Pipolo, is the first study of Bresson’s career, using his films, their literary sources and psycho-biographical…

"Metaphors on Vision", Stan Brakhage

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Stan Brakhage (1933-2003) was an American avant-garde filmmaker. His approach to cinema was heavily experimental and non-narrative, having painted and scratched celluloid, used camera handheld and multiple exposures, while exploring the rhythms in the editing through fast cutting techniques. His film is more sensory, exploring subjects like mythology (Dog Star Man cycle), the birth (Window Water Baby Moving) or death. Although the narrative's absence did not allow him to reach a large audience, his poetic cinema was acclaimed and became widely influential. Metaphors on Vision is his statement on the visual experience, written in a very idiosyncratic style. Excerpts: "Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspec- tive, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered  in life through an adventure of perception. How many colors are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby u…

"FilmCraft: Editing", Justin Chang

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Justin Chang is an American film critic for the Los Angeles Times. His book Film Craft: Editing is a collection of short interviews with 17 of the most acclaimed film editors in the world. In it are discussed the differences (not only physical but also psychological) between working on film and digital, the implications that a cut can have, different rhythmic approaches to the material, among many other filmic aspects. Chang has made an accessible little study that, in spite of avoiding the technical details of the craft, is a good starting point for anyone who wants to know more about film editing.
Excerpts: "Films are cut and paced more quickly now, because that’s a reflection of the society we live in, which is much more about instant gratification, and it demands a pace that the audience will feel comfortable with." Richard Marks, co-editor of The Godfather Part II (1974), Apocalypse Now (1979)...
"You had to be more certain of your ideas in the old days. You had to…