Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Have You Seen . . . ?": A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films

Another new book which references Louise Brooks is David Thomson's "Have You Seen . . . ?": A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films. In this just published work, the internationally acclaimed British-born film writer (whose many books include the classic Biographical Dictionary of Film) offers cinephiles and film novices alike a comprehensive yet personal list of 1,000 must-see films. One of the films Thomson writes about (each film gets a page) is Brooks' sensational 1929 silent film, Pandora's Box.

Thomson's inclusion of Pandora's Box is no surprise. As any reader of this blog knows, Thomson has written a handful of articles about the actress over the years. And she is referenced in other of his journalism and books. Its evident the film writer has an appreciation for the film star. In his new book, Thomson declares Pandora's Box Berlin premiere in February, 1929 to be one of the"turning points in cinema."

I have been acquainted with David Thomson for many years. And I will be hosting him for an author event on December 4 at 7:30 at the Booksmith in San Francisco. David will be discussing his new book, showing a few brief film clips, and signing books. I would like to encourage anyone interested in film to attend. David is a fascinating speaker (I have hosted him on a number of occasions) and he truly loves movies.

Some more information, from his publisher, about David Thomson's new book:  "In 1975, David Thomson published his Biographical Dictionary of Film, and few film books have enjoyed better press or such steady sales. Now, thirty-three years later, we have the companion volume, a second book of more than 1,000 pages in one voice — that of our most provocative contemporary film critic and historian.

Juxtaposing the fanciful and the fabulous, the old favorites and the forgotten, this sweeping collection presents the films that Thomson offers in response to the question he gets asked most often — “What should I see?” This new book is a generous history of film and an enticing critical appraisal written with as much humor and passion as historical knowledge. Not content to choose his own top films (though they are here), Thomson has created a list that will surprise and delight you — and send you to your best movie rental service.

But he also probes the question: after one hundred years of film, which ones are the best, and why? “Have You Seen . . . ?” suggests a true canon of cinema and one that’s almost completely accessible now, thanks to DVDs. This book is a must for anyone who loves the silver screen: the perfect confection to dip into at any point for a taste of controversy, little-known facts, and ideas about what to see. This is a volume you’ll want to return to again and again, like a dear but argumentative friend in the dark at the movies."

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