I have many cinephile friends--foremost among them The Siren--who have a great taste for cinema biographies. I've read far too few of them, and for no good reason.
André Bazin died 50 years ago last week. In remembrance, I re-read Dudley Andrew's superb, indispensable 1978 biography. Andrew also has an essay in the new Film Comment for the occasion (not online, alas).
Two of my favorite cine-biographies are memoirs: Jean Renoir's My Life and My Films and Luis Buñuel's My Last Sigh. I've returned to them several times over the years. There are many biographies--of Howard Hawks by Todd McCarthy, Fritz Lang by Patrick McGilligan, John Ford and Roberto Rossellini by Tag Gallagher--that I haven't read from start to finish. I'll dip into them after I've seen a movie by these directors, and read just the sections pertaining to the movie. Not a very systematic or exemplary way to approach this valuable genre of writing!
And so, I'm wondering: Any favorite cinema biographies--of filmmakers, performers, craftsmen, etc.--that you would like to recommend? I'd appreciate it.
-- The several online exclusives in the new Film Comment issue include the transcript for the panel "Film Criticism in Crisis?".
-- Catherine Grant has been doing an awe-inspiring amount of work at her blog Film Studies For Free. See, for instance, this recent post on authors of note with links to their writings.
-- At Dan North's blog Spectacular Attractions, several new posts on subjects including Hitchcock's cameos, special effects and the virtual actor, Jacques Tati's Playtime, and "How to Watch Werckmeister Harmonies".
-- Matthew Flanagan on "Towards an Aesthetic of Slow in Contemporary Cinema" in 16:9.
-- Brian Sholis, of Artforum and Bookforum, has a new blog called The Search Was The Thing. It's subtitled "Thoughts on Art, Literature and History".
-- David Hudson rounds up the new issue of Sight & Sound.
-- Marc Raymond on Very Short Introductions, the pocket-sized series of academic books from Oxford University Press.
-- In the New York Times: "Google signs a deal to e-publish out-of-print books."
-- David Cairns' Shadowplay is among the most enjoyable places in the entire film-blogosphere. Right now, David gives us: Frank Borzage Week.
-- David Bordwell on Charles Barr's classic 1963 essay on widescreen and Barr's useful idea of "gradation of emphasis".
-- Recent posts at Jonathan Rosenbaum's place: on Pere Portabella, Gus Van Sant's Psycho and Jacques Tati's Parade.
-- J. Hoberman in Bookforum on two recent books devoted to Andrei Tarkovsky.
-- Chris Fujiwara on Jerry Lewis at Moving Image Source.
-- Glenn Kenny gives us a preview of the upcoming Murnau/Borzage box set.
-- New addition to the Serge Daney trove of translations at Steve Erickson's place: "John Ford For Ever".
-- At Film of the Month Club, there are posts on Ed Howard's pick, Su Friedrich's Sink or Swim (1990).
-- Michael Hirschorn on Peter Watkins in The Atlantic.
-- Jon Jost blogs about seeing the Leighton Pierce installation The Agency of Time.
pic: A portrait of Jean Renoir and his nurse Gabrielle Renard by his father.