THIS JOURNAL DOCUMENTS MY INTAKE OF ONE BOOK, ZINE, CD OR DVD A DAY. RATINGS ARE: ***** = Godhead, **** = Great, *** = Good, ** = Fair, * = Why Bother?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Revolution! The Explosion of World Cinema in the Sixties *****

Revolution! The Explosion of World Cinema in the Sixties
by Peter Cowie
Faber and Faber, 2005, 304 pages

I just finished reading this, one of the best books on world cinema ever. I skimmed it over when I spotted it at Dadalus Books & Music and was instantly won over when right away I saw mentions of three rarities in there - on the first page of the Inroduction author Cowie mentions Alain Resnais' Je T'aime, Je T'aime (which I was lucky to catch when Eric Hatch screened a 35mm print last year at the Baltimore Musuem of Art), Juan Antonio Bardem's long-lost classic Death of a Cyclist, and even Glauber Rocha's "Cinema Novo" rarity Antonio Das Mortes (which locally is only available as a 16mm print at Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library). Sold!

If you're a little dense, like me, you live for populist overviews like this, which is written in an easy-to-read style that avoids getting bogged down in detailed high-falutin' theory. The best thing about it is it made me want to go rent or re-assess the films mentioned, so in that regard it was a great Film Reader's Advisory. Peter Cowie is the author of numerous books on film and was the former international publishing director of Variety for many years.

Bares & Noble Overview:
In film history, the sixties are commonly known as the golden age of international cinema. The period from 1958 to 1969 saw a brilliant explosion of talent not just in Europe but throughout the world. From Sweden and Poland to India and Japan, from Brazil and Hungary to Spain and Czechoslovakia, young filmmakers seemingly sprang out of nowhere, challenging the stale conservativism of fifties cinema. With films like Jules et Jim, 8 1/2, and Breathless, to name but a few, they flouted taboos both sexual and political while bringing sharper, fresher, franker, more violent, and more personal visions to the screen than ever before.

In Revolution!, Peter Cowie discusses the themes, trends, and creative filmmakers of the period--including Antonioni, Bergman, Cassavetes, Fellini, Godard, Kurosawa, and Truffaut--while focusing on those whose voices still evoke the struggles and achievements of the sixties and set the creative and intellectual standard by which today's finest films are still held.

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