Daily | Books | Cinephilia and Mise en Scène

The Lives of Robert Ryan

Jonathan Rosenbaum: ‘As self-effacing yet as solid and as ethically engaged as Robert Ryan himself, J.R. Jones offers a comprehensive and sensitive chronicle of one of the giants of American movie acting’

Girish Shambu‘s announced today that his book, The New Cinephilia, is now out. I want to post a few thoughts on the book in the relatively near future, but for now, let me heartily recommend it and note that the publisher, caboose, has a limited-time offer at the moment. Order Jean-Luc Godard’s Introduction to a True History of Cinema and Television online and they’ll toss into the package four books from their Kino-Agora series—for free—including Jacques Aumont’s Montage, Timothy Barnard’s Découpage and Frank Kessler’s Mise en scène.

Speaking of mise en scène. “The new book from Australian critic Adrian Martin, Mise en Scène and Film Style: From Classical Hollywood to New Media Art, is a rich, dense 200 pages, drawing on material written over a period of more than twenty years, from a writer who is, literally, exceptional in that he has been one of the few to successfully navigate the murky, troubled waters that separate film criticism or analysis from academic film studies.” So begins Tom Paulus‘s “leisurely stroll along [the book’s] avenues of thought” at photogénie, an essay that “should not be taken as a review, but rather as my half of a conversation on some of the ideas.”

“Yet another unfinished work by Orson Welles, that master of the incomplete, is about to surface,” report Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes in the New York Times. “Archivists at the University of Michigan said [last] week that they have discovered extensive fragments of, and notes for, a Welles autobiography in a trove of papers newly purchased from Oja Kodar. Ms. Kodar, a Croatian actress, was Welles’s companion in the years before he died in 1985. With the working title Confessions of a One-Man Band, an unfinished memoir appears to have been in the works since the 1970s… ‘It’s scattered, we’re still sorting through’ about eight boxes of new material, said Philip Hallman, curator of the university’s Screen Arts Mavericks and Makers collection.”

“We’ve always had a special place in our hearts for Robert Ryan,” writes the Chicagoist‘s Rob Christopher. “But it wasn’t under relatively recently that we became aware of his Chicago background, thanks to ‘The Actor’s Letter,’ a Chicago Reader article by J.R. Jones. Now Jones has used that piece as the basis for a book-length examination of Ryan’s career and life.” And the Reader is running an extract from The Lives of Robert Ryan in which “the actor gets swept into the presidential campaign of Senator Eugene McCarthy, which will ultimately bring Ryan home to Chicago for the 1968 Democratic convention.”

The Tribune‘s Michael Phillips notes that on “Sunday at noon, at the Music Box Theatre, Jones will co-host a screening of director Robert Wise’s 1949 boxing picture The Set-Up. Ryan plays ‘Stoker’ Thompson, the down-and-out fighter who refuses to take a dive.” Then, on June 6, Jones and Phillips discuss Ryan’s career, with film clips, at Printers Row Lit Fest.

Another book excerpt, introduced at Vulture: “In 1974, director-madman Werner Herzog walked from Munich to Paris in a show of support for his friend, the cancer-stricken fellow filmmaker Lotte Eisner. During his epic trek, Herzog kept a blessedly typical (for him) mystical and philosophical diary, which was eventually published in 1978 as Of Walking in Ice. To commemorate his journey, University of Minnesota Press has published a new edition of the book—Herzog will also be speaking about the text on June 15 at Manhattan’s NeueHouse—and we have the first chapter for you.”

“Fear is the key; and not just to the life.” For the London Review of Books, David Trotter considers Peter Ackroyd’s Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Wood’s Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much, Jan Olsson’s Hitchcock à la Carte and Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews, Vol. II, edited by Sidney Gottlieb.

Martin Woessner for the Los Angeles Review of Books on Daniel Yacavone’s Film Worlds: A Philosophical Aesthetics of Cinema: “Unlike so many works that simply adopt a theoretical or philosophical perspective and run with it, applying it willy nilly to any and all available cinematic examples, Yacavone’s work attempts a far more ambitious rethinking of the philosophy of film itself.”

For, Dan Callahan reviews William V. Madison’s “painstakingly researched, very touching new biography,” Madeline Kahn: Being the Music, A Life.

Hadley Freeman‘s Life Moves Pretty Fast “emerges as not only a highly personal, witty love letter to 80s movies,” writes Barbara Ellen for the Guardian, “but also an intellectually vigorous, well-researched take on the changing times of the film industry and how, sadly, they’re not changing for the better.”

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