DAILY | Books | Nabokov, John Ford, and More

Laughter in the Dark

“Vladimir Nabokov’s 1938 novel Laughter in the Dark begins with an art collector daydreaming about financing an animated film that would bring an old master painting to life, a Dutch genre scene of skaters and taverns.” So begins David Brody‘s marvelously evocative essay for Bomb encompassing “Nabokov’s emphatically cinematic cast of mind,” Berlin, “a capital of cinema,” a 1931 Disney cartoon called The China Plate, Greta Garbo, and the recent comeback of the tableau vivant in the work of Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation, Peter Greenaway, and Lech Majewski.

In The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend, Glenn Frankel uses John Ford‘s 1956 film “as a basis for comparison between the real-life abduction of a young pioneer girl and the mythic story moviemakers turned it into decades later,” writes Jeanine Basinger in the Washington Post. “His book is a fascinating journey from fiction to fact, from glorified legend to brutal event.”

In the new Bright Lights, Richard Martin reviews Hollywood Cinema and the Real Los Angeles: “Mark Shiel’s excellent new book outlines with precision how LA shaped the movies and how the movies shaped LA.” Matthew Kennedy: “Not too many remember Mae Murray…. But she was big—very big—in her day. She spawned fashion crazes and erotic fantasies, perpetuating and defining a 1920s ideal of film womanhood. Michael G. Ankerich’s revealing new biography, Mae Murray: The Girl with the Bee-Stung Lips, covers all that and more with unflattering detail.” And Cerise Howard notes that, in Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas “is especially keen to put paid to any notion that rape-revenge films were merely a sinister expression of 1970s Americana.” Further, the book “maintains a dialogue with feminism and feminist film theory throughout.”

Criticwire‘s Matt Singer talks with film critic Michelle Orange about her new collection of essays, This Is Running for Your Life, which receives quite the endorsement from Michael Redhill in the National Post.

At the Alt Film Guide, Andre Soares talks with Anthony Slide about Hollywood Unknowns: The History of Hollywood Extras.

Via Catherine Grant comes word of a free sample chapter from A Companion to Luis Buñuel, an interview with the director’s son, Juan Luis Buñuel.

Finally for now, the other day, Thom Powers asked via Twitter, “what’s your favorite book on film published in last year or so?” And a nice little handful of answers came back at him.

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