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Daughter of the Revolution reviewed by Howard Schumann

Alan Pavelin reviews:
Double Lives, Second Chances
Robert Bresson - A Spiritual Style In Film
Mizoguchi and Japan

Very Naughty Boys tells the story of Handmade Films by Robert Sellers

The Science of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Michael Hanlon
Macmillan Science. 2004. £16.99. 

Hanlon, Science Editor of the Daily Mail, takes a light-hearted, accessible and informative look at the cutting-edge research behind this much-loved classic. 

The Art of Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-rabbit
Andy Lane & Paul Simpson
Titan Books. 2005.Hbk £24.99/$35, pbk £14.99/$19.95. 
“Wallace and Gromit have unfailingly delivered the goods so far, so all they have to do is maintain that same high standard.” — Empire

The Art of Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-rabbit features an introduction from creator, director and three time Academy Award winner Nick Park and his co-director Steve Box, as well as interviews with the cast and crew responsible for writing, building, animating and filming the most popular characters in plasticine history! Exposing the behind-the-scenes secrets of The Curse of the Were-rabbit in a lushly designed presentation of over 300 photos and illustrations, this book is the ideal primer for one of the most original and entertaining films of 2005.

This high-quality book explores the beloved duo’s first cinematic adventure in unsurpassed and visually arresting detail. Experienced feature writers Andy Lane and Paul Simpson raided the Aardman Animation production archives for a flotilla of photographs, model sheets, script extracts, character profiles and much, much more, to expose the thrilling journey from script to screen. 

A Dreamworks/Aardman production, The Curse of the Were-rabbit opens in US cinemas on October 7 and in UK cinemas on October 14. With only days to go before the annual Giant Vegetable Competition, business is booming for Wallace & Gromit’s humane pest control outfit, Anti-Pesto.  But when a mysterious, veg-ravaging ‘beast’ begins attacking the town’s sacred vegetable plots at night, panic sets in and it’s up to Anti-Pesto to catch the creature and save the day!

Fans will also want to grab a copy of the latest Wallace and Gromit graphic novel, A Pier Too Far (£8.99/$12.99), a brand new story in which Wallace attempts to save an ailing pier whose customers have been lured away by a glitzy new casino and the trusty Gromit finds himself seduced by the bright lights of the stage!

Write Screenplays That Sell the Ackerman Way
Hal Ackerman
Tallfellow Press. 120 pages. 2005. $19.95.

This simply and clearly tells you how to create and construct a screenplay. Useful web resources are listed and very helpful exercises are given at the end of each chapter. Makes the whole process seem incredibly easy and will put any budding writer on the right path to Hollywood and/or beyond.

Ten Minutes to the Pitch
Chris Abbott
Tallfellow Press. 120 pages. 2005. $12.95.

This is a neat little pocket-sized book that tells you how to sell your script idea to movie executives. It outlines what makes a good pitch and provides a checklist of how to prepare yourself for the pitch. Ideal reading as you nervously wait to make that all-important pitch. As we note elsewhere How I Screwed Up At The Richest Pitch In The World it’s easy to blow what could be your one chance for success.

Ric Flair 
To Be The Man
Ric Flair with Keith Elliot Greenburg
Pocket Books. Pbk. 463 pages. 2004. £7.99.

This tells of the life of Richard Morgan Fliehr. It reads like a movie script. He was stolen from his parents and adopted. He became a brilliant athlete but he was equally a wild party boy who could easily have gone completely off the rails. By chance he met Olympic weightlifter Ken Patera who inspired him to enter the world of professional wrestling. As the Nature Boy he made an impact on the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling promotion, but his career was set back in 1974 when he suffered a broken neck in a plane crash. In the 1980s he re-built his career and fought with Hulk Hogan. By the end of his WCW career he sustained more injuries and financial set backs. Despite all his disappointments and erratic behaviour he feels that he now has the respect of his peers and fans.

Gregory Peck
A Charmed Life
Lynn Haney
Robson. Hbk. 2004. £18.95. 

Gregory Peck will be remembered for his performances in such diverse classics as To Kill a Mockingbird, Roman Holiday and The Guns of Navarone. Lynn Haney interviewed over 200 of his friends and colleagues to provide the fullest possible picture of the life and career of this complex man. She details his relationships with his directors, leading ladies and movie moguls, and reveals that beneath his suave exterior he suffered considerable heartbreak. She reveals how his first marriage collapsed and his 31-year-old son Jonathan committed suicide. Being a film star has never been all champagne and pop corn.

70 Not Out
The Biography of Sir Michael Caine
William Hall
John Blake. Pbk. 2004. Filmography. 356 pages. £7.99.

Sir Michael Caine has appeared in great films from the sixties classics Alfie, The Italian Job, Get Carter to Educating Rita, Mona Lisa, Little Voice and Cider House Rules. He’s also appeared in some of the worst films ever made, like Irwin Allen’s Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1977). Overall he has appeared in more good than bad films and his very presence often provides strength to otherwise unwatchable productions. Hall shows that it took years of struggle as a bit-part actor before he became an international film star. As Caine himself puts it, “I was 30 years a loser, 37 years a winner.” He’s a national treasure.

Graham McCann writes about Frankie Howerd: Stand-Up Comic

Maureen O'Hara writes about her life and career in 'Tis Herself - A Memoir

Halliwell's Mis-Guide
by Chris Nash

Every other site seems only to be selling Halliwell's Guide, and I wanted to comment on it. Seeing your own on-site evaluation (see Film Guide, Guide ) made me feel I was on the right track. I call him the arch-dyspeptic of movie critics. If he'd reviewed novels, the one on War and Peace might run: 'Overlong, tedious and somehow unnecessary attempt to tell the story of the Napoleonic Wars through the lives of various families who get caught up in them.'  I might whistle up another of the pantheon, Pauline Kael. Her schtik is to detect anything which she considers might  represent pretentions to grandeur and condemn it, often by comparing it to her favourite bit of kitsch on  a similar theme. Thus her dismissal of Kubrick's 2001, not to mention the unique Barry Lyndon, whose ostensibly slow pace means that it just has to be a bore.

Apart from that, I'd like to note in Halliwell some consistent omissions and other vagaries - consistent anyway until 2003 the year of my latest copy. Nothing on Line Braake (well-served variously on the Web) a beautiful story of elderly lady dispossessed of her house by a Big Bank, lodged in a retirement  home, who works a marvellous revenge sting with the aid of two male inmates and scuppers her exploiters. Also a movie billed - on British TV at least - as Skip Tracer, about repo. man Joe Collins (same name as Warren Beatty's protagonist in The Heist !) who sickens of a job that causes family suicides, gets beaten up himself, and finally goes over to the good guys and denounces his ex-employers. And what about the movie from which (allegedly, according to the sleeve of my old 45 vinyl) came Paul Simon's great song Late in the Evening - One-Trick Pony ? I've never seen that referred to in print anywhere. And finally Peppermint Frappé, a film I've only ever seen on TV many years ago, with Geraldine Chaplin playing two parts - as far as I recall sisters who seem in effect to be two sides of a schizoid self. Several excellent-looking web sites tell all about Peppermint Frappé. I find it's dated 1967. The one thing that sticks in my memory from it is a repeated, mesmeric reference to 'the Drums of Calanda'. The significance escapes me now, but it effectively summons up a feeling of foreboding/excitement. Clearly the movie must work.

I'm sure I could find this stuff online, but my point is: what amazing omissions from what purports to be the filmgoer's Bible!

What do you think about Halliwell's and other film guides? Email us at: valis23a@aol.com


A. Scott Berg in Kate Remembered describes his friendship and conversations with Katharine Hepburn.

Understanding Reality Television, edited by Su Holmes and Deborah Jermyn (Routledge, 2004, pbk, £17.99). Reality television has taken over all our channels, but it is as fabricated and false as any work of TV fiction. This volume seeks to explore the construction of the 'reality' format and how it relates to historical, social, cultural and television issues. As you might expect this is a thoughtful work that is a goldmine for students and for those who take their viewing seriously.

The editors begin with a lengthy introduction that summarises the essays in this book. After Chapter 1, by Bradley Clissold, that argues that Candid Camera was one of the very first reality TV shows, there are chapters that cover reality TV in relation to race, class, community, documenty hybrids, gender, audiences and fame.

For the past ten years I have watched the 'progress' of reality TV and in my article elsewhere on this site No more Right To Reply  I note that:

'TV serves to represent a powerful minority of producers and programme makers who dictate what the majority see and hear, with a more media conscious and articulate public isn't it time the barricades of TV kingdom are broken down?' 
And, I go on to say that: 'To often "real people" (on TV) are either patronised or humiliated and abused.' What I didn't consider was that many people will do virtually anything to get on TV and to become a celebrity, and they do not consider this as a form of abuse. You only have to see how the success of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here has had Z-list celebrities virtually begging to get on the show to beef-up their flagging careers. 

Given the often freaky and frightening course of reality TV and its increasing importance in the schedules Understanding Reality Television comes at a very opportune time.

An Introduction To Television Studies by Jonathan Bignell (Routledge, 2003) is a very accessible guide to every area of TV study. It covers TV cultures, history, narratives, genres, production, representation, research, regulation and audiences. There are case studies, activities, and terminology is explained in the margins where they crop-up. It's essential reading for all media students and for anyone who wants to know more about the box in the corner that dominates our lives. 

The Television Studies Reader edited by Robert C. Allen and Annette Hill (Routledge, 2003) is a more advanced look at TV with essays covering TV spaces, modes, production, social representation, viewing and transformation. Ideal for kick-starting your essay or for those of us who just need an excuse to watch more TV in the interests of furthering human knowledge.

The Encyclopedia of British Film edited by Brian McFarlane (Methuen/BFI, 2003) is a hefty look at the actors, filmmakers, companies and movements that have shaped our cinema. There are nearly 6,000 entries that include bibliographies and filmographies. It acts as the perfect starting point for any research into British film. When I asked what 'ODEON' stands for as a question in a film quiz no one would believe my answer, so I'm pleased that here at last is a book that proves I did not make it up. I will not give away the answer here. 

Even though Alfred Hitchcock made many of his most famous films in the USA he still deservedly gets one of the longer entries in The Encyclopedia of British Film. If you can't get enough of him then Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light by Patrick McGilligan (Wiley, 2003) is for you. He reveals that Hitchcock is far more complex than the actor-hating creep that many would have us believe. Instead we get the story of a cheerful, hardworking man who diligently became one of the greatest directors of the 20th Century.

Cinema's Strangest Moments by Quentin Falk (Robson Books, 2003) is a compilation of anecdotes about films made in the past 100 years. Some of the more recent stories are probably familiar to avid film fans but there are plently of stories about earlier films to keep you surprised and entertained. Not all the stories are very strange and in the introduction the author admits he cannot verify whether they are true or not.

Recent Book Reviews 


All reviews by Nigel Watson unless stated otherwise.





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