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30 Essential Movie Books Every Cinephile Should Read

24 December 2013 | Features, Other Lists | by David Zou

essential movie books

Every Christmas we like nothing better than to curl up on the sofa with a good book and a mince pie.

Just in case you feel the same way, we’ve put together some recommendations.


30. The Wes Anderson Collection

By Matt Zoller Seitz


Wes Anderson is one of the most influential voices from the past two decades of American cinema. A true auteur, Anderson is known for the visual artistry, inimitable tone, and idiosyncratic characterizations that make each of his films—Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise Kingdom—instantly recognizable as “Andersonian.”

The Wes Anderson Collection is the first in-depth overview of Anderson’s filmography, guiding readers through his life and career. Previously unpublished photos, artwork, and ephemera complement a book-length conversation between Anderson and award-winning critic Matt Zoller Seitz. The interview and images are woven together in a meticulously designed book that captures the spirit of his films: melancholy and playful, wise and childish—and thoroughly original. This is the most popular movie book in 2013, a must-own for all WS fans.

You can check out the trailer here:


29. The Greatest Sci-fi Movies Never Made

By David Hughes

The Greatest Sci-fi Movies Never Made

Written when movies such as I Am Legend, Watchmen and Avatar were still locked in development hell this has, with hindsight, turned from a book about films that were never made to a compelling account of how Hollywood never really gives up on its dreams.

With examinations of lost properties that still haven’t been filmed (including The Stars My Destination and David Lynch’s Ronnie Rocket), buy this and find out what you’ll probably be watching next decade…

Killer Quote: “They offered me $50,000 for twenty-five drawings. They didn’t say twenty-five approved drawings, or twenty-five drawings in colour, or even twenty-five drawings in pen and ink – I could’ve done twenty-five drawings on napkins!”


28. The Indiana Jones Handbook: The Complete Adventurer’s Guide

By Denise Kiernan

The Indiana Jones Handbook The Complete Adventurer's Guide

Ostensibly a practical guide to becoming an archaeologist, we’d love it if a real archaeology student picked this up, followed it, and turned themselves into a whip-cracking Nazi bashing myth-hunting superhero.

Stuffed with useful advice on how to be Indiana Jones, this should be in every kid’s library. And every archaeologist’s.

Killer Quote: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. This statement is as true for archaeologists as it is for any ruthless businessperson or member of the underworld.”


27. Final Cut: Dreams And Disaster In The Making Of Heaven’s Gate

By Steven Bach


As one of only three people to experience the Heaven’s Gate debacle from start to end, Bach had a ringside seat on how Cimino’s megaflop brought down United Artists.

His survey of the wreckage still remains the quintessential chronicle of Hollywood hubris.

Killer Quote: ”Heaven’s Gate was a movie about a war and was one itself.”


26. The Kill Bill Diary: The Making Of A Tarantino Classic As Seen Through The Eyes Of A Screen Legend

By David Carradine

The Kill Bill Diary The Making Of A Tarantino Classic As Seen Through The Eyes Of A Screen Legend

As that oh-so-modest subhead suggests, there’s no shortage of ego in Carradine’s record of the Kill Bill shoot.

It’s still a cracking read, though, from a grizzled vet who was really just a big softie.

Killer Quote: “Here I am, at sixty-seven, being fucking reborn. It’s amazing.”


25. The Return of the King Visual Companion: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion

By Jude Fisher

The Return of the King Visual Companion The Official Illustrated Movie Companion

Released shortly before Return Of The King hit cinemas to cash-in on the hunger for fresh information / images from the final part of Jackson’s Rings cycle, this gorgeous hardback is like a time capsule from a time when we still had new Rings instalments to look forward to.

All three movies are summarised, with gorgeous exclusive images to gawp at.

With The Hobbit on the distant horizon, it’s time to pull this massive tome from the shelf to remind ourselves of why we fell in love with the franchise in the first place.

Killer Quote: “Now he is Gandalf The White, and he is mightier than he was before.”


24. The New Biographical Dictionary Of Film

By David Thomson

The New Biographical Dictionary Of Film

The Guardian columnist’s weighty wonder is the buff’s bedside bible: a dip’n’mix encyclopaedia marrying pernickety but passionate personal biases to piquant analyses of stars, helmers and more.

He’s hottest on Hollywood film but in those hills, he might be the hottest.

Killer Quote: On Sam Fuller: “His films are like scenarios made from communities of rats, the camera itself a king rat, scarred and hurt, but still swooping in and out of every scuffle, commanding the spectacle and jumping in for gross close-ups like a thumb on a bug.”


23. Down And Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance And The Rise Of Independent Film

By Peter Biskind

Down And Dirty Pictures Miramax, Sundance And The Rise Of Independent Film

Did Harvey Weinstein eat the indies? Looks like it, from the shadow he casts over Biskind’s rise-and-fall fable of Miramax, Sundance and the US indies.

Biskind serves chewy gossip, flavoursome insight and tasty access; big bad Harv is the ogre at the table.

Killer Quote: On Harvey: “He was a man of large appetites. Watching him feed was an experience not easily forgotten. It brought to mind the great scenes of movie gluttony…”


22. Scorsese On Scorsese

By Martin Scorsese with David Thompson and Ian Christie

Scorsese On Scorsese

The mighty Marty’s ever-gripping rat-a-tat-tat chat, corralled into one standard-setting doorstop.

Thrilling consumed from cover-to-cover and ocular crack as a dip-in read, this is the finest of Faber’s interviews series, Scorsese approaching movie-making less as a career than a devotional calling.

Killer Quote: “To make moves you really have to be in a situation where if you didn’t make them you’d die…”


21. The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror

By David J. Skal

The Monster Show A Cultural History of Horror

The Depression, the Cold War, AIDS: this ambitious history reckons horror’s always a mirror of its time.

His scope is epic but Skal’s real talent lies in the detail, resurrecting icons like Boris Karloff and Vampira from the grave to the page.

Killer Quote: “The image of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula ushered in the Great Depression”

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