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Books about movies and cinema – Reviews, guides and more

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Hi everyone, I open this thread so we can post here about books we have read that have cinema, movies, directors and so on as it main subject. (Sorry if there is already a thread for this, if so I haven´t seen it)

There are lots of interesting books about all kind of filmic genres, with reviews of our favourite features and also biographies of filmmakers we admire.

So here comes the first one, about blind swordsman Zatoichi

Shintaro Katsu´s Zatoichi: Complete guide to all movies

"Zatoichi is a Japanese literary and cinematographic character whose adventures are set in the 19th century (around 1830-1840). He is a wandering swordsman who has the particularity of being blind. Despite his blindness, he is capable of facing numerous enemies (who sometimes attack him simultaneously) and of being victorious in numerous battles. He always travels walking with his cane stick, which also serves as a sword –
Inside there is a sharp blade. Zatoichi is shrewd and cunning, as well as wise and compassionate at the same time; he feels a strong responsibility to protect the humble. His auditory faculties are highly developed, and he also possesses a "sixth sense" that helps to get him out of more than one trouble.

The character was created by novelist Kan Shimozawa (1892-1968), who published a series of books starring Zatoichi. Later the adaptations to the big screen would come, starring Shintaro Katsu (1931-1997). This great actor belonged to a dynasty of traditional Kabuki theater performers. In cinema he would specialize in the typically Japanese genre of chanbara or jidaigeki ("samurai" films, which used to be set in the Tokugawa era).

As a guide, this book compiles critiques and analyses of each and every one of Zatoichi's 26 films shot between 1962 and 1989. They were already published, in Spanish, in my blog "Alucine Cinéfago". These films, based on Shimozawa's stories, were directed by different filmmakers, but the protagonist is always Shintaro Katsu.

The purpose of this compilation is to offer chanbara fans a review of the blind swordsman's film career. Zatoichi is very popular in his country of origin (in recent years the famous Takeshi Kitano returned to the character for one of his productions), but also in the West he has a huge community of fans. "

(Book description)

Italian Giallo Movies

"“Giallo” is the Italian word for “yellow” and this GIALLO term was used in the 1930s to describe the mystery-thriller novels published in Italy that were bound in instantly recognisable yellow covers. But this same GIALLO term has also been used from the early 1970s to definy the mistery/thriller movie genre wich has originated from Dario Argento’s THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE and DEEP RED. And this book is the definitive guide to Italian GIALLO movies, the darker side of Italian exploitation cinema: over two hundred sex and horror movies dealing with beautiful, scantily-clad females being menaced by knife-wielding maniacs..."

(Book description)


Sword and sorcery in cinema: Conan and other barbarians: A filmic guide

"Adventures in remote times and lost continents, beyond history as we know it, is a fascinating subject that has excited the imagination of many authors. One of these writers was Robert E. Howard (1906-1936), creator of Conan the Barbarian.

Later, Marvel decided to profit from the enormous potential of Conan's stories by bringing the barbarian into the world of comic-books.

In 1982 the long-awaited film by John Milius arrived, adapting the adventures of this surly and frowning warrior of the misty Cimmeria to the big screen.

The success of this epic blockbuster, with a clear Nietzschean stamp, catapulted Conan to international fame. Some sequels would come to light, and countless apocryphal adaptations and films inspired by the charismatic and Herculean Cimmerian were made in the following years. And this is precisely what we are dealing with in this book.

The purpose of this volume is to show a journey through sword and sorcery films, from the blockbuster "Conan the Barbarian" (John Milius, 1982) to the most unknown and bizarre imitations, many of which came from Italy, where a new sub-genre of the "exploitation" kind was being developed. Some of these films, which are technically cheesy, are not without interest. And several of them, as you will see, have a very special charm."

(Book description)

Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1957-1969

"The "Gothic" style was a key trend in Italian cinema of the 1950s and 1960s because of its peculiar, often strikingly original approach to the horror genre. These films portrayed Gothic staples in a stylish and idiosyncratic way, and took a daring approach to the supernatural and to eroticism, with the presence of menacing yet seductive female witches, vampires and ghosts. Thanks to such filmmakers as Mario Bava (Black Sunday), Riccardo Freda (The Horrible Dr. Hichcock), and Antonio Margheriti (Castle of Blood), as well the iconic presence of actress Barbara Steele, Italian Gothic horror went overseas and reached cult status.
The book examines the Italian Gothic horror of the period, with an abundance of previously unpublished production information drawn from official papers and original scripts. Entries include a complete cast and crew list, home video releases, plot summary and the author's analysis. Excerpts from interviews with filmmakers, scriptwriters and actors are included. The foreword is by film director and scriptwriter Ernesto Gastaldi."

Book description


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