10 Books EVERY Film Lover Needs to Read

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At the start of 2020 I attempted to make a new years resolution to read more books. I'm not usually the type of person to abide by the cringe worthy age old adage "new year, new me". But considering it was the start of a new decade I though it would be a worthwhile experience to make a promise and better myself (and fill up my half empty bookshelf).

And to be fully honest the earlier months of 2020 I didn't really do that much reading, I was too busy with work and other commitments to even think about picking up a book. But when March rolled round and COVID-19 caused the world to hit a standstill, it felt like a divine intervention telling me to slow down, take a break from work and utilise the time to do what I promised myself at the start of the year and read some books.

So that's what I've spent a considerable bit of time doing. It's been around 3 months since the last time I was behind a camera, and I've re-allocated a lot of that time towards a lot of reading and writing. And considering a lot of you are in the same position as I am, with a lot of spare time on your hands and a passion for cinema, I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of 10 books about film that I really love and I think a lot of you would love too. Whether you're a movie buff yourself or looking for some gift ideas for someone who loves films, here are my suggestions for 10 books I feel every film lover needs to read.

10. How To Read A Film

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Anyone who writes about film, or who is interested in how to analyse film from a critical perspective, just needs this book.

First published in 1977, this popular book has become the go to source about film and media. Now, James Monaco offers an updated and revised edition of his best selling book incorporating every major aspect of this dynamic medium right up to the present.

An excellent introduction to film and film theory. “How to Read a Film” covers and extensive range of analytic approaches and film theory, it’s one of those books you keep going back to and learn a vast amount from every time you pick it up. It is a must read for all film students, film buffs, and cinephiles.

Buy "How to Read a Film" Here!

9. The Film That Changed My Life

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30 directors talk about the film that first inspired them to get behind the camera. The exact moment that influenced these filmmakers to have a cinematic epiphany. Richard Linklater talks about Raging Bull, Danny Boyle talks about Apocalypse Now and Edgar Wright talks about An American Werewolf in London. And that’s just a small glimpse at the 30 chapters dedicated to each filmmaker.

If you love films, and care about the filmmakers making them, then you're going to have a hard time putting this book down once you started. A great and provocative read. The wonderful thing about being a lifelong movie lover is that life changes all the time in relation to how we perceive what we’re seeing on the big screen. Elder's book honours that euphoric relationship between people and films many times over. It's addictive and captures these brilliant moments in time beautifully.

Buy "The Film that Changed My Life" Here!

8. 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

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One of the most frustrating part of being a cinephile is running out of movies to watch. We've all been in the same position, sitting down to watch a film with snacks at the ready, only to end up spending far too long scrawling through Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime to try and find something to watch.

Steven Jay Schneider's "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" is a great way to combat that frustrating search for a movie. The book is updated every year so there's always a fair balance between timeless classics and new releases. "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" is a comprehensive list of 1001 great movies to sink you're teeth into. A must have piece on every film lover's cinematic shrine.

Buy "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" Here!

7. Tarantino: A Retrospective

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Quentin Tarantino is one of the most influential and distinctive auteurs working in the world today. His films are are pretty much loved by most die hard film fans and casual cinema goers.

In “Tarantino: A Retrospective”, Tom Shone presents in-depth commentaries on all of the ten films Tarantino has directed over his critically acclaimed career, from Reservoir Dogs to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as well as looking at his early life, acting career, and his indisputable talent for script writing. Illustrated plenty of behind the scenes photographs and film stills, “Tarantino: A Retrospective“ should undoubtedly be considered for a space on your bookshelf.

Buy "Tarantino: A Retrospective" Here!

6. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls

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Peter Biskind's "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex Drugs & Rock n Roll Generation Saved Hollywood" is a books that's held a proud place on my bookshelf for a really long time. I had it as a Christmas gift five years ago and I've read it twice since and for good reason. That period of cinema is just so fun and fascinating to learn about and this book is the best source to learn from.

In the wake of the Vietnam war, Hollywood and the film industry reached a desperate low. Hollywood's "Golden Era" that saw films such as "Gone With the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz" captivate audiences was long gone. And with the widespread roll-out of television, the film industry was on the brink of failure. "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" succinctly captures the revolution lead by the "Movie Brats" that saved Hollywood and how directors Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas, Coppola and DePalma launched the film industry into a new golden age.

Buy "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" Here!

5. The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex

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With a career spanning over 25 years, Mark Kermode has become arguably the most well known film critic working today. And "The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex" is like sitting down and having a well structured conversation with the man himself. Discussing topics such as why 3D isn’t the future of cinema, why cinema tickets cost so much, and are critics even valued anymore if abominations films such as Sex and the City 2 are box offices successes?

Kermode's writing style is brilliant. He has a very distinctive voice that makes it feel less like you’re reading a book and more like an interesting discussion with a friend. During this lockdown period many of us are missing these conversations with friends about cinema and the film industry, and “The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex” is a brilliant alternative until we’re able socialise again.

Buy "The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex" Here!

4. Taxi Driver

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Steve Shapiro’s “Taxi Driver” is the next best thing to actually travelling back in time to the Taxi Driver’s film set in 1975 New York and hanging out with Scorsese, De Niro and crew.

Brilliantly photographed by Steve Schapiro and eloquently put together by Taschen, this book captures the film's most intense and violent moments from behind the scenes. It features hundreds of previously unseen images selected from Schapiro's archives, painting a chilling portrait of a deranged gunman in the angry climate of the post-Vietnam era and the craft that went into making one of the most well regarded films of all time.

But "Taxi Driver" Here!

3. Moments That Made The Movies

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In this brilliantly illustrated book, David Thomson takes readers on an unrivalled visual journey analysing some of the greats moments to ever grace the silver screen.

"Moments That Made The Movies” breaks down scenes from timeless masterpieces such as Citizen Kane and Sunset Boulevard. As well as taking an in-depth dive into some hidden gems such as The Piano Teacher and Burn After Reading. “Moments That Made The Movies” is a must-have guide for anyone wishing to explore the exciting history of film making.

Buy "Moments That Made The Movies" Here!

2. The Stanley Kubrick Archives

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It's not surprising that a book about such a genius director is nothing short of perfection. This trawl through legendary auteur Stanley Kubrick's vast archives enters a fascinating insight into the mind of a master visionary.

Easily the most comprehensive study made on the career of Kubrick, "The Stanley Kubrick Archives" documents Kubrick’s entire career all the way from being a young aspiring photographer in New York all the way to his final film “Eyes Wide Shut” and absolutely everything in between. The book is filled to the brim with behind the scenes photos, scans of original scrips, and so much more. Alison Castle deserves all the credit in the world for doing such a brilliant job curating “The Stanley Kubrick Archives”, this is the closest thing possible to having an entire museum on your bookshelf.

Publisher’s Taschen do a brilliant job of presenting archive material in book form, and their other archive books also deserve an honourable mention. The Ingmar Bergman Archives, The Charlie Chaplin Archives, The Walt Disney Archives, The Star Wars Archives, The Pedro Almovdovar Archives and The James Bond Archives are all also worth considering.

Buy "The Stanley Kubrick Archives" Here!

1. Tarkovsky: Films, Stills, Polaroid’s & Writings

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Andrey Tarkovsky was undoubtedly the most important Russian filmmaker of the post-war era, and one of the world's most renowned cinematic geniuses.

This book features extended sequences of stills from each of his films alongside synopses and cast and crew listings. It includes reflections on Tarkovsky's work from fellow artists and writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Ingmar Bergman. 

Extracts from Tarkovsky's own diaries offer a brilliant insight into his poetic and philosophical views on cinematography. The book also includes many of Tarkovsky’s personal Polaroid photographs that confirm the extraordinary poetic vision of a great artist who remains a potent influence on many artists and filmmakers today.

Buy "Tarkovsky: Films, Stills, Polaroids and Writings" Here!