Things have been quiet here at The Critical Press during the first few months of 2015, but we’re looking forward to a number of great titles coming this Spring and Summer. Here’s a preview of what you can expect from us this season.
Forward Observer: Stanley Kauffmann at the Cinema, 1999-2013
Edited by Bert Cardullo
Our first book this year is an anthology of criticism by the great Stanley Kauffmann, who wrote film criticism for The New Republic for over 50 years. This collection, edited by Bert Cardullo, brings together a selection of reviews, reports, and other film writing from the last 15 years of Kauffmann’s life. A sharp writer who drew upon a deep well of knowledge about film (along with theater, literature, and many other arts), Kauffmann was an indispensable critical voice. Surveying the modern cinema at the end of one century and the start of another, Kauffmann brings clarity, unique insight and nuanced prose to bear on a wide variety of independent, foreign, and commercial cinema amidst great and ongoing technological, economic, and political shifts in the art form.
Orson Welles: Power, Heart, and Soul
This May marks the 100th birthday of Orson Welles, and this new examination of his life and works couldn’t be coming at a better time. Plenty of Welles studies and biographies already exist (some would say too many), but F.X. Feeney’s new book offers up a fresh, accessible introduction that pays special attention to the many projects Welles was never able to finish, treating them as seriously and with as much care as his completed films, including It’s All True, The Big Brass Ring, and The Other Side of the Wind (a film which may soon see some form of release, in fact). Feeney also treats Welles’s political ambitions as a young man with sincerity, tracing how they inflected his art throughout the rest of his life.
Present Tense: Notes on American Nonfiction Cinema, 1998-2013
Filmmaker Robert Greene has had quite a year. Besides editing a number of important indie releases (including Listen Up Philip and Approaching the Elephant), Greene’s own Actress was one of the most anticipated and critically-acclaimed documentaries of 2014. Greene, who also writes columns on nonfiction cinema for Sight & Sound, is bringing together many of his thoughts and observations about recent trends in American documentary filmmaking in this book, a critical exploration buoyed by Greene’s own personal, insider’s view of the nonfiction scene. Including interviews with a variety of filmmakers (including the Ross Brothers, Bennett Miller, Joshua Oppenheimer, and more), this book makes the case for the special potential of recent nonfiction film.
The Gag Man: Clyde Bruckman and the Birth of Film Comedy
The General is not just one of the best silent comedies, but one of the great works of American art. Though we all think of it as a Buster Keaton film, there are in fact two men credited as director: Keaton and Clyde Bruckman. Who is Bruckman? Matthew Dessem’s biography, an expansion of a piece written for The Dissolve <http://thedissolve.com/features/movie-of-the-week/531-the-gag-man/> last year, seeks to answer that question. Bruckman worked closely as a writer and director with many of the big names of early screen comedy: Harold Lloyd, The Three Stooges, W.C. Fields, Abbott & Costello, and of course Keaton. But as central as Bruckman was to so much great work, his story has never been told. Usually he is glossed over or brushed aside as a footnote in the stories of more famous men. But Bruckman’s life, as ultimately tragic as it may have been, is an important one, revealing much about how early Hollywood worked and how film comedy developed.
Keep an eye on this website and on social media for more information about these books, their authors, and upcoming events. And don’t forget that our first two books, Approaching the End: Imagining Apocalypse in American Film by Peter Labuza and Asghar Farhadi: Life and Cinema by Tina Hassannia, are both available now as well.