Monday, October 06, 2003

Virtual Book Tour 2: Books Worth a Look

In working on my book Screening Party, there were a few books that I used as references.

One was the Jaws Log, which is a record of all the crazy shennanigans that happened on the set of the original Jaws; all about how the shark wouldn't work right and so forth. I actually discovered it after I had sort of finished the chapter on Jaws, so I didn't pull too much from it, but it was interesting reading.

Another book I found particulalry inspiring is John Travolta's Staying Fit, a workout book from the early '80s, his post Staying Alive buff phase. I refer to it with a mixture of affection and ridicule in the Saturday Night Fever chapter of Screening Party. I've decided recently that I want to be a collector of celebrity workout paraphernelia, like the way some people collect lunch boxes or cat stuff. My favorite item of late in this department is Dixie Carter's Unworkout, in which she makes a lot of insane faces and inspires the viewer to think of themselves as a cougar.

But back to books, the truth is I didn't use too many in working on the book. Between all my mouthy friends and whatever nuggets of trivia I could get from the DVDs of the movies, I had more than enough material. In fact, I was surprised at how long the chapters ended up being. As far a reference books go, I do find myself referring a lot to Leonard Maltin's 1997 Movie and Video Guide from 1997. I flip it open a lot when I'm doing articles. Perhaps I should update it at some point. Apparently, there have been a number of films released since 1997.

As for film critics, I always enjoy reading them but I seldom let them keep me away from films I want to see. Some people don't like when critics get really personal in their reviews but that's what I enjoy reading the most. I do like Pauline Kael's reviews because you never quite know where she's going to go. I also enjoy Manohla Dargis' writing in the L.A. Times. She's surprising and brings a welcome jolt of youth to the paper. My favorite online critic was Dave White on Ifilm, but I think they got rid of him. His reviews were so blunt and hilarious. He wasn't above using such terms as "sucks", "blows," and "bites it."

Where Screening Party fits into the world of film-related books, I don't know. I think I'd rather have people look at it as an entertainment rather than a reference type book about movies and get into the more novel-esque aspects of the book. It's funny; in bookstores, I've seen it stocked in every section from fiction to humor to film to gay books. I think I like it best in fiction for some reason, even though much of it is fact.

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