It’s the 30th anniversary of “E.T.,” the 50th anniversary of the first 007 film, the “Star Wars” franchise isn’t dead (thanks, Disney), great actors and a great acting dynasty are celebrated, great directors are interviewed, and the star of “Looper” has a teensy-weensy collection of teensy-weensy stories to share.
If it’s November, it must be time for publishing houses to stock the shelves with books aimed squarely (and hiply) at the movie-obsessed. If simply going to a theater, or clicking on your Netflix queue, or flipping to Turner Classics isn’t enough — when you need to eat, breathe, sleep, and excrete movies — these books are for you. A roundup of new titles ready to be given, or gotten:
The Screenplay” by Tom Stoppard (Vintage, $15)
The award-winning playwright and scenarist turns in his explicitly theatrical version of the Tolstoy classic, explaining himself and his ideas about Tolstoy in a pithy intro.
“The Big Screen: The Story
of the Movies” by David Thomson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $35)
One of the most knowledgable, enjoyably idiosyncratic, and prolific writers on the movies jumps back and forth in time and across media (TV, YouTube, smartphones, the silver screen) in this insightful study of how movies shape our consciousness, collective and otherwise.
“Do the Movies Have a Future?” by David Denby (Simon & Schuster, $27)
A collection of essays, reviews, and think pieces celebrating the good, bad, and ugly of contemporary cinema (and not so contemporary — read his takes on Joan Crawford and Victor Fleming).
“’E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’: From Concept to Classic” (Newmarket Press, $24.99)
Packed with production stills, storyboard pages, how’d-they-do-that? effects breakdowns, and the illustrated Melissa Mathison screenplay, this oversize paperback celebrates the otherworldly wonders of Steven Spielberg’s, well, classic. With an intro by the man himself.
“Harry Potter: Film Wizardry” by Brian Sibley (Collins Design, $45).
Still experiencing Harry withdrawal? Try this elaborate commemorative tome, a revised and expanded version of the 2011 edition, full of removable facsimile documents, Hogwarts secrets, saucy anecdotes from HP cast members, behind-the-scenes info on Dementors and Hippogriffs, maps, magic tricks, and more.
“Hollywood Unseen” by Robert Dance (Antique Collectors Club, $75)
Not sure how I feel about the cover photo of Humphrey Bogart on a bike (the very same image included in another eminently gift-worthy book, “Hollywood Rides a Bike: Cycling with the Stars!” by yours truly), but this huge and handsome coffee table book, culled from the John Kobal collection of vintage Hollywood glamour portraits, candids, and production stills, has photos to die for. From Marlene Dietrich to Barbara Stanwyck, James Dean to Marilyn Monroe, icons at work, at play, at ease, and at their sexiest, nuttiest, and most mysterious and mischievous.
“The Making of Life of Pi: A Film Journey” by Jean-Christophe Castelli (Harper Design, $35)
Gorgeous, color-photo-packed “making of” book, with a foreward by “Life of Pi” novelist Yann Martel (He hates the movie! A joke, a joke) and an intro by the always-intriguing director Ang Lee.
“The Man Who Saw a Ghost: The Life and Work
of Henry Fonda,” by Devin McKinney (St. Martin’s, $29.99)
Deeply wrought biography of the dark, conflicted, amazingly talented actor, whose personal life was messy and whose professional life resulted in some of the truly great films in Hollywood history.
“The Music of James Bond,” by Jon Burlingame (Oxford, $35)
The title songs and soundtracks, and the people behind them, from “Dr. No” to “Quantum of Solace.” (What, no Adele singing the theme to “Skyfall”?!) A fascinating look at the composers and crooners, the fortuitous accidents and fateful musical choices that have propelled the 007 franchise.
“Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made,” by Alan Eisenstock (St. Martin’s, $25.99)
A pair of Mississippi nerd tweens remake “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” A fanboy odyssey, nicely told.
“The Redgraves: A Family Epic,” by Donald Spoto (Crown, $26)
Michael, Vanessa, Lynn, Corin, Joely Richardson, Natasha Richardson — a British acting dynasty spans generations, overcoming tragedy and the occasional bad script to become a kind of quality brand of thespian ism. Vanessa can bring gravitas to “Mission: Impossible,” and author Spoto tries to explain how.
“Star Wars: A Pop-Up Galactic Adventure,” by Matthew Reinhart (Scholastic, $36.99)
Renowned “paper engineer” Reinhart does his magic on the three “Star Wars” prequels and “The Clone Wars,” and all the characters, conflicts, droids and galactic action contained therein. And then uncontained, literally unfolding before your eyes.
A Retrospective,” by Richard Schickel (Sterling, $35)
Movie by movie, Schickel and Spielberg talk. A 40-year overview of a career still going strong.
“The Tiny Book
of Tiny Stories 2,” by Joseph Gordon-Levitt & wirrow (HarperCollins, $14.99)
Long ago, the “Looper” star started an online indie-music collaborative, HitRECord (as in hit the record button). The site has also become host to a short-story collaboration — more like story fragments, or haiku-size prose poems — and Gordon-Levitt has culled quirky gems for “Vol. 2.” A handsome hardbound book full of wit, whimsy, and a little wisdom. And the elfish illustrations of wirrow.