Thursday, December 18, 2008

Salon's top ten books of 2008

One book from Salon's top 10 of 2008 list:
Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris

Film critic Harris takes the five nominees for the best picture Oscar of 1967, and uses them as lenses to examine the tectonic changes that were taking place in the movie industry and American society as a whole. "Doctor Dolittle" represented the irrelevant bloat of the doomed studio system; "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" stood for right-thinking, middle-of-the-road liberalism; "In the Heat of the Night" showed how much (and how little) an African-American actor like Sidney Poitier could expect in the way of opportunity; "Bonnie and Clyde" embodied the birth of a hip new internationalism; and "The Graduate" spoke for youth culture and its romantic discontents. Harris retraces the very different stories behind the making of all five films, beginning around 1963, when two staffers at Esquire with no experience of Hollywood wrote a screenplay about a couple of Depression-era bank robbers for their idol, Fran├žois Truffaut, and unwittingly ushered in a new approach to movie production. It seems astonishing that no one hit upon this premise earlier, but as Harris' execution abundantly illustrates, no one could have done it better.
Read about a book from the fiction side of Salon's list.

Writers Read: Mark Harris.

--Marshal Zeringue