A Critical Guide to Contemporary North American Directors

Blaine Kyllo

The new line of books about film and filmmaking from Wallflower Press in London (available from Columbia University Press here) is a real achievement. A Critical Guide to Contemporary North American Directors, with a whopping 535 beautifully designed pages, is not just a who’s-who list, it’s a definitive resource in which each director and his or her work is analyzed: a massive, exhaustive undertaking that is rewarding and successful. Want proof? It includes listings for such newcomers, fringe filmmakers and Canadian favourites as Sturla Gunnarson, Lynne Stopkewich, Don McKellar, Robert Lepage, Bruce McDonald, Denys Arcand, Bruce LaBruce, John Greyson, and Denis Villeneuve (although they’ve neglected Bruce Sweeney; an unfortunate oversight). Wallflower is also responsible for the Short Cuts series: concise and interesting essays on the film world. I’ve read and am digesting The Star System, in which Paul McDonald documents not only how the Hollywood star system developed, but how it has been changed and reinforced by our culture and society. Other Short Cuts titles deal with western, sci-fi, horror and disaster films. These are handsome books, and the essays place the art of film in a larger context. The series must have been conceived with film studies courses in mind, but I recommend them to anyone who, like me, will never tire of interesting critical analyses of films, filmmakers and the world they inhabit.

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