Cinema: Don't ask for the moon from these stars

Christmas books of the year

There's a battle for the most lavish film volume this Christmas.

Harry Potter: Page to Screen by Bob McCabe (Titan, £49.99) is an immense tome that might have fallen from Dumbledore's own bookshelves. The intense detailing covers everything from the tiling on the Ministry of Magic to the clasps on the gown of Minerva McGonagall, in a sumptuous style-guide to the phenomenon. Ian Nathan's Alien Vault (Aurum, £30) is also the stuff of fans' dreams, with plans for the Nostromo spaceship, rare photography, artwork and storyboards. On the other hand, elegant though it is, I can't imagine whom The Art of Pixar (Chronicle Books, £35) is aimed at. The first part is comprised of tiny story-board sketches which are tricky to follow, while the last has beautiful gouaches. Animators and graphic art students will enjoy, but it feels like something for Pixar's reception area.

There's a skew toward genre books this year. Jonathan Rigby offers surprise choices for his horror time capsule in Studies in Terror (Signum, £19.99), including forgotten gems such as The Hidden (alien slugs are addicted to heavy metal; who knew?) and Dellamorte Dellamore, in which Rupert Everett ends up inside a snow-globe. Monsters in the Movies by the director John Landis (Dorling Kindersley, £25) trawls a century of creatures from giant ants to ghostly children. Even he admits there are chillers he hasn't seen (Gay Zombie, anyone?) but who could resist Brit-flick The Mutations, in which Donald Pleasance turns Tom Baker into a half-man, half-lettuce?

Auteur Publishing's new "Devil's Advocates" critiques on individual titles – Let the Right One In by Anne Billson and Witchfinder General by Ian Cooper, both £9.99 – offer bracingly fresh perspectives from passionate writers. The series will perfectly complement the BFI archive volumes.

Traditional biographies are dying now that the special effects are the stars, but here's a real hero: Vic Armstrong is the go-to stuntman, co-ordinator and second unit director for blockbusters. The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman (Titan, £18.99) is packed with the kind of stories dads like, explaining the physics of jumping from bridges, riding runaway trains and motorbikes, crashing through walls, and getting blown up. I remember Vic climbing into a helicopter after a night of rabble-rousing and being told that his eyes were bloodshot. "You want to see them from my side," he said, taking off. What a dude.

At the other end of the production chain, The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex by the reviewer Mark Kermode (Random House, £11.99) is an angry blast about the state of cinemagoing, from the cost of shepherding sweet-toothed children past overpriced confectionery to suffering through unfocused prints in unchecked auditoria. The scruffy cattle-pen experience will be familiar to anyone who has visited a mall cinema lately.

Robert Fairclough's This Charming Man: The Life of Ian Carmichael (Aurum, £20) reminds us that before he came to epitomise the English toff, the Yorkshire-born Carmichael was a cham-eleon-like actor who brilliantly played a self-effacing everyman in a series of biting 1950s satires.

There are lots of things you can think about while reading Many Lives, the autobiography of Stephanie Beacham (Hay House, £16.99). Hair care, for example, or matching dinnerware. Her appearances in Pete Walker's sleazily transgressive exploiters get just one mention here in the mire of artery-hardening New Age folderol, as Ms Beacham unravels the mysteries of life, spirituality and, oh, cat charities probably. It's like being force-fed icing sugar, but will doubtless have its fans.

Simon Pegg fares better in Nerd Do Well (Random House £7.99) because he's one of us, palpitating over childhood heroes, jumping about excitedly upon reaching LA, barely able to believe his luck at becoming a star. The shot of him with Spielberg says it all; he looks like he's just got up the nerve to ask for a signed photo.

Book of the year is Saul Bass: A Life in Film and Design (Laurence King, £48) by Pat Kirkham and Jennifer Bass, a bible from the world's greatest movie title designer, with explanations as to why his designs work plus a definitive answer to that persistent question about Psycho.

It's an overworked subject, but Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams by Christopher Stevens (John Murray £9.99) offers up the balanced perspective that Williams could not bring to his own diaries. It is packed with revealing interviews and anecdotes hilarious, erudite and sour.

Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Albert Hammond Junior of The Strokes performs at the Natural History Museum on July 6, 2006 in London, England.

music
Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tv review
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech

The best TV shows and films coming to the service

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003