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
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
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.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test