Cinema Books of the Year by Christopher Fowler: 'Faint hearted? Get to a bunker'

Ultimate Star Wars is an exhaustive/ing breakdown of the Lucas universe that will either complete your life or prematurely end it. 

Christopher Fowler
Sunday 13 December 2015 13:20

Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know (DK, £17.99) will arm your child with answers to the universe’s most urgent questions, such as: “Who cleans the floors of the Death Star?”

You have been warned. Ultimate Star Wars (DK £35) is an exhaustive/ing breakdown of the Lucas universe that will either complete your life or prematurely end it. Bond By Design (DK £35) preserves the storyboards of every 007 film, with Ken Adam’s charcoal sketches proving far more evocative than later digital illustrations. James Bond Cars (Aurum, £25) is a seriously sexy album of vehicular candy for 007 petrolheads.

Easily the best Bond book is Some Kind Of Hero by Field & Chowdhury (History Press, £25), a well-researched film-by-film study that contextualises each production in its era.

In yet another “ultimate” volume, Back To The Future: The Ultimate Visual History (Titan, £22.75) is a gleaming photo-trip to the future (now the past) containing much rehashed material.

If you’re feeling low let The Movie Doctors by Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo (Canongate, £20) prescribe trivia, from deciding how long blockbusters should be to the horrors of taking kids to the flicks.

It’s cheekily chucked together, but peppy. Jason Solomons’ Woody Allen: Film By Film (Carlton £25) made me wonder why this relentlessly uncinematic director warrants coffee table volumes.

Better is critic Tom Shone’s Woody Allen: A retrospective (T&H £29.95), a series of intelligently constructed essays for the neurotic solipsist in your life. Great Film Directors: A to Z by Andy Tuohy (Cassell £25) has some glaring omissions and favours obvious hipster choices, but it’s handsomely presented and provides a strong starter guide to 125 years of cinema history.

The illustrated memoir Gilliamesque by Terry Gilliam (Canongate, £30) is filled with honest wisdom, innocence and wonder, from the roots of creativity to the temporal perspective of age.

Gilliam has never made a dull film and is incapable of writing a dull sentence, so it’s my Christmas pick. Finally, the biography of a real star.

Maggie Smith by Michael Coveney (Orion, £20) isn’t afraid to elucidate on her reputation for being difficult, but there’s much more here, from a revelatory Hedda Gabler to The Lady In The Van. Coveney is the only writer who could get under Smith’s skin, capturing her steeliness and vulnerability.

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