- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (June 13, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465094236
- ISBN-13: 978-0465094233
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies 1st Edition
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"Ann Hornaday provides a pleasantly calm, eminently sensible, down-the-middle primer for the movie lover-amateur, professional or Twitter centric orator-who would like to acquire and sharpen basic viewing skills."
―New York Times Book Review
"[An] illuminating new book for anyone who wants more from the movies than popcorn and thrills.... Talking Pictures reflects Hornaday's 20-plus years of writing about movies. Her career has given her great access to the people who make the movies, and some of her anecdotes can be fascinating."
"If you're looking for a crash course in how to watch movies and move beyond 'It was terrible (or terrific),' look no further than Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies by Ann Hornaday....she cites excellent examples along with insightful quotes from A-listers...Ms. Hornaday expertly shares why some films seem magnificent or mediocre, why details matter and why directors with 'chops' can seize the day."
"[Ann Hornaday] offers her insights, opinions and finely tuned observations on actors and acting, camera work, editing, sound and music, and the other elements of film-and how they can all combine to truly make a movie good, bad or just so-so."
"A master class in filmmaking and a celebration of why we love the movies."
"[Talking Pictures] gives the reader tools for watching films more intentionally and with more discerning taste."
"[Hornaday] has conducted extensive interviews with film folk over the years, which adds an informed, insider's quality to her discussions... a user-friendly, nonintimidating guide to appreciating movies."
"Ann Hornaday has delivered one of the best books of this genre, a truly original take on filmmaking. Bringing together deep insights from the top people in all areas of the craft along with her own critical eye, Hornaday inspires serious and casual movie fans alike to appreciate and enjoy movies. Talking Pictures draws on examples from classics of the past and current films to deliver a masterclass in filmmaking, criticism, and the pleasures of watching movies."
―Bob Berney, Head of Marketing & Distribution, Amazon Studios
"In this essential book Ann Hornaday explores the unique alchemy of filmmaking through its various disciplines, and manages to explain the unexplainable. With clarity and compassion she demystifies the brilliance of Groundhog Day, breaks down how the editor on a film is the audience's chief surrogate, and ultimately puts her finger on what we crave every time the lights go down in a movie theater: 'the singular joy that comes from authentic human connection.' This book is a true gift to all filmmakers and film lovers."
―Albert Berger, Academy Award-nominated Producer of Nebraska, Cold Mountain, and Little Miss Sunshine, among others
"An urgently needed guide to film literacy written by one of our great critics."
―Mark Boal, Academy Award-winning Screenwriter and Producer
About the Author
Ann Hornaday is a film critic at the Washington Post and was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in criticism. Hornaday lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
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However I found “Talking Pictures well written and it added dimensions to my understanding of not only movies, but television series and to an extent literature as well. Very readable and it went quickly. The films used to illustrate concepts were well chosen and one benefit of the book has been to see (or re-see) films recommended.
One caveat: many of the descriptive passages were structured along the lines of “it could be either this or that, or this other thing or that other thing, or this or that...it wasn’t annoying but as the book progressed it did have kind of an “ear worm” effect to it.
This 2017 version of the mummy legend lacked a lot; especially a cogent plot, careful editing and a steady hand at the directorial helm. It was literally all over the place. Maybe, this was because it had three writers. Even Tom Cruise in the lead - doing stunts, too - couldn’t save “The Mummy” from flopping artistically, and (more painfully), at the box office as well.
On the flip side, one of my fave flicks was “L.A. Confidential.” It came out in 1997. I recall watching it down in historic Fell’s Point on Thames Street, in Baltimore, MD, at George Figgs’ now-defunct Orpheum Cinema. It had everything you might want in a movie: a great plot; terrific actors - such as Russell Crowe, the lovely Kim Basinger and Kevin Spacey (n/k/a Francis Underwood of “House of Cards” fame) - action; writing; top notch directing; and lots of unforgettable scenes.
Kim Bassinger was such a major hottie in this film that Crowe (a hard-nosed cop) and Guy Pearce (another LA detective) were beating the hell out of each other just to get her attention.
My favorite scene from that movie is where James Cromwell (as a crooked police detective) snuffs out Danny DeVito (a smarty pants editor of a scandal magazine) with that “hush-hush” line, while cutting off his breathing. The film was based on a riveting novel by James Ellroy. “L.A. Confidential” also had a surprise ending!
Now, there is a book out to guide movie goers about how to fully appreciate a movie - good and bad, alike. Of course, it has something to say about my fave - “L.A. Confidential.” It also explains in details the prime ingredients that contribute to a film’s final outcome. The title is: “Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies.” Its author is Ann Hornaday. Her day job is reviewing films for the “Washington Post.”
Along the way, Hornaday also did a stint movie reviewing with the “Baltimore Sun” and at the “Austin American-Statesman.”
Hornaday uses seven sections in her book to analyze the main attributes of a movie. You will recognize most of these: screenwriting, acting, production design, cinematography, editing, sound and music, and the biggie, the maker or breaker - directing.
In practicing her craft over the years, Hornaday has interviewed many talented people in Hollywood and beyond, who make movies for a living. This has included: directors, screenwriters, producers, actors, sound technicians, cinematographers and editors. So, her book has some inside stuff from the experts themselves, and usually what they have to say is right on target. Hornaday works their astute comments skillfully into each of her seven sections.
Before launching her career as a movie reviewer, Hornaday was given some guidance from a fellow journalist. He suggested asking herself these three relevant questions: “What was the artist trying to achieve? Did they achieve it? And, was it worth doing?”
Hornaday added that those key questions have served her as a “North star” throughout her career. They also happen to be the advice that the legendary Goethe gave on reviewing theatre.
All of the above, Hornaday suggests, gets you to that mother of all questions: What make a movie “good?” And conversely, what makes a movie - “bad?”
After each chapter in the book - I really like this part - Hornaday included examples of movies that “captured the best practices of a particular cinematic discipline.” For this segment, she also cited films from Hollywood’s “Golden Age,” right up till the “present moment” to make her points.
Hornaday underscored how the hundreds of artists that she has interviewed over the last 25 years or so kept the “highest ideals” of filmmaking in their minds during the challenging “creative process.” Her book will help the reader see movies “in a new light,” not just as a fan but as a “film critic” in their own right.
The writing style of Hornaday is straight forward and easy to follow. Her book, which I am strongly recommending, is not only for the movie buff and the wannabe movie buffs, but for a general audience as well. There are plenty of gems in it.
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