BFI BOOK CLUB 2024

 

Founded in May 2023, the BFI Book Club reads selections from the BFI Film Classics series. The BFI Film Classics series from the British Film Institute brings in scholars and journalists to write books that introduce, interpret and celebrate landmarks of world cinema. Each volume offers an argument for the film's 'classic' status, together with discussion of its production and reception history, its place within a genre or national cinema, an account of its technical and aesthetic importance, and in many cases, the author's personal response to the film.

On the second Monday of every month, our Marketing Coordinator, Lewis Parry, will lead an in-person meeting centered around a selection from the BFI Film Classics series. Join us to share your opinions on the film, the author's interpretations, and develop a better understanding of some of your new favorite films! Everyone is welcome!
 

PAST BFI BOOK CLUB SELECTIONS
 


            

Spirited Away (BFI Film Classics)

By Andrew Osmond

Spirited Away (BFI Film Classics) By Andrew Osmond Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781838719524
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: British Film Institute - May 28th, 2020

Event: Monday, January 8, 2024 6PM

 

Spirited Away, directed by the veteran anime film-maker Hayao Miyazaki, is Japan's most successful film, and one of the top-grossing 'foreign language' films ever released. Set in modern Japan, the film is a wildly imaginative fantasy, at once personal and universal. It tells the story of a listless little girl, Chihiro, who stumbles into a magical world where gods relax in a palatial bathhouse, where there are giant babies and hard-working soot sprites, and where a train runs across the sea.

Andrew Osmond's insightful study describes how Miyazaki directed Spirited Away with a degree of creative control undreamt of in most popular cinema, using the film's delightful, freewheeling visual ideas to explore issues ranging from personal agency and responsibility to what Miyazaki sees as the lamentable state of modern Japan. Osmond unpacks the film's visual language, which many Western (and some Japanese) audiences find both beautiful and bewildering. He traces connections between Spirited Away and Miyazaki's prior body of work, arguing that Spirited Away uses the cartoon medium to create a compellingly immersive drawn world. This edition includes a new foreword by the author in which he considers the world of animated cinema post-Spirited Away, considering its influence on films ranging from del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth to Pixar's Inside Out.

 

About the Author


Andrew Osmond is a journalist and critic based in Berkshire, UK. He is the author of Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist (2009); 100 Animated Feature Films (BFI Publishing, 2010) and Ghost in the Shell (2017).
 


Spirited Away (BFI Film Classics) By Andrew Osmond Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781838719524
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: British Film Institute - May 28th, 2020

Event: Monday, January 8, 2024 6PM

 

Spirited Away, directed by the veteran anime film-maker Hayao Miyazaki, is Japan's most successful film, and one of the top-grossing 'foreign language' films ever released. Set in modern Japan, the film is a wildly imaginative fantasy, at once personal and universal. It tells the story of a listless little girl, Chihiro, who stumbles into a magical world where gods relax in a palatial bathhouse, where there are giant babies and hard-working soot sprites, and where a train runs across the sea.

Andrew Osmond's insightful study describes how Miyazaki directed Spirited Away with a degree of creative control undreamt of in most popular cinema, using the film's delightful, freewheeling visual ideas to explore issues ranging from personal agency and responsibility to what Miyazaki sees as the lamentable state of modern Japan. Osmond unpacks the film's visual language, which many Western (and some Japanese) audiences find both beautiful and bewildering. He traces connections between Spirited Away and Miyazaki's prior body of work, arguing that Spirited Away uses the cartoon medium to create a compellingly immersive drawn world. This edition includes a new foreword by the author in which he considers the world of animated cinema post-Spirited Away, considering its influence on films ranging from del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth to Pixar's Inside Out.

 

About the Author


Andrew Osmond is a journalist and critic based in Berkshire, UK. He is the author of Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist (2009); 100 Animated Feature Films (BFI Publishing, 2010) and Ghost in the Shell (2017).
 


Event: Monday, January 8, 2024 6PM

 

Spirited Away, directed by the veteran anime film-maker Hayao Miyazaki, is Japan's most successful film, and one of the top-grossing 'foreign language' films ever released. Set in modern Japan, the film is a wildly imaginative fantasy, at once personal and universal. It tells the story of a listless little girl, Chihiro, who stumbles into a magical world where gods relax in a palatial bathhouse, where there are giant babies and hard-working soot sprites, and where a train runs across the sea.

Andrew Osmond's insightful study describes how Miyazaki directed Spirited Away with a degree of creative control undreamt of in most popular cinema, using the film's delightful, freewheeling visual ideas to explore issues ranging from personal agency and responsibility to what Miyazaki sees as the lamentable state of modern Japan. Osmond unpacks the film's visual language, which many Western (and some Japanese) audiences find both beautiful and bewildering. He traces connections between Spirited Away and Miyazaki's prior body of work, arguing that Spirited Away uses the cartoon medium to create a compellingly immersive drawn world. This edition includes a new foreword by the author in which he considers the world of animated cinema post-Spirited Away, considering its influence on films ranging from del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth to Pixar's Inside Out.

 

About the Author


Andrew Osmond is a journalist and critic based in Berkshire, UK. He is the author of Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist (2009); 100 Animated Feature Films (BFI Publishing, 2010) and Ghost in the Shell (2017).
 

            

The Red Shoes (BFI Film Classics)

By Pamela Hutchinson

The Red Shoes (BFI Film Classics) By Pamela Hutchinson Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781839026065
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: British Film Institute - October 5th, 2023

Event: Monday, February 19, 2024 6PM

 

Join us for a screening of The Red Shoes at the Texas Theatre on Sunday, January 28th at 4:00!
Buy tickets to The Red Shoes now.

Endlessly fascinating, dark and bright, The Red Shoes (1948) employs every branch of the cinematic arts to sweep the audience off its feet, invigorated by the transcendence of art itself, only to leave them with troubling questions. Representing the climax of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's celebrated run of six exceptional feature films, the film remains a beloved, if unsettling and often divisive, classic.

 

Pamela Hutchinson's study of the film examines its breathtaking use of Technicolor, music, choreography, editing and art direction at the zenith of Powell and Pressburger's capacity for 'composed cinema'. Through a close reading of key scenes, particularly the film's famous extended ballet sequence, she considers the unconventional use of ballet as uncanny spectacle and the feminist implications of the central story of female sacrifice.

 

Hutchinson goes on to consider the film's lasting and wide-reaching influence, tracing its impact on the film musical genre and horror cinema, with filmmakers such as Joanna Hogg, Sally Potter, Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma having cited the film as an inspiration.

 

About the Author


Pamela Hutchinson is a writer, critic, film historian and curator based in the UK. Her previous publications include Pandora's Box (British Film Institute, 2020) and 30-Second Cinema (2019). She writes on early and silent film for Sight and Sound (including a monthly column), Criterion, Indicator, the Guardian, the Independent, the Financial Times, Empire and Little White Lies.


The Red Shoes (BFI Film Classics) By Pamela Hutchinson Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781839026065
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: British Film Institute - October 5th, 2023

Event: Monday, February 19, 2024 6PM

 

Join us for a screening of The Red Shoes at the Texas Theatre on Sunday, January 28th at 4:00!
Buy tickets to The Red Shoes now.

Endlessly fascinating, dark and bright, The Red Shoes (1948) employs every branch of the cinematic arts to sweep the audience off its feet, invigorated by the transcendence of art itself, only to leave them with troubling questions. Representing the climax of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's celebrated run of six exceptional feature films, the film remains a beloved, if unsettling and often divisive, classic.

 

Pamela Hutchinson's study of the film examines its breathtaking use of Technicolor, music, choreography, editing and art direction at the zenith of Powell and Pressburger's capacity for 'composed cinema'. Through a close reading of key scenes, particularly the film's famous extended ballet sequence, she considers the unconventional use of ballet as uncanny spectacle and the feminist implications of the central story of female sacrifice.

 

Hutchinson goes on to consider the film's lasting and wide-reaching influence, tracing its impact on the film musical genre and horror cinema, with filmmakers such as Joanna Hogg, Sally Potter, Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma having cited the film as an inspiration.

 

About the Author


Pamela Hutchinson is a writer, critic, film historian and curator based in the UK. Her previous publications include Pandora's Box (British Film Institute, 2020) and 30-Second Cinema (2019). She writes on early and silent film for Sight and Sound (including a monthly column), Criterion, Indicator, the Guardian, the Independent, the Financial Times, Empire and Little White Lies.


Event: Monday, February 19, 2024 6PM

 

Join us for a screening of The Red Shoes at the Texas Theatre on Sunday, January 28th at 4:00!
Buy tickets to The Red Shoes now.

Endlessly fascinating, dark and bright, The Red Shoes (1948) employs every branch of the cinematic arts to sweep the audience off its feet, invigorated by the transcendence of art itself, only to leave them with troubling questions. Representing the climax of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's celebrated run of six exceptional feature films, the film remains a beloved, if unsettling and often divisive, classic.

 

Pamela Hutchinson's study of the film examines its breathtaking use of Technicolor, music, choreography, editing and art direction at the zenith of Powell and Pressburger's capacity for 'composed cinema'. Through a close reading of key scenes, particularly the film's famous extended ballet sequence, she considers the unconventional use of ballet as uncanny spectacle and the feminist implications of the central story of female sacrifice.

 

Hutchinson goes on to consider the film's lasting and wide-reaching influence, tracing its impact on the film musical genre and horror cinema, with filmmakers such as Joanna Hogg, Sally Potter, Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma having cited the film as an inspiration.

 

About the Author


Pamela Hutchinson is a writer, critic, film historian and curator based in the UK. Her previous publications include Pandora's Box (British Film Institute, 2020) and 30-Second Cinema (2019). She writes on early and silent film for Sight and Sound (including a monthly column), Criterion, Indicator, the Guardian, the Independent, the Financial Times, Empire and Little White Lies.

            

Rushmore (BFI Film Classics)

By Kristi Irene McKim

Rushmore (BFI Film Classics) By Kristi Irene McKim Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781839024498
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: British Film Institute - October 5th, 2023

Event: Monday, March 11, 2024 6PM

 

Join us for a screening of Rushmore at the Texas Theatre on Sunday, February 25th at 4:30!
Buy tickets to Rushmore now.

Earning critical acclaim and commercial success upon its 1998 release, Rushmore-the sophomore film of American auteur Wes Anderson-quickly gained the status of a cult classic. A melancholic coming-of-age story wrapped in comedy drama, Rushmore focuses on the efforts of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman)-a brazen and precocious fifteen-year-old-to find his way. Restless, energetic, struggling, and overcompensating for his insecurities, Max pursues a dizzying range of possible futures, leading him into the orbit of local steel magnate Herman Blume (Bill Murray), elementary school teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), and a host of cooperative schoolmates who help him to stage lavish film-derivative plays.

Kristi McKim's compelling study of the film argues that despite the film's titular call for haste and excess (rush/more), it challenges a drive toward perfectionism and celebrates the quiet connections that defy such passion and speed. After establishing Rushmore's history and reception, McKim closely reads Rushmore's energetic musical montages relative to slower moments that introduce tenderness and ambiguity, in a form subtler than Max's desire-built drive or genre-based plays. Her analysis offers an urgent corrective to what might be perceived as an endearing portrait of privilege that perpetuates a status quo power. Drawing out Rushmore's subtleties that soften, temper, ease, expand, and equalize the film's zeal, she reads the film with a generosity learned from the film itself.

 

About the Author


Kristi Irene McKim is Professor and Chair of Film and Media Studies and English at Hendrix College, USA. Her books include Love in the Time of Cinema (2011) and Cinema as Weather: Stylistic Screens and Atmospheric Change (2013). She has published in journals such as Camera Obscura, Studies in French Cinema, Senses of Cinema, Bennington Review, New England Review, Bright Lights Film Review, Film International, and Film-Philosophy. She is also the online editor for Film Matters Magazine and co-editor of The Cine-Files special edition on "Teaching Film".


Rushmore (BFI Film Classics) By Kristi Irene McKim Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781839024498
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: British Film Institute - October 5th, 2023

Event: Monday, March 11, 2024 6PM

 

Join us for a screening of Rushmore at the Texas Theatre on Sunday, February 25th at 4:30!
Buy tickets to Rushmore now.

Earning critical acclaim and commercial success upon its 1998 release, Rushmore-the sophomore film of American auteur Wes Anderson-quickly gained the status of a cult classic. A melancholic coming-of-age story wrapped in comedy drama, Rushmore focuses on the efforts of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman)-a brazen and precocious fifteen-year-old-to find his way. Restless, energetic, struggling, and overcompensating for his insecurities, Max pursues a dizzying range of possible futures, leading him into the orbit of local steel magnate Herman Blume (Bill Murray), elementary school teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), and a host of cooperative schoolmates who help him to stage lavish film-derivative plays.

Kristi McKim's compelling study of the film argues that despite the film's titular call for haste and excess (rush/more), it challenges a drive toward perfectionism and celebrates the quiet connections that defy such passion and speed. After establishing Rushmore's history and reception, McKim closely reads Rushmore's energetic musical montages relative to slower moments that introduce tenderness and ambiguity, in a form subtler than Max's desire-built drive or genre-based plays. Her analysis offers an urgent corrective to what might be perceived as an endearing portrait of privilege that perpetuates a status quo power. Drawing out Rushmore's subtleties that soften, temper, ease, expand, and equalize the film's zeal, she reads the film with a generosity learned from the film itself.

 

About the Author


Kristi Irene McKim is Professor and Chair of Film and Media Studies and English at Hendrix College, USA. Her books include Love in the Time of Cinema (2011) and Cinema as Weather: Stylistic Screens and Atmospheric Change (2013). She has published in journals such as Camera Obscura, Studies in French Cinema, Senses of Cinema, Bennington Review, New England Review, Bright Lights Film Review, Film International, and Film-Philosophy. She is also the online editor for Film Matters Magazine and co-editor of The Cine-Files special edition on "Teaching Film".


Event: Monday, March 11, 2024 6PM

 

Join us for a screening of Rushmore at the Texas Theatre on Sunday, February 25th at 4:30!
Buy tickets to Rushmore now.

Earning critical acclaim and commercial success upon its 1998 release, Rushmore-the sophomore film of American auteur Wes Anderson-quickly gained the status of a cult classic. A melancholic coming-of-age story wrapped in comedy drama, Rushmore focuses on the efforts of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman)-a brazen and precocious fifteen-year-old-to find his way. Restless, energetic, struggling, and overcompensating for his insecurities, Max pursues a dizzying range of possible futures, leading him into the orbit of local steel magnate Herman Blume (Bill Murray), elementary school teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), and a host of cooperative schoolmates who help him to stage lavish film-derivative plays.

Kristi McKim's compelling study of the film argues that despite the film's titular call for haste and excess (rush/more), it challenges a drive toward perfectionism and celebrates the quiet connections that defy such passion and speed. After establishing Rushmore's history and reception, McKim closely reads Rushmore's energetic musical montages relative to slower moments that introduce tenderness and ambiguity, in a form subtler than Max's desire-built drive or genre-based plays. Her analysis offers an urgent corrective to what might be perceived as an endearing portrait of privilege that perpetuates a status quo power. Drawing out Rushmore's subtleties that soften, temper, ease, expand, and equalize the film's zeal, she reads the film with a generosity learned from the film itself.

 

About the Author


Kristi Irene McKim is Professor and Chair of Film and Media Studies and English at Hendrix College, USA. Her books include Love in the Time of Cinema (2011) and Cinema as Weather: Stylistic Screens and Atmospheric Change (2013). She has published in journals such as Camera Obscura, Studies in French Cinema, Senses of Cinema, Bennington Review, New England Review, Bright Lights Film Review, Film International, and Film-Philosophy. She is also the online editor for Film Matters Magazine and co-editor of The Cine-Files special edition on "Teaching Film".

            

Sunset Boulevard (BFI Film Classics)

By Steven Cohan

Sunset Boulevard (BFI Film Classics) By Steven Cohan Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781839024085
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: British Film Institute - October 6th, 2022

Event: Monday, April 8, 2024 6PM
 

Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard was a critical and commercial success on its release in 1950 and remains a classic of film noir and one of the best-known Hollywood films about Hollywood. Both its opening, with William Holden as the screenwriter Joe Gillis floating facedown in ageing star Norma Desmond's (Gloria Swanson) pool, and lines such as 'I am big, it's the pictures that got small' are some of the most memorable in Classical Hollywood cinema.

Steven Cohan's study of the film draws on original archival research to shed new light on the film's production history, and the contribution to the film's success and meanings of director Wilder, stars Holden and Swanson but also supporting actors Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson (who plays Betty Schaefer), Cecil B. DeMille, and Hedda Hopper, as well as costumier Edith Head, and composer Franz Waxman. Cohan considers the film both as a 'backstudio' picture (a movie about Hollywood) and as a film noir, and in the context of McCarthyism, blacklisting and the Hollywood Ten.

Cohan explores how the film was marketed, its reception and afterlife, tracing how the film is at once a product of its own particular historical moment as the movie industry was transitioning out of the studio era, yet one that still speaks powerfully to contemporary audiences, and speculates on the reasons for its enduring appeal.

About the Author


Steven Cohan is Dean's Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Syracuse University, USA and President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. His books include Telling Stories: A Theoretical Analysis of Narrative (1988, co-authored with Linda M. Shires), Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties (1997), Incongruous Entertainment: Camp, Cultural Value, and the MGM Musical (2005); a BFI TV Classic on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2008); The Sound of Musicals (BFI 2010) and Hollywood by Hollywood: The Backstudio Picture and the Mystique of Making Movies (2018)


Sunset Boulevard (BFI Film Classics) By Steven Cohan Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781839024085
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: British Film Institute - October 6th, 2022

Event: Monday, April 8, 2024 6PM
 

Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard was a critical and commercial success on its release in 1950 and remains a classic of film noir and one of the best-known Hollywood films about Hollywood. Both its opening, with William Holden as the screenwriter Joe Gillis floating facedown in ageing star Norma Desmond's (Gloria Swanson) pool, and lines such as 'I am big, it's the pictures that got small' are some of the most memorable in Classical Hollywood cinema.

Steven Cohan's study of the film draws on original archival research to shed new light on the film's production history, and the contribution to the film's success and meanings of director Wilder, stars Holden and Swanson but also supporting actors Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson (who plays Betty Schaefer), Cecil B. DeMille, and Hedda Hopper, as well as costumier Edith Head, and composer Franz Waxman. Cohan considers the film both as a 'backstudio' picture (a movie about Hollywood) and as a film noir, and in the context of McCarthyism, blacklisting and the Hollywood Ten.

Cohan explores how the film was marketed, its reception and afterlife, tracing how the film is at once a product of its own particular historical moment as the movie industry was transitioning out of the studio era, yet one that still speaks powerfully to contemporary audiences, and speculates on the reasons for its enduring appeal.

About the Author


Steven Cohan is Dean's Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Syracuse University, USA and President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. His books include Telling Stories: A Theoretical Analysis of Narrative (1988, co-authored with Linda M. Shires), Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties (1997), Incongruous Entertainment: Camp, Cultural Value, and the MGM Musical (2005); a BFI TV Classic on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2008); The Sound of Musicals (BFI 2010) and Hollywood by Hollywood: The Backstudio Picture and the Mystique of Making Movies (2018)


Event: Monday, April 8, 2024 6PM
 

Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard was a critical and commercial success on its release in 1950 and remains a classic of film noir and one of the best-known Hollywood films about Hollywood. Both its opening, with William Holden as the screenwriter Joe Gillis floating facedown in ageing star Norma Desmond's (Gloria Swanson) pool, and lines such as 'I am big, it's the pictures that got small' are some of the most memorable in Classical Hollywood cinema.

Steven Cohan's study of the film draws on original archival research to shed new light on the film's production history, and the contribution to the film's success and meanings of director Wilder, stars Holden and Swanson but also supporting actors Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson (who plays Betty Schaefer), Cecil B. DeMille, and Hedda Hopper, as well as costumier Edith Head, and composer Franz Waxman. Cohan considers the film both as a 'backstudio' picture (a movie about Hollywood) and as a film noir, and in the context of McCarthyism, blacklisting and the Hollywood Ten.

Cohan explores how the film was marketed, its reception and afterlife, tracing how the film is at once a product of its own particular historical moment as the movie industry was transitioning out of the studio era, yet one that still speaks powerfully to contemporary audiences, and speculates on the reasons for its enduring appeal.

About the Author


Steven Cohan is Dean's Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Syracuse University, USA and President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. His books include Telling Stories: A Theoretical Analysis of Narrative (1988, co-authored with Linda M. Shires), Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties (1997), Incongruous Entertainment: Camp, Cultural Value, and the MGM Musical (2005); a BFI TV Classic on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2008); The Sound of Musicals (BFI 2010) and Hollywood by Hollywood: The Backstudio Picture and the Mystique of Making Movies (2018)