Movie Man: Clint Eastwood and more offer great tidbits in the book ‘Directing’

Will Pfeifer

The latest in the excellent series of “FilmCraft” books has arrived in stores, and if it lacks the tight focus of the volumes devoted to cinematography and editing, it makes up for it with a revealing look at the big picture — and a few big names among its interview subjects.

“Directing” by Mike Goodridge (Focal Press, $29.95) is, like the other “FilmCraft” books, a large, colorful volume devoted to the art of moviemaking. Its nearly 200 pages are filled with photos, screen grabs, behind-the-scenes shots, production art and storyboards. Best of all, this is no chaotic collection of images or dry, dull cinema history. Instead, the entire book is built around interviews with 16 directors, ranging from Korea’s Park Chan-wook to Austria’s Michael Haneke to none other than Clint Eastwood himself. And thankfully, they’ve all got something interesting to say.

It’s especially fun to hear a screen icon like Eastwood talk about his famously down-to-earth approach to moviemaking: He doesn’t rehearse actors who don’t need it, he maintains a calm, low-key set and he makes sure that, at the end of the day, everyone feels like they’ve accomplished something. His connection to directing legends of earlier eras, like Don Siegel (“Dirty Harry”) and Sergio Leone (“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”) adds additional weight to his comments.

The book is full of great little tidbits and anecdotes. Guillermo del Toro told Wesley Snipes he was rooting for the vampires before directing “Blade 2.”

Paul Greengrass had the studio very, very worried with his breathless action sequences in “The Bourne Supremacy.” And Park Chan-wook not only analyzes the infamous hammer fight from his movie “Oldboy,” he also shares the storyboards. If you’re as big a fan of that revenge drama as I am, you’ll find it fascinating stuff.


If there’s one movie genre that gets no respect, it’s the lowly slasher film. Churned out by the hundreds, they’re considered cheap, nasty exercises in repetition fueled by gimmicky killers, screaming women and ghastly gore effects. Not the sort of thing you would see described — or, heaven help us, celebrated — in the pages of a book.

Unless we’re talking about “The Slasher Movie Book” by J.A Kerswell (Chicago Review Press, 208 pages, $24.95). Avoiding the brainless rah-rah-ing of a fannish love letter or the brain-killing analysis of an academic tone, Kerswell’s volume is instead a breezy history of the genre. Kerswell starts with the violent, live-action Grand Guignol theater of early 20th century France, proceeds through the proto-slashers of the 1960s (“Psycho” anyone?), the grim-and-gritty 1970s era of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and the golden age of the 1980s, with a new “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th” or other holiday-inspired thrillers arriving almost every weekend.

Along the way, Kerswell takes frequent side trips into non-American cinema, including the surprising influence of Italian giallo films and the '80s furor over “video nasties” in England. In other words, even someone who thinks he knows everything about slasher movies (like yours truly) is bound to learn a lot from paging through “The Slasher Movie Book.”

Best of all, Kerswell’s tome is illustrated — and I’m not talking about a few black-and-white photos inserted into the middle. No, this book is drenched with full-color images — screen shots, lobby cards and posters — covering every single page. In fact, the pages themselves are in color, adding even more visual energy to the book. Sure, it isn’t subtle, but you know what? Neither are slasher movies.

Contact Will Pfeifer at 815-961-5807 or