Writers on Film


Leon Hunt is slayed by Mario Bava

Season 1, Ep. 52

John Bleasdale talks to Leon Hunt, the author of Mario Bava: The Artisan as Italian Horror Auteur.

The blurb from Bloomsbury:

How do we approach a figure like Mario Bava, a once obscure figure promoted to cult status? This book takes a new look at Italy's 'maestro of horror' but also uses his films to address a broader set of concerns. What issues do his films raise for film authorship, given that several of them were released in different versions and his contributions to others were not always credited? How might he be understood in relation to genre, one of which he is sometimes credited with having pioneered?

This volume addresses these questions through a thorough analysis of Bava's shifting reputation as a stylist and genre pioneer and also discusses the formal and narrative properties of a filmography marked by an emphasis on spectacle and atmosphere over narrative coherence and the ways in which his lauded cinematic style intersects with different production contexts. Featuring new analysis of cult classics like Kill, Baby … Kill (1966) and Five Dolls for an August Moon (1970), Mario Bava: The Artisan as Italian Horror Auteur sheds light on a body of films that were designed to be ephemeral but continue to fascinate us today.

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Dana Stevens on Buster Keaton

Season 1, Ep. 59
Buy the book here. In this genre-defying work of cultural history, the chief film critic ofSlateplaces comedy legend and acclaimed filmmaker Buster Keaton’s unique creative genius in the context of his time.Born the same year as the film industry in 1895, Buster Keaton began his career as the child star of a family slapstick act reputed to be the most violent in vaudeville. Beginning in his early twenties, he enjoyed a decade-long stretch as the director, star, stuntman, editor, and all-around mastermind of some of the greatest silent comedies ever made, includingSherlock Jr.,The General, andThe Cameraman.Even through his dark middle years as a severely depressed alcoholic finding work on the margins of show business, Keaton’s life had a way of reflecting the changes going on in the world around him. He found success in three different mediums at their creative peak: first vaudeville, then silent film, and finally the experimental early years of television. Over the course of his action-packed seventy years on earth, his life trajectory intersected with those of such influential figures as the escape artist Harry Houdini, the pioneering Black stage comedian Bert Williams, the television legend Lucille Ball, and literary innovators like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Samuel Beckett.InCamera Man, film critic Dana Stevens pulls the lens out from Keaton’s life and work to look at concurrent developments in entertainment, journalism, law, technology, the political and social status of women, and the popular understanding of addiction. With erudition and sparkling humor, Stevens hopscotches among disciplines to bring us up to the present day, when Keaton’s breathtaking (and sometimes life-threatening) stunts remain more popular than ever as they circulate on the internet in the form of viral gifs. Far more than a biography or a work of film history,Camera Manis a wide-ranging meditation on modernity that paints a complex portrait of a one-of-a-kind artist.