Hollywood Memoirs And History, Behind The Scenes And Art Books, Comics & More

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Quentin Tarantino Cinema Speculation

Love him or hate him, Quentin Tarantino knows a thing or two about movies — and he’s not shy about sharing. Now, Tarantino has channeled his movie knowledge and love into a new book, “Cinema Speculation.” The book is very much in the style of film writers like J. Hoberman, and has Tarantino examining several films from the ’70s; films like “Dirty Harry” and “Taxi Driver.” As is always the case with Tarantino, some of his opinions are truly out there (example: he says the fantastic “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” is “overrated,” which, no). But Tarantino’s wild opinions are part of his mystique, and even if you don’t agree with him, he usually backs them up with his own reasoning. Those who can’t stand Tarantino and his whole aura will likely not want to go near “Cinema Speculation,” but film fans are in for a real treat here. (Chris Evangelista)

The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series

Have a “Big Bang Theory” fan in your life? Don’t worry, we won’t judge if you do. In fact, we’ve got the perfect gift in mind. This “all-access” oral history of the hit comedy series features co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, and stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, and more as they look back on the creation of the show. This account is as official as it gets, from its initial conception to its series finale after twelve seasons. There is a ton for fans and even casual television enthusiasts to learn in this extensive deep dive, including plenty of details you’ve never heard before. Although this book has behind-the-scenes drama in spades, it ultimately serves as a love letter to a show that continues to be an example of just how influential a simple television sitcom can become. (Erin Brady)

TCM Underground: Classic Cult and Late Night

The streaming algorithms have been fantastic at ensuring films find their audience, but we’ve lost the magic provided by video stores and curated TV programming that would often introduce viewers to all sorts of wild, weird, and wonderful films they may otherwise not seek out on their own. For the cable-cutters longing for the days of “TCM Underground” the weekly late-night cult film showcase airing on Turner Classic Movies every Friday, you’re in luck. This holiday season welcomes the book “TCM Underground: 50 Must-See Films from the World of Classic Cult and Late-Night Cinema.” This book isn’t just a laundry list of recommendations either, because it also includes reviews, behind-the-scenes retellings, and gorgeous photography to celebrate some of the most unique and notorious films from around the globe, like “Ganja and Hess,” “The Decline of Western Civilization,” “Hausu,” “Possession,” “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” “Xanadu,” and the works of John Waters. This is the perfect guide for movie lovers willing to explore the cinematic world of camp, kitsch, shock, schlock, and unforgettable films that must be seen to be believed. (BJ Colangelo)

Hollywood: The Oral History

For as much as filmmakers enjoy making “love letters to cinema” every time awards season rolls around (which, by my calculations, is right about now!), no fictionalized story could ever rival the real-world history behind Hollywood. This industry has undergone some incredible changes over the decades, to say the least, from filmmaking trends and styles to legendary filmmaker-friendly studios rising and falling to the art form’s intrinsic relationship with contemporary social and political movements. There are precious few industry figures left who can say they personally witnessed such upheaval, but luckily, most of them banded together to contribute to “Hollywood: The Oral History.” The American Film Institute opened up its interview vaults so readers could get a fresh look at the inside story of the movie business — from famous figures both past and present. The essential book, written by film scholar Jeanine Basinger and author Sam Wasson, compiles the thoughts of no less than 400 industry titans to paint an unforgettable picture of Hollywood as a whole. Treat yourself (or a loved one) this holiday season and get a copy now! (Jeremy Mathai)

Masters of Make-Up Effects: A Century of Practical Magic

There are few visual experiences quite as awe-inspiring as witnessing the transformation of an actor into an out-of-this-world creature using practical FX and a little bit of elbow grease. Featuring a foreword by Guillermo del Toro and an afterword by Seth MacFarlane, “Masters of Make-Up Effects: A Century of Practical Magic” is a stunning book that celebrates the unbelievable talents of makeup and makeup FX artists from the world of film and television. Presented by authors Howard Berger and Marshall Julius, the book includes hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos and first-hand accounts of how some of the most memorable makeup designs came to be. The book covers a wide range of genres, including films like “Planet of the Apes,” “An American Werewolf in London,” “The Thing, “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” the “Harry Potter” franchise, “Dune,” and even the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Over 50 makeup effects legends and creature actors (like Doug Jones, Robert Englund, and Doug Bradley) contributed to the book, making this one of the most in-depth looks at the movie makeup industry ever assembled. This is an absolute must-read for lovers of practical FX and an appreciation for the artistry behind movie magic. (BJ Colangelo)

Mad Dreams and Monsters: The Art of Phil Tippett and Tippett Studio

The father of the AT-AT, ED-209, the bugs from “Starship Troopers,” and the man the internet loves to point out had “only had one job, Phil” as the Dinosaur Supervisor on Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” is a legend in the movie effects community. Now Phil Tippett has put out a fancy, high-end book brimming with behind the scenes pictures and decades-earned effects knowledge called “Mad Dreams and Monsters” which covers everything from “Star Wars” to “RoboCop” all the way up to his recent surreal stop-motion feature, “Mad Gods.” Written by Gilles Penso, this hardcover special edition comes packed with thousands of images never before seen by the public and will surely make the day of any big movie nerd in your life. (Eric Vespe)

Directed by James Burrows: Five Decades of Stories from the Legendary Director of Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Will & Grace, and More

For as much as we film and TV buffs talk about movie directors, we spend far less time discussing full-time TV helmers. There are some exceptionally skilled ones out there, too, including the legendary James Burrows. The “Cheers” co-creator has been calling the shots on TV shows since the 1970s, starting on classic sitcoms like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Taxi,” and going on to “Frasier,” “Will & Grace,” and “Mike & Molly.” All in all, he’s directed more than 1,000 (!) episodes of TV across nearly 50 years. As you can imagine, he’s someone with lots of insights to provide on the entertainment industry — not to mention many, many behind-the-scenes stories that have never been made public before. For more on that, you’ll just have to check out his memoir, “Directed by James Burrows.” (Sandy Schaefer)

The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There

In case you haven’t heard, “The Office” stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey have been hosting a hit podcast called “The Office Ladies,” where the two actresses dive into all the behind-the-scenes details from their time as Pam and Angela on the hit comedy series. If the podcast isn’t enough for you, the two have also teamed up for a book that digs even more into the real-life friendship of the two stars alongside their time spent at Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. These two are an absolute delight, and you can feel the love that they had for their co-stars and characters, so this will be a treat for any fans of “The Office” in your life. (Ethan Anderton)

The Imagineering Story: The Official Biography of Walt Disney Imagineering

Theme park design is one of the great unsung art forms, and no one did more to advance the medium and define it for the modern era than Disney theme parks’ Imagineers. This group of designers, engineers, artists, and technicians represent a wholly unique collective with an ambitious goal: storytellers from dozens of diverse backgrounds who create worlds for people to explore and enjoy.

The story of Disney’s Imagineers was chronicled in the illuminating documentary series “The Imagineering Story” on Disney+, and now, filmmaker Leslie Iwerks has turned her filmmaking into a book. And you’ll be pleased to know it’s the kind of book that could be used in place of a large brick if push came to shove — at 752 pages, this is the kind of comprehensive tome that any Disney theme park fan needs on their shelves.

Honestly, a book like this is long overdue. While there have been plenty of books written by individual Imagineers and tons of coffee table publications collecting concept and behind-the-scenes art, the full story of how theme park design matured and found its voice starting in the 1950s has yet to be collected in one place. This is the kind of story that’s not only essential to theme park fans, but essential to understanding the voice of the Disney company, and how our obsession with immersive experiences took root. (Jacob Hall)

My First Movie Vol. 1 (My First Film Noir, My First Giallo Horror, My First French New Wave)

It’s never too early to teach your kids about true cinema, and that’s why Cinephile (the folks behind the card game of the same name) is releasing a trio of books aimed at educating them on a few prestige genres. “My First Movie” is the first volume in a series of brilliantly colored books that cover the traits and tropes of French New Wave, Film Noir, and Giallo Horror. 

If you need any more convincing, the official website for the book series features plenty of praise from the likes of Edgar Wright, David Lowery, and Alex Ross Perry, as well as a bunch of other critics and pop culture experts. Head to Cinephile to grab the box set or pick up just one of the books individually if you’re so inclined. There are even bundles that include a print with artwork from the book. Enjoy! (Ethan Anderton)

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