The New Biographical Dictionary of Film: Sixth Edition

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Some reference books are bland in the extreme, cataloging endlessly while missing the spirit and the verve of the subject at hand. Others are laser-focused, but carry little implicit authority, feeling like the work of enthusiastic amateurs run amok. But the sixth edition of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film is something else entirely, capturing both the personality and the expertise necessary to ring true even as its tone veers farther and farther from the dry factual narrative of your standard encyclopedia.

David Thomson’s brilliantly brief synopses of the careers of actors, writers, directors, and film contributors of all sorts are sparkling and strange, capturing each individual’s contributions to the medium without nostalgia or hyperbole. While the Dictionary is hardly exhaustive, it still manages to offer insight into the most influential forces in film and television, both large and small.

From the incisive to the appreciative, Thomson’s entries all bear the touch of true effort – his piece on James Gandolfini is particularly lovely and charming – never feeling perfunctory or ill-considered.

This is craft describing craft; you’ll never read anything else quite like it.


Reviewed By:

Author David Thomson
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 1168 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2014-May-06
ISBN 9780375711848
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue July 2014
Category Music & Movies
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