The heart of David Itzkoff's fascinating Mad As Hell is the film "Network" and its author, Paddy Chayefsky, a writer whose message is as relevant today as ever. A perpetual outsider, he used the mediums of television and film to expose our greater societal ills and lacerate his own pet peeves. Itzkoff portrays Chayefsky as one who respected and honored his fellow man (women often proved an anathema to him), but distrusted and openly attacked the institutions they created and used to enslave each other. Paddy Chayefsky was an iconoclast and with "Network" he and his collaborators displayed unparalleled foresight into what the medium of television and the Evening News was, where it was going, and where it is today.
Decades before the long-form internet podcast, Henry Jaglom was taping his daily meals at Ma Maison with Orson Welles. Recorded over several years late in Welles’s life, the thousands of hours of conversation were transcribed and edited into My Lunches With Orson (Picador, $16) by veteran film journalist Peter Biskind. At their regular table the two directors discussed everything from gripes with and gossip about Hollywood, politics, art, their latest projects and the correct temperature for chicken salad. Sifting fact from fiction when it comes to the legendary Welles is a fool’s errand, but why would you ever want to? No one played the part of Orson Welles better than the man himself. Part charming hagiography, part politically-incorrect diatribe, and part crash course in the fine art of human conversation, My Lunches with Orson is more than a great book—it’s great company.
More than just a quote book, The Filmmaker Says is a collection of casual asides, snappy comebacks, artistic statements and aesthetic manifestos by some of the premiere directors working in the medium. There’s the moment when Hitchcock declares that a director should treat actors “like cattle” while Jean-Luc Godard declares film to be “24 frames of truth per second” to cite just a couple. Jamie Stern’s collection gives you something equally important as technical know-how, points-of-view on how to approach filmmaking, practically and creatively. It’s a perfect gift for any aspiring filmmaker.