One of our foremost film scholars, Jeanine Basinger founded both the department of film studies at Wesleyan—now ranked among the country’s top ten film schools—as well as Wesleyan’s celebrated cinema archives. She’s also the author of popular, accessible books on film, including The Star Machine and American Cinema: One Hundred Years of Filmmaking, the companion book for a ten-part PBS series. Her new book, The Movie Musical! (Knopf, $45), crowns her achievements with a comprehensive survey of the Hollywood musical from the end of the silent era through today. Written with her trademark enthusiasm and wit, the text offers analyses of both iconic and overlooked films, profiles stars ranging from Fred Astaire to Ann-Margaret to Elvis, and includes lavish spreads of both black-and-white and color photos.
Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer for criticism, Emily Nussbaum writes about TV like the art that it is. Gathered from some fifteen years of work for The New Yorker, New York, and other publications—along with several new pieces—the essays in I Like to Watch (Random House, $28) wholeheartedly celebrate television and guide us to new ways of looking at it. Arguing that TV demands more than just watching, Nussbaum outlines her struggle with “prestige television”—an awakening she traces to Buffy the Vampire Slayer—and questions the breakdown of shows into high and low-brow. She also examines programming in the light of #MeToo, explores how fans distort their favorite shows, profiles influential figures such as Kenya Barris, Jenji Kohan, and Ryan Murphy, assesses the legacies of Norman Lear and Joan Rivers, and more.
So you're a fan of “Mister” Fred Rogers and his classic TV series, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. You've read Maxwell King's Rogers biography The Good Neighbor. You saw the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor and likely have already bought your tickets to the reportedly very good film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks. Maybe you've even read every profile on the man available on the AV Club, and scoured the internet for interviews, analyses, and clips. What do you do now? Or even worse: what if you are trying to buy a gift for the Mr. Rogers fan who has everything? What then? Well, why not a coffee table book that features a photo breakdown of every single one of Fred Rogers' ties? Why not a coffee table book that features input from luminaries like Melissa Wagner, who has collaborated with Rogers himself on books in the past, and Tim Lybarger, creator of the Rogers fansite The Neighborhood Archive? That is, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: A Visual History (Clarkson Potter, $35), a massive compendium of interviews, photos, and behind-the-scenes information. A worthy gift for those starving for kindness in these dark times, and a monument to a historic television production.