Provocative books on film, arts |

Provocative books on film, arts

“Jim Shaw: The End Is Here” (New Museum/Skira Rizzoi) by Gary Carrion-Murayari and Massimiliano Gioni is the catalog of a retrospective exhibition of works by the artist that was on view at the New Museum in New York through January of this year.

The artist has worked in many types of media, from drawing and painting to large-scale installations, sculpture music and video.

The show and book provide the first major museum survey of the thirty-odd year career of this eccentric artist. In his own paintings and drawings, and in his collecting and mining of castoffs from the fringes of popular culture, he managed to craft a portrait of an evolving “other” America.

From exhibiting collections of anonymous thrift store paintings — which document an overlooked American vernacular—and a dazzling array of religious tokens and ephemera, his imagined dreamworlds have had a major influence on subsequent generations of American artists.

“Film Noir: 100 All Time Favorites” (Taschen), edited by Paul Duncan and Jurgen Muller, is a comprehensive chronological survey of one of the most influential styles in the history of cinema.

The massive 700-page volume tackles what is not really a genre, such as westerns or gangster movies which are defined by setting and conflict, but rather a diverse range of films that share a similar tone or mood.

The films included range from the 1920s — “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” — through the classics of the 1940s and 1950s — “Double Indemnity,” “Mildred Pierce,” “Gilda,” “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” “Rear Window,” and many others.

Also included are many films attributed to the rise of neo-noir in the ‘60s and ‘70s right on up to films from the last few years. Among the titles addressed here are “Blow-Up,” “Chinatown,” “Body Heat,” “Blade Runner,” “Blue Velvet,” “Pulp Fiction,” “No Country For Old Men” and 2011’s “Drive.”

Several pages are devoted to each film and include reproductions or original posters, a generous selection of film stills, cast and production information, bios of principal cast members, and a synopsis of the plot and storyline.

The volume is a treasure trove of information, visuals and relevant trivia on this important and diverse style of filmmaking.

Kirk Robertson covers the arts and may be reached at