This Halloween from Apple Press comes Steven Jay Schneider’s ultimate compilations of “101 Movies to See” in paperback form and ready to own. For folks unfamiliar, Steven Jay Schneider is the man responsible for the 1001 Movies to See Before You Die, and he’s broken up the movies in to various genres and sub-genres of film. With a slew of contributors writing very insightful and interesting capsule reviews, Mr. Schneider edits every review breaking them up in to periods of film. Every book follows the particular points of the century from films from the 1900’s, and the 1910’s right down to the 2000’s, where the books typically end. At over four hundred pages, the “101 Movies to See…” work as small guide books that teach aspiring movies buffs where to start in particular genres, and whether or not you like or hate the specific titles the books recommend, you can at least be satisfied that you’ve seen an essential piece of cinema.
While I don’t always agree with the choices in the pair of books I was sent, I can’t argue that Mr. Schneider doesn’t include absolute essentials for every movie buff of every walk of life. If you’re in the mood for a horror movie you’ve never actually seen before, there’s “101 Horror Movies to See Before You Die,” a comprehensive guidebook that a plethora of titles. There’s a great review of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” and reviews of contemporary classics like “Scream,” and even “The Descent.” Thankfully the books don’t just cover American films, as there are looks at foreign and underground classics like “Suspiria,” and “Dellamorte Dellamore.” To make the experience so much more interesting, editor Jay Schneider includes cast and crew information, production years, full color photos and poster shots, and even quotes and facts about particular movies.
Did you know the idea for the title of “The Shining” came from the Plastic Ono band’s “Instant Karma” quote “And We All Shine On.” I’m also a fan of the review of “Audition” which is short but very insightful and tackles the themes about feminism and sexual culture in Asia. If you’re not in the mood for horror this season, there’s “101 Sci-Fi Movies to See Before You Die,” yet another comprehensive guide with a ton of wonderful contributors discussing some of the finest and most controversial science fiction cinema ever made. The model for essential sci-fi is “2001” which takes the cover for the book’s topic, which is not surprising. I’m not sure I agree with the choices of “I, Robot” being considered one of the sci-fi films you must see, but I do like the choice of Asian masterpiece “The Host” being included.
There’s also the wonderful “Star Trek” satire “Galaxy Quest,” as well as the inclusion of some “Star Trek” films including “Wrath of Khan” and “The Voyage Home.” Admittedly I’m not as well versed in science fiction as I am with horror, so there are plenty of titles included that I’ve yet to see, such as Jean Luc Godard’s “Alphaville,” and Rene Clair’s “Paris Asleep.” Of course whether a lot of these titles are absolute must watch films is subjective, but they inspire wonderful conversation and will allow the reader a ton of variety and a lot of daring fiction that steps outside of the box. You can even pair up films such as “The Thing from Another World,” and “John Carpenter’s The Thing,” and even have an “Alien” and “Aliens” double feature. As usual the contributors do a bang up job with their short but entertaining reviews that are enthusiastic enough to make anyone seek out the titles. I fully intend to view a lot of the science fiction titles in the sci-fi book, that’s for sure.