Heat 2, by Michael Mann & Meg Gardiner (Harper Collins, 2022)

The lives of two career criminals and a robbery/homicide detective intertwine over a long decade. This follow-on novel to Michael Mann’s 1995 heist movie epic Heat is undeniably contrived, but equally undeniably thrilling: bags of detail, tonnes of cool under pressure, with prose that does an admirable job of replicating Mann’s cinematic storytelling. For fans, naturally, but that’s a broad church: the congregation will leave feeling redeemed.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life, by Hal Needham (Little, Brown, 2011).

The autobiography of the leading stuntman-turned-movie director. Packed full of anecdotes, this gung-ho version of events emphasises can-do attitude while giving plenty of insights into moviemaking and into what’s involved in executing high falls and car crashes. Lots of fun, even if you’re left wanting to know more about the stuff (and movies like Megaforce) that gets glossed over.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Sausages: The Making of Dog Soldiers, by Janine Pipe (Encyclopocalypse Publications, 2022)

A celebration of / making of the 2002 minor squaddies-v-werewolves classic. Unashamedly fannish, while a bit undisciplined (odd personal tangents and a couple of unforced errors), this overview of Neil Marshall’s debut movie Dog Soldiers gets by on charm, enthusiasm, access to almost of the main cast and crew, and a lingering sense of camaraderie from those involved in the movie’s production. Recommended for fans, certainly.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Getting Away With It, by Steven Soderbergh (Faber and Faber, 1999)

Subtitled “The Further Adventures of the Luckiest Bastard You Ever Saw”, this balances a twelve-month journal of the film industry – there’s a lot here about Soderbergh juggling projects and writing-related procrastination – and a series of interviews with fellow film director Richard Lester. The book’ll make you want to go back and revisit Lester’s work: from the Goons to The Beatles to Superman via the best Musketeers movies. Recommended.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

How to Stunt in Hollywood, by Amy Johnston (Amazon Createspace, 2018)

A series of interviews with Hollywood stunt performers. A stunt performer themselves, Johnston offers both a thematic and a stunt person-by-stunt person pathway through these interviews. Useful in giving insights into stunt folks’ perspectives on career-building, on storytelling through action, on working collaboratively in Hollywood, and on wider motivational and healthy living advice. Niche, perhaps, but informative and accessible.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, by Quentin Tarantino (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2021)

Los Angeles, 1969. The lives of a TV actor and his stuntman buddy intersect with others, including members of the Manson family. A quasi-novelisation of Tarantino’s 2019 movie, taking a different path through the material. Lots of movie and TV arcana, some fun digressions, and a sense of confident ease throughout. Not sure how it’d stand up for those who haven’t seen the film, but it makes the prospect of an original novel an intriguing one.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

On Directing, by John Badham (Michael Wiese Productions, 2020)

The veteran film and television director on working in the industry. This second edition covers working with actors, directing action and suspense, TV and its differences to cinema, and preparation for shooting. An excellent personal perspective with practical value for any collaborative creative practitioner, drawing on a host of professional viewpoints and texts. Recommended.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt (Scribner, 2011)

An episodic and non-linear autobiography, with other writings. Inevitably patchy (the non-autobiographical material is weaker, though it’s fun to re-read the Neill Cumpston movie reviews again) but nevertheless engaging stories from childhood, adolescence, and of various bad times on the comedy circuit. For fans only, maybe, but that’s a broad outsider church.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Sliver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life From An Addiction to Film, by Patton Oswalt (Scribner, 2015)

An autobiography, focusing on the 90s, on becoming established as a stand-up, and on an obsession with revival theatres. Perhaps not quite as much about old movies and moviegoing as the title suggests, this is nevertheless an entertaining and lucid book, giving some insight into borderline-obsessive behaviours of all kinds. Plus, it’s a love letter to LA’s New Beverly cinema.

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My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.