The newest edition of David Thomson’s New Biographical Dictionary of Film is 1,076 pages long. It weighs a ton. And yet, it’s almost impossible to put down.
Fans of the book’s last iteration will go straight to the Wes Anderson entry. (“Watch this space,” Thomson wrote in 2002. “What does that mean? That he might be something someday.”) Newcomers might start with Thomson’s brilliant, long-form appreciations (the Robert Mitchum entry is especially good) and takedowns. (The critic calls Frank Capra “a hypocrite, a careerist and credit grabber, a rearranger of facts, a liar, a reactionary, a bogus liberal, an anti-Semite, a self-serving fabulist, and an informer. And a big admirer of Mussolini.”) Thomson’s written 100+ new entries (Clive Owen, Scarlett Johansson and Mike Myers make the cut this time around), and revised many more (see: George Clooney). But what happened to Heath Ledger’s entry, advertised on the book’s cover flap?
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