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December 8, 2012

Books for the movie lovers on your gift list

It’s the 30th anniversary of “E.T.”; the 50th anniversary of the first 007 film; the “Star Wars” franchise isn’t dead (thanks, Disney); Leo Tolstoy’s 1870s romantic tragedy gets at least its ninth movie adaptation; a New Yorker magazine critic wonders what’s happening to his medium; great actors and a great acting dynasty are celebrated; great directors are interviewed; and the star of “Looper” and “The Dark Knight Rises” has a teensy-weensy collection of teensy-weensy stories to share.

If it’s November, it must be time for publishing houses to stock the shelves with books aimed squarely (and hiply) at the movie-obsessed. If simply going to a theater, or clicking on your Netflix queue, or flipping to Turner Classics isn’t enough — when you need to eat, breathe, sleep, and excrete movies — these books are for you. (Some of them, anyway.)

A roundup of new titles ready to be given, or gotten:

Anna Karenina: The Screenplay by Tom Stoppard (Vintage, $15): The award-winning playwright and scenarist turns in his explicitly theatrical version of the Tolstoy classic, explaining himself and his ideas about Tolstoy in a pithy intro.

“The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies” by David Thomson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $35): One of the most knowledgable, enjoyably idiosyncratic, and prolific writers on the movies jumps back and forth in time and across media (TV, YouTube, smartphones, the silver screen) in this insightful study of how movies shape our consciousness, collective and otherwise.

The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies by David Thomson (Simon & Schuster, $27): A collection of essays, reviews, and think pieces celebrating the good, bad, and ugly of contemporary cinema (and not so contemporary — read his takes on Joan Crawford and Victor Fleming). Does Denby answer his titular big question? Now, that would be a spoiler.

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