Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society by Harry H. Kuoshu is a lucid introduction to the cinema of mainland China from the early 1930s to the early 1990s.
Emphasizing both film contexts and film texts, this study invites film scholars and students to a broad cinematic analysis that includes investigations of cultural, cross-cultural, intellectual, social, ethnic, and political issues. Such a holistic evaluation allows for a better understanding of both the genesis of a special kind of film art from the People’s Republic of China and the culture exemplified in those films.
The fifteen films include: Two Stage Sisters; Hibiscus Town; Farewell My Concubine; Street Angel; ThreeWomen; Human, Woman, Demon; Judou; Girl fromHunan; Sacrificed Youth; Horse Thief; Yellow Earth;Old Well; Red Sorghum; Black Cannon Incident; and Good Morning, Beijing.
Discussions of each film have an introduction, passages from the director’s own notes whenever available, and a scholarly article. Discussion questions are found in an appendix. Within its complete bibliography, the book also features a suggested reading list for Chinese film classes.
Celluloid China: Cinematic Encounters with Culture and Society is the first book to provide such an exhaustive study of the art and cultural context of Chinese cinema.
In Cinema Approaching Reality, Victor Fan brings together, for the first time, Chinese and Euro-American film theories and theorists to engage in critical debates about film in Shanghai and Hong Kong from the 1920s through 1940s. His point of departure is a term popularly employed by Chinese film critics during this period, bizhen, often translated as “lifelike” but best understood as “approaching reality.” What these Chinese theorists mean, in Fan’s reading, is that the cinematographic image is not a form of total reality, but it can allow spectators to apprehend an effect as though they had been there at the time when an event actually happened.
Fan suggests that the phrase “approaching reality” can help to renegotiate an aporia (blind spot) that influential French film critic André Bazin wrestled with: the cinematographic image is a trace of reality, yet reality is absent in the cinematographic image, and the cinema makes present this absence as it reactivates the passage of time. Fan enriches Bazinian cinematic ontology with discussions on cinematic reality in Republican China and colonial Hong Kong, putting Western theorists—from Bazin and Kracauer to Baudrillard, Agamben, and Deleuze—into dialogue with their Chinese counterparts. The result is an eye-opening exploration of the potentialities in approaching cinema anew, especially in the photographic materiality following its digital turn.
From 1968 to 1991 the acclaimed film theorist Christian Metz wrote several remarkable books on film theory: Essais sur la signifi cation au cinéma, tome1 et 2; Langage et cinéma; Le signifiant imaginaire; and L’Enonciation impersonnelle. These books set the agenda of academic film studies during its formative period. Metz’s ideas were taken up, digested, refined,reinterpreted, criticized and sometimes dismissed, but rarely ignored.This volume collects and translates into English for the first time a series of interviews with Metz, who offers readable summaries,elaborations, and explanations of his sometimes complex and demanding theories of film. He speaks informally of the most fundamental concepts that constitute the heart of film theory as an academic discipline — concepts borrowed from linguistics, semiotics, rhetoric, narratology, and psychoanalysis.Within the colloquial language of the interview, we witness Metz’s initial formation and development of his film theory. The interviewers act as curious readers who pose probing questions to Metz about his books, and seek clarification and elaboration of his key concepts. We also discover the contents of his unpublished manuscript on jokes, his relation to Roland Barthes, and the social networks operative in the French intellectual community during the 1970s and 1980s.
Over the past decade, as digital media has expanded and print outlets have declined, pundits have bemoaned a “crisis of criticism” and mourned the “death of the critic.” Now that well-paying jobs in film criticism have largely evaporated, while blogs, message boards, and social media have given new meaning to the saying that “everyone’s a critic,” urgent questions have emerged about the status and purpose of film criticism in the twenty-first century.
In Film Criticism in the Digital Age, ten scholars from across the globe come together to consider whether we are witnessing the extinction of serious film criticism or seeing the start of its rebirth in a new form. Drawing from a wide variety of case studies and methodological perspectives, the book’s contributors find many signs of the film critic’s declining clout, but they also locate surprising examples of how critics—whether moonlighting bloggers or salaried writers—have been able to intervene in current popular discourse about arts and culture.
In addition to collecting a plethora of scholarly perspectives, Film Criticism in the Digital Age includes statements from key bloggers and print critics, like Armond White and Nick James. Neither an uncritical celebration of digital culture nor a jeremiad against it, this anthology offers a comprehensive look at the challenges and possibilities that the Internet brings to the evaluation, promotion, and explanation of artistic works.
What is the relationship between a cinematic grid of color and that most visceral of negative affects, disgust? How might anxiety be a matter of an interrupted horizontal line, or grief a figure of blazing light?
Offering a bold corrective to the emphasis on embodiment and experience in recent affect theory, Eugenie Brinkema develops a novel mode of criticism that locates the forms of particular affects within the specific details of cinematic and textual construction. Through close readings of works by Roland Barthes, Hollis Frampton, Sigmund Freud, Peter Greenaway, Michael Haneke, Alfred Hitchcock, Søren Kierkegaard, and David Lynch, Brinkema shows that deep attention to form, structure, and aesthetics enables a fundamental rethinking of the study of sensation. In the process, she delves into concepts as diverse as putrescence in French gastronomy, the role of the tear in philosophies of emotion, Nietzschean joy as a wild aesthetic of repetition, and the psychoanalytic theory of embarrassment. Above all, this provocative work is a call to harness the vitality of the affective turn for a renewed exploration of the possibilities of cinematic form.
Inventing Film Studies
Lee Grieveson and Haidee Wasson, eds. Duke University Press, 2008 Library of Congress PN1993.8.U5G75 2008 | Dewey Decimal 791.43071073
Inventing Film Studies offers original and provocative insights into the institutional and intellectual foundations of cinema studies. Many scholars have linked the origins of the discipline to late-1960s developments in the academy such as structuralist theory and student protest. Yet this collection reveals the broader material and institutional forces—both inside and outside of the university—that have long shaped the field. Beginning with the first investigations of cinema in the early twentieth century, this volume provides detailed examinations of the varied social, political, and intellectual milieus in which knowledge of cinema has been generated. The contributors explain how multiple instantiations of film study have had a tremendous influence on the methodologies, curricula, modes of publication, and professional organizations that now constitute the university-based discipline. Extending the historical insights into the present, contributors also consider the directions film study might take in changing technological and cultural environments.
Inventing Film Studies shows how the study of cinema has developed in relation to a constellation of institutions, technologies, practices, individuals, films, books, government agencies, pedagogies, and theories. Contributors illuminate the connections between early cinema and the social sciences, between film programs and nation-building efforts, and between universities and U.S. avant-garde filmmakers. They analyze the evolution of film studies in relation to the Museum of Modern Art, the American Film Council movement of the 1940s and 1950s, the British Film Institute, influential journals, cinephilia, and technological innovations past and present. Taken together, the essays in this collection reveal the rich history and contemporary vitality of film studies.
Contributors: Charles R. Acland, Mark Lynn Anderson, Mark Betz, Zoë Druick, Lee Grieveson, Stephen Groening, Haden Guest, Amelie Hastie, Lynne Joyrich, Laura Mulvey, Dana Polan, D. N. Rodowick, Philip Rosen, Alison Trope, Haidee Wasson, Patricia White, Sharon Willis, Peter Wollen, Michael Zryd
Film scholarship has long been dominated by textual interpretations of specific films. Looking Past the Screen advances a more expansive American film studies in which cinema is understood to be a social, political, and cultural phenomenon extending far beyond the screen. Presenting a model of film studies in which films themselves are only one source of information among many, this volume brings together film histories that draw on primary sources including collections of personal papers, popular and trade journalism, fan magazines, studio publications, and industry records.
Focusing on Hollywood cinema from the teens to the 1970s, these case studies show the value of this extraordinary range of historical materials in developing interdisciplinary approaches to film stardom, regulation, reception, and production. The contributors examine State Department negotiations over the content of American films shown abroad; analyze the star image of Clara Smith Hamon, who was notorious for having murdered her lover; and consider film journalists’ understanding of the arrival of auteurist cinema in Hollywood as it was happening during the early 1970s. One contributor chronicles the development of film studies as a scholarly discipline; another offers a sociopolitical interpretation of the origins of film noir. Still another brings to light Depression-era film reviews and Production Code memos so sophisticated in their readings of representations of sexuality that they undermine the perception that queer interpretations of film are a recent development. Looking Past the Screen suggests methods of historical research, and it encourages further thought about the modes of inquiry that structure the discipline of film studies.
Contributors. Mark Lynn Anderson, Janet Bergstrom, Richard deCordova, Kathryn Fuller-Seeley, Sumiko Higashi, Jon Lewis, David M. Lugowski, Dana Polan, Eric Schaefer, Andrea Slane, Eric Smoodin, Shelley Stamp
David BORDWELL Harvard University Press, 1989 Library of Congress PN1995.B6172 1989 | Dewey Decimal 791.43015
David Bordwell’s new book is at once a history of film criticism, an analysis of how critics interpret film, and a proposal for an alternative program for film studies. It is an anatomy of film criticism meant to reset the agenda for film scholarship. As such Making Meaning should be a landmark book, a focus for debate from which future film study will evolve.
Bordwell systematically maps different strategies for interpreting films and making meaning, illustrating his points with a vast array of examples from Western film criticism. Following an introductory chapter that sets out the terms and scope of the argument, Bordwell goes on to show how critical institutions constrain and contain the very practices they promote, and how the interpretation of texts has become a central preoccupation of the humanities. He gives lucid accounts of the development of film criticism in France, Britain, and the United States since World War II; analyzes this development through two important types of criticism, thematic-explicatory and symptomatic; and shows that both types, usually seen as antithetical, in fact have much in common. These diverse and even warring schools of criticism share conventional, rhetorical, and problem-solving techniques—a point that has broad-ranging implications for the way critics practice their art. The book concludes with a survey of the alternatives to criticism based on interpretation and, finally, with the proposal that a historical poetics of cinema offers the most fruitful framework for film analysis.
In the words of Richard Maltby . . . "Maximum Movies--Pulp Fictions describes two improbably imbricated worlds and the piece of cultural history their intersections provoked." One of these worlds comprises a clutch of noisy, garish pulp movies--Kiss Me Deadly, Shock Corridor, Fixed Bayonets!, I Walked with a Zombie, The Lineup, Terror in a Texas Town, Ride Lonesome--pumped out for the grind houses at the end of the urban exhibition chain by the studios' B-divisions and fly-by-night independents. The other is occupied by critics, intellectuals, cinephiles, and filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, Manny Farber, and Lawrence Alloway, who championed the cause of these movies and incited the cultural guardians of the day by attacking a rigorously policed canon of tasteful, rarified, and ossified art objects. Against the legitimate, and in defense of the illegitimate, in an insolent and unruly manner, they agitated for the recognition of lurid sensational crime stories, war pictures, fast-paced Westerns, thrillers, and gangster melodramas were claimed as examples of the true, the real, and the authentic in contemporary culture--the foundation upon which modern film studies sits.
In Metafilm: Materialist Rhetoric and Reflexive Cinema, Christopher Carter examines paradoxical rhetoric in visual culture, analyzing movies that immerse viewers in violent narratives while examining the ethics of the transaction. Featuring the films of Michael Haneke, Atom Egoyan, Icíar Bollaín, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Ryan Coogler, Carter analyzes how personal conflict intermingles with the inherent violence of warfare, transnational economics, labor exploitation, and racism in genres ranging from horror to historical recreation and from depictions of genocide to records of police brutality. These films, Carter argues, reflect on their construction, distribution, and audience engagement, emphasizing the material design and the economics of rhetoric in ways most films do not.
Ultimately, Metafilm reframes materialism as a multimodal composing-in-action, or reflexive materialism, focusing on movies that dramatize their entanglement in economic and historical trauma while provoking forms of resistance during and after viewing. Carter contends that even as we recognize the division of social power in the films, we must also recognize how the concept is subversive and eludes control. In looking at the interplay between the films’ content and their production, circulation, and reception, Carter explores how the films persuade us to identify with onscreen worlds before probing our expectations—validating some, rejecting others, and sometimes proposing new ways of watching altogether.
Film criticism is in crisis. Dwelling on the many film journalists made redundant at newspapers, magazines, and other 'old media' in past years, commentators have voiced existential questions about the purpose and worth of the profession in the age of WordPress blogospheres and proclaimed the 'death of the critic'. Bemoaning the current anarchy of internet amateurs and the lack of authoritative critics, many journalists and academics claim that in the digital age, cultural commentary has become dumbed down and fragmented into niche markets. Mattias Freu, arguing against these claims, examines the history of film critical discourse in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States . He demonstrates that since its origins, film criticism has always found itself in crisis: the need to show critical authority and the anxieties over challenges to that authority have been longstanding concerns.
Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, and Roger Ebert were three of America’s most revered and widely read film critics, more famous than many of the movies they wrote about. But their remarkable contributions to the burgeoning American film criticism of the 1960s and beyond were deeply influenced by four earlier critics: Otis Ferguson, James Agee, Manny Farber, and Parker Tyler. Throughout the 1930s and ’40s, Ferguson, Agee, Farber, and Tyler scrutinized what was on the screen with an intensity not previously seen in popular reviewing. Although largely ignored by the arts media of the day, they honed the sort of serious discussion of films that would be made popular decades later by Kael, Sarris, Ebert and their contemporaries.
With The Rhapsodes, renowned film scholar and critic David Bordwell—an heir to both those legacies—restores to a wider audience the work of Ferguson, Agee, Farber, and Tyler, critics he calls the “Rhapsodes” for the passionate and deliberately offbeat nature of their vernacular prose. Each broke with prevailing currents in criticism in order to find new ways to talk about the popular films that contemporaries often saw at best as trivial, at worst as a betrayal of art. Ferguson saw in Hollywood an engaging, adroit mode of popular storytelling. Agee sought in cinema the lyrical epiphanies found in romantic poetry. Farber, trained as a painter, brought a pictorial intelligence to bear on film. A surrealist, Tyler treated classic Hollywood as a collective hallucination that invited both audience and critic to find moments of subversive pleasure. With his customary clarity and brio, Bordwell takes readers through the relevant cultural and critical landscape and considers the critics’ writing styles, their conceptions of films, and their quarrels. He concludes by examining the profound impact of Ferguson, Agee, Farber, and Tyler on later generations of film writers.
The Rhapsodes allows readers to rediscover these remarkable critics who broke with convention to capture what they found moving, artful, or disappointing in classic Hollywood cinema and explores their robust—and continuing—influence.
Hector Amaya advances into new territory in Latin American and U.S. cinema studies in this innovative analysis of the differing critical receptions of Cuban film in Cuba and the United States during the Cold War. Synthesizing film reviews, magazine articles, and other primary documents, Screening Cuba compares Cuban and U.S. reactions to four Cuban films: Memories of Underdevelopment, Lucia, One Way or Another, and Portrait of Teresa.
In examining cultural production through the lens of the Cold War, Amaya reveals how contrasting interpretations of Cuban and U.S. critics are the result of the political cultures in which they operated. While Cuban critics viewed the films as powerful symbols of the social promises of the Cuban revolution, liberal and leftist American critics found meaning in the films as representations of anti-establishment progressive values and Cold War discourses. By contrasting the hermeneutics of Cuban and U.S. culture, criticism, and citizenship, Amaya argues that critical receptions of political films constitute a kind of civic public behavior.
The Terministic Screen: Rhetorical Perspectives on Film examines the importance of rhetoric in the study of film and film theory. Rhetorical approaches to film studies have been widely practiced, but rarely discussed until now. Taking on such issues as Hollywood blacklisting, fascistic aesthetics, and postmodern dialogics, editor David Blakesley presents fifteen critical essays that examine rhetoric’s role in such popular films as The Fifth Element, The Last Temptation of Christ, The Usual Suspects, Deliverance, The English Patient, Pulp Fiction, The Music Man, Copycat, Hoop Dreams,and A Time to Kill.
Aided by sixteen illustrations, these insightful essays consider films rhetorically, as ways of seeing and not seeing, as acts that dramatize how people use language and images to tell stories and foster identification.
Contributors include David Blakesley, Alan Nadel, Ann Chisholm, Martin J. Medhurst, Byron Hawk, Ekaterina V. Haskins, James Roberts, Thomas W. Benson, Philip L. Simpson, Davis W. Houck, Caroline J.S. Picart, Friedemann Weidauer, Bruce Krajewski, Harriet Malinowitz, Granetta L. Richardson, and Kelly Ritter.
Theory and Practice of Sociocriticism was first published in 1988. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Edmond Cros is a leading French Hispanicist whose work is unique in Continental theory because it brings Spanish and Mexican texts into current literary debates, which have so far centered mainly on the French and German traditions. Equally distinctive is the nature of his work, which Cros terms sociocriticism. Unlike most sociological approaches to literature, which leave the structure of texts untouched, sociocriticism aims to prove that the encounter with "ideological traces," and with antagonistic tensions between social classes, is central to any reading of texts. Cros's method distinguishes between the "semiotic and "ideological" elements within a text, and involves the patient, exacting reconstruction of the concrete text from these elements, a process that enables the sociocritic to interpret its fault lines, its internal contradictions - in the end , its irreducibly social nature.
As its title suggests, Theory and Practice of Sociocriticism is structured in two parts. Its opening chapters analyze sociological theories of discourse, including those of Foucault, Bakhtin, and Goldman; in the second part, Cros applies theory to practice in readings of specific works: the film Scarface, contemporary Mexican poetry and prose (Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes), and the picaresque novel of the Spanish Golden Age. In their foreword, Jurgen Link and Ursula Link-Heer differentiate sociocriticism from other social approaches to literature and show how Cros's method works in specific textual readings. They emphasize his resistance to the reductive modes and "misreadings" that dominate much of contemporary theory.
Edmond Cros is a professor of literary theory and Hispanic studies at the Universite Paul Valery in Montpellier, France, and Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Jurgen Link teaches at the Ruhr-Universitat Bochum and Ursula Link-Heer at the Universitat Siegen, both in West Germany.
Today’s film scholars draw from a dizzying range of theoretical perspectives—they’re just as likely to cite philosopher Gilles Deleuze as they are to quote classic film theorist André Bazin. To students first encountering them, these theoretical lenses for viewing film can seem exhilarating, but also overwhelming.
Thinking in the Dark introduces readers to twenty-one key theorists whose work has made a great impact on film scholarship today, including Rudolf Arnheim, Sergei Eisenstein, Michel Foucault, Siegfried Kracauer, and Judith Butler. Rather than just discussing each theorist’s ideas in the abstract, the book shows how those concepts might be applied when interpreting specific films by including an analysis of both a classic film and a contemporary one. It thus demonstrates how theory can help us better appreciate films from all eras and genres: from Hugo to Vertigo, from City Lights to Sunset Blvd., and from Young Mr. Lincoln to A.I. and Wall-E.
The volume’s contributors are all experts on their chosen theorist’s work and, furthermore, are skilled at explaining that thinker’s key ideas and terms to readers who are not yet familiar with them. Thinking in the Dark is not only a valuable resource for teachers and students of film, it’s also a fun read, one that teaches us all how to view familiar films through new eyes.
Theorists examined in this volume are: Rudolf Arnheim, Béla Balázs, Roland Barthes, André Bazin, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Stanley Cavell, Michel Chion, Gilles Deleuze, Jean Douchet, Sergei Eisenstein, Jean Epstein, Michel Foucault, Siegfried Kracauer, Jacques Lacan, Vachel Lindsay, Christian Metz, Hugo Münsterberg, V. F. Perkins, Jacques Rancière, and Jean Rouch.
Now a classic, The World in a Frame covers the history of popular American films from the 1930s to the 1970s. Leo Braudy, one of America's leading film critics, gives an account of the histories of visual style and film genres, as ell as techniques of characterization—all in an evolving cultural context. This twenty-fifth anniversary edition includes a new preface addressing developments in film since 1976.
Writing National Cinema traces the twenty-year history of the Peruvian film journal Hablemos de cine alongside that of Peruvian filmmaking and film culture. Similar to the influential French journal Cahiers du cinéma, Hablemos de cine began with a group of young critics interested in claiming the director’s use of mise-en-scène as the exclusive method of film analysis rather than thematic or star-oriented topics — hence, the title of the publication, derived from their battle cry at post-screening discussions: “Let’s talk about film.” Their critical authority grew with the rise of local filmmaking and the nationalist fervor of the late 1960s and early 1970s. When government sponsorship spurred feature filmmaking in the mid-1970s, their perspective eschewed the politically militant readings that characterized most writing and film from the rest of Latin America at the time. By the 1980s, the critics at Hablemos de cine had helped to engender a commercial, Hollywood-influenced cinematic vision—best exemplified by Peruvian auteur Francisco Lombardi—and stimulated a unique, if isolating, national identity through film. The first book-length study of Peruvian film culture to appear in English, Middents’s work offers thoughtful consideration of the impact of criticism on the visual stylings of a national cinema.