front cover of Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami
Expanded Second Edition
Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa and Jonathan Rosenbaum
University of Illinois Press, 2018
Before his death in 2016, Abbas Kiarostami wrote or directed more than thirty films in a career that mirrored Iranian cinema's rise as an international force. His 1997 feature Taste of Cherry made him the first Iranian filmmaker to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Critics' polls continue to place Close-Up (1990) and Through the Olive Trees (1994) among the masterpieces of world cinema. Yet Kiarostami's naturalistic impulses and winding complexity made him one of the most divisive—if influential—filmmakers of his time.

In this expanded second edition, award-winning Iranian filmmaker Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa and film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum renew their illuminating cross-cultural dialogue on Kiarostami's work. The pair chart the filmmaker's late-in-life turn toward art galleries, museums, still photography, and installations. They also bring their distinct but complementary perspectives to a new conversation on the experimental film Shirin. Finally, Rosenbaum offers an essay on watching Kiarostami at home while Saeed-Vafa conducts a deeply personal interview with the director on his career and his final feature, Like Someone in Love.

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Abel Ferrara
Nicole Brenez. Translated from the French by Adrian Martin
University of Illinois Press, 2006

Nicole Brenez argues for Abel Ferrara’s place in a line of grand inventors who have blurred distinctions between industry and avant-garde film, including Orson Welles, Monte Hellman, and Nicholas Ray. Rather than merely reworking genre film, Brenez understands Ferrara’s oeuvre as formulating new archetypes that depict the evil of the modern world. Focusing as much on the human figure as on elements of storytelling, she argues that films such as Bad Lieutenant express this evil through visionary characters struggling against the inadmissible (inadmissible behavior, morality, images, and narratives).

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Albert Maysles
Joe McElhaney
University of Illinois Press, 2008
Albert Maysles has created some of the most influential documentaries of the postwar period. Such films as Salesman,Gimme Shelter, and Grey Gardens continue to generate intense debate about the ethics and aesthetics of the documentary form. In this in-depth study, Joe McElhaney offers a novel understanding of the historical relevance of Maysles. By closely focusing on Maysles's expressive use of his camera, particularly in relation to the filming of the human figure, this book situates Maysles's films within not only documentary film history but film history in general, arguing for their broad-ranging importance to both narrative film and documentary cinema. Complete with an engaging interview with Maysles and a detailed comparison of the variant releases of his documentary on the Beatles (What's Happening: The Beatles in the U.S.A. and The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit), this work is a pivotal study of a significant filmmaker.
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American Twilight
The Cinema of Tobe Hooper
By Kristopher Woofter and Will Dodson
University of Texas Press, 2021

A master of gritty horror, Tobe Hooper captured on-screen an America in constant crisis and upended myths of prosperity to reveal the country’s internal decay.

Tobe Hooper's productions, which often trespassed upon the safety of the family unit, cast a critical eye toward an America in crisis. Often dismissed by scholars and critics as a one-hit wonder thanks to his 1974 horror classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Hooper nevertheless was instrumental in the development of a robust and deeply political horror genre from the 1960s until his death in 2017. In American Twilight, the authors assert that the director was an auteur whose works featured complex monsters and disrupted America’s sacrosanct perceptions of prosperity and domestic security.

American Twilight focuses on the skepticism toward American institutions and media and the articulation of uncanny spaces so integral to Hooper’s vast array of feature and documentary films, made-for-television movies, television episodes, and music videos. From Egg Shells (1969) to Poltergeist (1982), Djinn (2013), and even Billy Idol’s music video for “Dancing with Myself” (1985), Tobe Hooper provided a singular directorial vision that investigated masculine anxiety and subverted the idea of American exceptionalism.

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Atom Egoyan
Emma Wilson
University of Illinois Press, 2009
The films of Atom Egoyan immerse the viewer in a world of lush sensuality, melancholia, and brooding obsession. From his earliest films Next of Kin and Family Viewing, to his coruscating Exotica and recent projects such as Where the Truth Lies, Egoyan has paid infinite attention to narrative intricacy and psychological complexity. Traumatic loss and its management through ritual return as themes in his films as he explores personal scenarios of mourning and broader issues of genocide, exile, and postmemory, in particular in relation to his own Armenian heritage.

In this study, Emma Wilson closely analyzes the range of Egoyan's films and their visual textures, emotional control, and perverse beauty. Offering a full-scale chronological overview of Egoyan's work on films up to and including Where the Truth Lies, Wilson shows the persistence and development of certain structures and themes in Egoyan's cinema: questions of exile and nostalgia, trauma and healing, the family and sexuality. While drawing on ideas about intercultural cinema, Wilson also sets Egoyan's films in the context of contemporary Canadian cinema and European art-house cinema. Egoyan's own comments on his films thread throughout Wilson's analyses, and the book features a recent interview with the director.

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The Authentic Death and Contentious Afterlife of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
The Untold Story of Peckinpah's Last Western Film
Paul Seydor
Northwestern University Press, 2015

Long before Sam Peckinpah finished shooting his 1973 Western, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, there was open warfare between him and the studio. In this scrupulously researched new book Paul Seydor reconstructs the riveting history of a brilliant director fighting to preserve an artistic vision while wrestling with his own self‑destructive demons. Meticulously comparing the film five extant versions, Seydor documents why none is definitive, including the 2005 Special Edition, for which he served as consultant. Viewing Peckinpah’s last Western from a variety of fresh perspectives, Seydor establishes a nearly direct line from the book Garrett wrote after he killed Billy the Kid to Peckinpah’s film ninety-one years later and shows how, even with directors as singular as this one, filmmaking is a collaborative medium. Art, business, history, genius, and ego all collide in this story of a great director navigating the treacherous waters of collaboration, compromise, and commerce to create a flawed but enduringly powerful masterpiece.

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Christian Petzold
Jaimey Fisher
University of Illinois Press, 2013
In eleven feature films across two decades, Christian Petzold has established himself as the most critically celebrated director in contemporary Germany. The best-known and most influential member of the Berlin School, Petzold's career reflects the trajectory of German film from 1970s New German Cinema to more popular fare in the 1990s and back again to critically engaged and politically committed filmmaking.

In the first book-length study on Petzold in English, Jaimey Fisher frames Petzold's cinema at the intersection of international art cinema and sophisticated genre cinema. This approach places his work in the context of global cinema and invites comparisons to the work of directors like Pedro Almodovar and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who repeatedly deploy and reconfigure genre cinema to their own ends. These generic aspects constitute a cosmopolitan gesture in Petzold's work as he interprets and elaborates on cult genre films and popular genres, including horror, film noir, and melodrama. Fisher explores these popular genres while injecting them with themes like terrorism, globalization, and immigration, central issues for European art cinema. The volume also includes an extended original interview with the director about his work.

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A Cinema of Obsession
The Life and Work of Mai Zetterling
Mariah Larsson
University of Wisconsin Press, 2020
Mai Elizabeth Zetterling (1925–94) is among the most exceptional postwar female filmmakers. Born in Sweden, she lived in England and France for most of her life, making her directorial debut in 1964 with the Swedish art film Loving Couples after a fraught transition from working in front of the camera as a successful actress.
Critics have compared her work to that of Ingmar Bergman, Luis Buñuel, and Federico Fellini, but Zetterling had a distinct style—alternately radical and reactionary—that straddled the gendered divide between high art and mass culture. Tackling themes of sexuality, isolation, and creativity, her documentaries, short and feature films, and television works are visually striking. Her oeuvre provoked controversy and scandal through her sensational representations of reproduction and motherhood.
Mariah Larsson provides a lively and authoritative take on Zetterling's legacy and complicated position within film and women's history. A Cinema of Obsession provides necessary perspective on how the breadth of an artist's collected works keeps gatekeepers from recognizing their achievements, and questions why we still distinguish between national and global visual cultures and the big and small screens in the #MeToo era.
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The Cinema of Rithy Panh
Everything Has a Soul
Leslie Barnes
Rutgers University Press, 2022
Nominated for 2022 South Atlantic Modern Language Association Book award

Born in 1964, Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh grew up in the midst of the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal reign of terror, which claimed the lives of many of his relatives. After escaping to France, where he attended film school, he returned to his homeland in the late 1980s and began work on the documentaries and fiction films that have made him Cambodia’s most celebrated living director.

The fourteen essays in The Cinema of Rithy Panh explore the filmmaker’s unique aesthetic sensibility, examining the dynamic and sensuous images through which he suggests that “everything has a soul.” They consider how Panh represents Cambodia’s traumatic past, combining forms of individual and collective remembrance, and the implications of this past for Cambodia’s transition into a global present. Covering documentary and feature films, including his literary adaptations of Marguerite Duras and Kenzaburō Ōe, they examine how Panh’s attention to local context leads to a deep understanding of such major themes in global cinema as justice, imperialism, diaspora, gender, and labor. 

Offering fresh takes on masterworks like The Missing Picture and S-21 while also shining a light on the director’s lesser-known films, The Cinema of Rithy Panh will give readers a new appreciation for the boundless creativity and ethical sensitivity of one of Southeast Asia’s cinematic visionaries.
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The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez
By Frederick Luis Aldama
University of Texas Press, 2014

Robert Rodriguez stands alone as the most successful U.S. Latino filmmaker today, whose work has single-handedly brought U.S. Latino filmmaking into the mainstream of twenty-first-century global cinema. Rodriguez is a prolific (eighteen films in twenty-one years) and all-encompassing filmmaker who has scripted, directed, shot, edited, and scored nearly all his films since his first breakout success, El Mariachi, in 1992. With new films constantly coming out and the launch of his El Rey Network television channel, he receives unceasing coverage in the entertainment media, but systematic scholarly study of Rodriguez’s films is only just beginning.

The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez offers the first extended investigation of this important filmmaker’s art. Accessibly written for fans as well as scholars, it addresses all of Rodriguez’s feature films through Spy Kids 4 and Machete Kills, and his filmmaking process from initial inspiration, to script, to film (with its myriad visual and auditory elements and choices), to final product, to (usually) critical and commercial success. In addition to his close analysis of Rodriguez’s work, Frederick Luis Aldama presents an original interview with the filmmaker, in which they discuss his career and his relationship to the film industry. This entertaining and much-needed scholarly overview of Rodriguez’s work shines new light on several key topics, including the filmmaker’s creative, low-cost, efficient approach to filmmaking; the acceptance of Latino films and filmmakers in mainstream cinema; and the consumption and reception of film in the twenty-first century.

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The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov
James Steffen
University of Wisconsin Press, 2013
Sergei Parajanov (1924–90) flouted the rules of both filmmaking and society in the Soviet Union and paid a heavy personal price. An ethnic Armenian in the multicultural atmosphere of Tbilisi, Georgia, he was one of the most innovative directors of postwar Soviet cinema. Parajanov succeeded in creating a small but marvelous body of work whose style embraces such diverse influences as folk art, medieval miniature painting, early cinema, Russian and European art films, surrealism, and Armenian, Georgian, and Ukrainian cultural motifs.

The Cinema of Sergei Parajanov is the first English-language book on the director's films and the most comprehensive study of his work. James Steffen provides a detailed overview of Parajanov's artistic career: his identity as an Armenian in Georgia and its impact on his aesthetics; his early films in Ukraine; his international breakthrough in 1964 with Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors; his challenging 1969 masterpiece, The Color of Pomegranates, which was reedited against his wishes; his unrealized projects in the 1970s; and his eventual return to international prominence in the mid-to-late 1980s with The Legend of the Surami Fortress and Ashik-Kerib. Steffen also provides a rare, behind-the-scenes view of the Soviet film censorship process and tells the dramatic story of Parajanov's conflicts with the authorities, culminating in his 1973–77 arrest and imprisonment on charges related to homosexuality.

Ultimately, the figure of Parajanov offers a fascinating case study in the complicated dynamics of power, nationality, politics, ethnicity, sexuality, and culture in the republics of the former Soviet Union.
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The Cinema of Yakov Protazanov
F. Booth Wilson
Rutgers University Press, 2024
Best known for Aelita (1924), the classic science-fiction film of the Soviet silent era, Yakov Protazanov directed over a hundred films in a career spanning three decades. Called "the Russian D.W. Griffith" in the 1910s for his formative role in the first movies in the last years of the Russian Empire, he fled the Civil War and maintained a successful career in Europe before making an unusual decision to return to Russia now under Soviet power. There his films continued their remarkable success with audiences undergoing a bewildering and often brutal revolutionary transformation. Rather than treating him as an indistinct, if capable craftsman, The Cinema of Yakov Protazanov argues that his films are suffused with a unique creative vision that reflects both his mindset as a traditional Russian intellectual and his experience of dislocation and migration after 1917. As he adapted his films to revolutionary culture, they intermingled different voices and reinterpreted his past work from a disavowed era. Offering fresh perspectives of Protazanov’s films, the book will give readers a new appreciation of his career. The book offers a uniquely valuable vantage point from which to explore how cinema reflected a society in transformation and a seminal moment in the development of cinematic art.
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Cinema Today
A Conversation with Thirty-nine Filmmakers from around the World
Oumano, Elena
Rutgers University Press, 2011
Imagine attending a fascinating film forum among a distinguished and varied panel of cinema legends. An afternoon or evening where contemporary filmmakers from around the world--Kazakhstan, Turkey, Macedonia, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Egypt, Cameroon, Australia, the Philippines, South Africa, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, Japan, the People's Republic of China, Mexico, Poland, the United States, Italy, the United Kingdom, and France--gather together to discuss how they arrive at the creative choices that bring their film projects to life.

Can't spare the time from work or class? Travel expense too great? What? You can't even find such a collaborative event?

Then imagine curling up with a good book, maybe a shot of espresso in hand, and becoming engrossed in the exciting and informative conversation that Elena Oumano has ingeniously crafted from her personal and individual interviews with these artists. Straying far from the usual choppy question-and-answer format, Cinema Today saves you from plowing through another tedious read, in which the same topics and issues are directed to each subject, over and over-an experience that is like being trapped in a revolving door.

Oumano stops that revolving door by following a lively symposium-in-print format, with the filmmakers' words and thoughts grouped together under various key cinema topics. It is as though these experts are speaking to each other and you are their audience--collectively they reflect on and explore issues and concerns of modern filmmaking, from the practical to the aesthetic, including the process, cinematic rhythm and structure, and the many aspects of the media: business, the viewer, and cinema's place in society. Whether you are a movie lover, a serious student of cinema, or simply interested in how we communicate in today's global village through films that so profoundly affect the world, Cinema Today is for you.
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Cinematic Encounters 2
Portraits and Polemics
Jonathan Rosenbaum
University of Illinois Press, 2019
Eschewing the idea of film reviewer-as-solitary-expert, Jonathan Rosenbaum continues to advance his belief that a critic's ideal role is to mediate and facilitate our public discussion of cinema. Portraits and Polemics presents debate as an important form of cinematic encounter whether one argues with filmmakers themselves, on behalf of their work, or with one's self.

Rosenbaum takes on filmmakers like Chantal Akerman, Richard Linklater, Manoel De Oliveira, Mark Rappaport, Elaine May, and Béla Tarr. He also engages, implicitly and explicitly, with other writers, arguing with Pauline Kael—and Wikipedia—over Jacques Demy, with the Hollywood Reporter and Variety reviewers of Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control, with David Thomson about James L. Brooks, and with many American and English film critics about misrepresented figures from Jerry Lewis to Yasujiro Ozu to Orson Welles. Throughout, Rosenbaum mines insights, pursues pet notions, and invites readers to join the fray.

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Cinematic Encounters
Interviews and Dialogues
Jonathan Rosenbaum
University of Illinois Press, 2018
Godard. Fuller. Rivette. Endfield. Tarr. In his celebrated career as a film critic, Jonathan Rosenbaum has undertaken wide-ranging dialogues with many of the most daring and important auteurs of our time.

Cinematic Encounters collects more than forty years of interviews that embrace Rosenbaum's vision of film criticism as a collaboration involving multiple voices. Rosenbaum accompanies Orson Welles on a journey back to Heart of Darkness, the unmade film meant to be Welles's Hollywood debut. Jacques Tati addresses the primacy of décor and soundtrack in his comedic masterpiece PlayTime, while Jim Jarmusch explains the influence of real and Hollywoodized Native Americans in Dead Man. By arranging the chapters chronologically, Rosenbaum invites readers to pursue thematic threads as if the discussions were dialogues between separate interviews. The result is a rare gathering of filmmakers trading thoughts on art and process, on great works and false starts, and on actors and intimate moments.

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Cristi Puiu
Monica Filimon
University of Illinois Press, 2017
Cristi Puiu's black comedy The Death of Mr. Lazarescu announced the arrival of the New Romanian Cinema as a force on the film world stage. As critics and festival audiences embraced the new movement, Puiu emerged as its lodestar and critical voice. Monica Filimon explores the works of an artist dedicated to truth not as an abstract concept, but as the ephemeral revelation of the fuller, ungraspable world beyond the screen. Puiu's innovative use of the handheld camera as an observer and his reliance on austere, restricted narration highlight the very limits of human understanding, guiding the viewer's intellectual and emotional sensibilities to the reality that has been left unfilmed. Filimon examines the director's ethics of epiphany not only in relation to the collective and personal histories that have triggered it, but also in dialogue with the films, texts, and filmmakers that have shaped it.
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Critical Approaches to the Films of Robert Rodriguez
By Frederick Luis Aldama
University of Texas Press, 2015

Frederick Aldama’s The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez (2014) was the first full-scale study of one of the most prolific and significant Latino directors making films today. In this companion volume, Aldama enlists a corps of experts to analyze a majority of Rodriguez’s feature films, from his first break-out success El Mariachi in 1992 to Machete in 2010. The essays explore the formal and thematic features present in his films from the perspectives of industry (context, convention, and distribution), the film blueprint (auditory and visual ingredients), and consumption (ideal and real audiences). The authors illuminate the manifold ways in which Rodriguez’s films operate internally (plot, character, and event) and externally (audience perception, thought, and feeling).

The volume is divided into three parts: “Matters of Mind and Media” includes essays that use psychoanalytic and cognitive psychology to shed light on how Rodriguez’s films complicate Latino identity, as well as how they succeed in remaking audiences’ preconceptions of the world. “Narrative Theory, Cognitive Science, and Sin City: A Case Study” offers tools and models of analysis for the study of Rodriguez’s film re-creation of a comic book (on which Frank Miller was credited as codirector). “Aesthetic and Ontological Border Crossings and Borderlands” considers how Rodriguez’s films innovatively critique fixed notions of Latino identity and experience, as well as open eyes to racial injustices. As a whole, the volume demonstrates how Rodriguez’s career offers critical insights into the filmmaking industry, the creative process, and the consuming and reception of contemporary film.

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Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub
"Objectivists" in Cinema
Benoît Turquety
Amsterdam University Press, 2020
Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub collaborated on films together from the mid-1960s through the mid-2000s, making formally radical adaptations in several languages of major works of European literature by authors including Franz Kafka, Bertolt Brecht, Friedrich Hölderlin, Pierre Corneille, Arnold Schoenberg, Cesare Pavese, and Elio Vitorrini. The impact of their work comes in part from a search for radical objectivity, a theme present in certain underground currents of modernist art and theory in the writings of Benjamin and Adorno and in a long-forgotten movement of American modernist poetry, "Objectivism," whose members included Louis Zukofsky, George Oppen, and Charles Reznikoff, with connections to William Carlos Williams and Ezra Pound. Through a detailed analysis of the films of Straub and Huillet, the works they adapted, and Objectivist poems and essays, Benoît Turquety locates common practices and explores a singular aesthetic approach where a work of art is conceived as an object, the artist an anonymous artisan, and where the force of politics and formal research attempt to reconcile with one another.
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Dario Argento
L. Andrew Cooper
University of Illinois Press, 2012

Commanding a cult following among horror fans, Italian film director Dario Argento is best known for his work in two closely related genres, the crime thriller and supernatural horror, as well as his influence on modern horror and slasher movies. In his four decades of filmmaking, Argento has displayed a commitment to innovation, from his directorial debut with 1970's suspense thriller The Bird with the Crystal Plumage to 2009's Giallo. His films, like the lurid yellow-covered murder-mystery novels they are inspired by, follow the suspense tradition of hard-boiled American detective fiction while incorporating baroque scenes of violence and excess. 

While considerations of Argento's films often describe them as irrational nightmares, L. Andrew Cooper uses controversies and theories about the films' reflections on sadism, gender, sexuality, psychoanalysis, aestheticism, and genre to declare the anti-rational logic of Argento's oeuvre. Approaching the films as rhetorical statements made through extremes of sound and vision, Cooper places Argento in a tradition of aestheticized horror that includes De Sade, De Quincey, Poe, and Hitchcock. Analyzing individual images and sequences as well as larger narrative structures, he reveals how the director's stylistic excesses, often condemned for glorifying misogyny and other forms of violence, offer productive resistance to the cinema's visual, narrative, and political norms.

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Days of Twilight, Nights of Frenzy
A Memoir
Werner Schroeter and Claudia Lenssen
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Werner Schroeter was a leading figure of New German Cinema. In more than forty films made between 1967 and 2008, including features, documentaries, and shorts, he ignored conventional narrative, creating instead dense, evocative collages of image and sound. For years, his work was eclipsed by contemporaries such as Wim Wenders, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, and Alexander Kluge. Yet his work has become known to a wider audience through several recent retrospectives, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Written in the last years of his life, Days of Twilight, Nights of Frenzy sees Schroeter looking back at his life with the help of film critic and friend Claudia Lenssen. Born in 1945, Schroeter grew up near Heidelberg and spent just a few weeks in film school before leaving to create his earliest works. Over the years, he would work with acclaimed artists, including Marianne Hopps, Isabelle Huppert, Candy Darling, and Christine Kaufmann. In the 1970s, Schroeter also embarked on prolific parallel careers in theater and opera, where he worked in close collaboration with the legendary diva Maria Callas. His childhood; his travels in Italy, France, and Latin America; his coming out and subsequent life as an gay man in Europe; and his run-ins with Hollywood are but a few of the subjects Schroeter recalls with insights and characteristic understated humor.

A sharp, lively, even funny memoir, Days of Twilight, Nights of Frenzy captures Schroeter’s extravagant life vividly over a vast prolific career, including many stories that might have been lost were it not for this book. It is sure to fascinate cinephiles and anyone interested in the culture around film and the arts.
 
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A Dream of Resistance
The Cinema of Kobayashi Masaki
Prince, Stephen
Rutgers University Press, 2017
Celebrated as one of Japan’s greatest filmmakers, Kobayashi Masaki’s scorching depictions of war and militarism marked him as a uniquely defiant voice in post-war Japanese cinema. A pacifist drafted into Japan’s Imperial Army, Kobayashi survived the war with his principles intact and created a body of work that was uncompromising in its critique of the nation’s military heritage. Yet his renowned political critiques were grounded in spiritual perspectives, integrating motifs and beliefs from both Buddhism and Christianity.  

A Dream of Resistance is the first book in English to explore Kobayashi’s entire career, from the early films he made at Shochiku studio, to internationally-acclaimed masterpieces like The Human Condition, Harakiri, and Samurai Rebellion, and on to his final work for NHK Television. Closely examining how Kobayashi’s upbringing and intellectual history shaped the values of his work, Stephen Prince illuminates the political and religious dimensions of Kobayashi’s films, interpreting them as a prayer for peace in troubled times. Prince draws from a wealth of rare archives, including previously untranslated interviews, material that Kobayashi wrote about his films, and even the young director’s wartime diary. The result is an unprecedented portrait of this singular filmmaker.  
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D.W. Griffith and the Origins of American Narrative Film
The Early Years at Biograph
Tom Gunning
University of Illinois Press, 1991
The legendary filmmaker D. W. Griffith directed nearly 200 films during 1908 and 1909, his first years with the Biograph Company. While those one-reel films are a testament to Griffith's inspired genius as a director, they also reflect a fundamental shift in film style from "cheap amusements" to movie storytelling complete with characters and narrative impetus.

In this comprehensive historical investigation, drawing on films preserved by the Library of Congress and the Museum of Modern Art, Tom Gunning reveals that the remarkable cinematic changes between 1900 and 1915 were a response to the radical reorganization within the film industry and the evolving role of film in American society. The Motion Picture Patents Company, the newly formed Film Trust, had major economic aspirations. The newly emerging industry's quest for a middle-class audience triggered Griffith's early experiments in film editing and imagery. His unique solutions permanently shaped American narrative film.

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Ferryman of Memories
The Films of Rithy Panh
Deirdre Boyle
Rutgers University Press, 2023
Ferryman of Memories: The Films of Rithy Panh is an unconventional book about an unconventional filmmaker. Rithy Panh survived the Cambodian genocide and found refuge in France where he discovered in film a language that allowed him to tell what happened to the two million souls who suffered hunger, overwork, disease, and death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. His innovative cinema is made with people, not about them—even those guilty of crimes against humanity.  Whether he is directing Isabelle Huppert in The Sea Wall, following laborers digging trenches, or interrogating the infamous director of S-21 prison, aesthetics and ethics inform all he does.  With remarkable access to the director and his work, Deirdre Boyle introduces readers to Panh’s groundbreaking approach to perpetrator cinema and dazzling critique of colonialism, globalization, and the refugee crisis. Ferryman of Memories reveals the art of one of the masters of world cinema today, focusing on nineteen of his award-winning films, including Rice People, The Land of Wandering Souls, S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, and The Missing Picture.
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Herzog by Ebert
Roger Ebert
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Roger Ebert was the most influential film critic in the United States, the first to win a Pulitzer Prize. For almost fifty years, he wrote with plainspoken eloquence about the films he loved for the Chicago Sun-Times, his vast cinematic knowledge matched by a sheer love of life that bolstered his appreciation of films. Ebert had particular admiration for the work of director Werner Herzog, whom he first encountered at the New York Film Festival in 1968, the start of a long and productive relationship between the filmmaker and the film critic.

Herzog by Ebert is a comprehensive collection of Ebert’s writings about the legendary director, featuring all of his reviews of individual films, as well as longer essays he wrote for his Great Movies series. The book also brings together other essays, letters, and interviews, including a letter Ebert wrote Herzog upon learning of the dedication to him of “Encounters at the End of the World;” a multifaceted profile written at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival; and an interview with Herzog at Facet’s Multimedia in 1979 that has previously been available only in a difficult-to-obtain pamphlet. Herzog himself contributes a foreword in which he discusses his relationship with Ebert.

Brimming with insights from both filmmaker and film critic, Herzog by Ebert will be essential for fans of either of their prolific bodies of work.
 
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Hitchcock's People, Places, and Things
John Bruns
Northwestern University Press, 2019
Hitchcock’s People, Places, and Things argues that Alfred Hitchcock was as much a filmmaker of things and places as he was of people. Drawing on the thought of Bruno Latour, John Bruns traces the complex relations of human and nonhuman agents in Hitchcock’s films with the aim of mapping the Hitchcock landscape cognitively, affectively, and politically. Yet this book does not promise that such a map can or will cohere, for Hitchcock was just as adept at misdirection as he was at direction. Bearing this in mind and true to the Hitchcock spirit, Hitchcock’s People, Places, and Things anticipates that people will stumble into the wrong places at the wrong time, places will be made uncanny by things, and things exchanged between people will act as (not-so) secret agents that make up the perilous landscape of Hitchcock’s work.

This book offers new readings of well-known Hitchcock films, including The Lodger, Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie, as well as insights into lesser-discussed films such as I Confess and Family Plot. Additional close readings of the original theatrical trailer for Psycho and a Hitchcock-directed episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents expand the Hitchcock landscape beyond conventional critical borders. In tracing the network of relations in Hitchcock’s work, Bruns brings new Hitchcockian tropes to light. For students, scholars, and serious fans, the author promises a thrilling critical navigation of the Hitchcock landscape, with frequent “mental shake-ups” that Hitchcock promised his audience.
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Lana and Lilly Wachowski
Cael M. Keegan
University of Illinois Press, 2018
Lana and Lilly Wachowski have redefined the technically and topically possible while joyfully defying audience expectations. Visionary films like The Matrix trilogy and Cloud Atlas have made them the world's most influential transgender media producers, and their coming out retroactively put trans* aesthetics at the very center of popular American culture.

Cáel M. Keegan views the Wachowskis' films as an approach to trans* experience that maps a transgender journey and the promise we might learn "to sense beyond the limits of the given world." Keegan reveals how the filmmakers take up the relationship between identity and coding (be it computers or genes), inheritance and belonging, and how transgender becoming connects to a utopian vision of a post-racial order. Along the way, he theorizes a trans* aesthetic that explores the plasticity of cinema to create new social worlds, new temporalities, and new sensory inputs and outputs. Film comes to disrupt, rearrange, and evolve the cinematic exchange with the senses in the same manner that trans* disrupts, rearranges, and evolves discrete genders and sexes.

[more]

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Laurence Olivier
Francis Beckett
Haus Publishing, 2006
In the 1930s he established himself as a wide-ranging Shakespearean actor. His marriage in 1940 to Vivien Leigh (his second wife) seemed to complete the image of the romantic star. From the mid-40s he excelled in directing himself in Shakespeare on film, such as his dramatically-shot Henry V (1944), with its timely excesses of patriotism. When the new wave of British drama began in the late 1950s, Olivier was immediately part of it. As an actor of such wide range, and a successful producer and director, Olivier was a natural choice to bring the National Theatre into existence in 1963. Together with his new wife Joan Plowright (they had married in 1961), he built up a brilliant company and repertoire at the Old Vic. Olivier became the first actor to be given a peerage.
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A Little Solitaire
John Frankenheimer and American Film
Pomerance, Murray
Rutgers University Press, 2011

Think about some commercially successful film masterpieces--The Manchurian Candidate. Seven Days in May. Seconds. Then consider some lesser known, yet equally compelling cinematic achievements--The Fixer. The Gypsy Moths. Path to War. These triumphs are the work of the best known and most highly regarded Hollywood director to emerge from live TV drama in the 1950s--five-time Emmy-award-winner John Frankenheimer.

Although Frankenheimer was a pioneer in the genre of political thrillers who embraced the antimodernist critique of contemporary society, some of his later films did not receive the attention they deserved. Many claimed that at a midpoint in his career he had lost his touch. World-renowned film scholars put this myth to rest in A Little Solitaire, which offers the only multidisciplinary critical account of Frankenheimer's oeuvre. Especially emphasized is his deep and passionate engagement with national politics and the irrepressible need of human beings to assert their rights and individuality in the face of organizations that would reduce them to silence and anonymity.

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Lourdes Portillo
The Devil Never Sleeps and Other Films
Edited by Rosa Linda Fregoso
University of Texas Press, 2001

Filmmaker Lourdes Portillo sees her mission as "channeling the hopes and dreams of a people." Clearly, political commitment has inspired her choice of subjects. With themes ranging from state repression to AIDS, Portillo's films include: Después del Terremoto, the Oscar-nominated Las Madres: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,La Ofrenda: The Days of the Dead,The Devil Never Sleeps, and Corpus: A Home Movie for Selena.

The first study of Portillo and her films, this collection is collaborative and multifaceted in approach, emphasizing aspects of authorial creativity, audience reception, and production processes typically hidden from view. Rosa Linda Fregoso, the volume editor, has organized the book into three parts: interviews (by Fregoso and Kathleen Newman and B. Ruby Rich); critical perspectives (essays by Fregoso, Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano, Sylvie Thouard, Norma Iglesias, and Barbara McBane); and production materials (screenplays, script notes, storyboards, etc.).

This innovative collection provides "inside" information on the challenges of making independent films. By describing the production constraints Portillo has surmounted, Fregoso deepens our appreciation of this gifted filmmaker's life, her struggles, and the evolution of her art.

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Mainstream Maverick
John Hughes and New Hollywood Cinema
By Holly Chard
University of Texas Press, 2020

Winner, Best First Monograph, British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies

In the 1980s and 1990s, John Hughes was one of Hollywood's most reliable hitmakers, churning out beloved teen comedies and family films such as The Breakfast Club and Home Alone, respectively. But was he an artist? Hughes, an adamantly commercial filmmaker who was dismissed by critics, might have laughed at the question. Since his death in 2009, though, he has been memorialized on Oscar night as a key voice of his time. Now the critics lionize him as a stylistic original.

Holly Chard traces Hughes's evolution from entertainer to auteur. Studios recognized Hughes's distinctiveness and responded by nurturing his brand. He is therefore a case study in Hollywood's production not only of movies but also of genre and of authorship itself. The films of John Hughes, Chard shows, also owed their success to the marketers who sold them and the audiences who watched. Careful readings of Hughes's cinema reveal both the sources of his iconic status and the imprint on his films of the social, political, economic, and media contexts in which he operated.

The first serious treatment of Hughes, Mainstream Maverick elucidates the priorities of the American movie industry in the New Hollywood era and explores how artists not only create but are themselves created.

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Making Dead Birds
Chronicle of a Film
Robert Gardner
Harvard University Press, 2007

Robert Gardner’s classic Dead Birds is one of the most highly acclaimed and controversial documentary films ever made. This detailed and candid account of the process of making Dead Birds, from the birth of the idea through filming in New Guinea to editing and releasing the finished film, is more than the chronicle of a single work. It is also a thoughtful examination of what it meant to record the moving and violent rituals of warrior-farmers in the New Guinea highlands and to present to the world a graphic story of their behavior as a window onto our own. Letters, journals, telegrams, newspaper clippings, and over 50 images are assembled to recreate a vivid chronology of events. Making Dead Birds not only addresses the art and practice of filmmaking, but also explores issues of representation and the discovery of meaning in human lives.

Gardner led a remarkable cast of participants on the 1961 expedition. All brought back extraordinary bodies of work. Probably most influential of all was Dead Birds, which marked a sea change in nonfiction filmmaking. This book takes the reader inside the creative process of making that landmark film and offers a revealing look into the heart and mind of one of the great filmmakers of our time.

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The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz
Edited by R. Barton Palmer and Murray Pomerance
University of Texas Press, 2018

Director Michael Curtiz was the mastermind behind some of the most iconic films of classical Hollywood—Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Sea Hawk, White Christmas, and Mildred Pierce, to name only a few. The most prolific and consistently successful Hollywood generalist with an all-embracing interest in different forms of narrative and spectacle, Curtiz made around a hundred films in an astonishing range of genres: action, biopics, melodramas/film noir, musicals, and westerns. But his important contributions to the history of American film have been overlooked because his broadly varied oeuvre does not present the unified vision of filmmaking that canonical criticism demands for the category of “auteur.”

Exploring his films and artistic practice from a variety of angles, including politics, gender, and genre, The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz sheds new light on this underappreciated cinematic genius. Leading film studies scholars offer fresh appraisals of many of Curtiz’s most popular films, while also paying attention to neglected releases of substantial historical interest, such as Noah’s Ark , Night and Day, Virginia City, Black Fury, Mystery of the Wax Museum, and Female. Because Curtiz worked for so long and in so many genres, this analysis of his work becomes more than an author study of a notable director. Instead, The Many Cinemas of Michael Curtiz effectively adds a major chapter to the history of Hollywood’s studio era, including its internationalism and the significant contributions of European émigrés.

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Michael Moore and the Rhetoric of Documentary
Edited by Thomas W. Benson and Brian J. Snee
Southern Illinois University Press, 2015

Not afraid to tackle provocative topics in American culture, from gun violence and labor policies to terrorism and health care, Michael Moore has earned both applause and invective in his career as a documentarian. In such polarizing films as Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Sicko, Moore has established a unique voice of radical nostalgia for progressivism, and in doing so has become one of the most recognized documentary filmmakers of all time.

In the first in-depth study of Moore’s feature-length documentary films, editors Thomas W. Benson and Brian J. Snee have gathered leading rhetoric scholars to examine the production, rhetorical appeals, and audience reception of these films. Contributors critique the films primarily as modes of public argument and political art. Each essay is devoted to one of Moore’s films and traces in detail how each film invites specific audience responses.

Michael Moore and the Rhetoric of Documentary reveals not only the art, the argument, and the emotional appeals of Moore’s documentaries but also how these films have revolutionized the genre of documentary filmmaking.

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Midday with Buñuel
Memories and Sketches, 1973-1983
Claudio Isaac
Swan Isle Press, 2007
Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel (1900–83), known for his surrealist themes and unflinching social criticism, was an artist defined by intellectual ambition and controversy. An exile who produced some of his most famous work in Mexico and France during Franco’s dictatorship, he left a complicated imprint on the creative landscape of the twentieth century and on generations of younger filmmakers—including his Mexican friend Claudio Isaac. Drawn from Isaac’s personal papers, Midday with Buñuel: Memories and Sketches, 1973–1983 is an intimate and unconventional portrait of this cinematic icon—and memoir of Isaac’s own artistic development.

The text includes sketches, vignettes, and anecdotes from Isaac’s notebooks, revealing his perspective first as a precocious boy and then as a young man. Isaac reflects on Buñuel’s presence among a community of exiles, artists, actors, writers, and intellectuals in Mexico City. These are at once touching, perceptive, and critical glimpses into Buñuel’s roles as husband and father, friend and colleague, surrealist, philosopher, and iconoclast during his last years. Throughout, Isaac’s words reveal his deep admiration and affection for an older friend full of contradictions. Intimate photographs from the Isaac family archive complement the writing, and Bryan Thomas Scoular’s careful translation makes this text available for the first time in English.

Part biography, part memoir, Midday with Buñuel brings to life the creative milieu of Mexico City and gives readers a privileged view of the relationship between these two filmmakers.
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Movement, Action, Image, Montage
Sergei Eisenstein and the Cinema in Crisis
Luka Arsenjuk
University of Minnesota Press, 2018

A major new study of Sergei Eisenstein delivers fresh, in-depth analyses of the iconic filmmaker’s body of work

What can we still learn from Sergei Eisenstein? Long valorized as the essential filmmaker of the Russian Revolution and celebrated for his indispensable contributions to cinematic technique, Eisenstein’s relevance to contemporary culture is far from exhausted. In Movement, Action, Image, Montage, Luka Arsenjuk considers the auteur as a filmmaker and a theorist, drawing on philosophers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Gilles Deleuze—as well as Eisenstein’s own untranslated texts—to reframe the way we think about the great director and his legacy.

Focusing on Eisenstein’s unique treatment of the foundational concepts of cinema—movement, action, image, and montage—Arsenjuk invests each aspect of the auteur’s art with new significance for the twenty-first century. Eisenstein’s work and thought, he argues, belong as much to the future as the past, and both can offer novel contributions to long-standing cinematic questions and debates.

Movement, Action, Image, Montage brings new elements of Eisenstein’s output into academic consideration, by means ranging from sustained and comprehensive theorization of Eisenstein’s practice as a graphic artist to purposeful engagement with his recently published, unfinished book Method, still unavailable in English translation. This tour de force offers new and significant insights on Eisenstein’s oeuvre—the films, the art, and the theory—and is a landmark work on an essential filmmaker.

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Neil Jordan
Maria T. Pramaggiore
University of Illinois Press, 2007
Best known for his enormously successful independent film The Crying Game, Irish director Neil Jordan has made sixteen feature films since 1982. Even after achieving commercial success and critical acclaim with such films as Interview with the Vampire and The Butcher Boy, Jordan remains a curiously elusive figure in the era of the celebrity filmmaker. Maria Pramaggiore addresses this conundrum by examining Jordan's distinctive style across a surprisingly broad range of genres and production contexts, including horror and gangster films, Irish-themed movies, and Hollywood remakes.
 
Despite the striking diversity of Jordan's films, the director consistently returns to gothic themes of loss, violence, and madness. In her sophisticated examination of Mona Lisa,Michael Collins, and The Good Thief, Pramaggiore shows how Jordan presents these dark narratives with a uniquely Irish and postmodern sense of irony. This illuminating analysis of one of the cinema's most important artists will be of keen interest to movie enthusiasts as well as students and scholars of contemporary film.
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Neither God nor Master
Robert Bresson and Radical Politics
Brian Price
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
The French auteur Robert Bresson, director of such classics as Diary of a Country Priest (1951), The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962), The Devil, Probably (1977), and L’Argent (1983), has long been thought of as a transcendental filmmaker preoccupied with questions of grace and predestination and little interested in the problems of the social world. This book is the first to view Bresson’s work in an altogether different context. Rather than a religious—or spiritual—filmmaker, Bresson is revealed as an artist steeped in radical, revolutionary politics.

Situating Bresson in radical and aesthetic political contexts, from surrealism to situationism, Neither God nor Master shows how his early style was a model for social resistance. We then see how, after May 1968, his films were in fact a series of reflections on the failure of revolution in France—especially as “failure” is understood in relation to Bresson’s chosen literary precursors, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, and Russian revolutionary culture of the nineteenth century.

Restoring Bresson to the radical political culture from which he emerged—and to which he remained faithful—Price offers a major revision of the reputation of one of the most celebrated figures in the history of French film. In doing so, he raises larger philosophical questions about the efficacy of revolutionary practices and questions about interpretation and metaphysical tendencies of film historical research that have, until now, gone largely untested.
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Orson Welles and the Unfinished RKO Projects
A Postmodern Perspective
Marguerite H. Rippy
Southern Illinois University Press, 2009

Orson Welles and the Unfinished RKO Projects: A Postmodern Perspective traces the impact of legendary director Orson Welles on contemporary mass media entertainment and suggests that, ironically, we can see Welles’s performance genealogy most clearly in his unfinished RKO projects.

Author Marguerite H. Rippy provides the first in-depth examination of early film and radio projects shelved by RKO or by Welles himself. While previous studies of Welles largely fall into the categories of biography or modernist film studies, this book extends the understanding of Welles via postmodern narrative theory and performance analysis, weaving his work into the cultural and commercial background of its production. By identifying the RKO years as a critical moment in performance history, Rippy synthesizes scholarship that until now has been scattered among film studies, narrative theory, feminist critique, American studies, and biography.

Building a bridge between auteur and postmodern theories, Orson Welles and the Unfinished RKO Projects offers a fresh look at Welles in his full complexity. Rippy trains a postmodern lens on Welles’s early projects and reveals four emerging narrative modes that came to define his work: deconstructions of the first-person singular; adaptations of classic texts for mass media; explorations of the self via primitivism; and examinations of the line between reality and fiction. These four narrative styles would greatly influence the development of modern mass media entertainment.

Rippy finds Welles’s legacy alive and well in today’s mockumentaries and reality television. It was in early, unfinished projects where Welles first toyed with fact and fiction, and the pleasure of this interplay still resonates with contemporary culture. As Rippy suggests, the logical conclusion of Welles’s career-long exploration of “truthiness” lies in the laughs of fake news shows. Offering an exciting glimpse of a master early in his career, Orson Welles and the Unfinished RKO Projects documents Welles’s development as a storyteller who would shape culture for decades to come.

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The Passion of David Lynch
Wild at Heart in Hollywood
By Martha P. Nochimson
University of Texas Press, 1997

Filmmaker David Lynch asserts that when he is directing, ninety percent of the time he doesn't know what he is doing. To understand Lynch's films, Martha Nochimson believes, requires a similar method of being open to the subconscious, of resisting the logical reductiveness of language. In this innovative book, she draws on these strategies to offer close readings of Lynch's films, informed by unprecedented, in-depth interviews with Lynch himself.

Nochimson begins with a look at Lynch's visual influences—Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon, and Edward Hopper—and his links to Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, then moves into the heart of her study, in-depth analyses of Lynch's films and television productions. These include Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Dune, The Elephant Man, Eraserhead, The Grandmother, The Alphabet, and Lynch's most recent, Lost Highway.

Nochimson's interpretations explode previous misconceptions of Lynch as a deviant filmmaker and misogynist. Instead, she shows how he subverts traditional Hollywood gender roles to offer an optimistic view that love and human connection are really possible.

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Peckinpah Today
New Essays on the Films of Sam Peckinpah
Edited by Michael Bliss
Southern Illinois University Press, 2012

Written exclusively for this collection by today’s leading Peckinpah critics, the nine essays in Peckinpah Today explore the body of work of one of America’s most important filmmakers, revealing new insights into his artistic process and the development of his lasting themes. Edited by Michael Bliss, this book provides groundbreaking criticism of Peckinpah’s work by illuminating new sources, from modified screenplay documents to interviews with screenplay writers and editors.

Included is a rare interview with A. S. Fleischman, author of the screenplay for The Deadly Companions, the film that launched Peckinpah’s career in feature films. The collection also contains essays by scholar Stephen Prince and Paul Seydor, editor of the controversial special edition of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In his essay on Straw Dogs, film critic Michael Sragow reveals how Peckinpah and co-scriptwriter David Zelag Goodman transformed a pulp novel into a powerful film. The final essay of the collection surveys Peckinpah’s career, showing the dark turn that the filmmaker’s artistic path took between his first and last films. This comprehensive approach reinforces the book’s dawn-to-dusk approach, resulting in a fascinating picture of a great filmmaker’s work.

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Race on the QT
Blackness and the Films of Quentin Tarantino
By Adilifu Nama
University of Texas Press, 2015

Winner, Ray & Pat Browne Award for Best Reference/Primary Source Work in Popular and American Culture, Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, 2016

Known for their violence and prolific profanity, including free use of the n-word, the films of Quentin Tarantino, like the director himself, chronically blurt out in polite company what is extremely problematic even when deliberated in private. Consequently, there is an uncomfortable and often awkward frankness associated with virtually all of Tarantino’s films, particularly when it comes to race and blackness. Yet beyond the debate over whether Tarantino is or is not racist is the fact that his films effectively articulate racial anxieties circulating in American society as they engage longstanding racial discourses and hint at emerging trends. This radical racial politics—always present in Tarantino’s films but kept very much on the quiet—is the subject of Race on the QT.

Adilifu Nama concisely deconstructs and reassembles the racial dynamics woven into Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained, as they relate to historical and current racial issues in America. Nama’s eclectic fusion of cultural criticism and film analysis looks beyond the director’s personal racial attitudes and focuses on what Tarantino’s filmic body of work has said and is saying about race in America symbolically, metaphorically, literally, impolitely, cynically, sarcastically, crudely, controversially, and brilliantly.

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Savage Cinema
Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies
By Stephen Prince
University of Texas Press, 1998

More than any other filmmaker, Sam Peckinpah opened the door for graphic violence in movies. In this book, Stephen Prince explains the rise of explicit violence in the American cinema, its social effects, and the relation of contemporary ultraviolence to the radical, humanistic filmmaking that Peckinpah practiced.

Prince demonstrates Peckinpah's complex approach to screen violence and shows him as a serious artist whose work was tied to the social and political upheavals of the 1960s. He explains how the director's commitment to showing the horror and pain of violence compelled him to use a complex style that aimed to control the viewer's response.

Prince offers an unprecedented portrait of Peckinpah the filmmaker. Drawing on primary research materials—Peckinpah's unpublished correspondence, scripts, production memos, and editing notes—he provides a wealth of new information about the making of the films and Peckinpah's critical shaping of their content and violent imagery. This material shows Peckinpah as a filmmaker of intelligence, a keen observer of American society, and a tragic artist disturbed by the images he created.

Prince's account establishes, for the first time, Peckinpah's place as a major filmmaker. This book is essential reading for those interested in Peckinpah, the problem of movie violence, and contemporary American cinema.

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Stanley Kubrick
New York Jewish Intellectual
Abrams, Nathan
Rutgers University Press, 2018
Stanley Kubrick is generally acknowledged as one of the world’s great directors. Yet few critics or scholars have considered how he emerged from a unique and vibrant cultural milieu: the New York Jewish intelligentsia.
 
Stanley Kubrick reexamines the director’s work in context of his ethnic and cultural origins. Focusing on several of Kubrick’s key themes—including masculinity, ethical responsibility, and the nature of evil—it demonstrates how his films were in conversation with contemporary New York Jewish intellectuals who grappled with the same concerns.  At the same time, it explores Kubrick’s fraught relationship with his Jewish identity and his reluctance to be pegged as an ethnic director, manifest in his removal of Jewish references and characters from stories he adapted.
 
As he digs deep into rare Kubrick archives to reveal insights about the director’s life and times, film scholar Nathan Abrams also provides a nuanced account of Kubrick’s cinematic artistry. Each chapter offers a detailed analysis of one of Kubrick’s major films, including Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, and Eyes Wide Shut. Stanley Kubrick thus presents an illuminating look at one of the twentieth century’s most renowned and yet misunderstood directors.  
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Stanley Kubrick Produces
James Fenwick
Rutgers University Press, 2021
Stanley Kubrick Produces provides the first comprehensive account of Stanley Kubrick’s role as a producer, and of the role of the producers he worked with throughout his career. It considers how he first emerged as a producer, how he developed the role, and how he ultimately used it to fashion himself a powerbase by the 1970s. It goes on to consider how Kubrick’s centralizing of power became a self-defeating strategy by the 1980s and 1990s, one that led him to struggle to move projects out of development and into active production.
 
Making use of overlooked archival sources and uncovering newly discovered ‘lost’ Kubrick projects (The Cop Killer, Shark Safari, and The Perfect Marriage among them), as well as providing the first detailed overview of the World Assembly of Youth film, James Fenwick provides a comprehensive account of Kubrick’s life and career and of how he managed to obtain the level of control that he possessed by the 1970s. Along the way, the book traces the rapid changes taking place in the American film industry in the post-studio era, uncovering new perspectives about the rise of young independent producers, the operations of influential companies such as Seven Arts and United Artists, and the whole field of film marketing.
 
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Steven Soderbergh
Aaron Baker
University of Illinois Press, 2011

A Hollywood director who blends substance with the mainstream

Steven Soderbergh's feature films present a diverse range of subject matter and formal styles: from the self-absorption of his breakthrough hit Sex, Lies, and Videotape to populist social problem films such as Erin Brockovich, and from the modernist discontinuity of Full Frontal and filmed performance art of Gray's Anatomy to a glossy, star-studded action blockbuster such as Ocean's Eleven. Using a combination of realism and expressive stylization of character subjectivity, Soderbergh's films diverge from the contemporary Hollywood mainstream through the statements they offer on issues including political repression, illegal drugs, violence, environmental degradation, the empowering and controlling potential of digital technology, and economic inequality.

Arguing that Soderbergh practices an eclectic type of moviemaking indebted both to the European art cinema and the Hollywood genre film, Aaron Baker charts the common thematic and formal patterns present across Soderbergh's oeuvre. Almost every movie centers on an alienated main character, and Soderbergh has repeatedly emphasized place as a major factor in his narratives. Formally, he represents the unconventional thinking of his outsider protagonists through a discontinuous editing style. Including detailed analyses of major films as well as two interviews with the director, this volume illustrates Soderbergh's hybrid flexibility in bringing an independent aesthetic to wide audiences.

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Tough Ain't Enough
New Perspectives on the Films of Clint Eastwood
Friedman, Lester D
Rutgers University Press, 2018
Throughout his lengthy career as both an actor and a director, Clint Eastwood has appeared in virtually every major film genre and, at this point in his career, has emerged as one of America’s most popular, recognizable, and respected filmmakers. He also remains a controversial figure in the political landscape, often characterized as the most prominent conservative voice in mostly liberal Hollywood. At Eastwood’s late age, his critical success as actor and director, his combative willingness to confront serious cultural issues in his films, and his undeniable talent behind the camera all call for a new and comprehensive study that considers and contextualizes his multiple roles, both on and off screen. Tough Ain’t Enough offers readers a series of original essays by prominent cinema scholars that explore the actor-director’s extensive career. The result is a far-reaching and nuanced portrait of one of America’s most prolific and thoughtful filmmakers.  
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The Traumatic Screen
The Films of Christopher Nolan
Stuart Joy
Intellect Books, 2020
Christopher Nolan occupies a rare realm within the Hollywood mainstream, creating complex, original films that achieve both critical acclaim and commercial success. In The Traumatic Screen, Stuart Joy builds on contemporary applications of psychoanalytic film theory to consider the function and presentation of trauma across Nolan’s work, arguing that the complexity, thematic consistency, and fragmentary nature of his films mimic the structural operation of trauma.
 
From 1997’s Doodlebug to 2017’s Dunkirk, Nolan’s films highlight cinema’s ability to probe the nature of human consciousness while commenting on the relationship between spectator and screen. Joy examines Nolan’s treatment of trauma—both individual and collective—through the formal construction, mise-en-scène, and repeated themes of his films. The argument presented is based on close textual analysis and a methodological framework that incorporates the works of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. The first in-depth, overtly psychoanalytic understanding of trauma in the context of the director’s filmography, this book builds on and challenges existing scholarship in a bold new interpretation of the Nolan canon.
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Wang Bing's Filmmaking of the China Dream
Narratives, Witnesses and Marginal Spaces
Elena Pollacchi
Amsterdam University Press, 2021
This volume offers an organic discussion of Wang Bing's filmmaking across China's marginal spaces and against the backdrop of the state-sanctioned 'China Dream'. Wang's work has contemporary China as its focus and testifies to the country's contradictions, not dissimilar to those of contemporary societies dealing with issues of inequality, labour, and migration. Without being an activist, Wang Bing gives voice to the subaltern. His internationally awarded documentaries are recognized as world masterpieces. His unique aesthetics bears references to film masters, therefore this investigation goes beyond the divide between Western and non-Western film traditions. Each chapter takes a different articulation of space (spaces of labour, spaces of history, spaces of memory) as its entry point bringing together film and documentary studies, Chinese studies, and studies in globalization issues. This volume benefits from the author's extensive conversation with Wang Bing and from insider's observations of film production and the film festival circuit.
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Werner Herzog
Ecstatic Truth and Other Useless Conquests
Kristoffer Hegnsvad
Reaktion Books, 2021
Werner Herzog came to fame in the 1970s as the European new wave explored new cinematic ideas. With films like Signs of Life (1968); Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972); The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974); and Fitzcarraldo (1982), Herzog became the subject of public debate, particularly due to his larger than life characters, often played by the wild Klaus Kinski. After the success of his documentary Grizzly Man (2005), Herzog became a leading force in a new form of hybrid documentary, and his tough attitude toward life and film made him a director’s director for a new generation of aspiring filmmakers. Kristoffer Hegnsvad’s award-winning book guides the reader through films depicting gangster priests, bear whisperers, shoe eating, revolutionary filmmakers . . . and a penguin. It is full of rare insights from Herzog’s otherwise secretive Rogue Film School, and features interviews with Herzog.
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Women Filmmakers in Sinophone World Cinema
Zhen Zhang
Amsterdam University Press, 2024
Women Filmmakers in Sinophone World Cinema portrays a group of important contemporary women filmmakers working across the Sinophone world including Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, and beyond. The book delineates and conceptualizes their cinematic and trans-media practices within an evolving, multifaceted feminist intimate-public commons. The films by these experienced and emerging filmmakers, including Huang Yu-shan, Yau Ching, Ai Xiaoming, Wen Hui, Huang Ji and others, represent some of the most innovative and socially engaged work in both fictional and non-fictional modes in Chinese-language cinema as well as global women’s cinema. Their narrative, documentary, and experimental film practices from the 1980s to the present, along with their work in sister media such as dance, theater, literature, and contemporary art, their activities as scholars, educators, activists, and film festival organizers or jurors, have significantly reshaped the landscape of Sinophone film culture and expanded the borders of world cinema.
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Women in the Work of Woody Allen
Martin Hall
Amsterdam University Press, 2022
Considering the current climate of the treatment of women in Hollywood following the Harvey Weinstein case, many male celebrities have been brought forward on charges of sexual harassment, including Woody Allen, who has once again appeared in the press in relation to historic charges of molestation. Within the context of the #MeToo era, this edited volume brings together researchers to consider how women are represented in the broader sphere of Hollywood cinema, to consider the notion of the male perspective on writing women, and to explore the various approaches to relationships with and between women on screen – all through the lens of the work of Woody Allen. While acknowledging the problematic consideration of the autobiographical nature of filmmaking, this book explores the role and representation of women throughout Allen’s films, plays, stand-up comedy, and other writings. With more recent industrial attention towards the production of his work (notably Amazon Studios refusing to distribute a completed film), the work of Woody Allen remains markedly problematic and demands interrogation, demonstrating the timeliness of this current volume.
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Woody on Rye
Jewishness in the Films and Plays of Woody Allen
Edited by Vincent Brook and Marat Grinberg
Brandeis University Press, 2013
Although Woody Allen’s films have received extensive attention from scholars and critics, no book has focused exclusively on Jewishness in his work, particularly that of the late 1990s and beyond. In this anthology, a distinguished group of contributors—whose work is richly contextualized in the fields of literature, philosophy, film, theater, and comedy—examine the schlemiel, Allen and women, the Jewish take on the “morality of murder,” Allen’s take on Hebrew scripture and Greek tragedy, his stage work, his cinematic treatment of food and dining, and what happens to “Jew York” when Woody takes his films out of New York City. Considered together, these essays delineate the intellectual, artistic, and moral development of one of cinema’s most durable and controversial directors.
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The Work of Terrence Malick
Time-Based Ecocinema
Gabriella Blasi
Amsterdam University Press, 2020
The Work of Terrence Malick: Time-Based Ecocinema develops a timely ecocinema approach to film analysis illuminated by Benjamin's notion of the turn of time. Current work on Malick's films emphasizes the spatial dynamics of his cinema, particularly as it pertains, from within a phenomenological framework, to the viewer's experience of films. This book redirects scholarly attention to the way Malick's directorial work shapes time and duration, laying new groundwork for the analysis of how films unsettle nature-culture binaries in modernity. The study performs this intervention through a rigorous engagement with Walter Benjamin's work on time, violence and technologies and the emergent figural approach to aesthetics in film studies. Each of these methods has important precedents in film studies and other fields. The combination of methods performed in this book contributes to understanding the relevance of a time-based approach to Malick's films and the practical implications of a time-based relation to history in contemporary ecocinema discourses.
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Writing Himself Into History
Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films, and His Audiences
Bowser, Pearl
Rutgers University Press, 2000

Winner of the 2001 Kraszna-Krausz Moving Image Book Awards | Winner of the Theatre Library Association Award

Writing Himself Into History is an eagerly anticipated analysis of the career and artistry surrounding the legendary Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. With the exception of Spike Lee, Micheaux is the most famous—and prolific—African American film director. Between 1918 and 1948 he made more than 40 “race pictures,” movies made for and about African Americans. A man of immense creativity, he also wrote seven novels.

Pearl Bowser and Louise Spence concentrate here on the first decade of Micheaux’s career, when Micheaux produced and directed more than twenty silent features and built a reputation as a controversial and maverick entrepreneur. Placing his work firmly within his social and cultural milieu, they also examine Micheaeux’s family and life. The authors provide a close textual analysis of his surviving films (including The Symbol of the Unconquered, Within Our Gates, and Body and Soul), and highlight the rivalry between studios, dilemmas of assimilation versus separatism, gender issues, and class. In Search of Oscar Micheaux also analyzes Micheaux’s career as a novelist in relation to his work as a filmmaker.

This is a much-awaited book that is especially timely as interest in Micheaux’s work increases.

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Zoological Surrealism
The Nonhuman Cinema of Jean Painlevé
James Leo Cahill
University of Minnesota Press, 2019

An archive-based, in-depth analysis of the surreal nature and science movies of the pioneering French filmmaker Jean Painlevé

Before Jacques-Yves Cousteau, there was Jean Painlevé, a pioneering French scientific and nature filmmaker with a Surrealist’s eye. Creator of more than two hundred films, his studies of strange animal worlds doubled as critical reimaginations of humanity. With an unerring eye for the uncanny and unexpected, Painlevé and his assistant Geneviève Hamon captured oneiric octopuses, metamorphic crustaceans, erotic seahorses, mythic vampire bats, and insatiable predatory insects.

Zoological Surrealism draws from Painlevé’s early oeuvre to rethink the entangled histories of cinema, Surrealism, and scientific research in interwar France. Delving deeply into Painlevé’s archive, James Leo Cahill develops an account of “cinema’s Copernican vocation”—how it was used to forge new scientific discoveries while also displacing and critiquing anthropocentric viewpoints.

From Painlevé’s engagements with Sergei Eisenstein, Georges Franju, and competing Surrealists to the historiographical dimensions of Jean Vigo’s concept of social cinema, Zoological Surrealism taps never-before-examined sources to offer a completely original perspective on a cutting-edge filmmaker. The first extensive English-language study of Painlevé’s early films and their contexts, it adds important new insight to our understanding of film while also contributing to contemporary investigations of the increasingly surreal landscapes of climate change and ecological emergency.

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