Film Theory & Criticism Books
The BBC is a national institution that draws praise and criticism in equal measure. This entertaining collection of letters stretches over 40 years of programming and captures just how much joy, fury and hilarity the broadcaster has brought to the nation.
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These never-before-seen letters and telegrams to the BBC provide a fascinating alternative history and cover momentous events ranging from the broadcast of the Coronation in 1953 through to the groundbreaking drama of Grange Hill ('just say no, Zammo!').
The letters have been categorised into different themes including political bias and the Royal Family and this is the perfect read for anyone who loves reading all about the moral outrage of the nation.
This book presents an ecophilosophy of cinema: an account of the moving image in relation to the lived ecologies - material, social, and perceptual relations - within which movies are produced, consumed, and incorporated into cultural life. If cinema takes us on mental and emotional journeys, the author argues that those journeys that have reshaped our understanding of ourselves, life, and the Earth and universe. A range of styles are examined, from ethnographic and wildlife documentaries, westerns and road movies, sci-fi blockbusters and eco-disaster films to the experimental and art films of Tarkovsky, Herzog, Malick, and Brakhage, to YouTube's expanding audio-visual universe.
Film Dialogue is the first anthology in film studies devoted to the topic of language in cinema, bringing together leading and emerging scholars to discuss the aesthetic, narrative, and ideological dimensions of film speech that have largely gone unappreciated and unheard. Consisting of thirteen essays divided into three sections: genre, auteur theory, and cultural representation, Film Dialogue revisits and reconfigures several of the most established topics in film studies in an effort to persuade readers that "spectators" are more accurately described as "audiences," that the gaze has its equal in eavesdropping, and that images are best understood and appreciated through their interactions with words. Including an introduction that outlines a methodology of film dialogue study and adopting an accessible prose style throughout, Film Dialogue is a welcome addition to ongoing debates about the place, value, and purpose of language in cinema.
This is the first collection of critical essays on philosopher jacques Ranciere's recent work on film. Jacques Ranciere (1940) rose to prominence as a radical egalitarian philosopher, political theorist and historian. Recently, he has intervened into the discourses of film theory and film studies, publishing controversial and challenging works on these topics. This book offers an exciting range of responses to and assessments of his contributions to film studies and includes a new piece by Ranciere himself. It is a comprehensive assessment of Ranciere's contribution to film studies and theory. The editor's introduction orientates new readers into the historical and disciplinary debates which are key to understanding Ranciere. It is a diverse range of perspectives from important scholars who are themselves fascinating and engaging writers and thinkers.
This book places the concept of duration at the centre of an understanding of cinema and spectatorship. The process of aesthetic imaging in time is a unique and fascinating characteristic of cinema. Why, then, has temporality, and specifically duration, received so little attention in theoretical accounts of film experience? This book makes the concept of duration the central tenet in an understanding of cinema and spectatorship. From this vantage point, the book reviews two major strands of film theory: embodied viewing and the senses, and the film-philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Unlike much contemporary film theory, Mroz's book emphasises the necessity of considering the close relationship between intellectual comprehension and sensual apprehension, as mediated through film aesthetics. In the duration of the film experience, sensual responses to filmed textures and the interpretive contexts that we inevitably bring to bear on films are continually interacting. Exactly how this occurs is demonstrated in detailed case studies of films by Antonioni (L'Avventura), Tarkovsky (Mirror) and Kieslowski (The Decalogue).
Films for children and young people are a constant in the history of cinema, from its beginnings to the present day. This book serves as a comprehensive introduction to the children's film, examining its recurrent themes and ideologies, and common narrative and stylistic principles. Opening with a thorough consideration of how the genre may be defined, this volume goes on to explore how children's cinema has developed across its broad historical and geographic span, with particular reference to films from the United States, Britain, France, Denmark, Russia, India, and China. Analyzing changes and continuities in how children's film has been conceived, it argues for a fundamental distinction between commercial productions intended primarily to entertain, and non-commercial films made under pedagogical principles, and produced for purposes of moral and behavioral instruction. In elaborating these different forms, this book outlines a history of children's cinema from the early days of commercial cinema to the present, explores key critical issues, and provides case studies of major children's films from around the world.
Revisioning Europe :The Films of John Berger and Alain Tanner, is among the few existing English-language discussions of the films made by British novelist John Berger and Swiss film director Alain Tanner. It brings to light a political cinema that was unsentimental about the possibilities of revolutionary struggle and unsparing in its critique of the European left, and at the same time optimistic about the ability of radicalism - and radical art - to transform the world. Jerry White argues that Berger and Tanner's work is preoccupied with ideas that were both central to the Enlightenment and at the same time characteristically Swiss. Translations of previously unpublished essays by both John Berger and Alain Tanner are included as appendices.
What does it mean to call something "contemporary"? More than simply denoting what's new, it speaks to how we come to know the present we're living in and how we develop a shared story about it. The story of trying to understand the present is an integral, yet often unnoticed, part of the literature and film of our moment. In Contemporary Drift, Theodore Martin argues that the contemporary is not just a historical period but also a conceptual problem, and he claims that contemporary genre fiction offers a much-needed resource for resolving that problem. Contemporary Drift combines a theoretical focus on the challenge of conceptualizing the present with a historical account of contemporary literature and film. Emphasizing both the difficulty and the necessity of historicizing the contemporary, the book explores how recent works of fiction depict life in an age of global capitalism, postindustrialism, and climate change. Through new histories of the novel of manners, film noir, the Western, detective fiction, and the postapocalyptic novel, Martin shows how the problem of the contemporary preoccupies a wide range of novelists and filmmakers, including Zadie Smith, Colson Whitehead, Vikram Chandra, China Mieville, Kelly Reichardt, and the Coen brothers. Martin argues that genre provides these artists with a formal strategy for understanding both the content and the concept of the contemporary. Genre writing, with its mix of old and new, brings to light the complicated process by which we make sense of our present and determine what belongs to our time.
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Storytelling in World Cinemas, Vol. 1: Forms is an innovative collection of essays that discuss how different cinemas of the world tell stories. The book locates European, Asian, African, and Latin American films within their wider cultural and artistic frameworks, showing how storytelling forms in cinema are infused with influences from other artistic, literary, and oral traditions. This volume also reconsiders cinematic storytelling in general, highlighting the hybridity of 'national' forms of storytelling, calling for a rethinking of African cinematic storytelling that goes beyond oral traditions, and addressing films characterised by 'non-narration'. This study is the first in a two-volume project, with the second focusing on the contexts of cinematic storytelling.
What does it mean for film and video to be experimental? In this collection of essays framed by the concept "ex-" - meaning from, outside, and no longer - Akira Mizuta Lippit explores the aesthetic, technical, and theoretical reverberations of avant-garde film and video. "Ex-Cinema" is a sustained reflection on the ways in which experimental media artists move outside the conventions of mainstream cinema and initiate a dialogue on the meaning of cinema itself.
At the time of its release in 1983, Local Hero, starring Burt Lancaster and Fulton MacKay, was the most expensive film ever to be made in Scotland. It remains as important and influential today as it was then. David Manderson's SCOTNOTE study guide considers the impact of Local Hero on the Scottish film industry and the rest of the world, while evaluating the film's influence on Scottish filmmakers. This study guide explores important aspects of the film, including the story of its production, inspirations for the plot, characters, themes and critical reception. It also examines the language of film and includes a guide to cinematography and a glossary of technical terms. These notes are suitable for media studies students, senior school pupils and students of all levels.
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'The finest film critic in Britain at the absolute top of his form' Stephen Fry 'Entertainingly incendiary stuff' Empire A hatchet job isn't just a bad review, it's a total trashing. Mark Kermode is famous for them - Pirates of the Caribbean, Sex and the City 2, the complete works of Michael Bay. Beginning with his favourite hatchet job ever, Mark tells us about the best bad reviews in history, why you have to be willing to tell a director face-to-face their movie sucks, and about the time he apologized to Steven Spielberg for badmouthing his work. But why do we love really bad reviews? Is it so much harder to be positive? And is the Internet ruining how we talk about cinema? The UK's most trusted film critic answers all these questions and more in this hilarious, fascinating and argumentative new book. 'A wry, robust and developed defence of accountable critical voices' Total Film 'Very accessible, entertaining and relevant ...warmly recommended' Den of Geek
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In Moving Environments: Affect, Emotion, Ecology, and Film, international scholars investigate how films portray human emotional relationships with the more-than-human world and how such films act upon their viewers' emotions. Emotion and affect are the basic mechanisms that connect us to our environment, shape our knowledge, and motivate our actions. Contributors explore how film represents and shapes human emotion in relation to different environments and what role time, place, and genre play in these affective processes. Individual essays resituate well-researched environmental films such as An Inconvenient Truth and March of the Penguins by paying close attention to their emotionalizing strategies, and bring to our attention the affective qualities of films that have so far received little attention from ecocritics, such as Stan Brakhage's Dog Star Man. The collection opens a new discursive space at the disciplinary intersection of film studies, affect studies, and a growing body of ecocritical scholarship. It will be of interest not only to scholars and students working in the field of ecocriticism and the environmental humanities, but for everyone with an interest in our emotional responses to film.
This is a comparative analysis of Maghrebi-French and North African emigre cinema in France. Since the early 1980s, the arrival of Beur cinema filmmakers of Maghrebi origin have made a key contribution to French cinema's representation of issues such as immigration, integration and national identity. However, they have done so mostly from a position on the margins of the industry. In contrast, since the early 2000s, Maghrebi-French and North African emigre filmmakers have occupied an increasingly prominent position on both sides of the camera, announcing their presence on French screens in a wider range of genres and styles than ever before. This greater visibility and move to the mainstream has not, however, automatically meant that these films have lost any of their social or political relevance. Through a detailed study of this transformative decade for Maghrebi-French and North African emigre filmmaking in France, this book argues for the emergence of a 'Post-Beur' cinema in the 2000s that is simultaneously global and local in its outlook. It provides a comprehensive overview of the key developments in Maghrebi-French and North African emigre filmmaking in France since the 2000s. It includes detailed case studies of key films from the 2000s that have yet to receive scholarly attention, such as La Graine et le mulet (Kechiche, 2007), Indigenes (Bouchareb, 2006), Cartouches gauloises (Charef, 2007), Le Grand voyage (Ferroukhi, 2004) and Dernier Maquis (Ameur-Zaimeche, 2008). It analyses trends in production, distribution and exhibition as they relate to Maghrebi-French and North African emigre filmmakers in the 2000s.
The Subject of Film and Race is the first comprehensive intervention into how film critics and scholars have sought to understand cinema's relationship to racial ideology. In attempting to do more than merely identify harmful stereotypes, research on 'films and race' appropriates ideas from post-structuralist theory. But on those platforms, the field takes intellectual and political positions that place its anti-racist efforts at an impasse. While presenting theoretical ideas in an accessible way, Gerald Sim's historical materialist approach uniquely triangulates well-known work by Edward Said with the Neo-Marxian writing about film by Theodor Adorno and Fredric Jameson. The Subject of Film and Race takes on topics such as identity politics, multiculturalism, multiracial discourse, and cyborg theory, to force film and media studies into rethinking their approach, specifically towards humanism and critical subjectivity. The book illustrates theoretical discussions with a diverse set of familiar films by John Ford, Michael Mann, Todd Solondz, Quentin Tarantino, Keanu Reeves, and others, to show that we must always be aware of capitalist history when thinking about race, ethnicity, and films.
Film Theory addresses the core concepts and arguments created or used by academics, critical film theorists, and filmmakers, including the work of Dudley Andrew, Raymond Bellour, Mary Ann Doane, Miriam Hansen, bell hooks, Siegfried Kracauer, Raul Ruiz, P. Adams Sitney, Bernard Stiegler, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. This volume takes the position that film theory is a form of writing that produces a unique cinematic grammar; and like all grammars, it forms part of the system of rules that govern a language, and is thus applicable to wider range of media forms. In their creation of authorial trends, identification of the technology of cinema as a creative force, and production of films as aesthetic markers, film theories contribute an epistemological resource that connects the technologies of filmmaking and film composition. This book explores these connections through film theorisations of processes of the diagrammatisation (the systems, methodologies, concepts, histories) of cinematic matters of the filmic world.
How do films work? How do they tell a story? How do they move us and make us think? Through detailed examinations of passages from classic films, Marilyn Fabe supplies the analytic tools and background in film history and theory to enable us to see more in every film we watch. Ranging from D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation to James Cameron's Avatar, and ending with an epilogue on digital media, Closely Watched Films focuses on exemplary works of fourteen film directors whose careers together span the history of the narrative film. Lively and down-to-earth, this concise introduction provides a broad, complete, and yet specific picture of visual narrative techniques that will increase readers' excitement about and knowledge of the possibilities of the film medium. Shot-by-shot analyses of short passages from each film ground theory in concrete examples. Fabe includes original and well-informed discussions of Soviet montage, realism and expressionism in film form, classical and modern sound theory, the classic Hollywood film, Italian neorealism, the French New Wave, auteur theory, modernism and postmodernism in film, political cinema, feminist film theory and practice, and narrative experiments in new digital media. Encompassing the earliest silent films as well as those that exploit the most recent technological innovations, this book gives us the particulars of how film - arguably the most influential of contemporary forms of representation - constitutes our pleasure, influences our thoughts, and informs our daily reality. Updated to include a discussion of 3-D and advanced special effects, this tenth anniversary edition is an essential film studies text for students and professors alike.
The image that appears on the movie screen is the direct and tangible result of the joint efforts of the director and the cinematographer. A Hidden History of Film Style is the first study to focus on the collaborations between directors and cinematographers, a partnership that has played a crucial role in American cinema since the early years of the silent era. Christopher Beach argues that an understanding of the complex director-cinematographer collaboration offers an important model that challenges the pervasive conventional concept of director as auteur. Drawing upon oral histories, early industry trade journals, and other primary materials, Beach examines key innovations like deep focus, color, and digital cinematography, and in doing so produces an exceptionally clear history of the craft. Through analysis of several key collaborations in American cinema from the silent era to the late twentieth century such as those of D. W. Griffith and Billy Bitzer, William Wyler and Gregg Toland, and Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Burks this pivotal book underlines the importance of cinematographers to both the development of cinematic technique and the expression of visual style in film.
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Presents an analysis of what contemporary directors seek to attain by putting their spectators in a position of strong discomfort. In recent years some of the best known European and American art film directors have made films that place the spectator in a position of intense discomfort: Feel Bad Films. How are these unpleasurable viewing experiences created? What do the directors believe they can achieve via the feel bad experience? How can we situate the films in intellectual history? Why should we watch, study and teach feel bad films? These questions will be answered through analysis of films by directors such as Lars von Trier, Gus Van Sant, Claire Denis, Michael Haneke, Lucille Hadzihalilovic, Brian de Palma, Bruno Dumont and Harmony Korine. Features detailed analyses of the work of some of the best known contemporary art film directors; a stimulating contribution to current debates about the ethics and politics of cinematic spectatorship; the conceptualisation of a cinematic genre that will allow us to reconsider debates about the social potential of film; primary case studies include: Lars von Trier: Dogville (Denmark); Brian de Palma: Redacted (US); Gus Van Sant: Elephant (US); Lucille Hadzihalilovic: Innocence (France); Stan Brakhage: Kindering (US); Ruben Ostlund: Play (Sweden); Bruno Dumont: Twentynine Palms (France); Harmony Korine: Trash Humpers (US); Secondary case studies: Simon Staho: Daisy Diamond (Denmark); Claire Denis: I Can't Sleep (France); Michael Haneke: Hidden (France/Austria); Urszula Antoniak: Code Blue (Holland/Poland) and Claire Denis: The Bastards (France).
Ronnie Reagan's bizarre legs are sufficient reason to watch John Loves Mary (1949), a picture so ordinaire it needs this bizarre touch. When the faces in this historic still from the Museum of Modern Art are cropped, Reagan could pass for a butch lez from the Women's Army Corps who is about to put the old make on a fluff (Patricia Neal). -- from Cruising the Movies Cruising the Movies was Boyd McDonald's "sexual guide" to televised cinema, originally published by the Gay Presses of New York in 1985. The capstone of McDonald's prolific turn as a freelance film columnist for the magazine Christopher Street, Cruising the Movies collects the author's movie reviews of 1983--1985. This new, expanded edition also includes previously uncollected articles and a new introduction by William E. Jones. Eschewing new theatrical releases for the "oldies" once common as cheap programing on independent television stations, and more interested in starlets and supporting players than leading actors, McDonald casts an acerbic, queer eye on the greats and not-so-greats of Hollywood's Golden Age. Writing against the bleak backdrop of Reagan-era America, McDonald never ceases to find subversive, arousing delights in the comically chaste aesthetics imposed by the censorious Motion Picture Production Code of 1930--1968. Better known as the editor of the Straight to Hell paperback series -- a compendia of real-life sexual stories that is part pornography, part ethnography -- McDonald in his film writing reveals both his studious and sardonic sides. Many of the texts in Cruising the Movies were inspired by McDonald's attentive inspection of the now-shuttered MoMA Film Stills Archive, and his columns gloriously capture a bygone era in film fandom. Gay and subcultural, yet never reducible to a zany cult concern or mere camp, McDonald's "reviews" capture a lost art of queer cinephilia, recording a furtive obsession that once animated gay urban life. With lancing wit, Cruising celebrates gay subculture's profound embrace of mass culture, seeing film for what it is -- a screen that reflects our fantasies, desires, and dreams.
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What defines quality in contemporary Hollywood film? Although often seen as inhospitable to such work, the studios of the blockbuster-franchise era continue to produce features that make claims to higher status. Films such as The Social Network, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Mystic River are marked as distinctive from the mainstream norm. But how exactly, and how are such qualities mixed with more familiar Hollywood ingredients, as found in larger doses in other examples such as Blood Diamond and the blockbuster-scale Inception? Quality Hollywood is the first book to address these issues, featuring close analysis of case study films, critical responses and the wider notions of cultural value on which these draw. Geoff King argues that such films retain a presence as a minority strand of studio output. The reasons for this combine factors relating to economics, the power of certain filmmakers and Hollywood s investment in its own prestige."
Both a precursor to and a critical member of the French New Wave, Agnes Varda weaves documentary and fiction into tapestries that portray distinctive places and complex human beings. Critics and aficionados have celebrated Varda's independence and originality since the New Wave touchstone Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962) brought her a level of international acclaim she has yet to relinquish. Film historian Kelley Conway traces Varda's works from her 1954 debut La Pointe Courte through a varied career that includes nonfiction and fiction shorts and features, installation art, and the triumphant 2008 documentary The Beaches of Agnes . Drawing on Varda's archives and conversations with the filmmaker, Conway focuses on the concrete details of how Varda makes films: a project's emergence, its development and the shifting forms of its screenplay, the search for financing, and the execution from casting through editing and exhibition. In the process, she departs from film history's traditional view of the French New Wave and reveals one artist's nontraditional trajectory through independent filmmaking. The result is an intimate consideration that reveals the artistic consistencies and bold changes in the career of one of the world's most exuberant and intriguing directors.
In the context of a frantic world that celebrates instantaneity and speed, a number of cinemas steeped in contemplation, silence and duration have garnered significant critical attention in recent years, thus resonating with a larger sociocultural movement whose aim is to rescue extended temporal structures from the accelerated tempo of late-capitalism. Although not part, of a structured film movement, directors such as Carlos Reygadas, Tsai Ming-liang, Bela Tarr, Pedro Costa and Kelly Reichardt have been largely subsumed under the term 'slow cinema'. But what exactly is slow cinema? Is it a strictly recent phenomenon or an overarching cinematic tradition? And how exactly do slow cinemas interrelate on an aesthetic, technical and political level? Deploying the concept of slowness as an umbrella category under which filmmakers and traditions from different historical, and geographical backgrounds can fruitfully converge, this innovative collection of essays interrogates and expands the frameworks that have generally informed slow cinema debates. Repositioning the term in a broader theoretical space, the book combines an array of fine-g rained studies that will provide valuable insight into the notion of slowness in the cinema, while mapping out past and contemporary slow films across the globe.
Towards a Feminist Cinematic Ethics develops an account of non-normative ethics that can be used to think about filmmaking and viewing, using two philosopher - Emmanuel Levinas and Jean-Luc Nancy, and the work of filmmaker Claire Denis. In an accessible and engaging manner, it offers new readings of Denis' films, situating them within larger feminist, postcolonial and queer debates about identity and difference. Using a generative methodology, the book works towards a mutually challenging and productive relationship between cinematic ideas and philosophical concepts.