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 examines the role of direct address within fiction cinema. Film characters are not supposed to look at the camera, so what happens when they do acknowledge our presence as spectators? It is often assumed that this is incompatible with the voyeurism and the presence - absence that defines the cinema experience and disrupts our involvement in the fiction. This book revaluates these and other fundamental assumptions about the medium by demonstrating that direct address is compatible with - and is in some cases a convention of - various traditions of filmmaking. Breaking the Fourth Wall is the first book to provide a broad understanding of the role of direct address within fiction cinema. Chapters on the role of direct address in Hollywood comedies and musicals, as well as in some 'alternative' film practices, are accompanied by extended readings of individual films in which the illusion of eye contact between spectator and character offers a rich metaphor for the problems of vision (insight, foresight, other kinds of perceptiveness) that are so often the currency of movie narratives. In examining direct address, it returns the reader to fundamental and foundational debates concerning how cinema has been defined since the early part of the 20th century, making it an invaluable resource for students and researchers in Film Studies.
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).
This book traces the historical evolution of Indian cinema through a number of key decades. The book is made up of 14 chapters with each chapter focusing on one key film, the chosen films analysed in their wider social, political and historical context whilst a concerted engagement with various ideological strands that underpin each film is also evident. In addition to exploring the films in their wider contexts, the author analyses selected sequences through the conceptual framework common to both film and media studies. This includes a consideration of narrative, genre, representation, audience and mise-en-scene. The case studies run chronologically from Awaara (The Vagabond, 1951) to The Elements Trilogy: Water (2005) and include films by such key figures as Satyajit Ray (The Lonely Wife), Ritwick Ghatak (Cloud Capped Star), Yash Chopra (The Wall) and Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay!).
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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Deleuze, Altered States and Film offers a typology of altered states, defining dream, hallucination, memory, trance and ecstasy in their cinematic expression. The book presents altered states films as significant neurological, psychological and philosophical experiences. Chapters engage with films that simultaneously present and induce altered consciousness. They consider dream states and the popularisation of alterity in drugs films. The altered bodies of erotic arousal and trance states are explored, using haptics and synaesthesia. Cinematic distortions of space and time as well as new digital and fractal directions are opened up. Anna Powell's distinctive re-mapping of the film experience as altered state uses a Deleuzian approach to explore how cinema alters us by 'affective contamination'. Arguing that specific cinematic techniques derange the senses and the mind, she makes an assemblage of philosophy and art, counter-cultural writers and filmmakers to provide insights into the cinematic event as intoxication. The book applies Deleuze, alone and with Guattari, to mainstream films like Donnie Darko as well as arthouse and experimental cinema. Offering innovative readings of 'classic' altered states movies such as 2001, Performance and Easy Rider, it includes 'avant-garde' and 'underground' work. Powell asserts the Deleuzian approach as itself a kind of altered state that explodes habitual ways of thinking and feeling.
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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This is an exploration of the figuring of absence in film. This study considers the placement of the breathing body in the film experience and its implications for the study of embodiment in film and sensuous spectatorship. Davina Quinlivan shapes her engagement with film by the foregrounding of the human body in the filmic diegesis and the viewing experience. This emphasis on the human body as an breathing body coupled with its fresh engagement with continental philosophy, Post-Structuralist Film Theory and Contemporary Western Cinema, makes a unique and valuable contribution to the field. Case studies are taken from the work of major directors, including Cronenberg and von Trier. Key concepts explored are filmic space (air and the elemental in film), corporeality (bodies on screen and the film itself as a breathing body) and inter-subjectivity (community and sociality). It makes a notable contribution to the study of film sound and haptic perception.
Film Criticism, the Cold War, and the Blacklist examines the long-term reception of several key American films released during the postwar period, focusing on the two main critical lenses used in the interpretation of these films: propaganda and allegory. Produced in response to the hearings held by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) that resulted in the Hollywood blacklist, these films' ideological message and rhetorical effectiveness was often muddled by the inherent difficulties in dramatizing villains defined by their thoughts and belief systems rather than their actions. Whereas anti-Communist propaganda films offered explicit political exhortation, allegory was the preferred vehicle for veiled or hidden political comment in many police procedurals, historical films, Westerns, and science fiction films. Jeff Smith examines the way that particular heuristics, such as the mental availability of exemplars and the effects of framing, have encouraged critics to match filmic elements to contemporaneous historical events, persons, and policies. In charting the development of these particular readings, Film Criticism, the Cold War, and the Blacklist features case studies of many canonical Cold War titles, including The Red Menace, On the Waterfront, The Robe, High Noon, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
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"In all film there is the desire to capture the motion of life, to refuse immobility," Agnes Varda has noted. But to capture the reality of human experience, cinema must fasten on stillness and inaction as much as motion. Slow Movies investigates movies by acclaimed international directors who in the past three decades have challenged mainstream cinema's reliance on motion and action. More than other realist art cinema, slow movies by Lisandro Alonso, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Pedro Costa, Jia Zhang-ke, Abbas Kiarostami, Cristian Mungiu, Alexander Sokurov, Bela Tarr, Gus Van Sant and others radically adhere to space-times in which emotion is repressed along with motion; editing and dialogue yield to stasis and contemplation; action surrenders to emptiness if not death.
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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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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.
The first book to unpack American cinema's long history of representing death, this work considers movie sequences in which the process of dying becomes an exercise in legibility and exploration for the camera. Reading attractions-based cinema, narrative films, early sound cinema, and films using voiceover or images of medical technology, C. Scott Combs connects the slow or static process of dying to formal film innovation throughout the twentieth century. He looks at Thomas Edison's Electrocuting an Elephant (1903), D. W. Griffith's The Country Doctor (1909), John Ford's How Green Was My Valley (1941), Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950), Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby (2004), among other films, to argue against the notion that film cannot capture the end of life because it cannot stop moving forward. Instead, he shows how the end of dying occurs more than once and in more than one place, understanding death in cinema as constantly in flux, wedged between technological precision and embodied perception.
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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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