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Jacqueline Furby

This essay deals with the temporality of film through an examination of narrative, structure and image in Sam Mendes’ film American Beauty (2000), referring to both Gilles Deleuze and Henri Bergson‘s work on time. I argue that the repetition of formal elements (images, settings, colours, shapes, and textures) creates a kind of internal rhyme that is suggested appeals to human aesthetic rhythmic sensibilities and invites the spectators imaginative interplay. This temporal pattern speaks of a particularly human rhythmic design, and provides an escape from the ‘standardised, context free, homogeneous’ clock time ‘that structures and times our daily lives’.

Film Studies
Open Access (free)
James Baldwin and Malcolm X
Mikko Tuhkanen

Taking its cue from recent scholarly work on the concept of time in African American literature, this essay argues that, while both James Baldwin and Malcolm X refuse gradualism and insist on “the now” as the moment of civil rights’ fulfillment, Baldwin also remains troubled by the narrowness assumed by a life, politics, or ethics limited to the present moment. In his engagement with Malcolm’s life and legacy—most notably in One Day, When I Was Lost, his screen adaptation of Malcolm’s autobiography—he works toward a temporal mode that would be both punctual and expansive. What he proposes as the operative time of chronoethics is an “untimely now”: he seeks to replace Malcolm’s unyielding punctuality with a different nowness, one that rejects both calls for “patience,” endemic to any politics that rests on the Enlightenment notion of “perfectibility,” and the breathless urgency that prevents the subject from seeing anything beyond the oppressive system he wants overthrown. Both thinkers find the promise of such untimeliness in their sojourns beyond the United States.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Photography and Social Change in James Baldwin’s America
Makeda Best

This essay explores an exhibition at the Harvard Art Museums, installed in the fall of 2018, entitled Time is Now: Photography and Social Change in James Baldwin’s America.

James Baldwin Review
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Rethinking the Familiar in Steven Soderbergh‘s The Limey
Lee Carruthers

This article complicates the notion that Steven Soderbergh‘s films are simply a refashioning of familiar materials, as evidenced by his ongoing appropriation of classical Hollywood and the European art cinema. Through a close analysis of The Limey (1999), this essay argues that Soderbergh‘s film interrogates the idea of familiarity, as such, beginning with the perceptual experience that it generates for viewers. With reference to Victor Shklovsky‘s notion of defamiliarization as well as Martin Heidegger‘s formulation of temporality in Being and Time, this discussion proposes that Soderbergh‘s reiteration of the filmic past can be seen as a meaningful event for film-critical practice that sheds new light upon issues of filmic temporality and film history.

Film Studies
Robert Z. Birdwell

Go Tell It on the Mountain sheds light on James Baldwin’s response to his Pentecostal religious inheritance. Baldwin writes protagonist John Grimes’s experience of “salvation” as an act of his own break with his past and the inauguration of a new vocation as authorial witness of his times. This break is premised on the experience of kairos, a form of time that was derived from Baldwin’s experience of Pentecostalism. Through John Grimes’s experience, Baldwin represents a break with the past that begins with the kairotic moment and progresses through the beginnings of self-love and the possibility of freedom enabled by this love. This essay contributes a new perspective on discussions of Baldwin’s representation of time and his relationship to Christianity.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Dennis Ray Knight Jr.

If he is known for anything other than his writings, James Baldwin is best known for his work as a civil rights activist. What is often overlooked is Baldwin’s work toward uniting two under-represented and oppressed groups: African Americans and homosexuals. With his first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Baldwin began a career of speaking about and for homosexuals and their relationship with the institutions of African-American communities. Through its focus on a sensitive, church-going teenager, Go Tell It on the Mountain dramatizes the strain imposed upon homosexual members of African-American communities within the Pentecostal Church through its religious beliefs.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
An Excerpt from Bill V. Mullen’s New Biography, James Baldwin: Living in Fire, and an Interview with the Author
Bill V. Mullen

This excerpt from James Baldwin: Living in Fire details a key juncture in Baldwin’s life, 1957–59, when he was transformed by a visit to the South to write about the civil rights movement while grappling with the meaning of the Algerian Revolution. The excerpt shows Baldwin understanding black and Arab liberation struggles as simultaneous and parallel moments in the rise of Third World, anti-colonial and anti-racist U.S. politics. It also shows Baldwin’s emotional and psychological vulnerability to repressive state violence experienced by black and Arab citizens in the U.S., France, and Algiers.

James Baldwin Review
A Conversation with Bill V. Mullen, the author of James Baldwin: Living in Fire
William J. Maxwell and Bill V. Mullen

William J. Maxwell, editor of James Baldwin: The FBI File (2017), interviews Bill V. Mullen on his 2019 biography, James Baldwin: Living in Fire, along the way touching on both Baldwin’s early internationalism and his relevance to the current wave of racial discord and interracial possibility in the United States.

James Baldwin Review
Terence Davies and the Paradoxes of Time
Wendy Everett

This article examines the paradoxes inherent in filmic time, with particular reference to the autobiographical work of the British director Terence Davies. Analysing ways in which film, itself constructed from still images, can create, reverse or freeze temporal flux, confuse and blend multiple and conflicting temporalities, and create the spatial dimensions of an ‘imaginary’ time, it argues that the relationship between film and music may well provide a fundamental key to the understanding of filmic time.

Film Studies
The Early Promise and Disappointing Career of Time-Lapse Photography
David Lavery

Time-lapse photography—the extremely accelerated recording and projection of an event taking place over an extended duration of time—is almost as old as the movies themselves. (The first known use of time-lapse dates from 1898.) In the early decades of the twentieth century, cineastes, not to mention scientists, artists, and poets, waxed eloquently on the promise of time-lapse photography as a means for revealing “things we cannot see,” and expanding human perception. This essay examines time-lapses tremendous initial imaginative appeal for such figures as Ernst Mach, Germaine Dulac, Jean Epstein, Rudolf Arnheim, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Collette, and speculates about the possible reasons for its diminution over the course of the century.

Film Studies