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Texts and contexts

The 2000s were a decade that saw many important Scottish films make big splashes in critical and commercial terms, the decade ending with Peter Mullan's acclaimed film Neds. The field of Scottish cinema studies was more or less born with Scotch Reels (1982), a collection of essays edited by Colin McArthur. The collection sought to unearth a history of cinematic representations of Scotland and to argue for the need for more indigenous production. Scottish cinema studies is now a field that is very much alive and vibrant, as evidenced by a recent wave of book-length publications such as the latest anthology on Scottish cinema, Scottish Cinema Now (2009). This book seeks to add to this growing tide of scholarship and in so doing assist with the project of subjecting the works of Scottish cinema to sustained close analysis and historicization. The central context of this book is the production landscape surrounding Scottish cinema over the last thirty years. After Local Hero and Trainspotting, Mrs Brown ranks as the most prominent indigenously produced contemporary Scottish film in terms of both popularity and critical prestige. The book explores Lynne Ramsay's career after Morvern Callar telling us about the optimistic narratives presented by Scottish cinema historians. The book also concerns with a figure who has been less successful in critical terms than his peers even if his films, particularly Young Adam and Hallam Foe, have resonated more with audiences than Red Road, Orphans or Neds.

The dollars are coming!

While post-war popular cinema has traditionally been excluded from accounts of national cinemas, the last fifteen years have seen the academy’s gradual rediscovery of cult and, more, generally, popular films. Why, many years after their release, do we now deem these films worthy of study? The book situates ‘low’ film genres in their economic and culturally specific contexts (a period of unstable ‘economic miracles’ in different countries and regions) and explores the interconnections between those contexts, the immediate industrial-financial interests sustaining the films, and the films’ aesthetics. It argues that the visibility (or not) of popular genres in a nation’s account of its cinema is an indirect but demonstrable effect of the centrality (or not) of a particular kind of capital in that country’s economy. Through in-depth examination of what may at first appear as different cycles in film production and history – the Italian giallo, the Mexican horror film and Hindi horror cinema – Capital and popular cinema lays the foundations of a comparative approach to film; one capable of accounting for the whole of a national film industry’s production (‘popular’ and ‘canonic’) and applicable to the study of film genres globally.

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Berlin‘s Public Space in the 1910s and 1920s
Brigitte Flickinger

In the early years of the cinema and into the 1910s and 1920s, it was less the film than cinema-going itself that attracted urban publics. In this era, people were enthusiastic about technology and the achievements of modernity; while at the same time they felt anxious about the rapid and radical changes in their social and economic life. In Germany, this contradictory experience was especially harsh and perceptible in the urban metropolis of Berlin. The article demonstrates how within city life, Berlin cinemas – offering the excitement of innovation as well as optimal distraction and entertainment – provided an urban space where, by cinema-going, appeal and uncertainty could be positively reconciled.

Film Studies
Point of view and communication
Author: James Zborowski

This book explores the theoretical and critical concept of filmic point of view. Its case studies are six acclaimed and accomplished instances of ‘classical Hollywood cinema’: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Capra, 1936), Only Angels Have Wings (Hawks, 1939), Letter from an Unknown Woman (Ophuls, 1948), Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958), Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger, 1959), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford, 1962). The book’s particular contributions to the study of filmic point of view are to use ‘communication’ as an idea which permits new ways of approaching this topic, and to offer detailed explorations of the filmic representation of character experience (including character ‘consciousness’ and interaction), and of the relationship of film to other media of communication (especially print media and the novel). With respect to character experience, it is argued that the often-held distinction between an inner realm of thought and feeling and an outer realm of behaviour and objects fails to do justice to the human experience of ‘being-in-the-world’ and film’s ability to represent it. With respect to film’s relationship to other media, it explores the traversing of the public, the private and the social that narrative fiction film represents, in a way that aligns the medium with the novel. The book is offered as a demonstration and defence of the value of a ‘conversational’ critical method that entails detailed scrutiny of our film-viewing experiences and of the language we use to describe those experiences, and eschews the construction of a taxonomy designed for general applicability.

Between art and life

The term la Parisienne denotes a figure of French modernity. There is significant scholarship on la Parisienne in the fields of art history, fashion theory and culture and cultural histories of Paris However, there is little written on the (re)appearance and function of the type in cinema. This book is intended as an introduction to la Parisienne and her iconography in cinema, and deals predominantly with visual and narrative conventions, derived primarily from nineteenth-century art, literature and visual culture. The iconography of la Parisienne can be categorised according to the following concepts: visibility and mobility; style and fashionability, including self-fashioning; artist and muse; cosmopolitanism; prostitution; danger; consumption; and transformation. The book argues that la Parisienne is a type which exists between art and life, and the figure that emerges from this blurring of art and life is la Parisienne as muse. It considers the cosmopolitanism of the Parisienne type, in the sense of 'anyone' and 'anywhere', and argues that la Parisienne was conceived as feminity as such. The book explores the relationship between la Parisienne, fashion and film, and looks at la Parisienne as femme fatale within the context of French film noir. It traces her development in nineteenth-century art and literature, and examines the way the Parisienne as courtesan is (re)presented in cinema. The book also investigates the contribution star personae of Brigitte Bardot, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Anna Karina, and Jeanne Moreau have made to the Parisienne type in cinema.

Baldwin, Racial Melancholy, and the Black Middle Ground
Peter Lurie

This article uses Baldwin’s 1949 essay “Everybody’s Protest Novel” to consider that literary mode’s corollary in the 1990s New Black Cinema. It argues that recent African American movies posit an alternative to the politics and aesthetics of films by a director such as Spike Lee, one that evinces a set of qualities Baldwin calls for in his essay about Black literature. Among these are what recent scholars such as Ann Anlin Cheng have called racial melancholy or what Kevin Quashie describes as Black “quiet,” as well as variations on Yogita Goyal’s diaspora romance. Films such as Barry Jenkins’s adaptation of If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) and Joe Talbot and Jimmy Fails’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) offer a cinematic version of racial narrative at odds with the protest tradition I associate with earlier Black directors, a newly resonant cinema that we might see as both a direct and an indirect legacy of Baldwin’s views on African American culture and politics.

James Baldwin Review
A Case Study of the Irish Film Board 1993–2013
Roddy Flynn and Tony Tracy

This article sets out to reinvigorate national cinema studies in an Irish context through a quantitative analysis of films financed by the Irish Film Board between 1993 and 2013. In constructing and coding a database of titles produced with the aid of state finance during this period, the authors argue for a methodology that broadens the inductive approaches of textual analysis that have dominated discussions of Irish cinema to date. By establishing recurring genres, narrative patterns, themes and character types present in IFB-funded films during this period, this article demonstrates how the professional objectives of IFB personnel have shaped institutional funding outcomes.

Film Studies
Joshua Foa Dienstag in dialogue
Series: Critical Powers

This book engages in a critical encounter with the work of Stanley Cavell on cinema, focusing skeptical attention on the claims made for the contribution of cinema to the ethical character of democratic life. In much of Cavell's writing on film he seeks to show us that the protagonists of the films he terms "remarriage comedies" live a form of perfectionism that he upholds as desirable for contemporary democratic society: moral perfectionism. Films are often viewed on television, and television shows can have "filmlike" qualities. The book addresses the nature of viewing cinematic film as a mode of experience, arguing against Cavell that it is akin to dreaming rather than lived consciousness and, crucially, cannot be shared. It mirrors the celebrated dialogue between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Jean D'Alembert on theatre. The book articulates the implications of philosophical pessimism for addressing contemporary culture in its relationship to political life. It clarifies how The Americans resembles the remarriage films and can illuminate the issues they raise. The tragedy of remarriage, would be a better instructor of a democratic community, if such a community were prepared to listen. The book suggests that dreaming, both with and without films, is not merely a pleasurable distraction but a valuable pastime for democratic citizens. Finally, it concludes with a robust response from Dienstag to his critics.

An Introductory Text and Translation (Halit Refiğ, 1971)
Murat Akser and Didem Durak-Akser

Halit Refiğ had impact on debates around Turkish national cinema both as a thinker and as a practitioner. Instrumental in establishing the Turkish Film Institute under MSU along with his director colleagues like Metin Erksan and Lutfi Akad, Refiğ lectured for many years at the first cinema training department. This translation is from his 1971 collection of articles titled Ulusal Sinema Kavgasi (Fight For National Cinema). Here Refiğ elaborates on the concept of national cinema from cultural perspectives framing Turkey as a continuation of Ottoman Empire and its culture distinct and different from western ideas of capitalism, bourgeoisie art and Marxism. For Refiğ, Turkish cinema should be reflected as an extension of traditional Turkish arts. Refiğ explores the potential to form a national cinema through dialogue,and dialectic within Turkish traditional arts and against western cinematic traditions of representation.

Film Studies