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Power, culture, and society

This book interrogates the interplay of cultural and political aspects of contemporary Hollywood movies. Using ‘security’ films dealing with public order and disorder (Part I), romantic comedies and other movies presenting intimate relationalities (Part II), socially engaged films offering overtly critical messages (Part III), and analysis of Hollywood’s global reach and impact (Part IV), it articulates and illustrates an original cultural politics approach to film. The book employs an expanded conception of ‘the political’ to enquire into power relations in public, private, and policy arenas in order to advance a new framework and methodology for cultural politics. It demonstrates how movies both reflect and produce political myths that largely uphold the status quo as they shape our dreams, identities, and selves.

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2 Politics Introduction The problem in America is that we don’t apologise, and we don’t learn. The protests against the Iraq War worldwide were enormous. I don’t think Americans got a sense of the protest or the damage in Iraq at all. The protests were not that big a story in the USA. The American press report on every story from an American viewpoint. It is what comes naturally to them. It’s not done out of malice; they don’t know any better.1 In his introduction to an episode of the PBS programme Open Mind, recorded in January 1992, host Richard Heffner

in The cinema of Oliver Stone
A reply from Saturday Night to Mr. Dienstag

rate at which a director might turn out B-movies. There are, however, great films, just as there are great operas. How did/does opera function? What is it about music and voice? Mr. Cavell’s last claim – one we have known since Plato – is that the interplay between the “personal” and the “political” is such that they cast light on each other and show what possibilities for

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism

1  Beyond political modernism 2  The key political modernist auteur: Jean-Luc Godard with Eddie Constantine and Anna Karina on the set of Alphaville (1965) I n an important article written in 1972, Peter Wollen set forth the stakes of a counter-cinema that could be opposed to what he referred to as orthodox cinema (Wollen 1985). He proceeded to map the ‘seven deadly sins’ of orthodox cinema in order to oppose them directly to the ‘seven cardinal virtues’ of counter-cinema. The opposition declared here was one that, in time, became known as the discourse of

in The reality of film

Working within the 1970s French avant-garde, Duras set out to dismantle the mechanisms of mainstream cinema, progressively undermining conventional representation and narrative and replacing them with her own innovative technique. However, the experimental impetus of her cinema was not motivated solely by artistic or aesthetic considerations, but also had important political implications. As Prédal has

in Marguerite Duras

emptying its people and places of their individual identities, enabling readers and spectators alike to project their own stories, thoughts and fantasies on to the bare outlines offered. If Duras’s creative enterprise was shaped to a large extent by memories of her childhood and adolescence, her involvement in the political history of France since the Second World War played an equally important role, particularly in her cinema. Indeed, a

in Marguerite Duras

6 Before and after the political While he was editing Entre les murs, Cantet was given Joyce Carol Oates’s classic American novel, Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang to read. First published in 1993, the novel presented itself as a mature woman’s account of her 1950s youth and involvement with a gang of girls spurred into revolt against an oppressive, male-dominated society. Cantet was gripped by the book and unsurprisingly drawn to an adaptation. The novel contains so many of his favourite themes: the collision between the utopian and the real; shame and

in Laurent Cantet

Cochet ou le tennis that certain of these motifs would soon find a more fully poetic and more explicitly political expression in Zéro de conduite . In the latter, Vigo was to develop his heart-felt denunciation of the oppressive educational system, as well as his lyrical celebration of adolescent fun and games. As for Cochet ou le tennis, at first the outline was approved by the production team at GFFA, and Vigo was even

in Jean Vigo
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The cultural politics of popular film

1 Introduction: the cultural politics of popular film Going to the movies and mulling over power and politics are usually understood to be mutually exclusive activities. Movies are often thought to be escapist entertainments specifically removed from the world of power, politics, and social analysis. Yet even though movies may well be experienced as enjoyable flights of fancy, they are also thoroughly implicated and invested in power relations – they are part of the cultural and political landscape that both constructs and reflects social life. Movies and

in The cultural politics of contemporary Hollywood film
The Dardenne brothers

creative or poetic documentary and for the way in which it provides a pre-history for the later fictions, a pre-history which not only points to the novelty of the socio-political terrain upon which they have to operate, but also helps us to understand some of the radical stylistic and formal choices that they make. The documentaries sought to explain, prolong and question a leftist tradition of struggle at a time when it and the

in Five directors