Description : A series of movies that share images, characters, settings, plots, or themes, film cycles have been an industrial strategy since the beginning of cinema. While some have viewed them as "subgenres," mini-genres, or nascent film genres, Amanda Ann Klein argues that film cycles are an entity in their own right and a subject worthy of their own study. She posits that film cycles retain the marks of their historical, economic, and generic contexts and therefore can reveal much about the state of contemporary politics, prevalent social ideologies, aesthetic trends, popular desires, and anxieties. American Film Cycles presents a series of case studies of successful film cycles, including the melodramatic gangster films of the 1920s, the 1930s Dead End Kids cycle, the 1950s juvenile delinquent teenpic cycle, and the 1990s ghetto action cycle. Klein situates these films in several historical trajectories—the Progressive movement of the 1910s and 1920s, the beginnings of America's involvement in World War II, the "birth" of the teenager in the 1950s, and the drug and gangbanger crises of the early 1990s. She shows how filmmakers, audiences, film reviewers, advertisements, and cultural discourses interact with and have an impact on the film texts. Her findings illustrate the utility of the film cycle in broadening our understanding of established film genres, articulating and building upon beliefs about contemporary social problems, shaping and disseminating deviant subcultures, and exploiting and reflecting upon racial and political upheaval.
Description : Examines more than 1,000 silent films in light of contemporary social, political, and national trends during the silent years.
Description : In Hollywood, we hear, it’s all about the money. It’s a ready explanation for why so few black films get made—no crossover appeal, no promise of a big payoff. But what if the money itself is color-coded? What if the economics that governs film production is so skewed that no film by, about, or for people of color will ever look like a worthy investment unless it follows specific racial or gender patterns? This, Monica Ndounou shows us, is precisely the case. In a work as revealing about the culture of filmmaking as it is about the distorted economics of African American film, Ndounou clearly traces the insidious connections between history, content, and cash in black films. How does history come into it? Hollywood’s reliance on past performance as a measure of potential success virtually guarantees that historically underrepresented, underfunded, and undersold African American films devalue the future prospects of black films. So the cycle continues as it has for nearly a century. Behind the scenes, the numbers are far from neutral. Analyzing the onscreen narratives and off-screen circumstances behind nearly two thousand films featuring African Americans in leading and supporting roles, including such recent productions as Bamboozled, Beloved, and Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Ndounou exposes the cultural and racial constraints that limit not just the production but also the expression and creative freedom of black films. Her wide-ranging analysis reaches into questions of literature, language, speech and dialect, film images and narrative, acting, theater and film business practices, production history and financing, and organizational history. By uncovering the ideology behind profit-driven industry practices that reshape narratives by, about, and for people of color, this provocative work brings to light existing limitations—and possibilities for reworking stories and business practices in theater, literature, and film.
Description : This collection of essays by leading American film scholars charts a whole new territory in genre film criticism. Rather than assuming that genres are self-evident categories, the contributors offer innovative ways to think about types of films, and patterns within films, in a historical context. Challenging familiar attitudes, the essays offer new conceptual frameworks and a fresh look at how popular culture functions in American society. The range of essays is exceptional, from David J. Russell's insights into the horror genre to Carol J. Clover's provocative take on "trial films" to Leo Braudy's argument for the subject of nature as a genre. Also included are essays on melodrama, race, film noir, and the industrial context of genre production. The contributors confront the poststructuralist critique of genre head-on; together they are certain to shape future debates concerning the viability and vitality of genre in studying American cinema.
Description : Visions of Empire explores film's function as a medium of political communication, recognizing not just the propaganda film, but the various ways that conventional narrative films embody, question, or critique established social values underlying American attitudes toward historical, social, and political events. Stephen Prince discusses Hollywood film productions of the 1980s in terms of salient political issues of the period, including anxieties about declining U.S. military power, the wars in Central America and the prospects for U.S. intervention, the legacy of the Vietnam War, and urban decay. In analyzing these images and narratives, the author also describes and evaluates the cinematic styles available in the Hollywood tradition to filmmakers who address political issues. Chapter 1 establishes the theoretical framework by considering features of the political landscape of the Reagan era. Theories about political representation and the place of ideology in film are also examined. Chapters 2 through 5 focus on the major cycles of political films. Chapter 2 examines the new Cold War films which played upon fears of the Soviet menace (Rambo, Invasion USA, Red Dawn, and Top Gun). Chapter 3 discusses the small group of films--Under Fire, Salvador, El Norte and others--that addressed the wars in Latin America and the ways they explained the origins of the conflicts and the U.S. role therein. Various histories and mythologies on film of the Vietnam War are examined in Chapter 4 as examples of the symbolic reconstruction of social memory. Chapter 5 looks at politicized science fiction films (Blade Runner, Aliens, Robocop, and Total Recall) offering critical commentaries on the pathologies of contemporary urban society and capitalism.
Description : The words “Asian American film” might evoke a painfully earnest, low-budget documentary or family drama, destined to be seen only in small film festivals or on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). In her groundbreaking study of the past fifty years of Asian American film and video, Jun Okada demonstrates that although this stereotype is not entirely unfounded, a remarkably diverse range of Asian American filmmaking has emerged. Yet Okada also reveals how the legacy of institutional funding and the “PBS style” unites these filmmakers, whether they are working within that system or setting themselves in opposition to its conventions. Making Asian American Film and Video explores how the genre has served as a flashpoint for debates about what constitutes Asian American identity. Tracing a history of how Asian American film was initially conceived as a form of public-interest media, part of a broader effort to give voice to underrepresented American minorities, Okada shows why this seemingly well-intentioned project inspired deeply ambivalent responses. In addition, she considers a number of Asian American filmmakers who have opted out of producing state-funded films, from Wayne Wang to Gregg Araki to Justin Lin. Okada gives us a unique behind-the-scenes look at the various institutions that have bankrolled and distributed Asian American films, revealing the dynamic interplay between commercial and state-run media. More than just a history of Asian Americans in film, Making Asian American Film and Video is an insightful meditation on both the achievements and the limitations of institutionalized multiculturalism.
Description : In light of their tremendous gains in the political and professional sphere, and their ever expanding options, why is it that most contemporary American films aimed at women still focus almost exclusively on their pursuit of a heterosexual romantic relationship? American Postfeminist Cinema explores this question and is the first book to examine the symbiotic relationship between heterosexual romance and postfeminist culture. The book argues that since 1980, postfeminism's most salient tensions and anxieties have been reflected and negotiated in the American romance film. Case studies of a broad range of Hollywood and independent films reveal how the postfeminist romance cycle is intertwined with contemporary women's ambivalence and broader cultural anxieties about women's changing social and political status.
Description : Re-Viewing British Cinema, 19001992 is a collection of essays on British cinema history and practice. It offers both the casual reader and the film scholar a different view of British filmmaking during the past century. Arranged in chronological order, the book explores those areas of British cinema that have not been fully examined in other works and also offers fresh interpretations of a number of classic films. From the work of Frederic Villiers, the pioneering British newsreel cameraman who at the turn of the century brought home images of battlefield carnage, to essays on the British B film and the long-forgotten Independent Frame method of film production, to new readings of classics such as The Red Shoes, Passport to Pimlico, and Peeping Tom, the authors offer a look behind the scenes of the British film industry and engage the reader in some of the most compelling interpretational and historical issues of recent film history and critical theory. In addition, the volume contains a number of interviews with such key directors as Stephen Frears, Terence Davies, Wendy Toye, and Lindsay Anderson and also pays particular attention to the work of early twentieth-century British feminist filmmakers whose films have often been ignored by conventional film theory and history. It also offers new material on the British film noir, the English horror film, and the pioneering gay director Brian Desmond Hurst. Taken as a whole, this book presents an entirely new series of viewpoints on British film practice, theory, and reception and affords a fresh and vibrant view of the British film medium.
Description : American Smart Cinema examines a contemporary type of US filmmaking that exists at the intersection of mainstream, art and independent cinema and often gives rise to absurd, darkly comic and nihilistic effects.
Description : Killing the Indian Maiden examines the fascinating and often disturbing portrayal of Native American women in film. Through discussion of thirty-four Hollywood films from the silent period to the present, M. Elise Marubbio examines the sacrificial role of what she terms the "Celluloid Maiden" -- a young Native woman who allies herself with a white male hero and dies as a result of that choice. Marubbio intertwines theories of colonization, gender, race, and film studies to ground her study in sociohistorical context all in an attempt to define what it means to be an American. As Marubbio charts the consistent depiction of the Celluloid Maiden, she uncovers two primary characterizations -- the Celluloid Princess and the Sexualized Maiden. The archetype for the exotic Celluloid Princess appears in silent films such as Cecil B. DeMille's The Squaw Man (1914) and is thoroughly established in American iconography in Delmer Daves's Broken Arrow (1950). Her more erotic sister, the Sexualized Maiden, emerges as a femme fatale in such films as DeMille's North West Mounted Police (1940), King Vidor's Duel in the Sun (1946), and Charles Warren's Arrowhead (1953). The two characterizations eventually combine to form a hybrid Celluloid Maiden who first appears in John Ford's The Searchers (1956) and reappears in the 1970s and the 1990s in such films as Arthur Penn's Little Big Man (1970) and Michael Apted's Thunderheart (1992). Killing the Indian Maiden reveals a cultural iconography about Native Americans and their role in the frontier embedded in the American psyche. The Native American woman is a racialized and sexualized other -- a conquerable body representing both the seductions and the dangers of the frontier. These films show her being colonized and suffering at the hands of Manifest Destiny and American expansionism, but Marubbio argues that the Native American woman also represents a threat to the idea of a white America. The complexity and longevity of the Celluloid Maiden icon -- persisting into the twenty-first century -- symbolizes an identity crisis about the composition of the American national body that has played over and over throughout different eras and political climates. Ultimately, Marubbio establishes that the ongoing representation of the Celluloid Maiden signals the continuing development and justification of American colonialism.