Monday 27 August 2012

CINEPHILE on Contemporary Realism: Post-Classical Hollywood, Mumblecore, Neo-Neorealism,Tonacci, Reichardt, Greengrass, Van Sant

Framegrab from Meek's Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010). Read 'Beyond Neo-Neo Realism: Reconfigurations of Neorealist Narration in Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff' by James Lattimer here (large PDF)
[I]n the last decade or so, a reappraisal of realism has risen to the fore. Sparked by the demise of cinema’s ontological basis (the existential link between film’s corporeal nature and its real-world referent) and the renewed pertinence of Bazin’s cardinal question, Qu’est-ce que le cinéma?, realism has been re-framed as a generative area of study in a parlous digital age, enabling new (or newly situated) discourse on cinematic reportage, authenticity, and representation. Recent scholars who have embraced realism’s epistemological subscription—yet managed to traverse the epistemic fissure of a positivist approach—have recognized moments of contingency in contemporary art house and marginal cinemas, rooted either in classical tenets (spatio-temporal integrity, social extension, moral despondence) or emergent ones (“haptic” visuality, profilmic exclusivity, ethical engagement). This issue of Cinephile is situated at the intersection of such discussions. [Editors' Note, Cinephile, Fall 2011]

Film Studies For Free is delighted to announce that the Fall 2011 issue of the great Canadian online film journal Cinephile -- a special issue on realism -- is now available for free download, following its usual period of availability only in a print edition.

The table of contents is given below, and you can download the PDF of the issue here. Below the list of articles, you can find the next Cinephile Call For Papers for an upcoming issue on the New Extremism.

For more on Bazinian, Neo-Bazinian, and Post-Bazinian Film Studies, please check out FSFF's entry as well as other posts accessible via its film realism tag.

Cinephile Fall 2010 Table of Contents
  • Editor’s Note
  • Contributors
  • 'Reenactment and A-filiation in Andrea Tonacci’s Serras da Desordem' by Ivone Margulies
  • 'Post-Classical Hollywood Realism and “Ideological Reality”' by Richard Rushton
  • 'The Sound of Uncertain Voices: Mumblecore and the Interrogation of Realism' by Justin Horton
  • 'The Aesthetics of Trauma: Authenticity and Disorientation in Paul Greengrass’s Bloody Sunday' by Marc Di Sotto
  • 'Beyond Neo-Neo Realism: Reconfigurations of Neorealist Narration in Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff' by James Lattimer
  • 'Gus Van Sant’s Gerry and Visionary Realism' by Tiago de Luca

Call For Papers

Cinephile 8.2, Contemporary Extremism

Deadline for draft submission: September 1, 2012
The last decade has marked an escalation in the treatment of extreme subject matter in European cinema, heralded by the graphic violence and sexuality of French New Extremism at the turn of the millennium and increasingly apparent in films from across Europe. While extreme violence and graphic sexuality have long played a part in the European film tradition (Un Chien Andalou (Buñuel 1929); I Am Curious (Yellow) (Sjöman 1967), Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci 1972), Salò (Pasolini 1975), etc.), these contemporary films are exceptionally abrasive in the use of transgressive material, employing the sensory capabilities of cinema to impact the spectator on a visceral level. Scholars such as Martine Beugnet, Tanya Horeck, Tina Kendall, and Tim Palmer have pointed to New Extremism as a burgeoning cinematic trend that seeks to re-examine our relationship to the body and to the film screen itself. Onscreen penetrative sex, sexual violence, and explicit gore are central features of films like Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009), Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible (2002), Yorgos Lanthimos’s Dogtooth (2009), and Claire Denis’s Trouble Every Day (2001), to name a few films that can be situated within the New Extremist canon.
    With the Fall 2012 issue of Cinephile, we wish to interrogate the parameters and significance of New Extremism. In doing so, we are willing to extend our questions beyond Europe with the hopes of inquiring into Extremism as a global phenomenon. Is New Extremism a feature of European film in particular, prefigured by the European film tradition, or has its influence extended beyond Europe’s borders and bled into other global cinemas? Is Extremism really “new,” or is it merely a contemporary incarnation of old provocations and transgressions? What is the impact of these films, and why should we be watching them (if we should be watching them at all)?
Starting points might include:
  • Extremism outside of Europe: Asian cinema (Ichi the Killer (Miike 2001), Old Boy (Park 2003), etc.), North American cinema (Deadgirl (Sarmiento & Harel 2008), August Underground (Vogel 2001), etc.), and other global cinemas
  • The legitimacy of New Extremism: extreme content in art cinema vs. extreme content in exploitation, horror, and grindhouse cinemas
  • Controversy, notoriety, and censorship (Antichrist, A Serbian Film (Spasojevic 2010), The Human Centipede 2 (Six 2011), etc.)
  • New Extremism and horror cinema (High Tension (Aja 2003), Calvaire (Du Welz 2004), Inside (Bustillo & Maury 2007), Martyrs (Laugier 2008), etc.)
  • Spectatorship, affect, and corporeality
  • Approaches to New Extremism: Genre, mode, movement, or trend?
  • Theory and New Extremism
We encourage submissions from graduate and doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty.
    Papers should be between 2000-3500 words, follow MLA guidelines, and include a detailed works cited page, as well as a short biography of the author.  Submissions and inquiries should be directed to:
    Cinephile is the University of British Columbia’s film journal, published with the continued support of the Centre for Cinema Studies. We are proud to feature a new article by Sarah Kozloff in our Spring 2012 issue. Previous issues have featured original essays by such noted scholars as K.J. Donnelly, Barry Keith Grant, Matt Hills, Ivone Margulies, Murray Pomerance, Paul Wells, and Slavoj Žižek. Since 2009, the journal has adopted a blind peer-review process and has moved to biannual publication.  It is available both online and in print via subscription.


Joel Bocko said...

Boy, am I ambivalent tilting hostile toward "contemporary realism" in all its forms: I find the neo-neorealism too often high-minded slumming, the Bourne approach to action movies almost unwatchable, the mumblecore intriguing in its lo-fi aesthetic yet rather exasperating in the narrowness of its narcissistic worldivew, and the misguided notion that fantasy franchises need to be made "gritty" detracting from the entire attraction to popcorn movies. Even the Dardennes, whom I know I'm supposed to worship, leave me rather cold - at least what I've seen (the new Criterion of Rosetta is next on my Netflix queue).

At the same time, I'm dismayed by the contrary trend toward complete fabrication in big-budget movies - not only the increasing dependence on CGI, but the excessive use of close-ups, fast-cutting, and generic set design to flatten even "realistic" scenes or movies (so that everything is surface).

What I think has been lost, or is being lost, is the ability for the Melies and Lumiere schools to coexist in the same film. As Godard said, Melies was a great documentarian (all of those fantastic sets and props were photographed same as the actors) and the Lumieres were great fantasists (since, among other reasons, they convinced us we were watching reality unfold in front of us, rather than its reproduction).

Great movies are a dance between the natural and the illusionistic. Now there's too much of a divorce. In my humble opinion anyway.

"traverse the epistemic fissure of a positivist approach"
Ha, this is one of those sentences were I understand each word individually but really can't quite figure out where the writer is going by slamming them all together!

Anonymous said...

Meek's Cutoff is a great film, but one of the most distinctive things about it (and something mentioned numerous times by Reichardt in interviews) was that it was shot in 4:3, so it's a bit dismaying to see a frame grab in the wrong aspect ratio!

Catherine Grant said...

Thanks for both your comments.

I hope you like ROSETTA, Joel. Zonka's THE DREAMLIFE OF ANGELS may be another great film to watch to help change your view.

And Anonymous, my apologies! I've rectified my error and used a new framegrab in the correct ratio.

Thanks to both of you for dropping by and leaving comments.