Thursday 25 October 2012

Adrian Martin's new book, Last Day Every Day: Figural Thinking from Auerbach and Kracauer to Agamben and Brenez

Cover of Adrian Martin's new book, Last day Every Day (Punctum Books, 2012)
Where is film analysis at today? What is cinema theory up to, behind our backs? The field, as professionally defined (at least in the Anglo-American academic world), is presently divided between contextual historians who turn to broad formations of modernity, and stylistic connoisseurs who call for a return to old-fashioned things like authorial vision, tone, and mise en scène. But there are other, vital, inventive currents happening — in criticism, on the Internet, in small magazines, and renegade conferences everywhere — which we are not hearing much about in any official way. Last Day Every Day shines a light on one of these exciting new avenues.
      Is there a way to bring together, in a refreshed manner, textual logic, hermeneutic interpretation, theoretical speculation, and socio-political history? A way to break the deadlock between classical approaches that sought organic coherence in film works, and poststructuralist approaches that exposed the heterogeneity of all texts and scattered the pieces to the four winds? A way to attend to the minute materiality of cinema, while grasping and contesting the histories imbricated in every image and sound?
Film Studies For Free urges its readers to go and check out the free download of Adrian Martin's important new book as described above. It is published by (the very wonderful) Punctum Books. Please support them by purchasing an incredibly reasonably priced paper copy as a lovely gift for the film scholars you love, or at the very least by ordering copies for your libraries.

That is all. Thank you! And a very big thank you to Adrian and Punctum.

This wonderful tome has also been added to FSFF's permanent listing of free Film Studies ebooks.

Monday 22 October 2012

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'! Video Studies of the Western

This new video essay examines the representation of the frontier in John Ford's Westerns. Ford's visual poetics illustrate Frederick Jackson Turner's conception of the frontier as "the meeting point between savagery and civilization." Ford's films, in this regard, allow us to explore seminal foundational concepts of America history and ideology. "John Ford's Vision of the West" was made according to principles of Fair Use (or Fair Dealing), primarily with scholarly, critical, and educational aims. It was published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Read Matthias's written study of his video essay practice. Also see Film Studies For Free's earlier entry on the art (and ideology) of John Ford's films

The Western is one of the most iconographic of film genres and is thus particularly well suited to (audio)visual forms of analysis. So, today, Film Studies For Free has lassoed and corralled a whole herd of beefy video studies of film Westerns that abundantly testify to this advantage.

The group is led, above, by a new, wonderfully researched, video essay by the very talented Matthias Stork (author of the great, and widely circulated, Chaos Cinema video essays, along with others published here at FSFF). Thanks very much to him and all the other video essayists represented below for making their work publicly acessible. 

[It's Open Access week, so this here Open Access campaigning website particularly wants to show its warm appreciation to those of you who like to share the fruits of at least part of your film studies labour for free!]

And if you know of any other, freely accessible, video essays on Westerns that FSFF has missed please alert us to them by leaving a comment with the link below. Thanks!

An audiovisual study of Sergio Leone's distinctive duel aesthetic. The video essay was first published, along with an accompanying written essay, in the first issue of the online film journal FRAMES. "Moving Pieces - Sergio Leone's Duel" was made according to principles of Fair Use (or Fair Dealing), primarily with scholarly and critical aims, and was published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Read Matthias's reflections on the above video here. And read Film Studies For Free's entry on the Spaghetti Western

A video essay exploring the ways in which editing techniques and other cinematic processes aid the construction of genre in the opening of "The Searchers" (John Ford, 1956).

Outlaw: Josey Wales by Matthew Cheney
A video essay looking at a few aspects of The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) 

McCabe and Mrs. Miller: A Video Essay by Steven Santos
A video essay on Robert Altman's 1971 film McCabe and Mrs. Miller. See the original posting here

Critics' Picks: Rio Bravo from The New York Times
A. O. Scott basks in the pleasures of taking it easy with Howard Hawks's 1959 Western.
(Related Link)

Beaver's Lodge: CAIN'S CUTTHROATS from Press Play Video Blog
This is the fifth installment of BEAVER'S LODGE, a series of video essays narrated by actor Jim Beaver which will offer critical takes on some of Beaver's favorite films 

'A whole new world that is nothing but frontier...': Richard Langley in the narration to his excellent short film, embedded above, American Un-Frontiers: Universality and Apocalypse Blockbusters
This film concerns recent apocalyptic Hollywood blockbusters, which have utilised notions of the ‘frontier’ to develop ideas of American hegemony in the uni-polar era, even as they postulate a universal erasure of national boundaries. Largely, the non-human agents of apocalypse in such films are responsible for erasing boundaries, but in so doing they simultaneously establish the conditions of American renewal. Indeed, the frontier must be continually renewed; it is drawn in order to be effaced, redrawn and effaced again.

      However, at the moment of effacement, when the boundaries between nations are broken down and a sense of universality seems triumphant, the dawning of a new world re-inscribes the frontier - the new world that is constructed is still American led; the mooted universality is both particular and parochial. Such films, which appear to posit un-American (or at least post-national) frontiers, actually achieve the inverse; the universal equality offered by apocalypse offers an American un-frontier, a site seemingly without boundaries, but which is simultaneously nothing but frontier, a re-dramatisation of America’s founding mythology.


Sunday 14 October 2012

Hard-Boiled! Studies of Raymond Chandler's Work on Screen

Frame grab from The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946). Read Jonathan  Rosenbaum's essay on this film adaptation of Raymond Chandler's 1939 novel.

Today, Film Studies For Free brings you the second of three posts devoted to online resources provided by the staff of the fantastic Film Studies department at Queen Mary, University of London. On this occasion, the resource is a two part video of an excellent, illustrated lecture by Adrian Wootton on the screen adaptations of Chandler's work, including ones the writer scripted himself.

This time, FSFF adds value to the videos with its own presentation of a terribly hard-boiled list of links to online scholarly studies of Raymond Chandler's work and its screen adaptations.

On December 3rd 2009, Adrian Wootton, then Chief Executive of the BFI (now CEO of Film London), visited Queen Mary, University of London, to give a talk on Raymond Chandler on screen.
Click on the links below to access QuickTime video files of the event.

Wootten 2 poster frame

Friday 12 October 2012

On David Lean: the Centenary Lectures from Queen Mary, University of London

Section from a frame grab from A Passage to India (David Lean, 1985)

Film Studies For Free only just bumped into the below videoed lectures which have been archived online for some time, possibly even since 2008 when they were recorded. They all treat the topic of David Lean, British film director, editor, producer and screenwriter.

What a truly wonderful resource they are, brought to you by the rather fantastic Film Studies department at Queen Mary, University of London. Two upcoming FSFF blogposts will bring you yet more fabulous resources from the brilliant staff in that department, but in the meantime it hopes that you will enjoy the resources linked to below.

At Queen Mary, University of London,
24th - 25th July 2008

"David Lean is one of the outstanding figures of British film history. A much sought-after film editor during the 1930s, he made his début as a director with In Which We Serve in 1942. He went on to direct such acclaimed films as Brief Encounter (1945), Great Expectations (1946), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and A Passage to India (1985). This centenary conference offered an opportunity both to celebrate his career and to evaluate the nature of his achievement."

Click on the images below to launch QuickTime video files of the lectures:
Mark Glancy

Mark Glancy, Queen Mary, University of London

David Lean and Noel Coward: Authorship and In Which We Serve

Anthony Reeves

Anthony Reeves, trustee of the David Lean Foundation

Anthony Reeves gives a brief introduction to the work of the David Lean Foundation
Linda Kaye

Linda Kaye, Senior Researcher, British Universities Film & Video Council

David Lean and the Newsreels (1930-1931)
Jeremy Hicks

Jeremy Hicks, Queen Mary, University of London

In Which We Serve... The Story of a Ship...Those Who Serve at Sea: The International Reception of David Lean's Directorial Début.

Sunday 7 October 2012

New JUMP CUT: gender, globalization, Third Cinema, history, political activism, racial representation, cinematic form, melodrama, genre, new media, and media institutions

Frame grab from La nación clandestina/The Hidden Nation (Jorge Sanjinés, 1989). Read a great selection of new and translated articles on this Bolivian filmmaker among the numerous essays just published in the latest issue of JUMP CUT
Film Studies For Free welcomes with wide open e-arms the fabulous new issue of JUMP CUT. Just look at all that high quality content, the links to which stretch out below, almost as far as the mouse can scroll.  

JUMP CUT truly goes from strength to strength with its focus on contemporary and international cinema, media, aesthetics, reception and politics. FSFF hasn't digested the entire issue yet, but so far particularly likes the dossier on Third Cinema filmmaker Jorge Sanjinés, Ian Murphy's article on two films by Claire Denis, and Diane Waldman's very thoughtful review of Vicki Callahan's important edited collection, Reclaiming the Archive: Feminism and Film History together with Suzanne Leonard's great study of Fatal Attraction.

Its brilliant and hardworking editors -- John Hess, Chuck Kleinhans and Julia Lesage -- deserve our admiration and sincere thanks for all the excellent, politically and ethically engaged research they help to bring into the public domain in our disciplines. Their stance and efforts are as crucial now as they have ever been.

Finally, in the week that brought the very sad news of the death of Octavio Getino, best known for co-founding, along with Fernando Solanas, the Grupo Cine Liberación as well as for elaborating with Solanas and others the notion of Third Cinema, and in memory of this great film theorist and practitioner, interested readers might like to be reminded of FSFF's earlier related entries (see below), which contain links to numerous, past JUMP CUT offerings, and also check out Michael Chanan's tribute to Getino and historian Eric Hobsbawm here.

  • “Family” in Li Yang’s Blind Shaft and Blind Mountain by Amanda Weiss. A look at globalization and the family in Li Yang's migrant films Blind Shaft (2003) and Blind Mountain (2007).
  • Migrant workers, women, and China’s modernization on screen 
by Jenny Kwok Wah Lau.
 Even though China's migrant workers constitute the biggest human migration in the world at this time the life circumstances of these workers receive little attention in Chinese cinema. This article explores how visual media, including installation arts, documentary films, and narrative films expose the often neglected issues of women migrants.
  • Defining the popular auteur, or what it means to be human within the machine 
by Caroline Guo.
 Review of Director in Action: Johnnie To and the Hong Kong Action Film by Stephen Teo. 
Stephen Teo tackles Johnnie To’s multifaceted role in the Hong Kong film industry: this review picks up where his monograph leaves off to grapple with the filmmaker’s ongoing evolution and rethink the notion of the “popular auteur.”
  • Negotiating censorship: Narrow Dwelling as social critique
 by Wing Shan Ho.
 Housing crisis and extra-marital affair—this essay explores how the TV drama Narrow Dwelling skillfully critiques social inequalities under the censor’s eye.
  • Digital pleasure palaces: Bollywood seduces the global Indian at the multiplex 
by Manjunath Pendakur. 
Malls, multiplexes and digital cinemas are symbols of the fast-modernizing, neoliberal India of the 21st century and, in these turbulent conditions, Bollywood is expanding its audiences at home and abroad while the political-economic-technological changes have resulted in new conflicts and a reshaping of the film industry's internal structure and operation.
  • Chokher Bali: a historico-cultural translation of Tagore
 by Srimati Mukherjee
. Bengali director Rituparno Ghosh challenges the moribund aspects of cultural tradition and shows that mobilization in and out of the “fixed” space of the widow is possible.
Articles on Bolivian filmmaker, Jorge Sanjinés
  • Andean realism and the integral sequence shot 
by David M.J. Wood. 
Bolivian filmmaker Jorge Sanjinés’ radical film theory and praxis: an Andean take on the critique of mainstream cinema and the redemptive power of realism.
  • The impossibility of mestizaje in The Hidden Nation: 
emblematic constructions in the cinema of Jorge Sanjinés
 by Alber Quispe Escobar, translated with explanatory notes by Keith John Richards.
  • The all-encompassing sequence shot
by Jorge Sanjinés, translated by Cecilia Cornejo and Dennis Hanlon.
Jorge Sanjinés' 1989 essay explains the development of the "Andean sequence shot" and why it is consonant with indigenous Andean concepts of community and time. A key piece of Third Cinema theory never before translated into English.
  • The “new” and the “old” in Bolivian cinema
 by Verónica Córdova S., translated by Amy L. Tibbitts. 
Verónica Córdova S. remarks on the motivations of the New Latin American Cinema movement of the 60s as contrasted with current trends and concerns of present-day Bolivian filmmakers. Using the films of Jorge Sanjinés as a model, Córdova explains how new technological advances in filmmaking are influencing Bolivian film production, while, hopefully, remaining in dialogue with the past generation of filmmakers.
  • A cinema of questions: a response to Verónica Córdova 
by Martín Boulocq, translated by Amy L. Tibbitts. 
Martín Boulocq responds to Verónica Córdova's comments regarding the motivation of past and present Bolivian filmmakers, offering an entirely unique perspective on what motivates filmmakers to make films.
  • Insurgentes: the slight return of Jorge Sanjinés 
by Keith John Richards.
 Jorge Sanjinés’ most recent film, Insurgentes, has aroused differences of opinion within Bolivia; this review examines the film in the context of recent developments in the country.
1. Race/ethnicity
2. The Mideast
3. History
4. Institutions: Law, Production, Exhibition
5. Queering the entertainment

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Introducing REFRAME: Open-Access and Multimedia Publishing in Media, Film and Music Studies

The above video (made by Catherine Grant) frames a substantial interview, which took place on September 26, with Rosalind Galt, author of PRETTY: Film and the Decorative Image (Columbia University Press, 2011). PRETTY has just won the inaugural award from the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies for the Best Film, TV and Screen Studies Book in 2011. Galt talks in detail about the research that led to her book, some of the filmmakers and critical theory that inspired and informed her work, and where her research is going next.

 The video (originally published here) is, hopefully, an example of a nimble and responsive approach to academic publishing in the online context. Film and media studies research can very usefully, accessibly and engagingly be disseminated, without 'dumbing down', in shareable multimedia formats which, increasingly, are taking their full (digital) place alongside books and peer-reviewed journal articles.

Film Studies For Free's author has a little Open Access publishing sideline going on these days - one of the reasons why it's possibly got a bit quieter at this blog. She's the editor of REFRAME, a new academic digital platform for the online practice, publication and curation of internationally produced research and scholarship. While Film Studies For Free will definitely carry on doing what it's doing for the foreseeable future, the new project should also be of interest to many FSFF readers.

REFRAME's subject specialisms—media, film and music— are also those of its publisher, the School of Media, Film and Music (MFM) at the University of Sussex, UK. REFRAME is managed by an editorial board composed of MFM faculty, graduate researchers, and other University of Sussex associates, and it is supported by an international advisory board.

It aims to offer a range of scholarly and related creative and critical content – from relatively ephemeral or responsive forms of research output (project blogs, online film and video festivals, conferences and symposia, and audio and video podcasts) through to fully peer-reviewed online serials and monographic publications, and digital archives and assemblages.

REFRAME channels its content through a dynamic portal website that links to and publicises its multiple components. It is also active across a range of social media. Its open access ethos is underpinned by a commitment to interacting with its audiences wherever possible.

It is hoped that REFRAME will go on to provide an innovative, engaging and productive environment for audiovisual, audio and visual, and written digital humanities or ‘Digital-First’ research, scholarship and publishing in media, film and music, including the production, curation and online archiving of experimental work and research by practice. Please contact REFRAME if you would like to suggest a research or publishing project for its consideration, publicise a related online initiative or website, or offer any feedback.

REFRAME launched in Autumn 2012 with the below projects.

FSFF hopes that you will enjoy them, and maybe even contribute to them, or to other REFRAME publications in the future!
GLOBAL QUEER CINEMA A collaborative research project engaged in investigating queer film cultures from a global perspective and analysing world cinema from a queer point of view. Read more 
(GQC is on Twitter and Facebook. Its RSS feed is here)

SEQUENCE Serial studies in media, film and music. Read more about its experimental format here.
(SEQUENCE is on Twitter and Facebook. Its RSS feed is here)

The first 'sequence' of the Inaugural Issue of SEQUENCE is a substantial and brilliant article -- "MELANCHOLIA or, The Romantic Anti-Sublime" -- by Steven Shaviro.
(SEQUENCE is on Twitter and Facebook. Its RSS feed is here)

The REFRAME[D] blog with its video and audio podcasts on media, film and music studies research, and weekly roundups of research news, events and links.
(REFRAME and REFRAME[D] are on Twitter and Facebook. Their RSS feed is here)