A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA
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No. 50, spring 2008
Arab independent media and Hollywood representation of Arabs
Tora Bora cinema and independent media from Palestine
by Sobhi al-Zobaidi
How can people survive their lost geographies? What are the consequences of perpetual and systematic dispossession of people like the Palestinians? Tora Bora Cinema traces in film and video, the emergence of the paranoid Palestinian, the displaced, de-centered and space-less subject who, in order to survive, must not remember.
Civil society under siege:
terrorism and government response to terrorism in The Siege
by Helena Vanhala
This essay analyzes how methods of counterterrorism can pose a bigger threat to civil society than terrorism itself, as portrayed in the 1998 film, The Siege, and how mainstream action-adventure films and news media’s misrepresentations of international terrorism in pre-9/11 era had left audiences unprepared for the reality of international terrorism.
Reel Bad Arabs:
How Hollywood Vilifies a People by Jack G. Shaheen
(New York: Olive Branch Press, 2001)
reviewed by Christian Blauvelt
This review seeks to chart the origins, development, and continuing influence of degrading Arab stereotypes in U.S. media and their relation to U.S. foreign policy.
Lucía: visual style and historical portrayal
by John Mraz
Close visual analysis of a Cuban classic.
Latino and the Chicano warrior in the U.S. national body
by Barbara Korte
In light of the current dicussion about ethnic-minority soldiers and citizenship, this essay takes a second look at Haskell Wexler's 1985 portrayal of a Mexican-American soldier in the U.S. covert war in Nicaragua.
Lucrecia Martel: “A decidedly polyphonic cinema”
by Dominique Russell
An exploration of the way Lucrecia Martel’s films are designed for sound and the results of this aural primacy.
The theory and practice of the Peruvian Grupo Chaski
by Sophia A. McClennen
An analysis of the socio-political context, key films, aesthetic practices, and media activism of Grupo Chaski.
Cinema law in Latin America:
Brazil, Peru and Colombia
by Gabriela Martínez
A study of cinema law in Latin America and its impact in the development of national film industries, with three case studies.
Art house and European film
pushing and reaffirming mainstream cinema's boundaries
by Marina Hassapopoulou
Babel provides a useful case study to examine how far artistic innovation can push the boundaries of mainstream cinema without jeopardizing commercial success, and if a script can develop national specificities and maintain "transnational" appeal.
Colonial fictions: Le Petit Soldat (Jean-Luc Godard)
and its revisionist sequel, Beau Travail (Claire Denis)
by Justin Vicari
Nearly forty years after Jean-Luc Godard examined the immorality of torture and terrorism in Le Petit Soldat (1960), Claire Denis in Beau Travail makes an art-house sequel that takes up Godard's hero and places him in a contemporary situation no less fraught with political complexities.
Migrants and lovers in Flowers from Another World
(Flores de otro mundo)
by Paul A. Schroeder Rodríguez
Analysis of Spain's most critically acclaimed film on migrants.
Jindabyne: old secrets and a second chance
by Andrea Grunert.
Shattered identities mirror feelings of individual and collective guilt in a country still haunted by the shadows of its violent colonial past.
An East German Indianerfilm:
the bear in sheep’s clothing
by Vera Dika
The Sons of the Great Mother Bear, a Western made in East Germany just after the building of the Berlin Wall, reuses and displaces U.S. Western genre conventions as it casts American Indians as the heroes against frontiersmen and the U.S. Cavalry who threaten their land.
Hollywood (today and reconsidered)
Say hello (and goodbye) to the postclassical:
Tony Scott and Domino
by Larry Knapp
Tony Scott's Domino—an unrelenting panorama of post-9/11 United States —renovates Scott as a key agent, and symptom, of Postclassical Hollywood Cinema.
Brokering Brokeback Mountain:
a local reception study
by Harry M. Benshoff
The reception of Brokeback Mountain in North Texas created an important public space for discourse on the place and meaning of men and masculinity in contemporary United States, even as much of that discourse attempted to reduce complex queer concepts to easily dismissed factoids about “gay cowboys.”
(Not) queering “white vision” in
Far from Heaven and Transamerica
by Rebecca Scherr
In contemporary U.S. queer cinema, race and sexuality are often mapped as contiguous and interlocking discourses; this essay examines the effects of this conflation in Far from Heaven (2002) and Transamerica (2005.)
villainy in Kathryn Bigelow’s Blue Steel
by Kevin L. Ferguson
The yuppie, who went from a success story to a cultural villain during the 1980s, provides an ambivalent, hastily dismissed symbol for imaginings of the relationship between gender, power, and cinema.
Leaving the cinema: metacinematic cruising
in Tsai Ming-liang’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn
by Nicholas de Villiers
A reading of Tsai Ming-liang's Goodbye, Dragon Inn in terms of queer sexuality and the cinema as an alternative public sphere.
Salvaging the rubble of utopia:
Wang Bing’s West of the Tracks
by Jie Li
A close-reading of a recent documentary epic’s treatment of an industrial complex’s monumental decline and of the individuals trying to survive in its crevices.
U.S. television and independent video
Wallowing in Sex:
The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television
(Duke University Press, 2007) by Elana Levine
reviewed by Mary E. Pagano
Gay TV and Straight America
(Rutgers University Press, 2006) by Ron Becker
reviewed by Hollis Griffin.
How and why 90s television made U.S. viewers increasingly familiar with gay people and gay culture.
The twilight of identity: Enterprise,
neoconservatism, and the death of Star Trek
by David Greven
Enterprise's plots, with their xenophobia and sexism, exhibit a nostalgia for a time before liberal values and the belief that exploration and the unification of diverse groups are good things.
Confessions of A Dangerous Mind and
Good Night and Good Luck:
George Clooney on U.S. television, history, and politics
by Brian Faucette
Dealing with both low and high culture television, George Clooney critiques the negative effects of corporate capitalism on U.S. entertainment and news.
Queer Performance, youth and YouTube
by Ron Gregg
YouTube is a site of both pleasure and danger, self-invention and mass-mediation and has become a powerful cultural force for queer youth that deserves our attention.
Webisodic mock vlogs:
HoShows as commercial entertainment new media
by Chuck Kleinhans
The HoShow fake vlogs reveal the problems and (sometimes) possibilities of new media.
9/11 videos and the pursuit of truth
by Christopher Sharrett
This close critical reading of many of the prominent 9/11 Truth videos analyses 9/11 and the supporters and critics of the official narrative (left and right) within the context of past state-sanctioned crimes.
Horror's new terrain
by Chuck Kleinhans
Introduction to horror film section
Representations of the body in pain and
the cinema experience of torture-porn
by Gabrielle Murray
Inquiring into the appeal of films like Hostel II, Murray concludes that we may seek to forget ourselves — our cognitive subjectivity — in the immensity of physical feeling.
Dread of mothering:
plumbing the depths of Dark Water
by Nina K. Martin
The mise-en-scene of Hideo Nakata's film Dark Water (2002) suggests that the home and its environs embody a dread that cannot be escaped, a dread related to the intense cultural pressures placed on Japanese women as idealized mothers.
Art of branding: Tartan "Asia Extreme" films
by Chi-Yun Shin
Taking the Tartan "Asia Extreme" label as a fascinating site to explore how the West consumes East Asian cinema, this essay examines the marketing and promotional practices of the most high-profile label amongst the East Asian film providers in the West.
Sentimentality and the cinema of the extreme
by Jinhee Choi
This essay examines the sentimental "mode" that is shared between sentimentality and brutality manifest in the recent trend of melodrama and extreme cinema.
Audio podcasting now
by Julia Lesage
An overview of spoken word podcasting and a guide to some interesting podcasts, mostly free
The last word
Torture and the national imagination
Continuing from the editorial in JC 49 on contemporary political film, we are extending the analysis with a look at new films that deal with the Iraq war, its representation (in film) and misrepresentation (by the Bush administation), and the issue of torture.
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