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No. 54, fall 2012
THE FIRST WORD
The first word: an introduction
by the editors
Highlights and interconnections between essays in this issue.
ASIAN CINEMA AND TV DRAMA
“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.
LATIN AMERICAN MEDIA
The Chilean Student Movement of 2011: Camila Vallejo and the media
by Matt Losada
How the Chilean establishment media set out to negatively portray the leader of the student movement but failed, partly due to new media responses.
Made on Rails in Mexico
by John Mraz
How can modern media be employed to represent history — particularly that of workers in underdeveloped countries — in a critical and rigorous way?
Julio García Espinosa’s Reina y Rey:
from returning exile to Cuban-American tourist
by Mariana Johnson
Cuba's revolutionary filmmaker and theorist of "Imperfect Cinema" comes to terms with life in the Special Period.
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.
THEMES IN HOLLYWOOD AND OTHER CINEMAS
Not helping: The Help is stuck in the same stereotypes it's supposed to debunk
by Kathryn Fleishman
Tate Taylor's 2011 film adaptation of The Help erases the continuing complexity of U.S. race relations, but it is all the more treacherous because it so earnestly strives to elucidate them.
English ladies to liberators? How Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland mobilize aristocratic white femininity
by Kendra Marston
Examining the narrative trajectories of female protagonists in recent Hollywood blockbusters reveals that stories of feminist liberation may be utilized in order to mask power structures that privilege whiteness.
racial rhetoric in digital reception of Robert Rodriguez’s Machete
by Marina Wood
Robert Rodriguez's Machete brings the immigration debate to the big screen with heaping sides of exploitation and satire much to the dismay, delight, and disinterest of its diverse audiences.
Postmodern geekdom as simulated ethnicity
by Kom Kunyosying and Carter Soles
As geekdom moves from the cultural fringes into the mainstream, contemporary media frame white male geeks sympathetically by allowing them to simulate racially marked victimhood in order to justify their existence as protagonists in a world where an unmarked straight white male hero is increasingly passé.
Babel’s national frames in global Hollywood
by Leisa Rothlisberger
Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel may be a melodrama about the human implications of globalization, but it also reveals the consequences of neoliberal policy for individuals as well as the global film industry.
2. The Mideast
Looking back on Iraq: winning American hearts and minds
by Patricia Ventura
Using key documentaries and reality TV shows, this essay explores how popular support for neoliberal U.S. war involves powerful forces mobilizing a necropolitics that the essay analyzes in its many facets.
Narrating the global: pedagogy and disorientation in Syriana
by Kfir Cohen
Stephen Gaghan's Syriana as a way to think the historical and philosophical significance of neoliberalism and globalization.
A working-class hero is something to be: class in 70s U.S. cinema
by Peter Steven
Review of Derek Nystrom's Hard Hats, Rednecks, and Macho Men: Class in 1970s American Cinema
Performing the new economy: New York, neoliberalism,
and mass communication in late 1970s cinema
by Stanley Corkin
Howard Beale is mad as hell, but can he stop the tide of neoliberalism?
The unquiet memory of the Hollywood Blacklist
by Clay Steinman.
Review of Alan Casty’s Communism in Hollywood: The Moral Paradoxes of Testimony, Silence, and Betrayal and Joseph Litvak’s The Un-Americans: Jews, the Blacklist, and Stoolpigeon Culture
Sixty-five years after it began, the Hollywood blacklist continues to offer new lessons for left cultural practices, including the right’s ongoing response to them.
Feminist film history
by Diane Waldman
Review of Vicki Callahan (ed), Reclaiming the Archive: Feminism and Film History and Suzanne Leonard's Fatal Attraction
“The lesser of the attractions”: Grindhouse and theatrical nostalgia
by Kevin Esch
The Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double-feature experiment celebrated a bygone era of grindhouse moviegoing. Was anybody listening?
4. Institutions: Law, Production, Exhibition
The Hurt Locker litigation: an adult’s story
by Robert Alpert
Jeffrey Sarver, the alleged doppelganger to Kathryn Bigelow’s fictional character, William James, is crushed in real life, where law, on the one hand, and ethics and morality, on the other, frequently do not coincide.
Interview with Zalman King—“In defense of myself, it’s not soft core”
by Peter Lehman, with introduction by Chuck Kleinhans
Zalman King talks about the unusual and intense sexual journeys at the heart of his films and TV shows that he argues distinguish them from soft-core.
On the production of heterotopia, and other spaces,
in and around lesbian and gay film festivals
by Ger Zielinski
Thinking through the varied, contested spaces of the lesbian and gay film festivals with the concept of heterotopia.
5. Queering the entertainment
Glee: coming out on U.S. teen television
by Whitney Monaghan
Employing an ensemble of queer adolescent characters, Glee offers multiple variations to the coming out narrative.
Jeepers Queerpers: exploring queer identity in Jeepers Creepers 2
by Patrick Bingham
Jeepers Queerpers explores the complex relation between the slasher film, (homo)sexuality and monstrosity.
RuPaul’s Drag Race as meta-reality television
by Nicholas de Villiers
RuPaul’s Drag Race—considered as a “meta-text” that incorporates and parodies Paris Is Burning, America’s Next Top Model, and Project Runway—demonstrates how drag-as-citation destabilizes notions of originality, and how queer culture is passed on in the age of new media.
Framing the world economics in a tuna can:
Luc Moullet tracks the Origins of a Meal/ Genèse d’un repas (1978)
by Audrey Evrard
Insisting that the globalization of French economy should be seen as a perfected form of colonialism, Luc Moullet's documentary is as relevant to today's viewers as it was to its initial audience over thirty years ago. Where contemporary films often vilify corporate interests, Moullet prefers to point to shared responsibility in the devastating exploitative nature of the global food trade.
Truth in the mix:
Frederick Wiseman’s construction of the observational microphone
by Giovanna Chesler
By closely examining the construction of soundtracks in Frederick Wiseman’s documentaries High School and Domestic Violence, Chesler explores how sound editing in observational-style documentary provides a seemingly continuous foundation that enables storytelling and editing techniques more familiar to fiction filmmaking.
Consciousness-raising and difference in
The Woman’s Film (1971) and Self-Health (1974)
by Shilyh Warren
To reconsider the aesthetic legacies and political fantasies of feminist documentaries of the 1970s means that we also have to come to terms with some of their real rhetorical limitations.
On suffering and human eloquence:
commemorating 9/11, televised U.S. coverage in 2011
by Isabel Pinedo.
Televised programs commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11 sought to construct redemptive narratives of various kind, but the most powerful, the mini-eulogies and the documentary approach, revolved around human affect in contrasting ways.
Streaming death: the politics of dying on YouTube
by Jennifer Malkowski
Documentary footage of two violent deaths—Oscar Grant’s and Neda Agha-Soltan’s—circulating on YouTube reveals the promise and perils of activist Internet video.
Julia Bacha’s Budrus (Palestine), Ali Samadi Ahadi’s The Green Wave (Iran), Leonard Retel Helmrich’s Position Among the Stars (Indonesia) — transnational collaborations for art and impact in new documentary cinema
by Daniel Miller
Three contemporary documentaries are attracting notice as they go out from festivals into the world to do real work.
Media activists for livability: an NFB experiment in 1970s Vancouver
by Jean Walton
In the early 1970s, the National Film board brought its Challenge for Change Program to a troubled suburb on Canada’s West Coast, putting cameras into the hands of disenfranchised residents. The land use battles that ensued complicated Vancouver’s image as the Shangri-La of the North.
Give me shelter: the ecology of the home in Blue Vinyl and Libby, Montana
by Robin L. Murray and Joseph Heumann
In Blue Vinyl and Libby, Montana, it’s not just how you live and how you build your home, it’s where you live and what’s around you that contribute to the everyday eco-disasters associated with constructing and sustaining shelter.
EXPERIMENTAL & NEW MEDIA
Identity, interactivity and performativity in Michelle Citron’s Queer Feast
by Kathleen Scott
An exploration of interactive narrative and form in the work of experimental filmmaker Michelle Citron.
Video games, cognitive capital, the cognitariat, and the dream factory's seedy streets: patrolling the citizenry of LA Noire
by Dennis Broe and Ken Cohen in conversation
A critical discussion of LA Noire, a game that claimed to revolutionize the industry but which this article contends raises perennial questions relevant to gaming in general regarding the cognitariat, surveillance culture and the digital panopticon.
“Making it through”:
sickness and health in Su Friedrich’s The Odds of Recovery
by William C. Wees
In vivid and intimate detail, Su Friedrich's autobiographical film offers literal and metaphorical views of the consequences of sickness and the pleasures of recovery.
New media and politics: populist revolt, state control, and elections
by Lyell Davies.
Review of Nadia Idle and Alex Nunns, eds., Tweets From Tahrir: Egypt’s Revolution as it Unfolded, in the Words of the People who Made it; Evgeny Morozov ,The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom; Richard L. Fox and Jennifer M. Ramos, eds., iPolitics: Citizens, Elections, and Governing in the New Media Era
Work-in-progress: Marie Menken and the mechanical representation of labor
by Caroline Guo
Through her experimental short films, Marie Menken reveals how cinema’s capacities lie not only in the mechanical workings of the camera but also the potentials of human labor, leading us to bigger reflections on the inextricable ties between filmmaking, labor, and modern society.
The Cry of Jazz and the expressive politics of music and race
by Chuck Kleinhans
An interview with Ed Bland, director of the landmark 1959 film on jazz music and African Americans in U.S. society, reveals the context of the experimental documentary's argument and analysis.
Should the Dark Knight Have Risen?
by Todd McGowan
The radical politics of Christopher Nolan's new film lies in Bane's voice and in its critique of the idea of harmony and balance, as represented by Miranda Tate.
The rape-revenge film: biocultural implications
by David Andrews
This article looks at rape-revenge movies from a biocultural perspective, using sexual-selection theory to understand rape-revenge conventions.
Feeling and form in the films of Claire Denis
by Ian Murphy
Shattering the laws of traditional narrative, Denis’ films Beau travail (1999) and Vendredi soir (2002) promote a purely rhythmic form that calls for a deeper mode of viewer engagement – with the screen, and with the self.
Time after time: cinema, trauma, and (a)temporality
by Allan Cameron.
Review of Todd McGowan's Out of Time: Desire in Atemporal Cinema
THE LAST WORD
Days of whines and ruses
by the editors
Non-electoral concerns: class, race, sex and higher ed/media studies