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No. 55, fall 2013


Digital dreams in a material world: the rise of Netflix and
its impact on changing distribution and exhibition patterns

by Kevin P. McDonald
This article examines the rise of Netflix, its tumultuous battle with Blockbuster, and its role in fundamentally transforming the home entertainment market.

“From, by, for”: Nairobi’s Slum Film Festival, film festival studies,
and the practices of development

by Lindiwe Dovey, Joshua McNamara, and Federico Olivieri
An ethnographic account of an East African film festival: new potentials for political discourse in African media studies.

The normativity of 3D:  cinematic journeys, “imperial visuality”
and unchained cameras

by Bruce Bennett
An examination of the emerging formal and stylistic conventions of digital 3D cinema and the ideologically and thematically restricted ways in which real and imaginary worlds are represented within this growing body of films.

Native images: the otherness and affectivity of the digital body
by Adam Davis
Films that combine live-action and animation are usually anchored by human protagonists to whom animated figures play secondary or antagonistic roles.

Sounds of Hong Kong cinema: Johnnie To, Milkyway Image,
and the sound track

by Gary Bettinson
Acclaimed for his visual style, Hong Kong director Johnnie To also constructs highly distinctive sound tracks, which are examined here along with the distinctive work routines that engender them.

To work or not to work: the dilemma of Hong Kong film labor in the age of mainlandization
by Mirana M. Szeto and Yun-chung Chen
To work or not to work: it has come down to this for Hong Kong film labor in the age of mainlandization and neoliberalization.


Jai Bhim Comrade: tales of oppression and songs of resistance
by Catherine Bernier
A review of Anand Patwardhan's epic documentary on Maharashtrian Dalits, their struggles and activism.

“The revolutionary founding moments of a contra-Grierson tradition”
by Brian Winston
Review of Joshua Malitsky, Post-Revolution Nonfiction Film: Building the Soviet and Cuban Nations.
Refining the ‘revolutionary’ moment in cinema: USSR (1922-1927) & Cuba  (1965-1971).

Thauk gya paw hee thwi deh thwi /Blood’s Oath to Beautiful Flower —
Blood’s Oath, drama of insurgency in a Burmese Pwo Karen Film

by Violet Cho
An auto-ethnographic examination of a Burmese Pwo Karen film, and the context of the ethnic minority film scene that it is a product of.

Amnesiac memory: Hiroshima/Nagasaki in Japanese film
by Inez Hedges
The response by some of Japan's greatest filmmakers to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in 1945 has been to represent the gradual process of Japan's recovery from trauma and amnesia.

Body memories, body cinema:
the politics of multi-sensual counter-memory in György Pálfi’s Hukkle

by György Kalmár
A flat, haptic, sensuous film-text, Hukkle becomes an instructive example of Eastern-European politics of identity and memory.

We lost our way:
the time and space of alienation in Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together

by Caroline Guo
Beyond their tumultuous affair and transnational journey, the origins of the alienation experienced by Wong Kar-Wai’s Hong Kong lovers in Happy Together (1997) can only be fully uncovered through exploring the filmic portrayal of their relationship to the distinct time, space, and socio-cultural history of Buenos Aires.

Hong Kong’s liminal spaces:
unveiling nature and identity in Tsang Tsui-shan’s Big Blue Lake

by Winnie L. M. Yee
The construction of liminal space of Big Blue Lake offers a novel way of reading Hong Kong and Hong Kong’s urban cinema.

Capitalist childhood in film: modes of critique
by Susan Ferguson
The cinematic child has long made us question the world in which we live, but the complex, sensual and imaginative child featured in films like Treeless Mountain suggests a revolutionary challenge to capitalism that the Dickensian child-in-danger could never achieve.

National identity, cultural institutions, and filmmaking in “Paradise” —
the Puerto Rican successes of Talento de barrio and Broche de oro

by Naida García-Crespo
Argument for restructuring relations between film productions/producers, government institutions, and audiences in Puerto Rico.

“Behind her laughter…is fear!” Domestic abuse and transnational feminism in Bollywood remakes
by Gohar Siddiqui
Four Hindi remakes of Sleeping with the Enemy comprise a “domestic abuse cycle” alongside the genre of avenging woman films of the 1980s, and have a potential for transnational feminism in these cross-border and cross-industrial representations of domestic abuse.


New queer cinema
by Roxanne Samer
Review of B. Ruby Rich, New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut.
The publication of Rich’s book prompts us to return to NQC and travel along with Rich as she comments upon and expands her initial essay and links NQC to its predecessors as well as many possible successors.

Feminist porn
by Erica Rand
Review of The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure, edited by Tristan Taormino, Constance Penley, Celine Parreñas Shimizu, and Mireille Miller-Young.
Hot stuff.

The gay-for-pay gaze in gay male pornography
by Kevin John Bozelka
Gay-for-pay superstars such as Jeff Stryker and Ryan Idol adopt an investigative gaze in their films which may compromise the life-affirming qualities of gay pornography.

Dire straights: the indeterminacy of sexual identity in gay-for-pay pornography
by John Paul Stadler
Online gay-for-pay pornography disarticulates sexual acts from sexual identities. Its digital production and Internet dissemination marks a shift in the genre’s development toward amateurism and meta-narratives and compels a complex reeducation of gay male desire.

Sartorial signifiers, masculinity, and the global recession in HBO's Hung
by Chris Vanderwees
Representation of Detroit, significance of clothing in relation to various identity categories, and construction of masculine fantasy in first season of HBO's Hung.

The multivalent feminism of The Notorious Bettie Page
by Steven S. Kapica
Writer and director Mary Harron remediates fifties pin-up legend and bondage queen Bettie Page in an effort to disrupt traditional representations of female sexuality and identity.

Descent: “Everything’s okay now”—race, vengeance, and
watching the modern rape-revenge narrative

by Jenny Lapekas
Director Talia Lugacy breaks the mold of the classic rape-revenge narrative in this taboo film that explores race, gender, and what it means to be a “new avenger” in contemporary feminist cinema.

Bringing out Baby Jane —
camp, sympathy, and the horror-woman’s film of the 1960s

by David Greven
Long dismissed as either Camp classics or misogynistic, the horror-woman’s films of the 1960s demand re-evaluation. This essay reconsiders the radicalism in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Strait-Jacket, and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

Doing his homework
by David Greven
Review of David Halperin’s How to be Gay.
David Halperin diagnoses contemporary gay youth as suffering from an acute amnesia about the older forms of gay culture. But is his own work a reliable guide to these earlier moments in gay/Camp history?


Skyfall: a mother and her twin boys
by Robert Alpert
In the fictional world of secret agent 007, with its global economy, computer networks and ever present surveillance, sadly the exaggerated antics of the franchise's latest villain prove no match for the comforting nostalgia of the simplified heroics of 007.

“Propane is for pussies” —
Bellflower’s bromance of retro technology and hip masculinity

by David Church
Evan Glodell's Bellflower unites retro aesthetics and retrograde gender politics through its explosive fantasies of manly bonding, showing taste and gender uneasily intersecting through hipster lifeways, faux-vintage photography, material hacking, and other influences on contemporary U.S. independent cinema.

Take Shelter; Meek’s Cutoff; The Turin Horse — the end of everything
by Timothy Kreider
Hollywood has always loved eschatology—especially when it’s photogenic—but when a lot of a society’s best artists start urgently signaling, independently but in disquieting concert, that that something awful is coming, we should probably pay attention.

Workers' confessions and the reality TV series Undercover Boss
by Lyell Davies
This popular reality TV show capitalizes on the hardships faced by U.S. workers in the present economy, delivering dramatic personal confessions and portraits of benevolent bosses to our screens in place of calls for change.

From Hoover to Bush Jr. — home and crisis scripts in U.S. social cinema
by Antonio Sánchez-Escalonilla
Eight decades after the Great Depression, in the aftermath of another financial downturn, independent filmmakers and storytellers in Hollywood have once again begun to address narratives of households in crisis, especially in films by directors such as Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, Jason Reitman and Tom McCarthy.

by Joe Heumann and Robin Murray
review of Ecocinema Theory and Practice, ed. Stephen Rust, Salma Monani, Sean Cubitt
Ecocinema Theory and Practice may assert that any film could qualify as ecocinema because it is ripe for an ecocritical reading, but the anthology suggests a more nuanced definition worth exploring, “ecocinema on the edge,” narrative films organized around a variety of themes but all driven by either intentional or unintentional environmental messages as products of a complex cultural context that includes ecology.

The earth bites back: vampires and the ecological roots of home
by Robin Murray and Joe Heumann
In The Pack and Strigoi, a damaged earth bites back, turning humans into vampires and ghouls, metaphors for our own monstrous treatment of the natural world.

Broomhilda Unchained: Tarantino’s Wagner
by Adrian Daub and Elisabeth Bronfen
The composer Richard Wagner seems like a strange interlocutor for a director like Quentin Tarantino, but in Django Unchained Tarantino uses Wagner in canny ways to pose questions about history, race and social justice.


Movies in miniature
by Midi Onodera
Moving images are tightly woven into the fabric of urban living. Videos and movies no longer solely exist within the confines of a television monitor, computer screen or movie theatre, they are in our pockets, on mobile devices and how we read them has changed our way of viewing.

Amateurization of the entire media universe
by Patricia R. Zimmermann
review of Amateur Media: Social, Cultural and Legal Perspectives, ed. Dan Hunter, Ramon Lobato, Megan Richardson and Julian Thomas
Amateurism across new media platforms spikes legal, ethical, intellectual property, and labor issues—and new forms of participation.

Variant cinematic artistic expression
by Greg DeCuir
review of Pavle Levi, Cinema by other means
"Written films," "paper movies," and other means of extra-cinematic expression.


by Chuck Kleinhans

Young Mr. Lincoln and ideological analysis: a reconsideration (with many asides)
by Chuck Kleinhans
A classic film theory essay gets an active re-reading.

Lincoln in contemporary U.S. culture and politics
by Douglas Kellner
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln celebrates the iconic president as a great politician, able to address the crucial conflict of the time over race and slavery, by pushing through the 13th amendment, showing a president who is both a skilled legislator and visionary, perhaps providing contemporary lessons for Barack Obama.

Equality before the law in Spielberg’s Lincoln
by Gary Bettinson and Richard Rushton
In this essay, the authors examine the ideological paradox of Spielberg’s Lincoln, the film’s political emphases (relative to Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln), and Spielberg’s effort to generate suspense around a widely-known historical outcome.

Symptomatic reading in Althusser, Cahiers du cinéma, and Zizek
by Warren Buckland
What happens to the Cahiers du cinéma's symptomatic reading of Young Mr. Lincoln when we conceive the symptoms as symptoms of the Real, not the Symbolic?

Lincoln: shared myths in a revisionist age
by Frederick Wasser
How Mr. Mainstream himself, Steven Spielberg, managed to make a worthy film that is both revisionist and consensual.

The hysteric, the mother, the natural gal:
male fantasies and male theories in films about Lincoln

by Deborah Tudor
Reexamining the gendered discourse of the Cahiers article through the lens of subsequent developments in feminist theory.

The significance of Steven Spielberg's Old Mr. Lincoln:
political emotions and intertextual knowledge

by Janet Staiger
This essay explores the intertextual morals that viewers believe Lincoln is promoting and how these messages relate to emotional responses to contemporary political and ethical debates rather than to the traditional melodramatic characters and situations.

Mr. Spielberg's Mr. Lincoln
by Chuck Kleinhans
Political opinions on Lincoln, ranging from conservatives who admired or hated the film, with the same spectrum on the left.


Introduction: Ghost stories
by David Oscar Harvey, Marty Fink, Alexandra Juhasz, Bishnu Gosh

Ghosts caught in our throat —
of the lack of contemporary representations of gay/bisexual men and HIV

by David Oscar Harvey
This essay inquires why contemporary representations of HIV/AIDS—in the context of gay/bisexual men in the U.S., as well as more generally—are haunted by traumatic articulations more appropriate to the past realities of living with the virus.

Two ghost stories: disability activism and HIV/AIDS
by Marty Fink
The digital cultures of queer/trans* disability activism show the potential of HIV/AIDS media production within emerging communities of queer/trans* youth.

Acts of signification-survival
by Alexandra Juhasz
Juhasz looks at the contradictory states of digital AIDS signification, its changes of scale and temporality, as well as what then might be our linked activist responsibilities. Silencing occurs within a sea of abundant memory, and we encounter new kinds of concealment in the face of new kinds of visibility.

What time is it here?
by Bishnupriya Ghosh
A reflection on HIV/AIDS media activism as an untimely object of scholarly inquiry after the pharmacological turn in the global AIDS crisis.


S/Z and Rules of the Game
by Julia Lesage
The five levels of narrative coding laid out by Roland Barthes in S/Z can be applied to fiction film, here to Jean Renoir's Rules of the Game.


The war on/in higher education
by the editors
Combatting the neoliberal privatization of everything, including social goods such as education.