Periodical roundup

by Chuck Kleinhans

from Jump Cut, no. 15, 1977, pp. 30, 36
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1977, 2004

[Editor’s note, August 2004: Addresses and sub. Info omitted, since most of these periodicals have moved or are no longer publishing in 2004. We reprint this roundup to give a sense of progressive periodicals in 1977.]

A new film quarterly, Wide Angle, has just completed its first year and has published some very interesting material. Devoting each issue to a special topic, they have covered early U.S. cinema, Hawks, Godard, and Japanese cinema. The last two are the most interesting. The Godard issue (no. 3) has a major article by JUMP CUT editor Julia Lesage on visual distancing in Godard’s films and two articles by French critic Marie-Claire Ropars-Wuilleumier, whose work deserves more recognition. Because of a general lack of knowledge about Japanese film and culture here, Wide Angle no. 4 is particularly interesting. Guest editor J.L. Anderson emphasizes the crucial need for critics of Japanese film to “familiarize themselves with the milieu in which the film was produced.” He includes a handy bibliography.

•Film Form, no. 1 (Spring 76, England), includes articles on semiotics, ideology, and narrative structure, in some instances working with specific films and in others discussing or evaluating whole areas (Soviet socialist realism, Metz’s “grande syntagematique,” early development of film form).

Editor Anthony Macklin has announced that Film Heritage, after 12 years, has ceased publication. The spring 77 issue has a useful index of volumes 1-11 as well as interviews with cinematographers Oswald Morris and Vilmos Zgismomd.

A new auteurist film magazine, published in New York, Cinemabook, states its purpose as follows: “Godard, Truffaut, Rivette, etc., proved that it is possible to write about films and then go out and make them; what they wrote they called ‘making films without a camera.’ This is what we are trying to do.” They then praise Hitchcock for subjecting “communist utopianism and American optimism” to “harsh scrutiny” in TOPAZ and finding them “equally at odds with reality.” The second issue has a series of articles on DePalma.

•The second annual publication of The Film Reader, from the Film Department at Northwestern University, makes important theoretical texts by Todorov and Comolli available for the first time in English. The articles cover narrative structures in film and the relation between industry, technology. and ideology.

The fall 76 issue of Cinema Journal features articles on film history: Méliès, Satie’s score for ENTR'ACTE, early sound processes.

•Film Culture (NYC) is publishing a massive triple decker documentary biography of Maya Deren this year. The Legend of Maya Deren includes articles she wrote in socialist youth journals in the thirties.

The very first Shakespeare on Film Newsletter (English Dept, Univ. of Vermont) appeared in December, the kind of pedant’s delight that comes with three holes punched on the left so you can slide it into your binder without looking at it. Among the snappier articles: “Gonaril Without a White Beard,” “Shakespeare on Film—For Under $50,” and “Writing Papers for a S/F Course.”

Quarterly Review of Film Studies is trying to become the leading academic film publication, but still lacks a distinct personality. Recent issues have reprinted conference papers. Although the future looks better with thematic issues planned, the absurdly high price sakes it a luxury item and a publication for libraries only. Redgrave Publications.

The May 77 issue of Filmmakers Newsletter has a notable article on “The Selling of THE DEEP,” which describes the entire advertising campaign for a major film. Although the article is not critical, it is extremely detailed and provides useful background material for anyone interested in a radical analysis of distribution.

•The first issue of Single Take, student-produced film magazine from Southern Ill. U., has articles on Abel Gance. Kurosawa, and on Hitchcock’s and Keaton’s portrayal of women. Our copy arrived with no price or sub info.

Ciné-Tracts is a new Canadian theoretical political film and communications journal. It’s first issue regrettably uses about 1/3 of its pages to reprint articles relatively accessible to British and U.S. readers. Of most interest were the letters of scriptwriter John Berger to the actors of Tanner’s THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD. Berger discusses the concept of sexual passion he held in creating the two main characters in the film.

Liberation, the unofficial theoretical organ of the libertarian anarcho-pacifist left, recently changed from a collective to a two editor organization. It continues an emphasis on culture with a provocative essay by Paul Buhle, “The Pinking of American TV” (June 77) and an investigation of radical novelist, B. Traven (Treasure of the Sierra Madre) by Jonah Buskin (July-August 77). Typically uneven, an earlier issue featured a reactionary article praising methadone.

•The second issue of Praxis: A Journal of Radical Perspectives on the Arts provides 260 pages of original critical articles, translations, poems—and reproductions of political art. Naomi Green’s report from the Venice Film Festival strikes a hard-to-reach balance in festival reports between evaluating the entire festival in political tames and giving a close evaluation of the most significant films. Berkeley, CA.

All of a sudden, after a certain lapse, here are two Velvet Light Traps (Nos. 16 & 17). The first they've devoted to sex and violence. It includes articles on Corman and Bronson, CLOCKWORK ORANGE and DIRTY HARRY. Number 17 is great - a collection of articles from the first 8 issues (now out of print).

The first issue of Camera Obscura, A Journal of Feminism and Film Theory is now available. The collective’s programmatic initial article stresses that their “analysis recognizes that women are oppressed not only economically and politically, but also in the very forms of reasoning, signifying and symbolical exchange of our culture.” They feature collectively written articles on Yvonne Rainer, Jackie Raynal, and also a translation of Jean-Louis Baudry’s “The Apparatus.” Berkeley, CA.

Media Montage has interesting articles on film and TV. No. 2 had a greet article on “Leave It to Beaver” and what happened to the stars. Jerry Mathers (Beaver) is now a bank manager, Tony Dow (Wally) a contractor and Ken Osmond (Eddie) an L.A. cop.

Film Notebooks, a quarterly, has begun publication in Santa Cruz, California. All the articles are written by either students, staff, or alumni of the U. of Calif. at Santa Cruz. Janey Place advances the idea that Sirk is a subversive artist, and John Mraz talks about history and myth in Altman’s BUFFALO BILL. Steven Nelson discusses the discrepancy between form and content in Godard’s VIVRE SA VIE. In fact, the search for an interpretation of this discrepancy underlies the whole magazine.

Televisions is an exciting journal that is a must both for film people who want to know (learn) about video and for activists who would   like to hear how media are used in the community. Articles cover television and video institutions, laws, technology, and especially their uses. Washington Community Video Center, D.C.

•A special issue of Morning Due: A Journal of Men against Sexism, contains an extensive report on the Faggots and Class Struggle Conference held in September in Oregon. The presentations are very solid; the transcribed discussions, organizers’ commentaries, and letters are challenging and self-critical too. Thin was an important conference for male gay liberation and thus for all of us. Seattle, WA.

•The new Women, A Journal of Liberation (vol. 4, no. 4) concentrates on woman and aging. The articles, poems, photos, and drawings bring socialist feminist perspective to the problem of aging as a women in a capitalist, sexist society. Baltimore, MD.

A scholarly summery of currant work in the area of psychoanalysis (Lacanian) and cinema cam be found in the Edinburgh ‘76 Magazine, no. 1: Psychoanalysis/Cimema/Avant-Garde. The festival hopes to publish similar scholarly works in succeeding years.

•A magazine useful for understanding the political background of Latin American films, NACLA’s Latin American and Empire Report. NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America) publishes the Report ten times a year at a rate of $10 (institutions $16). Their analysis begins with an understanding of imperialism as a global system. Some fine recent articles on Chile, Del Monte, the role of women’s labor in the economy, and U.S. police operations in Latin America. Berkeley, CA.

Radical America continues its lively interest in culture in addition to politics with am interview with Barbara Kopple on the making of HARLAN COUNTY, USA (Mar-Ap 77) and an article on beauty parlors considered as women’s space (May-June 77). North Cambridge, MA.

Heresies concentrates on feminist perspectives on art and politics, and it shows a great respect for the visual arts in its excellence of design and well chosen illustrations. New York, NY.

•Synthesizing socialism and gay liberation, Magnus: A Journal of Collective Faggotry contains thoughtful articles, poems, and reviews. There is a lot of recent gay history, theory, and a strong concentration on political practice. San Francisco.

•In recent years there has been an immense growth in photography as an art form. The attempt to build a theory of photography is just getting underway, and the fruits of that attempt can be seen in the offset tabloid, Afterimage’s recent publication of papers from the second conference of photographic criticism. It’s important to cinema people to pay attention to such work in order to move from a narrow emphasis on narrative (even when couched in semiotic terms) to a broader analysis of the visual image. Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY.

Radical Teacher no. 4 (March 77), has several articles of interest to humanities teachers on the blues, writing oral history, and a politics and literature course. New York, NY.

Working Papers in Cultural Studies no. 1, spring ‘75, contains articles on British cultural history from 1935-45, the relations of production and reproduction, and the semiotics of working class speech. Center for Contemporary Studies. University of Birmingham, England.

The Open Road is a colorful new Canadian paper. An explicit anarchist politics informs its coverage of people’s struggles. The paper is concerned with giving “extensive coverage to what people can and are doing in pre-revolutionary situations to build grassroots militancy and solidarity. The first issue includes a report on AIM, articles on Holly Near and Phil Ochs, and an interview with Martin Sostre. In true anarchist spirit, The Open Road has no sub rate. Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

•The Cultural Worker is an appealing tabloid packed with graphics, poems, and reportage on militant cultural activity—ranging from Native American struggles to those around Puerto Rican independence. There’s a good emphasis on feminism and on lesbianism, which has been repressed too often or just not mentioned in other progressive or left publications. Six of the graphics that appear in issue no. 2 are also available in full color, poster format. Amherst MA.

History Workshop: A Journal of Social Historians is written by social historians who study alongside and with workers and who re-create British proletarian history by working with that class itself. The journal is “concerned to bring the boundaries of history closer to people’s lives.” Oxford, England.

•The Anti-Catalogue was published in protest of the showing of Mr. and Mrs. J.D. Rockefeller III’s private collection by the Whitney Museum as an official Bicentennial show. It is a brilliant critique (with photos) of the ideology of establishment painting and the “taste” of the elite. Indispensable for only $3.50. Artists Meeting for Cultural Change, New York, NY.

From the British Film Institute: Chilean Cinema, ed. by Michael Chanan, is a collection of documents, interviews, and a filmography and bibliography published to accompany a retrospective of Chilean films at the National Film Theatre. $2.75. Structural Film Anthology was edited by Peter Gidal, whose introductory essay provides a flaky pseudo-Marxist interpretation for structuralist, “materialist” films. Other essays and interviews trace various artists’ own personal concerns. $1.30.

New German Critique publishes politically astute articles and reviews dealing with Marxist cultural theory. Issue no. 8 (Spring 76) offers new insights into the relation between Brecht’s politics and aesthetics. Issue no. 10 (Winter 77) contains articles by and about East German songwriter and singer Wolf Biermann, whose recent expulsion from East Germany caused enormous turmoil among intellectuals in East and West Germany. Biermann is a dissident, but not an anti-communist one. German Dept., U. of Wisc., Milwaukee.

Left Curve no. 6 (Summer-Fall 76) contains articles, poetry, photos, drawings, and photo montages. Directed primarily at working artists, the magazine wants “to raise questions through the presentation of various methods of work being done today” and “to function as a practical tool to help build and develop a viable revolutionary culture.” San Francisco.

The Cultural Reporter, one might think, is oriented to the U.S. Communist Party, since in an earlier issue they ran a contest offering a prize for the best poem about detente. Issue no. 13 has articles on sports, Frederick Douglass, Wertmuller, original Native American poetry, and reproductions of “social art.” NY, NY.

•In the first issue of Red-Herring, some former editors of The Fox struggle to come to terms with politics and art. Their great anger toward the New York art scene that nurtured (failed to nurture) them gets turned into an interesting and exciting issue (mine had a dollar bill in it; who knows what you'll find). New York, NY.

•The rock and roll fanzine Time Barrier Express, no. 22 (Mar-Ap 77) features a complete filmography on rhythm and blues vocal groups in U.S. films since the 1940s. New York, NY.

•The Malaysia-Singapore student movement in New Zealand began publishing the Malaysia Monthly Review in April, 1976 to unify the M/S students in NZ’s six major cities. Strongly anti-imperialist (they include the USSR), the paper wants to radicalize students on their campuses and contribute to the struggle for the national independence of Malaysia.