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Film, Theater, and Performing Arts > Film and Media Studies
Movies in the Era of Transformation
They are shot on high-definition digital cameras—with computer-generated effects added in postproduction—and transmitted to theaters, websites, and video-on-demand networks worldwide. They are viewed on laptop, iPod, and cell phone screens. They are movies in the 21st century—the product of digital technologies that have revolutionized media production, content distribution, and the experience of moviegoing itself.
21st-Century Hollywood introduces readers to these global transformations and describes the decisive roles that Hollywood is playing in determining the digital future for world cinema. It offers clear, concise explanations of a major paradigm shift that continues to reshape our relationship to the moving image. Filled with numerous detailed examples, the book will both educate and entertain film students and movie fans alike.
For eight seasons between 2001 and 2010, Fox’s 24 garnered critical accolades and became one of the most watched and discussed shows in primetime. In an innovative premise, the show’s hour-long episodes were meant to represent a real-time hour of the story, so that each twenty-four-episode season depicts a single day in the life of its characters. Influential as a popular hit, 24 was also closely linked with the “culture of fear” that dominated the post-9/11 period. In this insightful study, author John McCullough demonstrates that the series was not only unique and trendsetting, but also a complex creative response to its historical context. In three chapters, McCullough looks at 24’s form, style, and overarching themes and meanings. He argues that although the series is driven by the political and cultural shifts brought on by the War on Terror, it is routinely out of step with real history. Using Linda Williams’s distinction between the melodramatic mode and melodrama as a genre, McCullough explores 24’s use of the action-adventure and spy thriller forms with particular attention paid to the series’ hero, Jack Bauer, who is depicted as a tragic hero perpetually in search of a return to innocence. Ultimately, McCullough finds that the series’ distinction lies less in its faithful re-creation of the history of the WOT than in its evocation of the sense of crises and paranoia that defined the period. McCullough also analyzes 24 as a response to television culture in the “post-network” age, characterized by reality TV’s populist appeal and visceral content, on the one hand, and sophisticated boutique cable programming (“quality TV”), on the other. McCullough demonstrates that 24 engaged not only with the most pressing issues of world history and the geopolitics of its time, including terrrorism, neoliberalism, and the state of exception, but, on the strength of its form and style, also represents significant global trends in television culture. Fans of the show and media history scholars will appreciate this thorough study.
The History of Modern Stereoscopic Cinema
In 2009, Avatar, a 3-D movie directed by James Cameron, became the most successful motion picture of all time, a technological breakthrough that has grossed more than $2.5 billion worldwide. Its seamless computer-generated imagery and live action stereo photography effectively defined the importance of 3-D to the future of cinema, as well as all other currently evolving digital displays. Though stereoscopic cinema began in the early nineteenth century and exploded in the 1950s in Hollywood, its present status as an enduring genre was confirmed by Avatar's success.
3-D Revolution: The History of Modern Stereoscopic Cinema traces the rise of modern 3-D technology from Arch Oboler's Bwana Devil (1952), which launched the 50s 3-D boom in Hollywood, to the rapidly-modernizing 3-D industry today. Ray Zone takes a comprehensive approach that not only examines the technology of the films, but also investigates the business, culture, and art of their production. Influencing new generations of filmmakers for decades, the evolution of 3-D cinema technology continues to fill our theaters with summer blockbusters and holiday megahits.
The day the towers fell, indelible images of plummeting rubble, fire, and falling bodies were imprinted in the memories of people around the world. Images that were caught in the media loop after the disaster and coverage of the attack, its aftermath, and the wars that followed reflected a pervasive tendency to treat these tragic events as spectacle. Though the collapse of the World Trade Center was "the most photographed disaster in history," it failed to yield a single noteworthy image of carnage. Thomas Stubblefield argues that the absence within these spectacular images is the paradox of 9/11 visual culture, which foregrounds the visual experience as it obscures the event in absence, erasure, and invisibility. From the spectral presence of the Tribute in Light to Art Spiegelman's nearly blank New Yorker cover, and from the elimination of the Twin Towers from television shows and films to the monumental cavities of Michael Arad's 9/11 memorial, the void became the visual shorthand for the incident. By examining configurations of invisibility and erasure across the media of photography, film, monuments, graphic novels, and digital representation, Stubblefield interprets the post-9/11 presence of absence as the reaffirmation of national identity that implicitly laid the groundwork for the impending invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
WHA Radio and the Wisconsin Idea
These words crackled in the headphones of crystal sets around the country in 1921 as the University of Wisconsin radio station 9XM began its regular schedule of voice broadcasts. Randall Davidson provides the first comprehensive history of the University of Wisconsin radio station, WHA; affiliated state-owned station, WLBL; and the post-World War II FM stations that are the backbone of the network now known as Wisconsin Public Radio. 9XM Talking describes how, with homemade equipment and ideas developed from scratch, 9XM endured many struggles and became a tangible example of "the Wisconsin Idea," bringing the educational riches of the university to all the state's residents. From the beginning, those involved with the radio station felt it should provide a service for the practical use of Wisconsin citizens.
The book's informative chapters cover the programs that allowed the medium of radio to benefit farmers and homemakers, to bring world-class educators into isolated rural schoolrooms, and to teach people all over Wisconsin everything from literature to history to touch-typing, long before anyone came up with the term "distance learning." Davidson concludes by discussing the claim that WHA has to the title "Oldest Station in the Nation." This groundbreaking book is based on archival materials dating back to the 1900s and includes dozens of historic photos and illustrations, many of which have never been published before.
Winner, Book Award of Merit for best Wisconsin history book, Wisconsin Historical Society
Abraham Polonsky (1910-1999), screenwriter and filmmaker of the mid-twentieth-century Left, recognized his writerly mission to reveal the aspirations of his characters in a material society structured to undermine their hopes. In the process, he ennobled their struggle. His auspicious beginning in Hollywood reached a zenith with his Oscar-nominated screenplay for Robert Rossen's boxing noir, Body and Soul (1947), and his inaugural film as writer and director, Force of Evil (1948), before he was blacklisted during the McCarthy witch hunt.
Polonsky envisioned cinema as a modern artist. His aesthetic appreciation for each technical component of the screen aroused him to create voiceovers of urban cadences--poetic monologues spoken by the city's everyman, embodied by the actor who played his heroes best, John Garfield. His use of David Raksin's score in Force of Evil, against the backdrop of the grandeur of New York City's landscape and the conflict between the brothers Joe and Leo Morse, elevated film noir into classical family tragedy.
Like Garfield, Polonsky faced persecution and an aborted career during the blacklist. But unlike Garfield, Polonsky survived to resume his career in Hollywood during the ferment of the late sixties. Then his vision of a changing society found allegorical expression in Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, his impressive anti-Western showing the destruction of the Paiute rebel outsider, Willie Boy, and cementing Polonsky as a moral voice in cinema.
Virginity and the Rhetoric of Sexual Purity in Contemporary Film
From the perspective of cultural conservatives, Hollywood movies are cesspools of vice, exposing impressionable viewers to pernicious sexually-permissive messages. Offering a groundbreaking study of Hollywood films produced since 2000, Abstinence Cinema comes to a very different conclusion, finding echoes of the evangelical movement’s abstinence-only rhetoric in everything from Easy A to Taken. Casey Ryan Kelly tracks the surprising sex-negative turn that Hollywood films have taken, associating premarital sex with shame and degradation, while romanticizing traditional nuclear families, courtship rituals, and gender roles. As he demonstrates, these movies are particularly disempowering for young women, concocting plots in which the decision to refrain from sex until marriage is the young woman’s primary source of agency and arbiter of moral worth. Locating these regressive sexual politics not only in expected sites, like the Twilight films, but surprising ones, like the raunchy comedies of Judd Apatow, Kelly makes a compelling case that Hollywood films have taken a significant step backward in recent years. Abstinence Cinema offers close readings of movies from a wide spectrum of genres, and it puts these films into conversation with rhetoric that has emerged in other arenas of American culture. Challenging assumptions that we are living in a more liberated era, the book sounds a warning bell about the powerful cultural forces that seek to demonize sexuality and curtail female sexual agency.
The Moving Image in Contemporary Art
Offering historical and theoretical positions from a variety of art historians, artists, curators, and writers, this groundbreaking collection is the first substantive sourcebook on abstraction in moving-image media. With a particular focus on art since 2000, Abstract Video addresses a longer history of experimentation in video, net art, installation, new media, expanded cinema, visual music, and experimental film. Editor Gabrielle Jennings—a video artist herself—reveals as never before how works of abstract video are not merely, as the renowned curator Kirk Varnedoe once put it, "pictures of nothing," but rather amorphous, ungovernable spaces that encourage contemplation and innovation. In explorations of the work of celebrated artists such as Jeremy Blake, Mona Hatoum, Pierre Huyghe, Ryoji Ikeda, Takeshi Murata, Diana Thater, and Jennifer West, alongside emerging artists, this volume presents fresh and vigorous perspectives on a burgeoning and ever-changing arena of contemporary art.
American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience
Now synonymous with Sixties counterculture, LSD actually entered the American consciousness via the mainstream. Time and Life , messengers of lumpen-American respectability, trumpeted its grand arrival in a postwar landscape scoured of alluring descriptions of drug use while lesser outlets piggybacked on their coverage with stories by turns sensationalized and glowing. Acid Hype offers the untold tale of LSD's wild journey from Brylcreem and Ivory soap to incense and peppermints. As Stephen Siff shows, the early attention lavished on the drug by the news media glorified its use in treatments for mental illness but also its status as a mystical--yet legitimate--gateway to exploring the unconscious mind. Siff's history takes readers to the center of how popular media hyped psychedelic drugs in a constantly shifting legal and social environment, producing an intricate relationship between drugs and media experience that came to define contemporary pop culture. It also traces how the breathless coverage of LSD gave way to a textbook moral panic, transforming yesterday's refined seeker of truths into an acid casualty splayed out beyond the fringe of polite society.
The chapters in Acting provide a fascinating, in-depth look at the history of film acting, from its inception in 1895 when spectators thrilled at the sight of vaudeville performers, Wild West stars, and athletes captured in motion, to the present when audiences marvel at the seamless blend of human actors with CGI. Experts in the field take readers behind the silver screen to learn about the craft of film acting in six eras: the silent screen (1895–1928), classical Hollywood (1928–1946), postwar Hollywood (1947–1967), the auteur renaissance (1968–1980), the New Hollywood (1981–1999), and the modern entertainment marketplace (2000–present). The contributors pay special attention to definitive performances by notable film stars, including Lillian Gish, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Beulah Bondi, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Nicholas Cage, Denzel Washington, and Andy Serkis.