A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA
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No. 49, spring 2007, text version of essays
China and China disapora film — a new stage
by Chuck Kleinhans
Trajectories of identification: travel and global culture in the films of Wong Kar-wai
by Allan Cameron
A number of Wong Kar-wai's films reveal complex and entwined preoccupations with travel and cultural translation, and pursue a developing exploration of regional identification.
The politics of historiography in Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle
by Kin-Yan Szeto
If we look at Kung Fu Hustle from a transnational perspective, we can see how the film relates to and is shaped by the history of post-1997 Hong Kong.
Hero: China’s response to Hollywood globalization
by Jenny Kwok Wah Lau
Hero answers the question: How can a film be both a blockbuster and Chinese (not simply having a Chinese story but more importantly based on Chinese aesthetics and values)?
Searching for Taiwanese identity: reading June Yip’s Envisioning Taiwan
by Li Zeng
Review of June Yip, Envisioning Taiwan: Fiction, Cinema, and the Nation in the Cultural Imaginary (Durham NC and London: Duke University Press, 2004).
Huangmei opera films, Shaw Brothers and Ling Bo: chaste love-stories, genderless cross-dressers and sexless gender-plays?
by Tan See-Kam
Shaw Brothers Huangmei opera films often starred actress Ling Bo in cross-dressing roles; the films cater to a constellation of gazes, from the heterosexist to the queer.
Modernity, diasporic capital, and 1950s Hong Kong Mandarin cinema
by Poshek Fu
A study of Hong Kong Mandarin cinema of the 1950s in the changing context of modernity, diasporic capital, and Cold War politics.
Romantic comedies of Cathay-MP&GI in the 1950s and 60s: language, locality, and urban character
by Kenny K. K. Ng
The Hong Kong Cathay-MP&G Studio films of the 50s and 60s base their plots on clashes of regional dialects and cultures in a genre inspired by Hollywood romantic comedies that imaginatively figures Chinese modernity and urbanity.
Dialect and modernity in 21st century Sinophone cinema
by Sheldon Lu
Lu explores the politics of language and dialects in the construction of national identity in Chinese cinemas.
Dialogues with critics on Chinese independent cinemas
by Esther M.K. Cheung
These critics discuss the different patterns, functions, and critical roles that independent filmmaking has in the PRC and Hong Kong, and the impact of independents in a rapidly globalized world.
The Hong Kong local on film: re-imagining the global
by Wendy Gan
In two Hong Kong films, Comrades: Almost a Love Story and One Nite in Mongkok, stories of local difference emerge and reshape dominant narratives of globalization.
The class imaginary in Fruit Chan's films
by Wimal Dissanayake
The films of Fruit Chan draw our attention the class predicament of Hong Kong's urban proletariat by using imaginative narratives and a wide range of visually expressive styles.
Serving the people — Dumplings
by Chuck Kleinhans
In Dumplings director Fruit Chan presents a disturbing social satire using creepy taboo topics of cannibalism and abortion to pump up the shock and underline ethical issues of capitalist culture.
Hollywood’s crusade in China prior to China’s WTO accession
by Ting Wang
Hollywood-China interplay before China's WTO accession looked at through the prism of history, bilateral diplomacy, trade relations, and national cultural identity.
Spotlight on horror
Vampire as metaphor: revisiting Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction
by Justin Vicari
Existentialism, radical politics, and vampire lore meet in Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction (1994), an intense, anomalous and highly personal film.
“Before you die, you see The Ring”: notes on the immanent obsolescence of VHS
by Caetlin Benson-Allott
The videocassette and reproduction are examined in a technological sense, a biological sense, and a psychoanalytic sense in the way they shape the plot of The Ring's horror narrative.
Perpetual flight: the terror of biology and biology of terror in the Ginger Snaps trilogy
by Patricia Molloy
The misfortunes of teen sisters Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald in this darkly comic Canadian werewolf film trilogy provoke a critical reflection on bare life and sovereign violence, as theorized by Giorgio Agamben.
"I could kiss you, you bitch": race, gender, and sexuality in Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse
by Stephen Harper
Harper explores fetishized femininity and racial stereotyping in the first two instalments of the Resident Evil film series.
Everyman and no man: white, heterosexual masculinity in contemporary serial killer movies
by Nicola Rehling
Film serial killers have commonly been represented as sexual deviants or "white trash," and more recently as extraordinarily-ordinary white males. In all instances, this iconic figure conveys more general cultural anxieties about white male subjectivity.
Audio in film and video
The audio first classroom: a sound place for engagement with theory and practice
by Giovanna Chesler
In a “sound–first” media pedagogy, audio serves as the introduction to media methods instruction.
Audible evidence: on listening to places
by Andrea Hammer
Audio documentary has a formidable ability to reshape our awareness of space (and time) through sound, and it can also draw attention to the social and political dimensions of the sites we traverse.
Feature fiction in the U.S. and abroad
Down with Love and up with sex: sex and the post-feminist single girl
by Nina K. Martin
More of an indulgent homage than a critical satire, the film reveals much about contemporary representations of female empowerment, retro-sexist nostalgia, and their persistent link to the construction of heterosexual female desires.
Back to the future, or
the vanguard meets the rearguard
by Bert Cardullo
Last Days, Tony Takitani, 3-Iron, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Me and You and Everyone We Know. Five recent, more-or-less mainstream films all attempt to bridge the gap between narrative and non-narrative cinema — between the abstract and the representational, that is, or the avant and the garde.
Discovering America: reflections on Brokeback Mountain
by Justin Vicari
Camouflaged as pastoral melodrama with a twist, Brokeback Mountain (2005) is at heart a tragic investigation of that vast, “undiscovered” U.S. frontier — divided, unsafe, and seemingly untouched by Will & Grace.
A stalker’s odyssey: arrested development, gay desire, and queer comedy in Chuck&Buck
by Carter Soles
Buck's queer relations with the men around him bring out their own repressed homosexual desires within the context of overt heterosexual rejection, but the queerest aspect of this film is its comically sympathetic portrayal of Buck’s voyeurism and stalking.
Celebrity juice, not from concentrate: Perez Hilton, gossip blogs, and the new star production
by Anne Petersen
When Britney Spears shaves her head, who shapes our societal response? Perez Hilton, that's who: Perez and his gossip blog form the newest component of star production, a compelling force in the way stars are constructed and consumed in the age of New Media.
Hoax of the lost ancestor in Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman
by Thelma Wills Foote
Foote explores relations between late twentieth-century identity politics and the subversion of factual discourse in Cheryl Dunye’s mockdocumentary, The Watermelon Woman.
Pasir Berbisik and new women's aesthetics in Indonesian cinema
by Intan Paramaditha
This ground-breaking Indonesian film challenges masculine aesthetics by depicting women who engage in and negotiate with the gaze; Daya, the daughter, engages in a voyeurism more based on desire for knowledge than perverseness, while Berlian, the mother, sees everything, loses control, and gains it back.
The bourgeoisie is also a class: class as character in Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura
by Frank P. Tomasulo
As a materialist film, Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura (1959) documents the decay of Italy's decadent bourgeoisie during the postwar years of "il boom," not only through theme and narrative but also through techniques such as mise-en-scène, recurring motifs, and subtext.
Politics and the media in the U.S. and abroad
Shock and awe: the aesthetics of war and its confrontations with reality
by Jyotsna Kapur
Writing about a film/performance, Mutual Conversations (by Mike Covell) where the filmmaker speaks to his film image from 25 years ago, Jyotsna Kapur considers relations between the cinematic image and reality in this time of war.
The winning and losing of hearts and minds: Vietnam, Iraq, and the claims of the war documentary
by Tony Grajeda
Vietnam and Iraq documentaries are compared to evaluate the consequences of depicting the war from the soldier's perspective, often at the expense of evaluating military policy and government decision making.
Mohamed Soueid’s cinema of immanence
by Laura U. Marks
Absurdist, poetic, and moving, Mohamed Soueid's documentary trilogy on post-civil war Lebanon invites an atomist approach, drawn from Islamic philosophy, which also sheds light on other contemporary cinemas.
Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and its skeptics: a case of environmental nostalgia
by Robin Murray and Joseph Heumann
Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth succeeds not because of its dire predictions but because of the eco-memories it evokes.
Filming the war with Sendero
by Francisca da Gama
The Lion’s Den and You Only Live Once: Two Peruvian feature fictions portray the insurgency of Sendero Luminoso/Shining Path in ways that relate to broader debates on national identity in Peru.
by Angelica Fenner
Review of Women Filmmakers Refocusing. Jacqueline Levitin, Judith Plessis, Valerie Raoul, eds. New York: Routledge, 2003. 496 pp.
History as motivation: Mississippi, memory, and Movement
by Shannon Gore
Review of Stephen Classen, Watching Jim Crow: The Struggles Over Mississippi TV, 1955-1969 (Chapel Hill NC: Duke Univ. Press, 2004, 248 pp.
Unstable boundaries: sex, academic research and conceptions of normalcy
by Susan Ericsson
Review of Williams, Linda, ed. Porn Studies. Durham, NC: Duke UP. 2004; and Church Gibson, Pamela, ed. More Dirty Looks: Gender, Pornography and Power. London: British Film Institute. 2004.
by Chuck Kleinhans
media salad provides short reviews and topical notes by the editors.
The Internet today, or how I got involved in social bookmarking
by Julia Lesage
An overview of many aspects of the Internet, especially useful for media scholars and feminists. Bookmark for future exploration.
The last word
Popular political film
by the editors
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