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No. 56, winter 2014-2015
Saving Mr. Banks and building Mr. Brand:
the Walt Disney Company in the era of corporate personhood
by Mike Budd
When Disney promotes the fiftieth-anniversary DVD of its Mary Poppins with Tom Hanks playing Walt in Saving Mr. Banks (2013), even the dead—in this case P.L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins books—are not safe. A visual essay closely analyzes the style, narrative and ideology of Saving Mr. Banks, and a second essay explores the many ways this film and the corporation that produced it mutually illuminate one another.
The horrors of slavery and modes of representation
in 12 Years a Slave and Amistad
by Douglas Kellner
Kellner contrasts Steve McQueen’s 2013 film 12 Years a Slave with Gordon Parks’ relatively unknown PBS film of 1984 Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, in conjunction with Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1998) and other some non-Hollywood slave rebellion films.
Django Unchained—thirteen ways of looking at a black film
by Heather Ashley Hayes and Gilbert Rodman
Why Django Unchained is one of the most important black films—yes, it really is a black film—of the century.
The artificial intelligence of Her
By Robert Alpert
Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Communist Manifesto.
Attack the Block:
monsters, race, and rewriting South London’s outer spaces
by Lorrie Palmer
In the fierce and funny sci-fi action comedy, Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011), a disreputable gang of teens wields samurai swords, Super Soakers, and fireworks to fend off an alien invasion of their public housing estate in South London.
Class warfare in the Robocop films
by Milo Sweedler
Both Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 RoboCop and José Padilha’s 2014 remake of the film engage in ideological class warfare, but they take opposite sides.
Pirates without piracy:
criminality, rebellion, and anarcho-libertarianism in the pirate film
by Michael D. High
Although deemed unviable after several commercial and critical failures in the 198os and 90s, with the wild success of The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise pirates have reemerged as important figures in the U.S. cultural imaginary. This article examines pirates as treated in historical and cinematic narratives, delineating the competing tropes used to castigate, celebrate, and obfuscate piracy in film from the medium’s inception to its present.
Paranormal Activity as recessional post-cinematic allegory
By Julia Leyda
Reading the Paranormal Activity franchise in its economic, cultural, and aesthetic contexts can make it even scarier!
Wolfen: they might be gods
by Tyler Sage
A rumination on the fever-dream of race in the United States.
As beautiful as a butterfly?
Monstrous cockroach nature and the horror film
by Robin Murray and Joseph Heuman
Metamorphosis, forever crystallized humankind’s eternal fear of and disgust with the cockroach, but the “villainy” of cockroaches in horror films such as Bug (1975), Damnation Alley (1977), The Nest (1988), Cronos, and Mimic (1997), is a product of transformation connecting with themes about ecology, either through the films’ depicting experimental genetic alterations or chemical or nuclear environmental disasters.
U.S. ambivalence about torture: an analysis of post-9/11 films
by Jean Rahbar
An ambivalent “Onlooker" character in feature fictions about torture serves as the U.S. representative of American ambivalence about torture.
TECH AND BUSINESS
Hugo. The Artist—specters of film
new nostalgia movies and Hollywood’s digital transition
by Jason Sperb
Hollywood’s self-theorizing nostalgia conceals profound economic changes in the digital age.
The tail wags: Hollywood’s crumbling infrastructure
by Jonathan Eig
Reports of the Blockbuster Era's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Here's why.
The white flag of surrender?
NBC, The Jay Leno Show, and failure on contemporary broadcast television
by Kimberly Owczarski
This essay chronicles the history of NBC's stripped primetime program The Jay Leno Show, which was initially labeled as "The Future of Television" and later, after its failure, was named as one of television's "Biggest Bombs Ever."
Inhabiting post-communist spaces in Nimród Antal’s Kontroll
by György Kalmár
An examination of power, subversive tactics and masculine identity-politics in the hostile post-communist spaces of Nimród Antal's award-winning Hungarian film, Kontroll (2003).
A 'Failed Brotherhood':
Polish-Jewish relations and the films of Andrzej Wajda
by Tim Kennedy
Over a 60-year career in cinema, Poland’s greatest director takes on the politically and emotionally fraught subject of Polish-Jewish relations.
"Made in Bollywood”:
Indian popular culture in Brazil's Caminho das Indias
by Swapnil Rai
Why would Brazilian telenovela producers choose to make a telenovela ostensibly about India? This article examines Caminho das Indias a Bollywood-like Brazilian telenovela as a new form of south-south media flow and traces its Bollywood influences.
Of radio, remix, and Rang de Basanti:
rethinking film history through film sound
by Pavitra Sundar
On how the soundtrack of the Bollywood hit Rang De Basanti (2006) can revitalize our understanding of (national and film) history.
Cinema and neoliberalism:
network form and the politics of connection in Icíar Bollaín’s Even the Rain
by Shakti Jaising
Icíar Bollaín’s 2010 film Even the Rain reinvigorates the cinematic network narrative through its historical perspective and political analysis of neoliberalism.
The revolution must (not) be advertised: The Players vs. Ángeles Caídos, the discourse of advertising, and the limits of political modernism
by Greg Cohen
Long forsaken by Latin American film scholarship, Argentine director Alberto Fischerman’s 1969 avant-garde feature defies us to reevaluate the nexus of art, politics, and mass media at the end of the Latin American 60s, especially when it comes to cinema’s critical engagement with advertising.
The film as essay:
Jafar Panahi’s search for self in This is Not a Film
by Bebe Nodjomi
Banned from filmmaking, can famed Iranian filmmaker, Jafar Panahi, define himself as anything but a filmmaker?
BOOKS AND FESTIVALS
by Andrew J. Douglas
Review of Scott Balcerzak, Buffoon Men: Classic Hollywood Comedians and Queered Masculinity (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2013).
Montgomery Clift: or, the ambiguities
by David Greven
Review of Elisabetta Girelli, Montgomery Clift, Queer Star (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014)
‘Factory of new film expressions’: Alternative Film/Video Festival, Belgrade
festival review by Kamila Kuc
One of the most dynamic contemporary experimental film festivals in Europe is Belgrade's Alternative Film/Video. While complementing the rich and edgy nature of the Festival, Kuc argues for the need to address the input of women artists in the avant-garde film tradition.
CLASSICS FROM THE PAST
Broken Blossoms—artful racism, artful rape
by Julia Lesage
A brutal man of action and a sensitive outsider represent two options for masculinity, and they each want to possess the girl.
Part one: Jump Cut 40th anniversary
by Chuck Kleinhans
Marxism and film criticism: the current situation (1977)
by Chuck Kleinhans and Julia Lesage
Reprint of essay from Minnesota Review (1977) with short update.
Jump Cut: Hollywood and Counter Cinema (1985)
by Peter Steven
The Sons and Daughters of Los:
culture and community in Los Angeles
by David E. James
Los Angeles may be the center of the capitalist commodity consumer culture; but it also sustains many forms of popular participatory cultural activity, often founded in working-class resistance.
Part two: the current scene, recurring issues
by Julia Lesage
Each artist makes media out of her location.
Flying under the radar: notes on a decade of media agitation
by Ernest Larsen
Reflections on curating, for over a decade, programs of short films/videos/other media with a radical political intent in many different venues, nations, situations.
Subversive media: when, why, and where
by Chuck Kleinhans
To effectively challenge the existing order of things, we need to consider not only radical form, sincere intention, or spectacular reaction but also how change takes place over time and involves real people living real lives.
Activist street tapes and protest pornography:
participatory media culture in the age of digital reproduction
by Angela Aguayo
This essay addresses the history of street tape culture and activism at the turn of the 21st century.
Anarchist aesthetics and U.S. video activism
by Chris Robé
This essay explores how much U.S. video activism from the 1970s to the present is integrating into anarchist-inflected practices and the resultant promises and pitfalls that result from it.
THE LAST WORD
John Hess, award for activism
Successfully organizing the contingent academic workforce.
Looking back, deliciously
Recipes from Jump Cut's past, and pictures too.