Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film

Overview

A Los Angeles Times Bestseller

The most important development in American culture of the last two decades is the emergence of independent cinema as a viable alternative to Hollywood. Indeed, while Hollywood's studios devote much of their time and energy to churning out big-budget, star-studded event movies, a renegade independent cinema that challenges mainstream fare continues to flourish with strong critical support and loyal audiences.

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Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film

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Overview

A Los Angeles Times Bestseller

The most important development in American culture of the last two decades is the emergence of independent cinema as a viable alternative to Hollywood. Indeed, while Hollywood's studios devote much of their time and energy to churning out big-budget, star-studded event movies, a renegade independent cinema that challenges mainstream fare continues to flourish with strong critical support and loyal audiences.

Cinema of Outsiders is the first and only comprehensive chronicle of contemporary independent movies from the late 1970s up to the present. From the hip, audacious early works of maverick David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch, and Spike Lee, to the contemporary Oscar-winning success of indie dynamos, such as the Coen brothers (Fargo), Quentin Tarentino (Pulp Fiction), and Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade), Levy describes in a lucid and accessible manner the innovation and diversity of American indies in theme, sensibility, and style.

Documenting the socio-economic, political and artistic forces that led to the rise of American independent film, Cinema of Outsiders depicts the pivotal role of indie guru Robert Redford and his Sundance Film Festival in creating a showcase for indies, the function of film schools in supplying talent, and the continuous tension between indies and Hollywood as two distinct industries with their own structure, finance, talent and audience.

Levy describes the major cycles in the indie film movement: regional cinema, the New York school of film, African-American, Asian American, gay and lesbian, and movies made by women. Based on exhaustive research of over 1,000 movies made between 1977 and 1999, Levy evaluates some 200 quintessential indies, including Choose Me, Stranger Than Paradise, Blood Simple, Blue Velvet, Desperately Seeking Susan, Slacker, Poison, Reservoir Dogs, Gas Food Lodging, Menace II Society, Clerks, In the Company of Men, Chasing Amy, The Apostle, The Opposite of Sex, and Happiness.

Cinema of Outsiders reveals the artistic and political impact of bold and provocative independent movies in displaying the cinema of "outsiders"-the cinema of the "other America."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The most detailed and up-to-date book on independent cinema, an invaluable reference work."

-Molly Haskell,The Washington Post

"Thoughtful and substantial."

-Stuart Klawans,The Nation

"At a time when independent American films are more visible and important than ever before, this is an invaluable study. Emanuel Levy's writing is wise, passionate, and amazingly well-informed."

-Roger Ebert,

"Levy gives us a comprehensive examination of the American independent film movement, with a level-headed, in-depth assessment of the movies it has produced. This is an indispensable text for anyone who wants to understand the independent world."

-David Ansen ,Newsweek

"The time is ripe for an intelligent, informed, well-organized book on the world of independent cinema and Emanuel Levy has given us just that."

-Leonard Maltin,

Library Journal
As most contemporary moviegoers are aware, the indies (independent films) have been booming recently, with many like Pulp Fiction, Metropolitan, and Boogie Nights becoming major critical and box office hits. Levy (film and sociology, Arizona State Univ. West), a film critic for Variety magazine, first tries to define exactly what distinguishes the indie from a major American studio production and then examines the specific circumstances that have favored the indie boom. But the bulk of the book is a look at the directors or creators of these films and their work, both good and bad, and a survey of the various types of indie films being made. As the author hopes, this engaging look at the indies of the last 22 years will appeal to "educated people who go to the movies and are interested in knowing more about them." Highly recommended for public libraries and subject collections.--Marianne Cawley, Charleston Cty. Lib., SC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Haskell
The most detailed and up-to-date book on independent cinema, an invaluable reference work that as one would expect from a professor of film who also writes for Variety deals with the nuts and bolts of low-budget filmmaking while also assessing directorial careers and the films themselves.
The Washington Post Book World
Cineaste
An exhaustively researched chronicle of the meteoric ascent of independent cinema from 1977 to 1998. . . . A welcome and valuable resource on the everchanging world of independent cinema.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814751244
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2001
  • Pages: 601
  • Sales rank: 971,800
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.49 (d)

Meet the Author

A senior film critic of Variety magazine, Emanuel Levy is a two-time president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Professor of Film and Sociology at Arizona State University West, and the author of seven books, including the acclaimed biography, George Cukor: Master of Elegance.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction 1
1 The New American Independent Cinema 13
2 Cinema of Outsiders 52
3 Fathers and Sons 102
4 Regional Cinema 152
5 The New York School of Indies 184
6 The Resurrection of Noir 218
7 Comedy and Satire: Tackling Taboos 249
8 Drama: Challenging Stereotypes 282
9 Cinema of Diversity 315
10 Female/Feminist Sensibility 348
11 The New African American Cinema 405
12 The New Gay and Lesbian Cinema 442
Conclusion: Independent Film Now 494
App. 1 Major Indie Movies by Title 1977-1998 515
App. 2 Major Indie Movies by Year 1977-1998 527
Notes 539
Select Bibliography 557
Index 573
About the Author 601
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