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Screening the City

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The city has long been an important location for filmmakers. Visually compelling and always modern, it is the perfect metaphor for man?s place in the contemporary world.

In this provocative collection of essays, films as diverse as The Man with the Movie Camera, Annie Hall, Street of Crocodiles, Boyz N the Hood, Three Colors Red, and Crash are examined in terms of the relationship between cinema and the changing urban experience in Europe and the United States since the early ...

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2003 Hard cover New. No dust jacket as issued. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 312 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

The city has long been an important location for filmmakers. Visually compelling and always modern, it is the perfect metaphor for man’s place in the contemporary world.

In this provocative collection of essays, films as diverse as The Man with the Movie Camera, Annie Hall, Street of Crocodiles, Boyz N the Hood, Three Colors Red, and Crash are examined in terms of the relationship between cinema and the changing urban experience in Europe and the United States since the early twentieth century. Peter Jelavich, for example, links the suppression of the creative, liberal Weimar Berlin in the 1931 film Berlin Alexanderplatz to the rise of the Nazi regime and the end of one of the great eras of modernist experimentation in German visual culture; Jessie Labov considers Kieslowski’s treatment of the Warsaw housing blok in Dekalog in terms of Solidarity’s strategy of resisting totalitarianism in 1980s Poland; Allan Siegel examines the motif of the city in a broad range of American and international cinema to demonstrate how film and society since the 1960s have been driven by the fading of mass political radicalism and the triumph of privatization and capital; Paula Massood uses the socially illuminating theories of Mikhail Bakhtin to examine the representation of the ghetto and urban underclass in recent African-American films such as Menace II Society; and Matthew Gandy examines the focus on disease in Todd Haynes’s [Safe] as a metaphor for social and spatial breakdown in contemporary Los Angeles.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A wonderfully fresh and kaleidoscopic examination of the strange alchemy between celluloid and asphalt.”—Mike Davis
Publishers Weekly
This anthology of academic essays from England and the U.S. addresses the changing conception of the "city" in the history of cinema, and vice versa, through the filter of ongoing debates about the definitions of postmodernism. In the opening essay, German and Russian studies professor Carsten Strathausen layers interpretations of Adorno, de Certeau and other critics of the Enlightenment onto the work of 1920s filmmakers DzigaVertov and Walter Ruttman, to arrive at the fairly bland conclusion that "the city, much like the cinema, presents an inherently ambivalent picture of modern life which cannot be rendered fully present in its entirety." Matthew Gandy situates Todd Haynes's Safe in its peculiarly suburban, Los Angeleno topos, the "tessellated landscapes of...its vast semi-arid hinterland," and explains the film's critique of New Age self help discourses through a detailed recapitulation of the plot. Other writers address the brothers Quay, "New Jack Cinema," and Annie Hall, using such theoretical heavyweights as Gilles Deleuze, Edward Soja, and Mike Davis for backup. Overall, the book's stylish, if greatly over-theorized premise, that popular cinema shapes and reflects the larger psychopathologies of Western culture, and the other way around, finds happy verification among its contributors. Using the inherent sex appeal of film studies to spice up such otherwise musty fields as geography, sociology and social theory, this collection's uneven and un-urgent arguments preach eloquently to the converted. (Apr. 24) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859846902
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 3/25/2003
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Fitzmaurice is College Lecturer in Film Studies at the Centre for Film Studies/UCD School of Film, University College Dublin.

Mark Shiel is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College, London.

Matthew Gandy teaches geography at University College London and has published widely on urban and environmental issues.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Pt. I The Modern City: Central and Eastern Europe
1 Uncanny Spaces: The City in Ruttmann and Vertov 15
2 Ruttmann's Berlin: Filming in a "Hollow Space" 41
3 The City Vanishes: Piel Jutzi's Berlin Alexanderplatz 58
4 "Cut out from last year's moldering newspapers": Bruno Schulz and the Brothers Quay on The Street of Crocodiles 80
5 Architorture: Jan Svankmajer and Surrealist Film 100
6 Kieslowski's Dekalog, Everyday Life, and the Art of Solidarity 113
Pt. II The Postmodern City: North America
7 After the Sixties: Changing Paradigms in the Representation of Urban Space 137
8 A Nostalgia for Modernity: New York, Los Angeles, and American Cinema in the 1970s 160
9 The Affective City: Urban Black Bodies and Milieu in Menace II Society and Pulp Fiction 180
10 City Spaces and City Times: Bakhtin's Chronotope and Recent African-American Film 200
11 Against the Los Angeles Symbolic: Unpacking the Racialized Discourse of the Automobile in 1980s and 1990s Cinema 216
12 Allergy and Allegory in Todd Haynes' [Safe] 239
13 The Deleuzean Experience of Cronenberg's Crash and Wenders' The End of Violence 262
Coda: The City Reborn: Cinema at the Turn of the Century 284
List of Contributors 299
Index 303
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