Film criticism is in crisis. Dwelling on the many film journalists made redundant at newspapers, magazines, and other 'old media' in past years, commentators have voiced existential questions about the purpose and worth of the profession in the age of WordPress blogospheres and proclaimed the 'death of the critic'. Bemoaning the current anarchy of internet amateurs and the lack of authoritative critics, many journalists and academics claim that in the digital age, cultural commentary has become dumbed down and fragmented into niche markets. Arguing against these claims, this book examines the history of film critical discourse in France, German, the UK, and the US to demonstrate that film criticism has, since its origins, always found itself in crisis. The need to assert critical authority and anxieties over challenges to that authority are longstanding concerns; indeed, these issues have animated and choreographed the trajectory of international film criticism since its origins.
Over the past decade, as digital media has expanded and print outlets have declined, pundits have bemoaned a “crisis of criticism” and mourned the “death of the critic.” Now that well-paying jobs in film criticism have largely evaporated, while blogs, message boards, and social media have given new meaning to the saying that “everyone’s a critic,” urgent questions have emerged about the status and purpose of film criticism in the twenty-first century. In Film Criticism in the Digital Age, ten scholars from across the globe come together to consider whether we are witnessing the extinction of serious film criticism or seeing the start of its rebirth in a new form. Drawing from a wide variety of case studies and methodological perspectives, the book’s contributors find many signs of the film critic’s declining clout, but they also locate surprising examples of how critics—whether moonlighting bloggers or salaried writers—have been able to intervene in current popular discourse about arts and culture. In addition to collecting a plethora of scholarly perspectives, Film Criticism in the Digital Age includes statements from key bloggers and print critics, like Armond White and Nick James. Neither an uncritical celebration of digital culture nor a jeremiad against it, this anthology offers a comprehensive look at the challenges and possibilities that the Internet brings to the evaluation, promotion, and explanation of artistic works.
At the beginning of the 21st century film criticism was described as in crisis. The decline of print journalism, a series of lay-offs of prominent critics, and the rise of "amateur" reviewing online spurred a conversation about the decline, even death, of film criticism. This discourse flourished in part because film criticism has been little examined in scholarship to date. This book takes a deeper look at film criticism by focusing on its institutional contours. This is achieved through a combination of archival research and interviews with prominent film critics and stakeholders, including Adrian Martin (LOLA), Stephanie Zacharek (Time), Peter Bart (Variety), and Andrew Sarris (The Village Voice). Film Criticism as a Cultural Institution first examines the contemporary crisis conversation surrounding film criticism, comparing this to historical precedents. It then provides what today’s crisis conversation does not: an account of film criticism’s institutional formations. Using primarily U.S. and Australian case studies based on interviews, observation and archival research—as well as accounts from other national schools—the book maps contemporary film criticism. Across various sites, such as publications or online spaces, and organisations, such as film critics circles, it elucidates film criticism’s institutional practices, tasks, comportments, and personae. Looking at the history of conversations about film criticism shows us that "crisis" has always been a leitmotif. While acknowledging the considerable changes and challenges that film criticism faces today, this book situates these within an historical context and proposes an institutional framework that allows us to move beyond crisis discourse. Looking at film criticism in this way allows us to see that the very question of what counts as film criticism is continually contested within an institutional ecology made up of distinctive critical comportments addressed to distinctive audiences.
In Fatih Akın’s Cinema and the New Sound of Europe, Berna Gueneli explores the transnational works of acclaimed Turkish-German filmmaker and auteur Fatih Akın. The first minority director in Germany to receive numerous national and international awards, Akın makes films that are informed by Europe’s past, provide cinematic imaginations about its present and future, and engage with public discourses on minorities and migration in Europe through his treatment and representation of a diverse, multiethnic, and multilingual European citizenry. Through detailed analyses of some of Akın’s key works—In July, Head-On, and The Edge of Heaven, among others—Gueneli identifies Akın’s unique stylistic use of multivalent sonic and visual components and multinational characters. She argues that the soundscapes of Akın’s films—including music and multiple languages, dialects, and accents—create an “aesthetic of heterogeneity” that envisions an expanded and integrated Europe and highlights the political nature of Akın’s decisions regarding casting, settings, and audio. At a time when belonging and identity in Europe is complicated by questions of race, ethnicity, religion, and citizenship, Gueneli demonstrates how Akın’s aesthetics intersect with politics to reshape notions of Europe, European cinema, and cinematic history.
Received an Honorable Mention for the 2017 British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS) Best Monograph Award From Shortbus to Shame and from Oldboy to Irreversible, film festival premieres regularly make international headlines for their shockingly graphic depictions of sex and violence. Film critics and scholars alike often regard these movies as the work of visionary auteurs, hailing directors like Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier as heirs to a tradition of transgressive art. In this provocative new book, Mattias Frey offers a very different perspective on these films, exposing how they are also calculated products, designed to achieve global notoriety in a competitive marketplace. Paying close attention to the discourses employed by film critics, distributors, and filmmakers themselves, Extreme Cinema examines the various tightropes that must be walked when selling transgressive art films to discerning audiences, distinguishing them from generic horror, pornography, and Hollywood product while simultaneously hyping their salacious content. Deftly tracing the links between the local and the global, Frey also shows how the directors and distributors of extreme art house fare from both Europe and East Asia have significant incentives to exaggerate the exotic elements that would differentiate them from Anglo-American product. Extreme Cinema also includes original interviews with the programmers of several leading international film festivals and with niche distributors and exhibitors, giving readers a revealing look at how these institutions enjoy a symbiotic relationship with the “taboo-breakers” of art house cinema. Frey also demonstrates how these apparently transgressive films actually operate within a strict set of codes and conventions, carefully calibrated to perpetuate a media industry that fuels itself on provocation.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, there has been a proliferation of German historical films. These productions have earned prestigious awards and succeeded at box offices both at home and abroad, where they count among the most popular German films of all time. Recently, however, the country's cinematic take on history has seen a significant new development: the radical style, content, and politics of the New German Cinema. With in-depth analyses of the major trends and films, this book represents a comprehensive assessment of the historical film in today's Germany. Challenging previous paradigms, it takes account of a postwall cinema that complexly engages with various historiographical forms and, above all, with film history itself.
What does it mean to speak of 'national' cinema? Challenging conventional viewpoints, Waving the Flag combines detailed analyses of film text with studies of industrial and cultural contexts, to offer a history of British cinema.