Added Sting: New Film-Philosophy Out Now

Film Studies For Free is very happy to report that the latest, excellent issue of Film-Philosophy (Volume 13, Issue No. 1, 2009) is now available online.

There is plenty worth recommending in it. There’s an interesting focus on science fiction cinema in a number of the articles and book reviews. But, as always in the eclectic Film-Philosophy salon, a wide variety of philosophical or theoretical perspectives are invoked or employed — Freudianism, Hegelianism, Deleuzianism, Kierkegaardianism, to name but a few.

Below are links to the pdf files of articles and book reviews furnished with Film Studies For Free‘s selected snippets and occasional comments:


‘Since commentaries and interviews hitherto have sufficiently addressed the societal concerns (e.g. immigration, parent-child relations, the working poor) and persistent themes (e.g. responsibility, fidelity, forgiveness) of the Dardenne catalog, this article will be concerned less with the representational content of the films and more with how they cinematographically present and resonate as objects of spectatorial affection. The Dardennes reconfigure perception according to its affective rather than intelligible capacity. Their work, in turn, remains ‘open’; the absence of stable situations at both diegetic and cinematographic levels renders impossible the verification of any would-be objects of a proper count.’ (p. 2)

‘Science fiction cinema offers more insight into the functioning of ideology than any other film genre, but this insight arrives – as a result of the genre’s futural mode – in a paranoid form, depicting ideology as the activity of an agent behind the scenes who manipulates subjects. In the standard science fiction film, the closed nature of ideology becomes evident, but this closure appears to be the work of some malevolent agency rather than a structural effect of ideology itself. The futural mode of science fiction film is at once responsible for its most radical insights and its most salient defects. In order to appreciate the former and avoid being seduced by the latter, one must approach science fiction cinema in the way that Hegel approaches Kantian morality, which shares both science fiction’s insights and defects.’ (p. 6)

‘Analyze This is a comedy that derives its humour from a number of sources. First of all, the premise that a Mafia boss should need therapy because he suffers from panic attacks; secondly the idea that Robert de Niro, who has made his career playing ‘wise guys’ and ‘goodfellas’, should parody the conventions of the genre; and most importantly, the continuous play of role reversals – between fathers and sons, doctor and patient, good guys and bad guys. But the thing that makes it really work as a film – at least for me – is that even though it parodies The Godfather it also expresses its basic psychoanalytic truth: that is, that sons endlessly trip over their unconscious when it comes to relations with their fathers. And even though it makes fun of therapy, it shows an understanding of Freud that is uncommon in popular culture.’ (p. 2)

‘[T]o win its viewers’ identification with its characters and, through them, its ideological assumptions, [Thank You For Smoking] organises its content around an ethical form, that of the tragic hero in Søren Kierkegaard’s sense. Consequently, what I hope to enact in this essay is the revenge of content upon form, because the form that produces the tragic hero, in Thank You For Smoking […], ignores its own content and thereby threatens to undermine an authentic ethics, which is often intolerant and not necessarily consensual. In short, the film, based loosely on the ‘smoking wars’ that began in the mid 1990s, ultimately champions an impoverished ethics, an ‘ethics of consumption’ with the ‘right to consume’ figuring as its first principle.'(p. 2)

‘Dune, released in 1984 and directed by David Lynch, from his own adapted screenplay of Frank Herbert’s epic science-fiction novel, provides a rich example for a reception study on ideas of authorship. On the one hand, Herbert’s 1960s cult bestseller has evolved into a franchise and is thus regarded by Dune enthusiasts as a sacrosanct text. From a Lynch perspective, though, the film is usually seen as his least personal work – an event movie no less – and as such it holds the rank of the most uncared for text in his filmic canon. It is the goal of this paper to analyse Dune’s meanings in relation to critical writings founded upon the tenets of early auteurism so we might explore its function as a reception preference for the predisposed reader. But rather than simply dismiss auteurism as humanist idealism (as has been the habit with historical assessments of authors), the outcome of this paper seeks to also take account of the writing pleasures the author might bring to the interpretation of filmed texts.’ (p. 1)

Book Reviews
Film Studies For Free particularly recommends Will Higbee’s thoughtful review of David Martin Jones’s important work on Deleuze and national identity in the cinema, as well as Joshua Shaw’s take on the second edition of Stephen Mulhall’s classic On Film

Leonardo Aldrovandi, Hanns Eisler and Theodor W. Adorno (1947/2007) Composing for the Films (124-129); Daniel Barnett, ‘Daniel Herwitz (2008) Aesthetics’ (130-138); Sarah Boslaugh, ‘ Maria Pramaggiore (2008) Neil Jordan’ (139-144); D.H. Fleming, ‘Patricia Pisters (2003) The Matrix of Visual Culture: Working with Deleuze in Film Theory’ (144-155); Will Higbee, ‘David Martin-Jones (2006) Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity: Narrative Time in National Contexts‘ (156-164); John Finlay Kerr, ‘Melanie Swalwell and Jason Wilson, eds. (2008) The Pleasures of Computer Gaming: Essays on Cultural History, Theory and Aesthetics‘ (165-175); Codruta Morari, ‘Sabine Nessel, Winfried Pauleit, Christine Rüffert, eds. (2008) Wort und Fleisch: Kino swischen Text und Körper / Word and Flesh: Cinema between Text and the Body’ (176-186); Joshua Shaw, ‘Stephen Mulhall (2008) On Film, 2nd Edition’ (176-186) Tom Whittaker,; ‘Martin O’Shaughnessy (2007) The New Face of Political Cinema: Commitment in French Film Since 1995‘ (199-205); Sarah Wishart, ‘Gail Cunningham and Stephen Barber (2007) London Eyes: Reflections in Text and Image‘ (206-212)


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