Woo, To, Wong Kar-wai, Asian Horror, Anime and More: Twelve Open-Access Film Studies Books from Hong Kong University Press and OAPEN!!


Brokeback Mountain Studies: Through the Queer Longing Glass

Films accumulate meaning through, at times, very subtle moves. From one colour to another. From one shape to another. The latter is the case with Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005).

While much of the film’s affective meaning is conjured through quite obvious (but no less moving for that) figurations of absence and presence, such as Ennis’s discovery of the (now ’empty’) bloodied shirts in Jack’s closet, and their (still ’empty’) reappearance in Ennis’s own closet at the end of the film, there is also some mourning and memory-work carried out through considerably less conspicuous, visual shape-shifting and graphic matching.

This very short video essay traces the long journey from Jack’s desirous looking at Ennis through round glass (as he shaves his later-to-be-bruised cheek) in the early and middle parts of the film, to Ennis’s touching association with squarer, straighter vistas, at the end of the film, an un/looking through ‘longing glass’ in which Jack can only be figured invisibly, metaphorically, through his absence.  [Catherine Grant, ‘Through the Queer Longing Glass of Brokeback Mountain‘]

Film Studies For Free‘s author was doing a little bit of teaching on Brokeback Mountain last week. It was windy up there, but this pedagogical outing inspired the above little video essay as well as the below list of links to online, and openly accessible studies of Ang Lee‘s 2005 film and Annie Proulx‘s short story as well as of the ‘gay cowboy film’ more generally. Yee ha!

Great Film Studies Theses from Texas Universities

Image from Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982). You can read about this film in Chi Hyun Park’s 2008 PhD thesis: Orientalism in U.S. cyberpunk cinema from Blade Runner to the Matrix

Film Studies For Free brings you one of its regular reports from eRepositories. This time it’s the turn of the institutes of higher learning located in the largest state of the contiguous U.S.A., the online theses of which are kindly and neatly hosted by the wonderful folks at the Texas Digital Repository.

Seek, and ye shall find, and FSFF did indeed seek and find some graduate work of excellent quality, and on an incredibly wide range of topics. Ye can find it linked to below.

The PhD theses, in particular, will shortly be added to FSFF‘s permanent listing of Online Film and Moving Image Studies PhD and MPhil Theses.

Ye all come back now! 

>Liquid Atmospherics: On the cinema of Wong Kar-wai


ENVOI (2011) from Elaine Castillo on Vimeo. The above video is a ficto-biographical essay-film taking two looped scenes from two Wong Kar-wai films (HAPPY TOGETHER and DAYS OF BEING WILD) as its point of departure, arrival (also: non-departure, non-arrival). On grief, migration, the romantic, hyper-specificity, sentimental time, queer space, Asian celebrity gossip, fantasies involving Maggie Cheung, covers and translations, the writing body, the filmmaking body, readability, speakability.

Almost devoid of irony, Wong’s films, like classic rock and roll, take seriously all the crushes, the posturing, and the stubborn capriciousness of young angst. They rejoice in manic expenditures of energy. They celebrate the momentary heartbreak of glimpsing a stranger who might be interesting to love. The best comparison is surely not with Godard, whose romantic streak has a bitter edge. In Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong may have its Truffaut, the director who in Tirez sur le pianiste and Jules et Jim concentrated on not-quite-grown- up characters brooding on eternally missed chances. In any case, Wong stands out from his peers by abandoning the kinetics of comedies and action movies in favor of more liquid atmospherics. He dissolves crisp emotions into vaporous moods. For all his sophistication, his unembarrassed effort to capture powerful, pleasantly adolescent feelings confirms his commitment to the Hong Kong popular tradition.
David Bordwell, ‘Avant-Pop Cinema Romance on Your Menu: Chungking Express’ in Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment (Second edition: e-book; Wisconsin: Irvington Way Institute Press Madison, 2011), pp. 178-179

Today, Film Studies For Free massively updates its existing entry on the cinema of Wong Kar-wai

There are two compelling reasons for this: the first is there are lots more scholarly resources available, or discoverable, now on this filmmaker’s work that are worth listing, including some great items on video. 

The second is that this is the first of two posts in celebration of the online publication, as a PDF, of a full colour, second edition of the peerless David Bordwell’s book Planet Hong Kong, an opus well worth its $15 pricetag, in FSFF‘s humble and, usually, frugal opinion.
FSFF doesn’t normally celebrate, or promote, pay-to-own resources. But, apart from the fact that this is a highly interesting development in online Film Studies publishing in its own right, no one has given so generously online, either of his already published work or of his ongoing scholarly work, as David Bordwell. 

What is more, Bordwell’s PHK chapter entitled ‘Avant-Pop Cinema’, with its lyrical and beautifully illustrated section on Wong’s work: ‘Romance on Your Menu: Chungking Express’, is worth the download price alone. If you need to save up to purchase Planet Hong Kong first, you can enjoy, in the meantime, several excellent posts at Observations on Film Art on Wong’s work, including ‘Ashes to Ashes (Redux)’ and ‘Years of being obscure’.

Video material:

Written material:

>New Issue of Screening the Past


Image from The Party (Blake Edwards, 1968). Read Charles Barr’s article on this film, reprinted in issue 30 of Screening the Past

Film Studies For Free rushes you news, via Adrian Martin, that not only has Screening the Past, that wonderful, A* rated, online journal of screen history, theory and criticism, posted its latest issue, but it has changed URL, and is in the process of upgrading its website.

All the new contents are listed below. FSFF hasn’t read everything yet, but is enjoying STP‘s tributes to Blake Edwards, as well as the Open Access reprint of Chris Berry’s wonderful essay China’s New “Women’s Cinema”.

First Release

Tribute to Blake Edwards


>30 Online Film Studies Books and PhD Theses from OhioLINK


Image from When Night is Falling (Patricia Rozema, 1995), a film discussed by Jamie L. Stuart

Film Studies For Free shakes itself out of an uncharacteristic, unseasonal, hot-weather related torpor to bring you one of its regular reports (and lists of links) from a University research repository. Today, it’s the turn of the utterly brilliant repository at the OhioLINK ETD Center, gathering theses and books (in bold below) by film studies scholars at Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Ohio University, and Case Western Reserve University.

As usual, these links will be added in due course to FSFF‘s permanent listings of Online Film and Moving Image Studies PhD Theses and Open Access Film E-books List.

>Paranormal cinematic activity: ghost film studies


Latest update: April 27, 2010

 Publicity still for The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961). See an excerpt from this film in Nicolas Rapold and Matt Zoller Seitz‘s L Magazine video essay ‘Bad Seeds: Creepy Kids on Film’, embedded towards the foot of this entry

Film Studies For Free has gone and spooked itself, today, with its own scary persistence in compiling a list of links to openly accessible, online, scholarly articles, chapters and theses on international ghost film studies. Oh, and there are two related video essays lurking at the bottom to scare the scholarly bejesus out of you for good measure, too (added April 27) .
Like all the best posts at this blog (IOHO), the list below owes its hefty materiality to its connections with FSFF‘s author‘s own (hauntological) research, some of which, hopefully, will be directly shared with her fearless readers very shortly. So do please be a revenant, won’t you?

    From Screen: essays on screen theory, art film and affect, and early Japanese and Chinese cinema

    Image from The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993) 

    Film Studies For Free was ever so happy to discover that Screen, the leading international journal of academic film and television studies — a journal with which FSFF‘s author has been proud to be associated as an editorial advisory board member since 1995 — has a number of wonderful articles and reviews which have been made freely accessible online in full-text and pdf formats.  

    This blog particularly liked the essays, linked to below, by Annette Kuhn (a great reflection on screen theorizing on the occasion of Screen‘s 50th anniversary) and by Barbara Klinger in which she revisits film theories of affect as well as the debates around Jane Campion‘s 1993 film The Piano.

    This blogpost won’t mean too much to those readers who can take institutional subscriptions to Screen for granted, but FSFF knows it will be appreciated by many others, in lots of different parts of the world, who don’t enjoy that particular scholarly benefit.
    Volume 50, Number 1, Spring 2009 (50th anniversary issue)

    • Annette Kuhn, Screen and screen theorizing today Screen 2009 50: 1-12; doi:10.1093/screen/hjp001[FREE Full Text][PDF]

    Volume 47, Number 1, Spring 2006 (first fully digital issue)

    • Charlotte Brunsdon, ‘A fine and private place’: the cinematic spaces of the London Underground’ Screen 2006 47: 1-17; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl001 [Abstract][FREE Full Text][PDF]

    • Barbara Klinger, The art film, affect and the female viewer: The Piano revisited Screen 2006 47: 19-41; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl002 [Abstract][FREE Full Text][PDF]

    • Gregory A. Walle, Narrating the new Japan: Biograph’s The Hero of Liao-Yang (1904) Screen 2006 47: 43-65; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl003 [Abstract][FREE Full Text][PDF] 

    • Laikwan Pang,Walking into and out of the spectacle: China’s earliest film scene Screen 2006 47: 66-80; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl004[Abstract][FREE Full Text][PDF]

    Research note 

    • Deborah Allison, Multiplex programming in the UK: the economics of homogeneity Screen 2006 47: 81-90; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl005[FREE Full Text][PDF]


    • Sylvia Harvey, Ofcom’s first year and neoliberalism’s blind spot: attacking the culture of production Screen 2006 47: 91-105; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl006[FREE Full Text][PDF] 
      • Don Reddin, The non-democratic regulator: a response to Sylvia Harvey Screen 2006 47: 107-111; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl007 [FREE Full Text][PDF]


      • Astrid Söderbergh Widding, Rune Waldekranz: Swedish pioneering film historian Screen 2006 47: 113-117; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl008[FREE Full Text][PDF]


        • James Bennett, Inventing Television Culture: Men, Women and the Box • New Media and Popular Imagination: Launching Radio, Television and Digital Media in the United States Screen 2006 47: 119-124; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl009[FREE Full Text][PDF]
          • John Corner, The Subject in Documentary Screen 2006 47: 125-128; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl010[FREE Full Text][PDF]  
          • Julie Light, Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC Screen 2006 47: 129-132; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl011[FREE Full Text][PDF] 
          • Helen Piper, Understanding Reality Television • Reality TV – Audiences and Popular Factual Television Reality TV – Realism and Revelation Screen 2006 47: 133-138; doi:10.1093/screen/hjl012 [FREE Full Text][PDF] 

          Lots of Links from the Twitterverse and Beyond

          Tarzan Call, Number 5 in the List Universe ‘Top Ten Sound Effects We All Recognize’:

          “The Tarzan [call] is the distinctive, ululating yell of the character Tarzan, as portrayed by actor Johnny Weismuller in the films based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, starting with [Tarzan of the Apes] (1932).

          Film Studies For Free is now regularly tweeting (and retweeting) one off links to great online and open-access resources (or, sometimes, just fun ones…). Click here if you’re interested in following those leads as they are posted.

          It makes sense, then, to come up with occasional round-up posts of those links for FSFF blog readers. And this also provides a good opportunity to throw into that mix other film and media studies items of note that might otherwise get missed.

          So here, in no particular order, are a whole bunch of great links:

          Drawing on the vast archives of the George Eastman House Motion Picture Collection, including Louise Brooks’ personal collection, this exhibition will celebrate the hundredth anniversary of her birth. It is also a rare opportunity to examine vintage stills, which are often overlooked but were seminal to the creation of cinematic icons, particularly in the 1920s and 30s when the burgeoning picture magazines were feeding off the publicity machines of film capitals like Hollywood and Berlin.

          Happy Saturday Reading: New ‘World Picture Journal’

          Song of Youth (Qingchun zhi ge, directed by Cui Wei and Chen Huai’ai, 1959)

          Film Studies For Free is delighted to report that the new Summer 2009 issue of World Picture Journal (number 3) has just been posted at its website. The issue is on ‘Happiness’

          Below are direct links to its three film-related articles. The issue also includes other wonderful essays on Adorno and John Stuart Mill, and a fabulous interview with Adam Phillips: