All posts tagged: film studies

The Somnophile’s Guide to Cinema: An Interview with Jean Ma

By Amanda (Xiao) Ju, Jean Ma, Patrick Sullivan, and Madeline Ullrich Featured Image: Still from Cemetery of Splendour (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015). Jean Ma was the keynote speaker for the 12th Visual and Cultural Studies Graduate Conference in 2019, dedicated to the theme “Rest and the Rest: Aesthetics of Idleness.” Since the inaugural event in 1995, the biennial conference has convened scholars from a variety of fields, such as film studies, museum studies, art history, and cultural anthropology, in accordance with the interdisciplinary approach of the program. This interview took place during Professor Ma’s visit to the University of Rochester in April 2019. Before the conference, students from the graduate program of Visual and Cultural Studies and the English department formed a reading group, which read and discussed parts of Ma’s first two books—Melancholy Drift: Marking Time in Chinese Cinema and Sounding the Modern Woman—as well as a portion of her current book At the Edges of Sleep, forthcoming with University of California Press. The excerpt combined writings from two chapters, both of which closely …

Immediations The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary

Reviewed by Genne Speers, York University, Toronto. Pooja Rangan. Immediations The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary. Duke University Press. 2017. 254 pages. “What does endangered life do for documentary?” This critical, and often overlooked, question is the point of departure for Immediations The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary. In this book, Pooja Rangan, Assistant Professor of English in Film and Media Studies at Amherst College, articulates the paradox of participatory documentary and the problematic of “giving voice to the voiceless.” Rangan argues that the humanitarian impulse of giving the camera to the other is an ideological act. The gift of the camera appears as an invitation to the dehumanized other to claim and take up their position as a member of the community of humanity, however it doesn’t go far enough to engage the problematics of how we define the community of humanity, or how we can expand what we conceive of as the human/e. Crucially, this question of how we conceive of the human/e presents itself as a core concern of this book (158). Rangan’s neologism, …

Organic Cinema: Film, Architecture, and the Work of Béla Tarr

Reviewed by Anthony Ballas, University of Colorado at Denver Thorsten Botz-Bornstein. Organic Cinema: Film, Architecture, and the Work of Béla Tarr. New York: Berghahn Books, 2017. 221 pages. Thorsten Botz-Bornstein’s Organic Cinema: Film, Architecture, and the Work of Béla Tarr features an impressive multidisciplinary examination of the concept of organicism through a complex yet sophisticated web of philosophical, aesthetic, architectural and cinematic examples. For Botz-Bornstein, organicism grates up against mainstream or otherwise popular philosophical and aesthetic theories, offering a divergent path away from the post-structuralist, deconstructive, leftist ideologiekritik, as well as the “competition of different universalisms,” ranging from Islamic fundamentalism to western capitalism, which dominate our contemporary social and aesthetic paradigm (2-3). Filmmakers such as Béla Tarr and Andrei Tarkovsky, architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Imre Makovecz, writers such as Lázló Krasznahorkai and philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze and Henri Bergson, are the exemplars of organic thinking according to Botz-Bornstein, who highlights their theoretical and aesthetic import as advocates of contemplation, slowness, and ultimately the cosmic thought linking the relative to the universal, or, …