cultural studies

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Labor and Digital Distribution

I’ve recently become intrigued by articles that attempt to depict the labor involved in some of the new video distribution models.  For a while, there was an entire genre of newspaper articles (here is one example) devoted to the behind-the-scenes operations at Netflix. ... read more »

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Pop Politics Revisited

Over the course of the 2008 Presidential election cycle, I wrote a series of articles tracing the phenomenon of political mashups, videos that reworked scenes and characters from famous movies in order to comment on the election, whether to support a specific candidate or to tarnish the brand of a rival candidate. ... read more »

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Waste Land [Full Frame 2010]

During the introduction to her documentary Waste Land, Lucy Walker modestly remarked, “this is a film about garbage.”  And, to some extent, it is about waste, garbage, dumps, refuse, and the people who patiently pick through the Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest garbage dump, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, in order to dig out the recyclable materials that have been tossed aside. ... read more »

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Complexity and Digital Distribution

Although I was critical of Edward Jay Epstein’s most recent book, The Hollywood Economist, one of the book’s undeniable strengths is its description of the complex, even labyrinthine, financing models that have evolved around the production of movies. ... read more »

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Monday Links: Alice, Box Office, Green Zone

My spring break is now officially over, but for once, it has been fortuitously timed. Next week, I will be going out to Los Angeles for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, and thanks to having the break before the conference, I’ve had a chance not only to finish my talk but also to sort through some ideas for future writing projects. I’m not ready to divulge too much, but obviously the topics I’ve been thinking about in my blog are a pretty good clue for measuring what I’ll be writing about in longer form. ... read more »

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Oscar Wrap

Although I was happy to see Kathryn Bigelow win for Best Director and Jeff Bridges for Best Actor, for the most part I found this year’s Oscars show to be uninspired, a perception that seemed commonplace, at least in my scene on Twitter.  The reactions from Ken Levine were similar to those that I saw in real time on Twitter throughout the entire broadcast.  The John Hughes tribute montage was pretty touching and then things got a little awkward when Judd Nelson and Macauley Culkin joined in. ... read more »

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Anticipating Oscar

For a number of reasons, I’ve been more fascinated than usual by the Oscar chatter.  Although some of the “scandals” and controversies over The Hurt Locker have begun to get a little tiresome, they have, in some cases at least, provoked some highly pertinent questions about cinematic realism, especially when it comes to depictions of war.  But, aside from prolonging public discussions about some films that I find thought-provoking, the Oscars (and the anticipation of them, which may, in fact, be more important) are also worth thinking about because they offer us one of the more explicit and privileged public narratives available about the film industry.  They are, in short, Hollywood’s best opportunity to represent itself to a movie-consuming public (while remaining mindful of any number of other audiences, including film industry personnel and film journalists). ... read more »

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Thursday Links: B-Side, Blockbuster, Avatar, 3-D

I’ve got a post percolating on the politics of The Hurt Locker, but for now, here are some quick pointers to some recent articles that are worth a click-through: ... read more »

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Tarantino: The Author as Cinematic Database

I’ve been intrigued by a series of recent articles discussing Quentin Tarantino’s ambivalence about reviews that attempt to identify the influences on his films.  In an interview with the Los Angeles Times’ Patrick Goldstein, Tarantino complained that

Instead of critics reviewing my movies, now what they’re really doing is trying to match wits with me. Every time they review my movies, it’s like they want to play chess with the mastermind and show off every reference they can find, even when half of it is all of their own making. It feels like the critics are IMDB-ing everything I do. It just rubs me the wrong way because they end up using it as a stick to beat me down with.

According to Goldstein, Stephanie Zacharek’s review of Tarantino’s Kill Bill was one of the reviews that tested QT’s patience the most, with Zacharek referring to the film as something akin to a late night “on a moldy postgraduate couch” with the director offering a running commentary on film culture rather than, you know, a narrative feature.  Zacharek’s review may serve an extreme expression, but I think Tarantino is right to remark that his films have become overshadowed by his (highly constructed) reputation as a movie fanatic video store clerk-turned director. ... read more »