The Dreamers (2003). Reviewed by Jake Dyson

The Dreamers (Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2003)

One of the most undervalued films of the last twenty years is Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003), a masterfully wrought picture that serves, in equal parts, as a panegyric on the power of cinema and a warning to those who abandon that power in pursuit of pure aesthetics. The film, set amidst the popular riots that swept through Paris in 1968, follows the hedonistic sojourn of three young cinéastes: Matthew (Michael Pitt), a young American studying in France, and Theo (Louis Garrel) and Isabelle (Eva Green), a set of Parisian twins whom Matthew meets and befriends at the Cinémathèque Française. Despite the turbulent, historic backdrop of the film, however, Bertolucci largely ignores the rioters; instead, the camera’s gaze is directed toward the three characters who, despite professing an ostensible solidarity with the ideals of the revolution, increasingly withdraw into a sequestered and sybaritic world of their own creation. And it is in this dissonance–between the power of ideas and the sterile, indulgent lives of those who hold them–that the true beauty of the film shines through. Continue reading

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Calling All Instructors: Judges Needed

Film Matters is searching for three judges to determine the winner of the 2018 Masoud Yazdani Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Film Scholarship. For more information about this award, please see the initial announcement (http://www.filmmattersmagazine.com/2014/09/02/announcing-the-masoud-yazdani-award-for-excellence-in-undergraduate-film-scholarship/).

If you are a current instructor of film (graduate student, tenured/tenure-track professor, adjunct, etc.) at an institution of higher education, then please think about providing this valuable service to Film Matters and recognizing the dedicated work of an emerging film scholar, as well as his/her mentor and academic department.

All authors whose articles were published in 8.1, 8.2, and 8.3 of Film Matters as the result of an external CFP and peer-review process automatically qualify for consideration. Ten authors from volume 8 are eligible, representing the following institutions:

  • Brown University
  • Durham University
  • The George Washington University
  • Simmons College
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Florida
  • Washington University in St. Louis (2)
  • Wilfrid Laurier University (2)

Please email Liza Palmer (futurefilmscholars AT gmail.com) as soon as possible, indicating your interest in serving as a judge. Materials and policies/procedures will be provided to the judging board once it is populated. And the board, as a group, will decide whether they want to work anonymously or not.

Thanks, in advance, for your support and promotion of this award, which celebrates not only young film scholars, but also Masoud Yazdani of Intellect.

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FM 8.3 (2017) Is Out!

Film Matters is pleased to announce that its last issue of the 2017 volume year is now out.  In this issue, you will find the following peer-reviewed feature articles:

  • A Forced Silence: The Hidden Homonormativity Surrounding Carol by Isabella Luizzi
  • The Revival of Cold War Tensions and Propaganda Filmmaking: Red Dawn and Threads as Films of the “Second World War” by Niko Pajkovic
  • All or Nothing: Representing Masculinity in Jamón Jamón (Bigas Luna, 1992) and Mar adentro (Amenábar, 2004) by Lucy Sabin
  • The Lady Vanishes: Soviet Censorship, Socialist Realism, and the Disappearance of Larisa Shepitko by Anastasia Sorokina

A contemporary science fiction dossier from Fabrizio Cilento and students (Messiah College):

  • Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema Dossier Introduction by Fabrizio Cilento
  • “That lightsaber. It belongs to me.”: Patriarchal Anxiety and the Fragility of White Men’s Masculinity in The Force Awakens by Nicole Veneto
  • Today I’m Going to Test You: Oppositional Cyborgs and Automated Anxiety in Ex Machina by Julia Glick
  • The Zombie Apocalypse as Twenty-First-Century Frontier by Mynt Marsellus
  • Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema review by Natalie Moey
  • Gender in Science Fiction Films, 1964-1979 review by Megan Hess
  • Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction review by Emmanuel Gundran
  • Science Fiction Adapted to Film review by Angeline Leong
  • “Recognize This”: Anderson’s Heart of a Dog review by Perri Chastulik

The latest “Mapping Contemporary Cinema” article:

  • The Heath Is White: Nationhood, Protestant Anxieties, and Nazism in The White Ribbon by Johannes Aschim

A race, gender, and genre in 21st-century cinema dossier from Jennifer O’Meara and students (University of St Andrews):

  • Dossier Introduction: Race, Gender, and Genre in Twenty-First-Century Cinema by Adrienne Pohl
  • A Future of One’s Own?: Gender Through Relationality of Death in World of Tomorrow (2015) by Jaka Lombar
  • Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, and the Regressive Role of Women in Romantic Comedies by Kittsie Klaes
  • Examining Genre Conventions in the Promotion of Marvel Avengers Assemble by Katrina McCorry
  • Alternate Modes of Masculinity in The Gambler review by Murray Ferguson
  • Circumstance and the Representation of Transgression in Contemporary Iran review by Alexandra A. Rego
  • Gender and the Nuclear Family in Twenty-First-Century Horror review by Kathryn Haldane

The following featurettes:

  • Teamwork Makes Film Work by Lydia Plantamura
  • Playing with Shapes and Colors: Synesthesia’s Transition into Mainstream Cinema by Tyler Linden
  • Alfonso Cuarón: The Real Magic Behind Harry Potter by Kelsey Davis

As well as book and film/DVD/Blu-ray reviews by: Kim Carr, Constantine Frangos, Devon Alizabeth Freeman, Jessica P. Jackson, Ty Johnson, Leah Rae Kmosko, Charles Riggs, and Kelli Wofford.

For more information about issue 8.3, please visit Intellect’s website: https://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-issue,id=3468/

With this issue now released, we can officially begin the review process for the 2018 Masoud Yazdani Award — so please watch this space for more updates and information about that.

And, remember, Film Matters is always looking for new authors and guest editors.  Please get in touch with us today!

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Announcing Themed CFP 10.2

Film Matters is pleased to announce a new themed call for papers — on documentary — for consideration in issue 10.2 (2019), guest edited by Margaret C. Flinn and students at The Ohio State University. Undergraduates and recent graduates, please submit your theme-related research papers today!

The deadline is January 15, 2019.

For more information, please download the official document (PDF):

Submissions should be sent to:

  • filmmatters10.2 AT gmail.com

(questions should be directed to Dr. Margaret C. Flinn: flinn.62 AT osu.edu).

Please note that Film Matters does not accept submissions that are currently under review by other journals or magazines.

Our guest editors look forward to receiving your papers!

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The Wicker Man and the Dangers of Zealotry. Reviewed by Nick Bugeja

Howie (Edward Woodward) in the stolen Punch the Fool costume. The costume is highly symbolic, reflecting his unwitting manipulation at the hands of the people of Summerisle in The Wicker Man (British Lion Films, 1973)

Many accomplished horror films utilize restricted locales to evoke suspicion, anxiety, and dread. The claustrophobic space of the starship Nostromo appreciably contributed to the petrifying mood in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979). In Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Roman Polanski centered the filmic action on an affluent New York apartment block, heightening our fears and suspicions. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), in all probability, is the paradigmatic example of this kind of horror film. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a failing writer, accepts the winter caretaker job at the Overlook Hotel, enveloped by deep forestry. The hotel itself is a hulking edifice, composed of myriad rooms, halls, and public sitting areas. Despite this, the locale of the Overlook Hotel retains a feeling of inescapability, of incarceration, especially for Jack’s eventual prey: his son Danny (Danny Lloyd), endowed with remarkable mental powers; and Jack’s neurotic wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall). Continue reading

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FM 8.2 (2017) Now Out!

Film Matters is pleased to announce the release of FM 8.2 (2017) — guest edited by Matthew Sorrento and undergraduate students from Rutgers University-Camden.

In this issue, you’ll find the following features/featurettes:

  • Beyond Morricone: The Other Italian Film Composers by George Kristian
  • Kubrick Becoming: An Interview with Philippe Mather on Stanley Kubrick at Look Magazine by Melissa J. Webb 
  • On The Autopsy of Jane Doe by Constantine Frangos
  • The Squid and the Whale: A Revenge on Childhood by Connor Rothstein 
  • “One of Us!”: Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster by Constantine Frangos 

As well as book and DVD/Blu-ray reviews by Jen Bircher, Damien A. Capps, Nicole JY Chan, Kelsey Davis, Leila Estes, Rachel Hamilton, Frederik Hartmann, Mark P. Heaton, Jessica P. Jackson, Ty Johnson, Leah Rae Kmosko, George Kristian, Luke Lamar, Christian Leus, Tyler Linden, Megan May McCaw, Mina Radovic, Charles Riggs, Jianna Xiong, Hayley Wilson, and Jonathan Wright.

For more information about issue 8.2, please visit Intellect’s website: https://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-issue,id=3436/

We love working with guest editors!  Contact us today if you are interested in bringing the Film Matters experience to your campus, to your undergraduate students!

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Neely Gonidosky’s Behind the Bars, an Animated Short Film, Set for Release Monday, December 11, 2017

Behind the Bars (Monticello Park Productions, 2017)

Behind the Bars is an animated short film by award-winning animator Neely Goniodsky, exploring the themes of racial oppression, prejudice, and the power of art to overcome and communicate one’s struggles to the world. Based on a poem by Edward Smyth Jones.

Aesthetically, the film draws from the materials available at the time of the poem’s publication – 1894 – and uses hand-drawn, 2D, and under-the-camera collage techniques to create a unique world, where Edward Smyth Jones’s intense inspiration to write even during his most difficult moments is captured in a dynamic and constantly evolving environment.

Behind the Bars had its world premiere at the New York City Poetry Festival, its European Premiere at the Encounters Film Festival, and has since screened at additional festivals all around the world. The film is part of the Campfire Poetry project, produced by Max Rothman and Monticello Park Productions, and was selected as a participant in The Independent Filmmaker Project’s 2017 Screen Forward Lab.

Behind the Bars (4:07): Vimeo release: Monday, December 11, 10 AM PST
https://vimeo.com/199041676/2366305c5c

Trailer:
https://vimeo.com/210478339

For more information, please visit:
http://www.monticelloparkprod.com/behind-the-bars-1
http://neelygoniodsky.com/

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L’avventura (1960). Reviewed by Film Matters Fall 2017 Editorial Board

L’avventura Criterion Blu-ray Review from Liza Palmer

Contributors: Catherine Colson, Jamie Foley, JT Fritsch, Sean Gallagher, Danet Grabbe, Breanna Grim, Matthew Johnson, Garrett Neal, Cheyenne Puga, Austin Grey, Ethan Schneier, Anthony Wilson, and K. M. Wise.

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Groundhog Day: The Day Before Tomorrow. Reviewed by Luke Batten

Groundhog Day (Columbia Pictures, 1993)

“If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.”
–Steve Jobs

Phil Connors (Bill Murray) brings a whole new meaning to this carpe diem sentiment in Groundhog Day (1993). Self-centred TV weatherman Phil is tasked with covering the annual February 2nd Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania; the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, is roused and scrutinized to see if he will perceive his shadow. If he does, that signals another six weeks of winter. Due to inclement weather, Phil gets delayed in Punxsutawney and falls victim to an inexplicable time loop which forces him to relive Groundhog Day: indefinitely. Each iteration of the day is marked by his clock radio striking 6:00 a.m. as he awakens in his Punxsutawney bed-and-breakfast to Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe,” with the radio commentator inevitably announcing “It’s Groundhog Day!” As the only person affected by this anomaly, Phil is compelled to confront his biggest fear: himself.    Continue reading

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Pluralism as Penance: Pablo Larraín’s The Club. Reviewed by Stephen Borunda

The Club (Music Box Films, 2015)

Pablo Larraín’s unorthodox drama The Club (2015) centers on a company of dishonored parochial members that live just outside a small beach community named La Boca (The Mouth) in central Chile. While the setting of the film may be unfamiliar to many Western audiences, the sins of the former members of the clergy are all too recognizable. Reminiscent of Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight (2015), these shunned sacerdotal individuals have committed heinous crimes ranging from pedophilia to child kidnapping. Ironically, these former church leaders appear to live in a sort of peaceful exile. Continue reading

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