Known for their repeating motifs and signature tropes, the films of Ingmar Bergman also contain extensive variation and development. In these reflections on Bergman’s artistry and thought, Irving Singer discerns distinctive themes in Bergman’s filmmaking, from first intimations in the early work to consummate resolutions in the later movies. Singer demonstrates that while Bergman's output is not philosophy on celluloid, it attains an expressive and purely aesthetic truthfulness that can be considered philosophical in a broader sense.
Chris Marker's legendary "ciné roman" ("film novel") La Jetée is considered one of the greatest and most influential experimental films of all time. This short film—a postapocalyptic story composed almost entirely of black-and-white still photographs—has been praised by cultural theorists and Netflix subscribers alike.
As we spend more and more of our time staring at the screens of movies, televisions, computers, and handheld devices—"windows" full of moving images, texts, and icons—how the world is framed has become as important as what is in the frame. In The Virtual Window, Anne Friedberg examines the window as metaphor, as architectural component, and as an opening to the dematerialized reality we see on the screen.
Twentieth-century art history is not just a history of individuals, but of collectives, groups. Universities and colleges have had much to do with this through their support of artistic communities and creative interactions. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Bauhaus was known for this. In the 1940s, Black Mountain College became a leader in community-based visual art practice and education. And in the 1970s and 1980s, the Department of Media Study at the State University of New York at Buffalo was the place to be.
Computer-generated effects are often blamed for bad Hollywood movies. Yet when a critic complains that "technology swamps storytelling" (in a review of Van Helsing, calling it "an example of everything that is wrong with Hollywood computer-generated effects movies"), it says more about the weakness of the story than the strength of the technology.
As celebrated as it is reviled, internationally acclaimed filmmaker Catherine Breillat's novel Pornocracy viscerally enacts the dramatic confluence of mystery, desire, and shame that lies at the heart of sexuality. In Pornocracy, a beautiful woman wanders through a gay disco and engages a man, confident that he will follow her. Perversely and dispassionately, she offers her body as the ground of a ritualistic game in which, over the course of three evenings, the two will explore the numbing mechanics of sexual brutality.
In Andy Warhol's silent black-and-white movie, Blow Job (1964), a youth is filmed as he is apparently being given the sex act named in the title. The 35-minute film is accentuated by the paucity of expression on the actor's face: we see only his head and shoulders, rigidly framed so that all offscreen space has to be imagined, or avoided. Sometimes the young actor looks bored, sometimes as if he is thinking, sometimes as if he is aware of the camera, sometimes as if he is not. Like the protagonists of other Warhol films, he is apparently left to his own devices.
"This book version of La Jetée is, to my mind, astonishingly beautiful. It brings a total freshness to the work and a new way to use photos to deal with dramatic events. Not a film's book, but a book in its own right—the real ciné-roman announced in the film's credits."
The Way Things Go (Der Lauf der Dinge) is a thirty-minute film by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss featuring a series of chain reactions involving ordinary objects. It is also one of the truly amazing works of art produced in the late twentieth century. Admired, even loved, by members of the public as much as it is praised by the more specialist audience of artists, critics, and curators, The Way Things Go was perhaps the most popular work shown at Documenta 8, Kassel, in 1987.
For Alan Stone, a one-time Freudian analyst and former president of the American Psychiatric Society, movies are the great modern, democratic medium for exploring our individual and collective lives. They provide occasions for reflecting on what he calls “the moral adventure of life”: the choices people make--beyond the limits of their character and circumstances--in response to life’s challenges. The quality of these choices is, for him, the measure of a life well lived. In this collection of his film essays, Stone reads films as life texts.