Absolutely invaluable—I turned to this countless times for refreshers and ideas in how to present many of the key ideas, concepts and terms of cinemaAbsolutely invaluable—I turned to this countless times for refreshers and ideas in how to present many of the key ideas, concepts and terms of cinema studies to my students in ways that were both clear and meaningful (I honestly don't know what I would have done without the concise explanation of film semiotics). And I swear I'm not biased just because he was my thesis advisor! ...more
I used to check this out regularly from my small-town public library back in middle and high school; I loved it because the library's innocuous coverI used to check this out regularly from my small-town public library back in middle and high school; I loved it because the library's innocuous cover meant my parents had no idea that I was reading something so (to use their word) sinful. Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience, raising my awareness of a number of different behaviors, coupling possibilities, creative use of inanimate objects, etc.
A copy now has pride of place on my bookshelf next to my other film books. ...more
That grand, unwieldy masterpiece of film-criticism-as-camp. Both fun and bewildering, and often at the same time. Tyler is one of film criticism's pioThat grand, unwieldy masterpiece of film-criticism-as-camp. Both fun and bewildering, and often at the same time. Tyler is one of film criticism's pioneers and iconoclasts whose turn for rediscovery is long overdue. ...more
Full disclosure: I consider the author of this book a personal friend.
But friend or not, this is, to the best of my knowledge, the only comprehensiveFull disclosure: I consider the author of this book a personal friend.
But friend or not, this is, to the best of my knowledge, the only comprehensive study of the venerable "Grande dame of the Nouvelle Vague" currently available in English, which automatically renders it an invaluable resource. And it certainly helps that my own interests in Varda's work—her not-always-obvious feminism, the concept of cinécriture, her reoccurring interest in time, memory, and personal subjectivity—parallel Alison's, and it is these topics, among several others, that are examined in particular detail throughout the book. But what I found especially valuable is the way that Alison locates how these connective topical strands can be traced through all of Varda's diverse filmography, and time is spent analyzing not only Varda's major works (Cléo de 5 à 7, Vagabond and La pointe courte), but also her lesser known and often unavailable documentaries, documentary shorts, television work and Hollywood films, many which provide integral instances of development in Varda's ideology and aesthetics through the years.
The one real drawback, and it's admittedly of no fault of the author's, is that the book was published in 1998, a lull period that seemed to indicate a closing to Varda's career: 2000, however and happily, brought the release of The Gleaners and I, now one of Varda's most popular films, and seemed to inspire a burst of cinematic activity that has lasted until the present (her current film is in theaters now). So inevitably a major and essential chunk of Varda's filmography is missing from this analysis, many which demonstrate even more development of Varda's pet themes. But even as is this is an informative and approachable study, and absolutely essential for any serious (or even not-so-serious) study of Varda's work. ...more
Essentially ground zero for adaptation studies—it's actually kind of embarrassing that I hadn't given it a look until recently (I'm assuming checkingEssentially ground zero for adaptation studies—it's actually kind of embarrassing that I hadn't given it a look until recently (I'm assuming checking it out multiple times from the library to have it sit unopened on my shelf doesn't count, right?).
Bluestone follows Lessing's classic distinction between the verbal and visual as articulated in Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry (though interestingly never references Lessing explicitly), and in minute detail argues that "what is peculiarly filmic and what is peculiarly novelistic cannot be converted without destroying an integral part of each."
Fair enough, though almost all analysis and commentary on the subject—my own included—in the half century since have taken on a more nuanced approach in how the literary and cinematic interact in film adaptations, thus Bluestone's study takes on that unenviable position of being that initial, influential text that everyone subsequently takes to task to erect their own theoretical conjectures. The majority of the book is comprised of essays that entail close, formalistic readings of both the cinematic and literary text of the type that was de rigueur in academic studies in the first half of the twentieth century (which is my diplomatic way saying that it's good stuff that makes for dull reading).
Someday I will sit down and give it a thorough read though. ...more