A Cinema Without Walls: Movies and Culture after Vietnam
How have modern advertising techniques, the widespread use of VCRs, conglomerate takeovers of studios and film archives, cable TV, and media coverage of the Vietnam war changed the ways we watch movies? And how, in turn, have those different habits and patterns of viewing changed the ways in which films address their viewers? Drawing on a wide variety of American and European films and on many theoretical models, Timothy Corrigan investigates what he calls "a cinema without walls," taking a close look at particular films in order to see how we watch them differently in the post-Vietnam era. He examines cult audiences, narrative structure, genre films (road movies, in particular), and contemporary politics as they engage new models of film making and viewing. He thus provides a rare, serious attempt to deal with contemporary movies. Corrigan discusses filmmakers from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, including Martin Scorsese, Raoul Ruiz, Michael Cimino, Alexander Kluge, Francis Ford Coppola, Stephen Frears, and Wim Wenders. He offers detailed analyses of films such as Platoon; Full Metal Jacket; 9-1/2 Weeks; The Singing Detective; Choose Me; After Hours; Badlands; The King of Comedy; Paris, Texas; and My Beautiful Laundrette. Orchestrating this diversity, Corrigan provides a critical basis for making sense of contemporary film culture and its major achievements.
In an intriguing and highly readable book, Corrigan ( Writing About Film ) argues that in the past 25 years the increased conglomerization of film production/distribution companies and the rise of VCR, satellite and cable television technologies have altered the way films are made and how we view them. The result is a "growing internationalization of national cinema cultures" and an increasing fragmentation of the audience. Moreover, people no longer experience films with the immediacy that characterized the moviegoing experience previously; video has reduced the movie to private, domestic performance, and a film is no longer the culmination of an evening out. At the same time, Corrigan writes, audiences are bombarded with a surfeit of images that leaves them with a battered sense of their place in history and culture. Combined with what many critics have recognized as a crisis of "legibility"--a growing incoherence in film texts--Corrigan notes, these facts make it more meaningful to discuss films not as texts but "as multiple cultural and commercial processes" constructed by increasingly specialized audiences, a practice he likens to cult practices. Illustrations not seen by PW. Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. Corrigan (English and film, Temple University) presents a challenging discussion of films and filmmakers of the period 1967 to 1990. He focuses on the changes in audience perceptions and patterns of viewing, and explores the impact of contemporary developments such as cable TV and media coverage of the Vietnam War. A typical insight, from Martin Scorsese's After Hours : "If you're not from New York, it's a paranoid fantasy; if you live in New York, it's a documentary." Sixteen films are examined at length, including Platoon and My Beautiful Laundrette , but the best analyses are of films outside the mainstream that have achieved cult followings, such as Choose Me and Badlands . The author's lofty academic prose can, however, be bombastic at times. Recommended for most cinema collections.- Richard W. Grefrath, Univ. of Nevada Lib., RenoCopyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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- Rutgers University Press; 1st edition (September 1, 1991)
- Humor & Entertainment
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