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Since the mid-eighties, more audiences have been watching Hollywood movies at home than at movie theaters, yet little is known about just how viewers experience film outside of the multiplex. This is the first full-length study of how contemporary entertainment technologies and media—from cable television and VHS to DVD and the Internet—shape our encounters with the movies and affect the aesthetic, cultural, and ideological definitions of cinema. Barbara Klinger explores topics such as home theater, film collecting, classic Hollywood movie reruns, repeat viewings, and Internet film parodies, providing a multifaceted view of the presentation and reception of films in U.S. households. Balancing industry history with theoretical and cultural analysis, she finds that today cinema's powerful social presence cannot be fully grasped without considering its prolific recycling in post-theatrical venues—especially the home.
Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things. While we all use remote controls, we understand little about their history or their impact on our daily lives. Caetlin Benson-Allot looks back on the remote control's material and cultural history to explain how such an innocuous media accessory has changed the way we occupy our houses, interact with our families, and experience the world. From the first wired radio remotes of the 1920s to infrared universal remotes, from the homemade TV controllers to the Apple Remote, remote controls shape our media devices and how we live with them. Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in the The Atlantic.
Cinematic Appeals follows the effect of technological innovation on the cinema experience, specifically the introduction of widescreen and stereoscopic 3D systems in the 1950s, the rise of digital cinema in the 1990s, and the transition to digital 3D since 2005. Widescreen cinema promised to draw the viewer into the world of the screen, enabling larger-than-life close-ups of already larger-than-life actors. This technology fostered the illusion of physically entering a film, enhancing the semblance of realism. Alternatively, the digital era was less concerned with the viewer's physical response and more with information flow, awe, and the reevaluation of spatiality and embodiment. This study ultimately shows how cinematic technology and the human experience shape and respond to each other over time.
What lies behind current feminist discontent with contemporary cinema? Through a combination of cultural and industry analysis, Hilary Radner’s Neo-Feminist Cinema: Girly Films, Chick Flicks and Consumer Culture shows how the needs of conglomerate Hollywood have encouraged an emphasis on consumer culture within films made for women. By exploring a number of representative "girly films," including Pretty Woman, Legally Blonde, Maid in Manhattan, The Devil Wears Prada, and Sex and the City: The Movie, Radner proposes that rather than being "post-feminist," as is usually assumed, such films are better described as "neo-feminist." Examining their narrative format, as it revolves around the story of an ambitious unmarried woman who defines herself through consumer culture as much as through work or romance, Radner argues that these films exemplify neo-liberalist values rather than those of feminism. As such, Neo-Feminist Cinema offers a new explanation as to why feminist-oriented scholars and audiences who are seeking more than "labels and love" from their film experience have viewed recent "girly films" as a betrayal of second-wave feminism, and why, on the other hand, such films have proven to be so successful at the box office.
Michael Haneke is one of the most important directors working in Europe today, with films such as Funny Games (1997), Code Unknown (2000), and Hidden (2005) interrogating modern ethical dilemmas with forensic clarity and merciless insight. Haneke's films frequently implicate both the protagonists and the audience in the making of their misfortunes, yet even in the barren nihilism of The Seventh Continent (1989) and Time of the Wolf (2003) a dark strain of optimism emerges, releasing each from its terrible and inescapable guilt. It is this contingent and unlikely possibility that we find in Haneke's cinema: a utopian Europe. This collection celebrates, explicates, and sometimes challenges the worldview of Haneke's films. It examines the director's central themes and preoccupations—bourgeois alienation, modes and critiques of spectatorship, the role of the media—and analyzes otherwise marginalized aspects of his work, such as the function of performance and stardom, early Austrian television productions, the romanticism of The Piano Teacher (2001), and the 2007 shot-for-shot remake of Funny Games.
America's independent films often seem to defy classification. Their strategies of storytelling and representation range from raw, no-budget projects to more polished releases of Hollywood's "specialty" divisions. Yet understanding American indies involves more than just considering films. Filmmakers, distributors, exhibitors, festivals, critics, and audiences all shape the art's identity, which is always understood in relation to the Hollywood mainstream. By locating the American indie film in the historical context of the "Sundance-Miramax" era (the mid-1980s to the end of the 2000s), Michael Z. Newman considers indie cinema as an alternative American film culture. His work isolates patterns of character and realism, formal play, and oppositionality and the functions of the festivals, art houses, and critical media promoting them. He also accounts for the power of audiences to identify indie films in distinction to mainstream Hollywood and to seek socially emblematic characters and playful form in their narratives. Analyzing films such as Welcome to the Dollhouse (1996), Lost in Translation (2003), Pulp Fiction (1994), and Juno (2007), along with the work of Nicole Holofcener, Jim Jarmusch, John Sayles, Steven Soderbergh, and the Coen brothers, Newman investigates the conventions that cast indies as culturally legitimate works of art. He binds these diverse works together within a cluster of distinct viewing strategies and invites a reevaluation of the difference of independent cinema and its relationship to class and taste culture.
Since the days of early television, video has been an indispensable part of culture, society, and moving-image media industries. Over the decades, it has been an avant-garde artistic medium, a high-tech consumer gadget, a format for watching movies at home, a force for democracy, and the ultimate, ubiquitous means of documenting reality. In the twenty-first century, video is the name we give all kinds of moving images. We know it as an adaptable medium that bridges analog and digital, amateur and professional, broadcasting and recording, television and cinema, art and commercial culture, and old media and new digital networks. In this history, Michael Z. Newman casts video as a medium of shifting value and legitimacy in relation to other media and technologies, particularly film and television. Video has been imagined as more or less authentic or artistic than movies or television, as more or less democratic and participatory, as more or less capable of capturing the real. Techno-utopian rhetoric has repeatedly represented video as a revolutionary medium, promising to solve the problems of the past and the present—often the very problems associated with television and the society shaped by it—and to deliver a better future. Video has also been seen more negatively, particularly as a threat to movies and their culture. This study considers video as an object of these hopes and fears and builds an approach to thinking about the concept of the medium in terms of cultural status.

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