Posted in Books & Film News

New Books About Film

It’s Summer, time of ice cream, vacations, parties, and the summer blockbuster. While you wait for that movie to come out that you’ve been dying to see (and they’ve been advertising for over a year) check out some of these new books on film in McCain.

Yellow Future: Oriental Style in Hollywood Cinema

Park, Jane Chi Hyun. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

Call Number: PN1995 .9 .A78 P38 2010  

From the back of the book: Yellow Future examines the emergence and popularity of techno-oriental representations in Hollywood cinema since the 1980s, focusing on the ways East Asian peoples and places have become linked with technology to produce a collective fantasy of East Asia as the future. Jane Chi Hyun Park demonstrates how this fantasy is sustained through imagery, iconography, and performance that conflate East Asia with technology, constituting what Park calls oriental style.

Park provides a genealogy of oriental style through contextutalized readings of popular films – from the multicultural city in Blade Runner and the Japanese American mentor in The Karate Kid to the Afro-Asian reworking of the buddy genre in Rush Hour and the mixed-race hero in The Matrix. Throughout these analyses Park shows how references to the Orient have marked important changes in American popular attitudes toward East Asia in the past thirty years, from abjection to celebration, invisibility to hypervisibility.

Unlike other investigations of racial imagery in Hollywood, Yellow Future centers on how the Asiatic is transformed into and performed as style in the backdrop of these movies and discusses the significance of this conditional visibility for representations of racial difference.

A History of Horror

Dixon, Wheeler Winston. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2010.

Call Number: PN1995 .9 .H6 D59 2010

From the back of the book: Ever since horror leapt from popular fiction to the silver screen in the late 1890s, viewers have experienced fear and pleasure in an exquisite combination. Wheeler Winston Dixon’s A History of Horror is the only book to offer a comprehensive survey of this ever-popular film genre.

Arranged by decades, with outliers and franchise films overlapping some years, this one-stop sourcebook unearths the historical origins of characters such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman and their various incarnations in film from the silent era to comedic sequels. A History of Horror explores how the horror film fits into the Hollywood studio system and how its enormous success in American and European culture expanded globally over time.

Dixon examines key periods in the horror film – in which the basic percepts of the genre were established, then burnished into conveniently reliable and malleable forms, and then, after collapsing into a parody, rose again and again to create new levels of intensity and menace.  A History of Horror, supported by rare stills from classic films, brings more than fifty timeless horror films into frightfully clear focus, zooms in on today’s top horror Web sites, and champions the stars, directors, and subgenres that make the horror film so exciting and popular with contemporary audiences.

Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy

Austerlitz, Saul. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2010.

Call Number: PN1995 .9 .C55 A97 2010

From the author’s website: Charlie Chaplin. Buster Keaton. The Marx Brothers. Billy Wilder. Woody Allen. The Coen brothers. Where would the American film be without them? And yet, the cinematic genre they all represent — comedy — has perennially received short shrift from critics, film buffs, and the Academy Awards. Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy is an attempt to right that wrong. Running the gamut of film history, from City Lights to Knocked Up, Another Fine Mess retells the story of American film from the perspective of its unwanted stepbrother — the comedy. In 30 chapters, each devoted to a single performer or director, Another Fine Mess retraces the steps of the American comedy film, filling in the gaps and following the connections that link Mae West to Doris Day, or W.C. Fields to Will Ferrell.

Another Fine Mess is an attempt to rectify the legacy of inattention, by studying the American comedy film, not only as a worthy cinematic genre, but as a craft in which the members of the guild are influenced by their predecessors, and in turn, influence their successors. The first book of its kind in more than a generation, Another Fine Mess is an all-expenses-paid tour of the American comedy, encompassing the masterpieces, the box-office smashes, and all the little-known gems inbetween.

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