Showing posts from June, 2008

Are Themes Important?

I apologize for the lack of posting this June. Between teaching and writing and the pace of summer, I've not found the usual blogging inspiration.

That's not to say that teaching has not inspired a number of useful questions for me. I found there's nothing like a history survey to make one keenly aware of the blindspots and knowledge gaps one has. It becomes another terrain to play out the generalist/specialist dual pull we face as scholars.

But for now, I'll share an observation that came up this week. In covering high concept (with Justin Wyatt's book and Ken Feil's work on mass camp), I paired Ghostbusters as an example. It's a useful film to examine for all sorts of reason - not the least at how classical its film style seems by today's post-classical standards. Even romantic comedies are not shot in as contained and traditional a style as Ghostbusters.

Yet the film lacks a theme. And it's largely because it lacks a psychological subplot. In Ghost…

British Noir

Forgive the somewhat inaccurate term of British noir, but in some respects it's apt for what it evokes: films that Britain made postwar combining crime and an exaggerated visual style. Thom Ryan, in his Film of the Year project, arrives at 1947, and for that year dissects Carol Reed's Odd Man Out, a film I've often thought unfairly overshadowed by the more illustrious Third Man. It's a terrific post that opens up the film to its detail and underlying crosscurrents.

As for my 1947 project, I do want to look into the impact of the British features on the American market. At this point they did have a prominence on US screens. What I need to discover is how much: how much they were relegated to "art house" contexts and how much downtown, neighborhood, or community cinemas showed them.