Showing posts from November, 2013

NECS Conference 2014


Creative energies | Creative industries:
The NECS 2014 Conference
(European Network of Cinema & Media Studies)
Milan, Italy, Hosted by Universit√† Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
June 19-21 June 2014

Submission Deadline: January 31, 2014

Reflecting on creativity has been central to a great deal of philosophical speculation, production practices and forms of reception of the artistic experience. Notions of creation and creativity concern crucial elements in media industies. Moreover, recent developments in institutional policies refer to the pivotal role of creativity in evaluating and promoting cultural production (see the EC’s most recent cultural program “Creative Europe”).

The 2014 NECS Conference, held in Milan, aims to revise and challenge assumptions on media creation and creativity, by looking at them as discursive formations, sociability instruments, power networks, modes of production and reception undergoing historical, political, theoretical and technological tran…

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

No, not the upcoming Ben Stiller version, but the 1947 Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Norman Z. McLeod, Samuel Goldwyn/RKO). Adaptation is probably too strong of a word, since about the only thing that the film takes from the James Thurber story is the premise of a daydreamer who's a somewhat hen-pecked milquetoast in reality. 

However, with barely 2000 words in the source, the screenplay for the feature film needed to invent a more sustained narrative. It ends up what I've been calling a light comedy (along the lines of The Hucksters or The Senator Was Indiscreet) with a parade of genre parodies: war film, plantation drama, Boris Karloff spy film....

And the narrative conceit is that Mitty is a writer for a comics and true-romance publisher, and like other light comedies from the 40s, the film playfully reference taste culture battles of the day.

Even though it is a Goldwyn film, McLeod brings (or even was hired to bring) an MGM sensibility to the project, and the film alterna…

CFP: Domitor 2014 conference

The Image in Early Cinema: Form and Material
Thirteenth International Domitor Conference

Chicago and Evanston, Illinois, USA
21-25 June 2014

Early cinema emerged within a visual culture that comprised a variety of traditions in art and image making. Even as methods of motion picture production, distribution, and exhibition materialized, they drew from and challenged practices and conventions in, for example, photography and painting. This rich visual culture produced a complicated, overlapping network of image-making traditions, innovations, and borrowings amongst painting, tableaux vivants,photography, and other pictorial and projection practices. Film and media scholars have created the concepts of “intermediality” (Gaudreault) and “media archaeology” (Mannoni, Zielinski, et al) in order to account for such crisscrossing traditions and to work against an essentialist notion of film, while other disciplines have suggested ideas, such as “image-system” (Barthes) or “an ecology of image…

The Mighty McGurk

Like many scholars, I've found Rick Altman's syntax/semantics model of film genre a productive one. And watching The Mighty McGurk (MGM, John Waters), I found a good example of a film with the genre semantics of the sentimental drama I've written about. There's the turn-of-the-century setting...

and the figure of the European orphan (Dean Stockwell again), whose pathos is mirrored in his adopted animal.

The narrative also shares some relation to (melo)dramas like The Crowd Roars. And yet, the film's grammar is closer to a hayseed comedy, built around Wallace Beery's star turn as Slag McGurk, a past-his-prime boxer whose delusional phoniness is pretty much evident to everyone and which provides many of the film's gags.

If the screenplay did not impress me aesthetically (it exemplifies the obviousness some 1940s critics railed about in Hollywood films), the ideological implications of the narrative fascinated me. Just a decade and a half after the repeal of …

High Barbaree

High Barbaree (Jack Conway), is what I would consider a typical MGM picture: good production values, a somewhat fanciful narrative, a theme thick with Americana, and a strong reliance on its stars (Van Johnson and June Allyson). And it's an MGM-ish spin on the war movie, in which a World War II pilot, Van Johnson, is shot down in the South Pacific and has to survive afloat in the doldrums with only his memory of childhood sweetheart Allyson and a (highly orientalist) childhood tale his uncle had told of the lost island of High Barbaree. 
The whimsical nature of the narrative, in which High Barbaree does seem to exist, reaches the pinnacle in one of the dream sequences. Johnson's character is stuck running on a road but seeming to get nowhere. Bob Rehak has for some time made me more aware and interested in special effects in Hollywood and I know one of his interests is the perceived narrational artifice of devices like rear projection. Here, the rear projection, for the first …

Graduate Student Conferences

[UPDATED] I've been lamenting the lack of smaller film studies conferences in the US or Canada, but there are some really interesting graduate student conferences that might be of interest to some readers.

Fields of Vision: Observation, Surveillance, Voyeurism

Yale University February 21 and 22, 2014 abstract due December 15, 2013
Keynote speaker: Jonathan Crary (Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University)
Closing remarks: Brigitte Peucker (Professor of German and Film Studies, Yale University)

Vision has held a privileged position as the sense most associated with notions of truth, knowledge, and power throughout the history of Western epistemology. Optical technologies have for centuries been bound up with enhancing our ability to observe and investigate the surrounding world; from the camera obscura to the telescope and the x-ray, technologies of vision have been central to the development of ways of knowing …

CFP: Music and the Moving Image conference IX

Music and the Moving Image IX
Conference at NYU Steinhardt
May 30, 2014 – June 1, 2014

The annual conference, Music and the Moving Image, encourages submissions from scholars and practitioners that explore the relationship between music, sound, and the entire universe of moving images (film, television, video games, iPod, computer, and interactive performances) through paper presentations.

This year’s conference will include a keynote speech by the film orchestrator Patrick Russ (King Kong, Far From Heaven) and we invite abstracts that focus on the role and function of orchestration. The Program Committee includes Patrick Russ, Elisabeth Weis (Film Sound: Theory and Practice, The Silent Scream: Alfred Hitchcock's Sound Track), Philip Carli (Synergy in America's Early Talking Machine Industry and original orchestral scores for Captain Salvation [1925; Turner, 2005], Stella Maris [1918; Milestone, 1998]), and coeditors of Music and the Moving Image, Gillian B. A…