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Film Theory Links

  • A Movies as Propaganda approach to film criticism and commentary is espoused by the on-line Bright Lights Film Journal. See in particular A. Jay Adler's article on Hollywood's need for mindless repetition. Here is Bright Light's own self description: "Bright Lights Film Journal is a popular-academic hybrid of movie analysis, history, and commentary, looking at classic and commercial, independent, exploitation, and international film from a wide range of vantage points from the aesthetic to the political. A prime area of focus is on the connection between capitalist society and the images that reflect, support, or subvert it movies as propaganda."
  • ScriptWriter Magazine, a UK print publication features advice to writers and in-depth analysis of story concepts and themes. Some articles reproduced on-line in full. Demonstrates and expands on many themes and concepts of good writing. Also indicates how industry is presently structured.
  • The British Film Institute provides information on its own publications. A good resource. Inspection copies of books are available in the UK.
  • Personal film reviews by Alexandre Paquin and other articles: The Film Tribune. See in particular the article on criticism and the auteur theory. (See similar views in Seven Mistakes of Criticism, on these pages.)
  • For an unusual perspective on WHY THE QUALITY OF HOLLYWOOD MOVIES DECLINED AFTER WWII, plug into the Ludwig von Mises Institute and read the article by Mark Thornton. This is an archcapitalist forum for sometimes wacky ideas about how government intervention ruins everything it touches -- but in this case it has a point. I encourage you to read this article, then observe how few movies are made with more than one "star."
  • For a Christian/Conservative view on what is right or wrong with films and popular culture today, plug into the Reformation of the Arts and Music web site, at ArtsReformation.com. Their pages house a copy of the original Motion Picture Production Code of 1930. Read it! I suspect many people will find that they in fact agree with the basic sentiments of the code. Note in particular the three general principles that are the basis of the code. On the other hand, be on the lookout for provisions of the code that clearly reflect the wrong sentiments, such as Provision II, number 6!
  • Creative Loafing, based in Atlanta, is an excellent guide to current popular films as well as art-house, foreign films, and other arts in Atlanta's thriving culture.
  • Wired article on the source of the original story for the film AI.
  • The "No Theory Theory" of film criticism is defended in an interesting article by Jo Smith. She states: "There is no lack or absence in a filmic encounter, no hidden meaning to be unearthed, no abstract body of knowledge to reach for to re-insert a meaning."
  • For arguments against the no theory theory, and the postmodern approach in general, see Mistakes in Criticism.
  • Excellent On-line magazine: IMAGES - a Journal of Film and Popular Culture. See in particular Cindy Hendershot's article on Monster in the Soda Shop, a film that was featured on SCIENCE FICTION THEATER 3000. Today the film is hopelessly out of date -- and filled with acting and "special effects" so bad that one can only laugh. Yet, the article cogently argues for the morally redeeming quality of films such as this one, produced when America's youth culture started to become a "problem" for the establishment.
  • For an resource on criticism inspired by one of the most important cultural/intellectual movements of this century (psychoanalysis) see the Forum for the Psychoanalytic Study of Film. Good example of criticism along these lines: Harvey Roy Greenberg's article on FARGO. Article reveals moral underpinnings of the film.
  • Film discussion and reviews from a Christian perspective are provided in the Movies section of Christianity Today. Lively disscussion from many points of view. Fully searchable database.
  • Reference Informaton only -- The organization and links mentioned below no longer appear to be functioning. I have retained this information here because of its relevance to some of the themes of this site.
    For more on a Christian view with a Postmodern twist see Shootthemessenger.com. There seems to be some appreciation here for the fact that the ambiguity of the Postmodern approach can provide a healthy environment in which to explore new possibilities for positive content. On the other hand, there may be a lurking supposition here that every popular production with a postmodern edge is ultimately committed to relativism -- and this, I think, is a dubious claim. See for example an interesting article on Xena in which the author (Marion Williams) asserts:
    "The meta-narrative is that there does not seem to be one. When visually 'reading' Xena, there doesn't seem to be any clear differentiation between right and wrong, real and imagined, mortal and immortal. Apart from the situational ethics which guide individuals in their own story, there is no mega-story which defines the nature of good and evil."
    An interesting proportion. Partly correct and partly incorrect, in my view. It is correct to put "visually read" in quotes because you cannot "visually read" visual media and still derive the full meaning. There is always a script/narrative context that defines the parameters of visual data. It is also correct to observe that good and evil become less well differentiated in Postmodernism. Postmodernism (by definition) does not define good and evil. That is not to say that it cannot seek after or struggle with the concepts of good and evil. I doubt very much that television in particular, whether or not it is "Postmodern," can avoid the following general requirement: the conflict between good and evil MUST be a central, overarching mega-story in any popular narrative. I have seen both XENA and Hercules. I do not think they are exceptions to this rule.
  • Reference Informaton only -- This organization is no longer functioning: The Arts and Culture Network provides an extensive database of information and links to other resources. Has sections on Film Theory, Experimental Film, American Film, International Film, Animation. Subdivisions on Artists, Movements, and Resources. A useful place to start research on specific directors, genres, or types of theories.