Volume 10, Issue 5 / May 2006

Salute Valli

In this issue

This issue is dedicated to the memory of the great Italian actress Alida Valli, who passed away on April 22, 2006. The opening essay is an appreciation of her long and distinguished career. The next four pieces are variations on critical approaches to film that have in common issues of meaning, interpretation, and value. How do we understand “what a film is about” and how a film relates its meaning to the viewer? The first of these pieces looks at one of the first disciplines to have studied film seriously: philosophy. From as early as 1916 with Hugo Münsterberg’s The Film: A Psychological Study, philosophers have brought their inquisitive mind to film. Often considered as ‘outsiders’ to the now entrenched academic discipline of film studies, philosophers have given us some of the most rewarding insights into film. Daniel Garrett’s book review essay of Richard A. Gilmore’s Doing Philosophy at the Movies is an example of this. Up next are two considerably different pieces by David Church. The first is a discussion of Stanley Kubrick as a paradigm example of a director whose work has been appropriated by two seemingly incompatible discourses: the art film and the cult film. In a similar vein is Fight Club, a popular film with arthouse qualities, which belongs to what Church sees as a burgeoning contemporary mini-genre, films which feature ‘non-reliable’ narration. Church employs post-Freudian psychoanalysis to understand these films, Fight Club in particular, as texts which offer ‘masochistic’ forms of pleasure for both the characters and viewer. The final essay by James McDowell is a more direct engagement which the issue of interpretation, using Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven as a unique case study which raises intriguing questions about textual meaning.

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