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The Cinematic Body

The Cinematic Body

Steven Shaviro
Volume: 2
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 292
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  • Book Info
    The Cinematic Body
    Book Description:

    Moving between Jerry Lewis and Andy Warhol, between Fassbinder’s gay sex icons and George Romero’s flesh-eating zombies, Shaviro radically critiques the Lacanian model currently popular in film theory and film studies, arguing against that model’s obsessive emphasis on the phallus, castration anxiety, sadistic mastery, ideology, and the structure of the signifier. Shaviro also explores issues of popular culture, postmodernism, the politics of the body, the construction of masculinity and of homo/heterosexualities, the nature and uses of pornography, and the aesthetics of masochism. “Invokes and evokes the force and sensation of film from within a Deleuze-Guattarian perspective. . . . well-written, elegant, and eloquent.” --Dana Polan

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8527-1
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Film Theory and Visual Fascination
    (pp. 1-82)

    KATHRYN BIGELOW’SBlue Steelis a relentlessly violent and beautifully photographed genre movie, with a feminist twist. The premise is familiar: a cop who’s been unjustly suspended from duty for the alleged use of excessive force is the only one who can save the city from a demented serial killer. The twist is that the cop, Megan Turner (played by Jamie Lee Curtis, a veteran of John Carpenter’sHalloweenand various other slasher/psychopath movies), is female. Bigelow gleefully inverts the usual gender clichés: Turner is a woman with a big gun, and the psychotic murderer, Eugene Hunt (in Ron Silver’s...

  5. Contagious Allegories: George Romero
    (pp. 83-106)

    GEORGE ROMERO’S “living dead” trilogy—Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead,andDay of the Dead—offers all sorts of pleasures to the willing viewer. These films move effortlessly among sharp visceral shocks, wry satirical humor, and a Grand Guignolesque reveling in showy excesses of gore. They are crass exploitation movies, pop left-wing action cartoons, exercises in cynical nihilism, and sophisticated political allegories of late capitalist America. Their vision of a humanity overrun by flesh-eating zombies is violently apocalyptic; at the same time, they remain disconcertingly close to the habitual surfaces and mundane realities of everyday life....

  6. Comedies of Abjection: Jerry Lewis
    (pp. 107-126)

    IT IS hard to find anybody who likes the comedy of Jerry Lewis, at least on this side of the Atlantic. Even in France, I am told, the smug intellectualism of Woody Allen is currently more popular than Lewis’s infantile shenanigans. But in North America, Lewis is almost universally vilified, when he is not simply ignored. There has been no revival of interest in his movies, despite several recent signs:hommagesin Fassbinder’sIn a Year of 13 Moonsand in Godard’sPrénom CarmenandSoigne ta droite,his noncomic performances in Scorsese’sThe King of Comedyand in episodes...

  7. Bodies of Fear: David Cronenberg
    (pp. 127-158)

    DAVID CRONENBERG’S films focus insistently, obsessively, on the body. They relentlessly articulate a politics, a technology, and an aesthetics of the flesh. They are unsparingly visceral; this is what makes them so disturbing.

    Cronenberg’s explorations of the flesh go against the grain of our most deeply rooted social myths. The body remains the great unknown, the “dark continent” of postmodern thought and culture. We live in a world of ubiquitous, commodified images of sexuality, but one in which the shocks of tactile contact and (in an age of AIDS) of the mingling or transmission of bodily fluids are all the...

  8. Masculinity, Spectacle, and the Body of Querelle
    (pp. 159-200)

    BEAUTIFUL MALE bodies are placed ostentatiously on display throughout Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s last film,Querelle.This aggressive presentation of masculine flesh is a source of both considerable pleasure and considerable anxiety. The combination of pleasure and anxiety, of course, is crucial to the dynamics of sexual tension and play. AndQuerellehas a provocatively pornographic air to it, even though (at least in the cut version released in the United States) the erect penis is never actually shown on screen.

    Every aspect of Fassbinder’s mise-en-scène—from the fetishistic leather and sailor outfits, to the phallic pillar standing beside the Feria...

  9. Warhol’s Bodies
    (pp. 201-240)

    ANDY WARHOL remarks, in a 1967 interview with Gretchen Berg, that “all my films are artificial but then everything is sort of artificial, I don’t know where the artificial stops and the real starts” (Berg 1989, 60). One may find Warhol’s offhand vacuousness, his peculiarly blank manner, alternately charming and chilling. But in his deadpan and slyly paradoxical way, Warhol raises, and weirdly inflects, all the issues that I have been grappling with throughout this book. Culture theorists such as Baudrillard and Jameson have defined postmodernism in terms of an eclipse of the real, a proliferation of simulacra, a freeing...

  10. A Note on Bresson
    (pp. 241-254)

    ANDY WARHOL and Robert Bresson—at first glance, no pairing seems more perverse and inappropriate. These two directors are worlds apart aesthetically; the differences between them are immense and immediately obvious. Bresson is usually regarded as a religious and reflective filmmaker: he is the master of what Paul Schrader (1988) calls “transcendental style in film,” someone whose art—as Susan Sontag (1983) puts it—“detaches, provokes reflection” and “appeals to the feelings through the route of the intelligence” (p. 121). What common ground could there be between Bresson’s severe intelligence and Jansenist austerity and the campiness, permissiveness, and overall laxness...

  11. Conclusions
    (pp. 255-268)

    CINEMA’S GREATEST power may be its ability to evacuate meanings and identities, to proliferate resemblances without sense or origin. When I watch a film I suffer from a sort of “similarity disorder.” I have great difficulty associating faces and names, remembering which actor or character is which. Thus, I am unable to “identify” properly. Instead, I am affected by continuities and cuts, movements and stillnesses, gradations of color or of brightness. This does not mean that my experience of film is nonmimetic or abstract: these variations have to do with the actions and events being enacted, and not just with...

  12. References
    (pp. 269-274)
  13. Index
    (pp. 275-278)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 279-279)