The main purpose of "The Ghost of Cinema Past: Contemporary Reflections on Classic Film Art" is to re investigate and reevaluate classic films, films of yesterday, from the point of view of today, taking into account such factors as time, memory, ...
history, and subjectivity; perspective, context, universality, and objectivity. Another purpose of this book is to stake out territory for a certain type of film critic, somewhere between a reviewer-journalist and a scholar-theorist. At a time when the movie review has degenerated into mere publicity for Hollywood pictures and film scholarship has become entangled in its own pseudo-scientific discourse, the author offers close readings of classic films - either individually or in groups - which go beyond simple plot summaries and vague impressions about acting (the province of the newspaper review), on the one hand, yet that pull up short of hermetic, oracular pronouncements (the province of the academic monograph), on the other hand. The re-viewings contained in "The Ghost of Cinema Past" are thus acts of analysis and interpretation in the humanistic senses of those words; they are neither theoretical musings nor pedantic tracts. In these essays, the author treats classics like "Winter Light", "Forbidden Games", "L'avventura", and "Some Like It Hot"; and the directors he discusses - Fellini, Bergman, Renoir, Kurosawa, Coppola - are from such countries as France, Italy, Sweden, Germany, India, the United States, and Japan. These pieces are supplemented by an introductory rationale for the 'necessity' of film, as well as by a bibliography of related criticism and a thoroughgoing index. There are of course other books on international art-house cinema, but there are few that feature the global perspective of "The Ghost of Cinema Past". It is to other collections of film criticism that this book should be compared, however, since its real strength is critical. And there aren't very many recent books that provide this kind of close examination of classic films and of some important directorial careers as well. "The Ghost of Cinema Past" thus offers a refreshing alternative to both the facile, stargazing monographs that one can find in any chain bookstore and the arcane academic publications that deal with phenomenology, historiography, the politics of gender, race, and class, and the cognitive dissection of film style and technique.
Number of pages: 215
Date of publication: 01/06/2009
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