In examining Allen's filmmaking career, The Reluctant Film Art of Woody Allen demonstrates that his movies often question whether the projected illusions of magicians/artists benefit audience or artists. Other Allen films dramatize the opposed conviction that the consoling, life-redeeming illusions of art are the best solution humanity has devised to the existential dilemma of being a death-foreseeing animal. Peter Bailey demonstrates how Allen's films repeatedly revisit and reconfigure this tension between image and reality, art and life, fabrication and factuality, with each film reaching provisional resolutions that a subsequent movie will revise.
Merging criticism and biography, Bailey identifies Allen's ambivalent views of the artistic enterprise as a key to understanding his entire filmmaking career. Because of its focus upon filmmaker Sandy Bates's conflict between entertaining audiences and confronting them with bleak human actualities, Stardust Memories is a central focus of the book. Bailey's examination of Allen's art/life dialectic also draws from the off screen drama of Allen's very public separation from Mia Farrow, and the book accordingly construes such post-scandal films as Bullets Over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite as Allen's oblique cinematic responses to that tabloid tempest.
By illuminating the thematic conflict at the heart of Allen's work, Bailey seeks not only to clarify the aesthetic designs of individual Allen films but to demonstrate how his oeuvre enacts an ongoing debate the screenwriter/director has been conducting with himself between creating cinematic narratives affirming the saving powers of the human imagination and making films acknowledging the irresolvably dark truths of the human condition.
This timely examination of Clint Eastwood’s oeuvre against the backdrop of contemporary America will be fascinating reading for students of film and popular culture, as well as readers with interests in Eastwood’s work, American film and culture.
The image of the individual self who retreats inward, conforming to a distorted “law of the heart,” emerges from the works of such writers as Cooper and Poe and composer Charles Ives. Yet, as Girgus shows, other American writers relate the idea of the self to reality and culture in a more complex way: the self confronts and is reconciled to the paradox of history and reality.
In Girgus’ view, the tradition of pragmatic, humanistic individualism provides a foundation for a future where individual liberty is a major priority. He uses literary modernism as a bridge for relating contemporary social conditions to crises of the American self and culture as seen in the works of writers including Emerson, Howells, Whitman, Henry James, William James, Fitzgerald, Bellow, and McLuhan.
In this second edition Peter J. Bailey extends his classic study to consider Allen's work during the twenty-first century. He illuminates how the director's decision to leave New York to shoot in European cities such as London, Paris, Rome, and Barcelona has affected his craft. He also explores Allen's shift toward younger actors and interprets the evolving critical reaction to his films -- authoritatively demonstrating why the director's lifelong project of moviemaking remains endlessly deserving of careful attention.
In an original commingling of philosophy and cinema study, Sam B. Girgus applies Levinas's ethics to a variety of international films. His efforts point to a transnational pattern he terms the "cinema of redemption" that portrays the struggle to connect to others in redeeming ways. Girgus not only reveals the power of these films to articulate the crisis between ontological identity and ethical subjectivity. He also locates time and ethics within the structure and content of film itself. Drawing on the work of Luce Irigaray, Tina Chanter, Kelly Oliver, and Ewa Ziarek, Girgus reconsiders Levinas and his relationship to film, engaging with a feminist focus on the sexualized female body. Girgus offers fresh readings of films from several decades and cultures, including Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Federico Fellini's La dolce vita (1959), Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura (1960), John Huston's The Misfits (1961), and Philip Kaufman's The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988).