in Projections
Murray Smith University of Kent, UK

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Todd Berliner's Hollywood Aesthetic advances an original perspective on Hollywood filmmaking by insisting on its fundamentally aesthetic character, and exploring its particular aesthetic features with the tools of neoformalist film analysis, cognitive psychology, and the philosophy of art. I focus on two of the book's most ambitious claims: a) that appreciation of the style of Hollywood films can play an important role in our experience of them, over and above its role in representing and expressively dramatizing narrative elements; and b) that the ideological dimension of Hollywood filmmaking serves its aesthetic purposes, rather than vice versa. I conclude by noting a common root to the resistance likely to greet Berliner's two bold inversions of conventional wisdom on narrative, style, aesthetics, and ideology.

Contributor Notes

Murray Smith is Professor of Film and co-director of the Aesthetics Research Centre at the University of Kent. He was President of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image from 2014–17, and a Laurance S. Rockefeller Fellow at Princeton University's Center for Human Values for 2017–18. His Film, Art, and the Third Culture: A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film has just appeared in paperback, while a revised edition of Engaging Characters: Fiction, Emotion, and the Cinema is due out later this year, both with Oxford University Press.

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The Journal for Movies and Mind

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  • Berliner, Todd. 2017. Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema. New York: Oxford University Press.

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  • Burch, Noël. 1973. Theory of Film Practice. Trans. Helen R. Lane. New York: Praeger.

  • Eichenbaum, Boris. 1965. “The Theory of the ‘Formal Method,’” in Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays. Trans. Lee T. Lemon and Marion J. Reis. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 99140.

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  • Matthen, Mohan. 2017. “The Pleasure of Art.” Australasian Philosophical Review 1 (1): 628. doi:10.1080/24740500.2017.1287034.

  • Mukarˇovsky´, Jan. 1979. Aesthetic Function, Norm and Value as Social Facts. Trans. Mark E. Suino. Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Contributions.

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  • Raney, Arthur A. 2004. “Expanding Disposition Theory: Reconsidering Character Liking, Moral Evaluations, and Enjoyment.Communication Theory 14 (4): 348369.

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  • Smith, Murray. 2017. Film, Art, and the Third Culture: A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Thompson, Kristin. 1988. Breaking the Glass Armor: Neoformalist Film Analysis. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Vaage, Margrethe Bruun. 2013. “Fictional Reliefs and Reality Checks.” Screen 54 (2): 218237. doi:10.1093/screen/hjt004.

  • Vaage, Margrethe Bruun. 2016. The Antihero in American Television. New York: Routledge.

  • Wilde, Oscar. 1891/2004. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Modern Library.

  • Wilson, George. 2011. Seeing Fictions in Film: The Epistemology of Movies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


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