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Elizabeth J. McLean, Kazuki Yamada, and Cameron Giles

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Alan Voodla, Elen Lotman, Martin Kolnes, Richard Naar, and Andero Uusberg

Abstract

Do cinematographic lighting techniques affect film viewers’ empathic reactions? We investigated the effect of high- and low-contrast lighting on affective empathy toward depicted actors. Forty one participants watched short clips of professional actors expressing happiness, anger, and disgust, and rated the valence and intensity of their own and actors’ emotional states. Affective empathy was assessed through the extent of the facial mimicry of actors’ emotional expressions and quantified through electromyographic activation of expression-specific facial muscles. We managed to elicit facial mimicry for happiness and anger, but not for disgust. High-contrast lighting further amplified empathic mimicry for happy but not for angry expressions. High-contrast lighting also amplified subjective feelings elicited by angry and disgusted but not happy expressions. We conclude that high-contrast lighting can be an effective means for influencing film viewers’ empathic reactions through the low road to empathy, even as the overall impact of lighting also relies on the high road to empathy.

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Lowry Martin

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In the last decade, Franco-Moroccan directors have begun to explore culturally taboo and unrepresented sexual communities within Morocco. This article examines how two pioneering films, Abdellah Taïa's Salvation Army and Nabil Ayouch's Much Loved, contribute to an emerging cultural politics in the Arab-speaking world that is reframing marginalized or invisible sexualities. While these films address issues of sexual tourism, incest, and prostitution, among others, the focus of this article is on the films’ critiques of internalized homophobia, sexual tourism, and the sociopolitical power structures that occlude, marginalize, or shame those males outside of the heterosexual matrix. Analyzing the films’ portrayal of the semiotics of forbidden desire, internalized homophobia, and the circulation and spatialization of queer sexualities in Morocco, this article argues that Salvation Army and Much Loved complicate our understanding of Arab masculinities and add to a growing queer visibility that stretches from the Maghreb to the Gulf.

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Ted Nannicelli

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Jonathan A. Allan, Chris Haywood, and Frank G. Karioris

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Jonathan Frome

Abstract

Over the last thirty years, Noël Carroll has elaborated his theory of erotetic narration, which holds that most films have a narrative structure in which early scenes raise questions and later scenes answer them. Carroll's prolific publishing about this theory and his expansion of the theory to issues such as audience engagement, narrative closure, and film genre have bolstered its profile, but, despite its high visibility in the field, virtually no other scholars have either criticized or built upon the theory. This article uses Carroll's own criteria for evaluating film theories—evidentiary support, falsifiability, and explanatory power—to argue that erotetic theory's strange position in the field is due to its intuitive examples and equivocal descriptions, which make the theory appear highly plausible even though it is ultimately indefensible.

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Minority Report

Perceptions and Realities of Black Men in Heterosexual Porn

Darryl L. Jones II

Abstract

Black men are an integral part of the American pornographic industry, but their participation requires confronting and navigating a variety of simplified categorizations and assumptions that favor their sexuality over their humanity. Utilizing interviews with twelve prominent heterosexual black male figures (also known as “talent”) currently active in the industry, this article seeks to offer insight into the realities that the men face while participating in an industry viewed as taboo by mainstream society. Among the issues explored are their reasons for joining the industry, interracialism and racism, and moral and ethical dilemmas. Also employed are Lewis Gordon's concept of “epistemic closure,” or the cessation of inquiry, and Frantz Fanon's concept of the “phobogenic object,” or “stimulus to anxiety.”

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India Halstead

Abstract

In this article, I reconsider the early work of artist Rebecca Horn as situated at the threshold of complex new theoretical, political, and artistic movements. Horn's performance pieces of the late 1960s and early 1970s formally echo this social upheaval, vibrating with tension between intimacy and isolation, pleasure and pain, human and machine. Horn's prosthetic sculptures gesture toward a continuity between body and world reminiscent of the Radical Freudian concept of Eros, echoed in the body art and sexual liberation movements of the 1960s, in which the body becomes a fluid expression of polymorphous, nonbinary desire. The sinister backdrop of postwar Germany, however, haunts the artist's work to the extent that silence becomes a motif of its own. Through her work, I ask the question: can the oceanic vision of a genderless Eros be realized, while the wounds of atrocity and of patriarchy are still inscribed on the body, or must polymorphous fluidity remain a fantasy, a utopia deferred?

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Héctor J. Pérez

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This article explores the use of the plot twist in screen fictions. This is a largely unexplored area, as interest in this phenomenon has largely focused on the so-called “plot twist movie,” which is an older narrative tradition. In order to explain this aesthetic phenomenon, it draws on the model of surprise originally proposed by the cognitive psychologists Wulf Meyer, Rainer Reisenzein, and Achim Schützwohl. Plot twists are characterized by three distinct but intimately intertwined temporal segments and their corresponding functions, which are explained by this model. The objective of this article is to explore how cognitive-emotional interactions shape the aesthetic viewing experience and to identify how that experience relates to shows’ artistic qualities. Game of Thrones (S01 and S03), Homeland (S01), and Westworld (S01) will be used as test cases. In each of the three plot segments, there are specific processes that distinguish the experience of surprise as an aesthetic phenomenon.

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Daniel Lewis

Abstract

Charles Dickens's examinations of sleep, dreaming, and sleep disorders illustrate a complicated negotiation between hegemonic ideals of masculinity that rest on notions of bodily control and mental acuity, but they also present an ambivalent (and sometimes adventurous) position open to expanding the definition of masculinity to include a desire to relinquish mental and physical control. Hegemonic masculine ideals are often in tension with one another, and Dickens explores the specific control–freedom contradiction in personal essays, namely “Night Walks” and “Lying Awake.” While the depiction of the bedroom as a space of male anxiety appears throughout Dickens's work, he expresses this idea most clearly and directly in the above nonfiction texts. The nonfiction essay, over and against the fictional text, allows Dickens to write about sleep disorders and their relation to male anxiety in more personal and pragmatic terms, and to represent the issue in detail without having to be concerned about plot and characterization.