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Steven Willemsen, Mario Slugan, Elke Weissmann, and Lucy Bolton

Marina Grishakova and Maria Poulaki, eds. Narrative Complexity: Cognition, Embodiment, Evolution. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019, 468 pp., $75.00 (hardcover). ISBN: 9780803296862.

Maarten Coëgnarts. Film as Embodied Art: Bodily Meaning in the Cinema of Stanley Kubrick. Brookline: Academic Studies Press, 2019, xxxv + 228 pp., $120 (paperback), ISBN: 978-1-64469-112-0. [Also available for free under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license with support from Knowledge Unlatched, ISBN: 978-1-64469-113-7].

Marsha F . Cassidy. Television and the Embodied Viewer: Affect and Meaning in the Digital Age. New York: Routledge, 2020, 216 pp., $155.00, ISBN: 9781138240766.

Sarah Cooper. Film and the Imagined Image. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019, 208 pp., $24.95 (paperback), ISBN: 9781474452793.

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Bartosz Stopel

The article sets out to discuss disruptions of the embodied flow of movie perception triggered by foregrounded categorical-thematic patterns. First, categorical-thematic patterns are framed in a cognitive perspective and tied to categorical (or parallel) information processing as opposed schematic (sequential). I argue that the former are not prototypical of embodied movie perception and tend to be disruptive if foregrounded, as they are more prevalent in art cinema. Next, I indicate how categorical-thematic patterns may encourage a type of non-habitual pattern recognition producing a number of emotional and aesthetic effects: delight at pattern isolation, wonder emotions, emotional focus of a story theme, and intensification or modulation of global and empathetic emotions. Finally, I turn to illustrate these points using Pan’s Labyrinth, a film that systematically foregrounds categorical-thematic patterns yet naturalizes them, alleviating disruption of movie perception. This, I believe, marks an effective strategy of importing avant-garde film techniques into popular cinema.

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Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen

Morally flawed antiheroes in TV and film, such as Dexter Morgan and Dirty Harry, often inspire sympathetic engagement from audiences. Media scholars have argued that it is these antiheroes’ status as fictional characters that allows audiences to flout their moral principles and side with the antiheroes. Against this view, I argue that these problematic sympathies can be explained without reference to a special fictional attitude. Human morality is sensitive not only to abstract moral principles but also to the concrete motives and situations of an individual moral agent, and the motives and situations of the sympathetic antihero very often seem exculpatory.

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The Richness of a Narrative Arrest

Performance and Scenic Composition in the Cinema of William Wyler

Johannes Riis

The work of Hollywood director William Wyler offers a rewarding case for studying the narrative purposes of rhythmic variations. Film critics have traditionally viewed Wyler’s scenes in terms of depth of field but by looking for elements that weaken his pace, we can explain his acclaimed work as the result of how performance and picture jointly serve rhythmic purposes. My study distinguishes between two kinds of narrative arrests in Wyler’s films, 1935–1970. The unfocused arrests are critical for Wyler’s art and depend on actors’ techniques for adding emphasis and Wyler’s techniques for creating pictorial diversions. By halting dramatic progression during key scenes, Wyler seemingly expands the characters’ worlds with meanings in the spectator’s eyes. Finally, I show how changing technologies and narrative norms constrained Wyler’s later work.

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What Movie Will I Watch Today?

The Role of Online Review Ratings, Reviewers’ Comments, and Users’ Gratification Style

Nuno Piçarra, Níbia Silva, Teresa Chambel, and Patrícia Arriaga

Browsing online ratings and viewers’ comments is an integral part of the experience of choosing and watching a movie. Current theories have broadened the concept of entertainment beyond amusement (hedonic motives) to include experiences of meaning, value, and self-development (eudaimonic motives). With a between-subjects design, we examined the role of reviewers’ ratings (medium rating vs. high rating), comments (hedonic vs. eudaimonic) and participants’ gratification styles on their interest in watching a movie. Results showed that participants (N = 383) reported a higher preference for the high rating movie. Results also revealed a match between comment type and individual gratification style, with participants with hedonic motives reporting more interest for the movie with hedonic comments, and those reporting eudaimonic motives for the movie with eudaimonic comments.

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Nuno Piçarra, Níbia Silva, Teresa Chambel, and Patrícia Arriaga

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Andrew J. Ball and Aleksandr Rybin

The cover of this issue of Screen Bodies features the digital work “Crypto Queen” by restlessperson (Aleksandr Rybin), which the artist has minted as an NFT. We spoke with Rybin about the subject matter of his work, connections between digital and analog art, and the future of NFTs. His work is available on KnownOrigin.

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Affective Anachronisms, Fateful Becomings

Otaku Movement and the Joan of Arc Effect in Type-Moon's Transhistorical Anime Ecology

David John Boyd

Abstract

This article examines the temporal and phenomenological philosophies of Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Paolo Virno, specifically in relation to the transmedia franchises of the Japanese game studio, Type-Moon. Against linear, national, and majoritarian grand narratives of the historical, the otaku artists, writers, and developers responsible for the Fate series postulate whether it is possible to harness the intense and affective forces described by Jay Lampert as “the Joan of Arc effect” in the blink of an eye or in the palm of your hand. Through a philosophical and formal analysis of three spinoff series from the Fate franchise, this article investigates how Type-Moon's deployment of the “anime machine” encourages its viewers and users to see and feel the abundance of flowing “nomadic memories” or counter-historical visions from the perspective of minor populations. Through this highly embodied and tactile experience of transhistorical (un)becomings, Type-Moon's series offer a deterritorialized, post-national world-image of the otaku database which mediates between the overloading affects of becoming-woman and the digitally encoded logic of transversal through the frames, windows, interfaces, devices, platforms, and bodies that constitute Type-Moon's vibrant anime ecology.

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Alexa, Affect, and the Algorithmic Imaginary

Addressing Privacy and Security Concerns Through Emotional Advertising

Linda Kopitz

Abstract

As millions of customers across the world invite digital voice assistants into their homes, the public debate has increasingly centered on security and privacy concerns connected to the use of the device. Drawing on Tania Bucher's work at the intersection between technology and everyday experience, this article proposes an understanding of an algorithmic imaginary of Alexa-enabled devices as explicitly nonthreatening in its ordinariness, positive potential, and gendered presence. As a case study, this article uses commercials for Alexa-enabled devices as a starting point: Instead of foregrounding the functionality and thereby the algorithmic intelligence underlying the voice assistant, these commercials focus on an affective potential as a narrative strategy to address privacy and security concerns. By connecting everyday interactions with emotional and empowering narratives, the way Alexa is portrayed as an embodied object functions as a balance to the equally public and publicized understanding of digital voice assistants as threats.

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A Body of Texts

Memento and Mētis

Jeremy Tirrell

Abstract

This article applies materialist rhetoric to Christopher Nolan's 2000 neo-noir film Memento and positions its protagonist Leonard Shelby, a man with a brain injury that prevents him from making new memories, as a figure of mētis: a classical concept addressing the cunning ability to respond to the contingent, kairotic moment by engaging situations through a reciprocal process of change. As evidence for its assertion, the article examines Leonard's relationship to his shifting bodily archive of tattoos, handwritten notes, and annotated Polaroid pictures. It also aligns him with the ancient hero Odysseus and the sophistic rhetorician Gorgias, two classical exemplars of mētis. Leonard's mētic existence informs how contemporary selves emerge from networks of objects both physical and virtual.