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Mr. Hulot’s Invisible Gorilla

Jacques Tati and Inattentional Blindness

Eric Faden, Aaron Mitchel, Alexander Murph, Taylor Myers, and Nathan C. Ryan

This article examines the work of mid-century French filmmaker Jacques Tati. Tati suggested that his films allow more visual freedom to audiences and that audiences discover new material upon multiple viewings of his films. We review the scholarship on Tati, especially in relation to critic André Bazin’s theories of realism, and then propose another model for understanding Tati’s films: the psychological concept of inattentional blindness. The article then discusses our experiment using eye tracking technology to study how subjects watch Tati’s films versus other types of cinema and also how they re-watch films. Finally, we applied several statistical and mathematical tests to the eye tracking data to understand key differences between Tati’s films and other filmmaking practices.

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Anthony Enns

The nineteenth-century science of “optography” was based on the idea that an image of the last thing seen at the moment of death would be imprinted on the retina. This idea was inspired by the invention of photography, which reinforced the mechanistic notion of the eye as a camera, and it was frequently criticized in nineteenth-century literary texts, in which eyes more often record images generated from within the mind. Belief in optography began to wane at roughly the same time that cinema became a popular form of entertainment, but it continued to appear in several films in which severed eyes function as cameras or optical implants are used to record visual impressions that can be viewed after the death of the subject. This article examines how these optographic narratives continued to reinforce the mechanistic notion of visual perception on which film technology was thought to depend.

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Marissa C. de Baca

Erin Y. Huang. Urban Horror: Neoliberal Post-Socialism and the Limits of Visibility (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020). 288 pp. ISBN: 978-1-4780-0809-5 / 978-1-4780-0679-4; (paperback, $26.95; hardback, $99.05)

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Gary Bettinson

This article provides a stylistic examination of Sidney Lumet’s thriller Deathtrap (1982), analyzing how its strategies of staging and performance generate narrational effects of suspense and surprise. It argues that Lumet anchors these performative strategies to a broad authorial program grounded in expressive subtlety; as such, Lumet’s film reminds us of a waning tradition of US filmmaking in which stylistic ingenuity resides at the denotative and expressive (rather than the decorative or parametric) levels of stylistic discourse. The article treats Lumet’s stylistic choices as creative solutions to a distinctive set of aesthetic problems. It canvasses—and identifies the functions of—the motivic staging schemas patterned throughout Deathtrap; and it illuminates how these schemas, actuated by star players, shape the viewer’s cognitive uptake in substantive ways.

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Jessica Bay, Alaina Schempp, Daniela Schlütz, and R. Colin Tait

Smith, Anthony N., Storytelling Industries: Narrative Production in the 21st Century. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2018, 266 pp., $59.99 (eBook), ISBN: 978-3-319-70597-2.

Harrod, Mary, and Katarzyna Paszkiewicz, eds., Women Do Genre in Film and Television. New York: Routledge, 2018, 266 pp., $39.16 (paperback), ISBN: 9780367889845.

García, Alberto N. ed., Emotions in Contemporary TV Series. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, 253 pp., $89.00, ISBN: 978-1-137-56885-4.

Dunleavy, Trisha. Complex Serial Drama and Multiplatform Television. New York: Routledge, 2019, 202 pp., $46.95, ISBN: 9781138927759.

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Editorial

From the Editor

Ted Nannicelli

Welcome to the first issue of Projections for 2021. After a brief hiatus from printing due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, we are once again publishing online and in print. (A reminder to members of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image [SCSMI]: an online subscription to Projections is now the default inclusion for memberships; members who would prefer to receive hard copies can do so by paying a small surcharge.) I would like to thank the team at Berghahn, especially Janine Latham, for their ongoing support. Thanks too are due to associate editors Aaron Taylor and Tim Smith, along with Katalin Bálint who covered for Tim while he was on leave. Finally, I would like to extend special thanks to our referees in 2020 who willing donated their time to support us during what was a very difficult year for everyone. The names of all referees for 2020 are listed below as an acknowledgment of their service.

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The Feel-Good Film

Genre Features and Emotional Rewards

Keyvan Sarkhosh and Winfried Menninghaus

Abstract

In film criticism, “feel-good films” are widely dismissed as intellectually undemanding and sentimental entertainment. This study identifies key characteristics, emotional effects, and aesthetic qualities of feel-good films from the audience's perspective. Although the feel-good film does not appear to be a genre in its own right, it is more than just a rather vague category. Romantic comedy films with a substantial share of drama are shown to be the most prototypical feel-good genre blend. Fairy-tale likeness and perceived lightness were indicated as key characteristics of these films. Yet for all their focus on happiness and relaxation, the emotional trajectories also involve serious conflicts and are experienced as profoundly moving. Moreover, preferences for feel-good films differ greatly, depending on gender and age.

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Keyvan Sarkhosh and Winfried Menninghaus

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Carl Plantinga and Malcolm Turvey

Friends and colleagues of Stephen Prince were shocked and saddened to learn of his death at the age of sixty-five on 30 December 2020 in Blacksburg, Virginia, after a brief illness. Steve was a good friend to many, a prolific scholar with a deep love of cinema, a beloved teacher, a trusted and valued colleague, and a generous mentor to younger scholars.

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This interview with Paul Schrader, conducted by Todd Berliner, took place on 19 June 2020 as part of the annual meeting of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image (SCSMI). It has been edited and condensed for clarity. We are grateful to Mr. Schrader for his participation and permission to publish this transcription, to Professor Berliner for conducting the interview, and to Professor Carl Plantinga for organizing it.