Most films, most of the time, are affectively unified. What I call “synesthetic affects” are orchestrated in an attempt to provide a holistic affective experience congruent with the film's unfolding narrative and thematic concerns. Yet Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line elicits contradictory or incongruent affects, such incongruence neither being justified by genre conventions, “excess,” irony, nor stumbled upon through incompetence. The Thin Red Line elicits incongruent emotions for the purposes of generating an experience of rumination and wonder. The study of such incongruent emotions, still in its infancy, raises important methodological issues about the study of mixed emotions and the conventions for mixing affects in the cinema.
Film scholars, critics, filmmakers, and audiences all routinely employ intuitive, untutored "folk psychology" in viewing, interpreting, critiquing, and making films. Yet this folk psychology receives little attention in film scholarship. This article argues that film scholars ought to pay far more attention to the nature and uses of folk psychology. Turning to critical work on Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, the article demonstrates the diverse and sometimes surprising ways that folk psychology is used in criticism. From an evolutionary perspective, the article defends the critic's and audience's interests in characters as persons. It also defends folk psychology against some of its most vocal detractors, and provides some guidance into how cognitive film theorists might employ folk psychology, arguing that such employment must supplement and correct folk psychology with scientific psychology and philosophical analysis. Finally, the article argues that the application of folk psychology to films is a talent, a skill, and a sensitivity rather than a science.
Robert R. Clewis
How should a film's appearing dated affect critical evaluation of it? This article distinguishes enjoyment of a film from evaluation and describes how films undergo positive, negative, and comic dating. The affective responses of nostalgia, boredom, and humorous amusement, respectively, are associated with each of these kinds of dating. Insofar as these affective responses are unintended and thus beyond the control of the filmmakers, they have little influence on the film's artistic value, which is understood in terms of the filmmakers' achievement. Conversely, these states do affect levels of enjoyment. By recognizing this, evaluators can rationally resolve disagreements that are grounded on these unintended affective responses to dated films. Several films and film reviews are examined, yet no attempt is made to give close readings or analyses of the films discussed.
Genre Features and Emotional Rewards
Keyvan Sarkhosh and Winfried Menninghaus
introduced in expert film criticism in the mid-1970s (for an extensive historical account, see Brown 2015 ), it has also come to be used frequently by non-expert audiences. This suggests that the label has substantial power in capturing and representing
Adrian Martin, Mise en Scène and Film Style: From Classical Hollywood to New Media Art, Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), xviii + 235 pp., £60 (hardback).
John Gibbs, The Life of Mise-en-Scène: Visual Style and British Film Criticism, 1946–78 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), viii + 280 pp., £65 (hardback).
Lucy Fife Donaldson, Texture in Film, Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), ix + 194 pp., £55 (hardback).
The Fleshy Horror of the Unknowable Other in Spring and Honeymoon
Leigh Janiak’s Honeymoon (2014) and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Spring (2015) initially seem like two horror films birthed in the spirit of classical psychoanalytic film criticism. They deal with a monstrous female, a fearful, castrated male, and the “otherness” of sexual relationships. Through a close analysis of each film, however, I suggest in the following that both films “think” through problems of the gendered other, sexual politics, and cinematic affect outside the bounds of contemporary psychoanalytic or affect theory. By suggesting and analyzing two neologisms that blend the insights of psychoanalytic and affective film theory—objet a(ffect) and che(www) vuoi—I argue that both films not only complicate typical readings of horror films “about” gender and sex, but that each film performs its own type of philosophical thought about gender and “otherness” through its very form and content.
Much commentary on Indian cinema unreflectively equates film with fantasy. Writing in this vein may depict audiences as emotionally and cognitively undeveloped, while it represents those critics and viewers who prefer realism as sophisticated, rational, and mature. Those scholars of Indian cinema who examine fantasy and realism in depth, however, often draw different conclusions about both cinema and its consumers. Some note the close relationship between fantasy and reality, and thereby represent audiences as more savvy than do those who superficially link film with fantasy. Others analyze the privileging of cinematic realism as an element of socio-political ideology, or examine viewers' own application of realist criteria to films, thus further complicating the image of Indian cinema consumers as irrational and infantile. In continuing to pose these concepts as a dichotomy, however, cinema scholars reproduce some of the assumptions that underlie the standard usage in film criticism.
Film Studies and Analytic Aesthetics in Dialogue
Mario Slugan and Enrico Terrone
topics: Filippo Contesi focuses on the horror genre, Melenia Arouh discusses the form/content distinction, Philip Cowan discusses the notion of film style, and Laura Di Summa investigates the domain of film criticism. This special issue has its roots in
On What We Can Learn
Laura T. Di Summa
reprinted “Film Criticism!,” a short essay (or something between a manifesto, an essay, and a cry for attention) that Béla Balázs and Russell Stockman published in 1922 in which they lament the absence of film criticism despite the presence of 180 cinemas in
Brenda Austin-Smith, Matthew Cipa, and Temenuga Trifonova
aesthetics, and the role an aesthetic approach has played in film criticism. Klevan intends it to be useful to academics and accessible to students; the clarity of his prose should certainly appeal to both. It is also more philosophical than practical. Given