American Smart Cinema

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-01-14
  • Publisher: Edinburgh University Press

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American Smart Cinema examines a contemporary type of United States filmmaking that exists at the intersection of mainstream, art and independent cinema and often gives rise to absurd, darkly comic and nihilistic effects. Tracing the emergence of smart cinema amidst the texts and debates of the 1990s 'irony epidemic', the book describes the unstable tone and 'double' speech of such films as: The Royal Tenenbaums, Adaptation, The Squid and the Whale, Palindromes, The Last Days of Disco, Flirt, Ghost World, Y our Friends and Neighbors, Donnie Darko and The Savages. Acknowledging the techniques of pastiche and quotation central to the loaded forms of expression employed by these films, the chapters provide new directions for their study by discussing the self-conscious approach that smart cinema takes to film historical discourses of authorship, narrative and genre. Examining the smart film's taste for 'blank' style and a synchronous structure, as well as its thematic interest in the dysfunctionality of the white middle-class family, the politics of consumerism and identity, and the philosophy of random fate, the book provides a comprehensive account of smart cinema as an aesthetic category while also considering the cultural and political factors that have guaranteed it critical and popular success. Covering issues from domestic melodrama to cinephilia and popular music to utopianism, American Smart Cinema describes these films as a new critical tradition in American filmmaking.

Author Biography

Claire Perkins is Assistant Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the Monash University.

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