diane arbus and susan sontag: America seen through photographs, darkly

Susan Sontag wrote on Diane Arbus in her seminal essay America, seen through photographs, darkly, in which Arbus' vision is forcefully and evocatively examined. Below are excerpts from Sontag's masterful and unparalleled analysis, exhibiting Arbus as a complicatedly humanist, voyeuristic, privileged, artist, admirer and documenter of "freaks", children, couples, performers, disability and nonconformity.   Instead of people whose appearance pleases,…

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a handpicked selection of the 2019 Academy Award nominees

  Roma (2018) dir. Alfonso Cuarón nominated for: Best Picture Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón) Best Actress (Yalitza Aparicio) Best Supporting Actress (Marina de Tavira) Best Original Screenplay (Alfonso Cuarón) Best Cinematography (Alfonso Cuarón) Best Foreign-Language Film (Mexico) Best Sound Mixing (Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan and Jose Antonio Garcia) Best Sound Editing (Sergio Diaz and Skip…

girls in uniform (1931) in review: connecting sexuality to anti-authoritarianism

After its initial ban, in the 1970s Weimar film Mädchen In Uniform (1931) (dir: Leontine Sagan) was rediscovered by feminist critics who categorised it as an early 'coming out film'. The narrative follows: a Prussian, authoritarian regime in an all-girls school for families with aristocratic or military backgrounds becomes inhabited by Manuela (Hertha Thiele), the…

a not-so-comprehensive A-Z of female directors and their highest rated films

In compiling this A-Z of female directors and their films, my measure of their credibility being only their average score from Metacritic's algorithm, problems became manifest: taking the average reception of women's films and summarising it as their critical consensus, as one example. Although this list is intentionally celebratory of women and their art, it…

thelma & louise (1991): redemptive violence, femininity and queering masculine space

[contains spoilers, content warning: rape, sexual violence] This essay weaves together some of the cinematic elements that animate romance, dark comedy, redemptive violence, absurdity, feminism and queer space - tethering them to the centre of the compelling cinematic universe of Thelma & Louise (1991). Callie Khouri's screenplay "I don't remember ever feeling this awake" In writing Thelma…

breaking the fourth wall: a brief and visual history through cinema

the great train robbery (1903) metropolis (1927) napoleon (1927) steamboat bill jr. (1928) rebecca (1940) lady in the lake (1946) black narcissus (1947) the red shoes (1948) roshomon (1950) rear window (1954) vertigo (1958) the 400 blows (1959) eyes without a face (1960) psycho (1960) the graduate (1967) le samouraï (1967) once upon a time…

rosemary’s baby (1968): a nightmare of the body

[spoilers and content warning: rape, themes of complications in pregnancy]   Rosemary's Baby (1968) fools us into believing that we are now, fifty years after its production, at a safe distance from its terror. We see a typical young, married couple move into a New York apartment building, into an apartment met with rumours of…