The certainty of our comfort rests on what we can exclude from it. My reading of Roman Polanski’s The Tenant centres on the violence of identifying the ‘trespasser’ and requires that we reconsider our entitlement to name, judge, exclude and attack those whom we perceive as outsiders. Their outsider status confirms that we are indeed inside, even if the inside we protect is rapidly becoming our own high-security prison of privilege. Against this terrifying duality of insiders and outsiders, I look at Polanski and The Tenant because both the director and his film are rather consistently, although unjustifiably, kept outside of the grid of ‘great’ cinema.
Stanka Radovic on the politics of identity construction in Polanski’s ninth feature film.
Let’s get fiscal: Hollywood romance and the mechanism of the self in modernity
It Happened One Night and Pretty Woman are separated by sixty years. The elements of the romance genre are easy to identify in both, but how differently they are configured! Take a standard moment of any Hollywood romance: the first kiss. The ‘first kiss’ in It Happened One Night is delayed throughout the entire movie, as is, of course, any sexual interactions. In Pretty Woman, however, Vivian (Julia Roberts) performs oral sex on her client Edward (Richard Gere) within an hour or so of their having first met.
Garry Leonard on the shifts and continuities of the Hollywood romance and the modern ‘self’.
Pop star, director, actor: an interview with Michael Sarne
‘[T]here was a club near where I lived, called the Old Theatre Club, and I would hang around there with Michael Caine, Terence Stamp, people like that, looking for work. We would go up for small parts, extra parts, and because I could speak German and Russian and French, I would go up for parts with different agents, banking on this. Sink the Bismarck needed somebody who could say a couple of lines in German, and then the same for The Guns of Navarone…’
Wheeler Winston Dixon has talked to the director of ‘one of the most notorious films of all time’, Myra Breckinridge.
Children of Men and Demonlover: corporate psyches, media bodies and the possibility of Tomorrow
Children of Men is ultimately a call to regain agency and rebel against an increasingly controlled social order. It utilizes a dystopian/utopian framework to unleash a cultural critique on the current historical milieu. Demonlover scrutinizes a corporate world whose only hero is whoever enters a 16-digit credit-card number on a computer screen. The first film champions the rebirth of historical consciousness through humanity’s re-encounter with fertility… Demonlover suggests that the only form of exchange that remains operative in the capital-driven contemporary world is the self-incarceration of the individual’s psyche and body in the depraved processes of global economic trade. There is no unrevealed human substance, no system of decipherable signs and no historical consciousness left.
Vicente Rodríguez Ortega on two films set in the future but dealing with the politics of today.
Cinematic cyborgs, abject bodies: post-human hybridity in T2 and Robocop
Paradoxically, later films about cyborgs, in particular Terminator 2 and Robocop, highlight the distinction between their human and synthetic components. While there are clear crossover signifiers of humanity in the cyborgs of these films, attention centres on the interface between human and machine. This boundary emerges in the context of both the physical body and the psyche. Boundary maintenance is integral to the coherent subject, both in relation to repression of corporeal abjection and to the preservation of ego.
Fran Pheasant-Kelly on two films that illustrate the tensions arising from the progress of medical science and the increasingly intimate integration of body and machine.