Book

Contemporary Action Cinema

Lisa Purse

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780748638178
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670857 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748638178.001.0001
Contemporary Action Cinema

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Action cinema is a popular and familiar form that reflects the cultural, industrial and historical landscape from which it emerges. This study analyses action cinema's pleasures and complexities in the light of its cinematic history and the latest critical debates. Focussing on 2000s action cinema, the book explores visual style, narrative, representation and various contexts of production through a diverse series of case studies including Avatar (2009), Casino Royale (2006), The Hurt Locker (2008) and Banlieue 13 (2004). The first three chapters address contemporary action cinema's aesthetics, its narrative structures and audio-visual presentation. Bringing phenomenological film theory together with close textual analyses, these chapters assert the centrality of the relationship between an embodied mode of spectatorship and the spectacle of embodied empowerment to the communicativeness of narrative development and action sequence design. The second half of the book explores the representational hierarchies evident in contemporary action movies, and their relationship to wider ideological and cultural sea-changes and the genre's interactions with a proliferating media landscape. The book ends with a chapter on the impact of globalization on action cinema, interrogating notions of ‘Americanisation’, the national and the international through a case study analysis of French company EuropaCorp's recent attempts at an internationalising formula for action. The study proposes a flexible critical approach to the action film that draws on a range of pertinent areas of critical discourse (on genre, narrative, the body, aesthetics and social, cultural and political contexts) in order to accommodate the action film’s varying traits and characteristics.

Keywords: Action cinema; Phenomenological film theory; Close textual analysis; Representation; Aesthetics; Action sequence; Film spectatorship; Body; Spectacle; Genre

Book.  232 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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Table of Contents

Narrative and the action film in Contemporary Action Cinema

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The action body in Contemporary Action Cinema

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The action sequence in Contemporary Action Cinema

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Action women in Contemporary Action Cinema

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Action men in Contemporary Action Cinema

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Race in the action film in Contemporary Action Cinema

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Action cinema after 9/11 in Contemporary Action Cinema

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The ‘European connection’ in Contemporary Action Cinema

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