Film and Media

The Grand Poobah of Them All

September 13, 2010
By
The Grand Poobah of Them All

Roger Ebert is a man who needs no introduction—though clever pundits across America are certainly debating new taglines in light of his growing culinary expertise (from The Wind that Shakes the Barley to The Pot and How to Use It?). Early respondents to “Roger Ebert Presents at the Movies,” a new series from Chicago’s own WTTW, seem to agree on one thing: we want more Ebert! In the new show, Ebert takes a backseat to other critics—NPR’s Elvis Mitchell and the AP’s Christy Lemire, among them—introducing their views and serving as executive producer to the dueling critics format he made famous with Gene Siskel more than 35 years ago. Phil Rosenthal has a great piece in a recent issue of the Chicago Tribune that pines for a more Ebert-centered review program and gushes about the Great Movies series of columns and books, the most recent of which was published by the University of Chicago Press: Ebert is interesting, insightful and entertaining on almost any subject. But anyone who has heard his DVD commentary tracks for films such as Citizen Kane and Casablanca will attest to how it enhances the viewing experience. Were Ebert to adapt his “Great Movies” series of . . .

Read more »

Whaddya mean ugly?

August 11, 2010
By
Whaddya mean ugly?

While academic studies on the nature of beauty abound, this article in the New York Times takes note of some recent efforts by academics to uncover the nature of ugly. The NYT‘s Natalie Angier writes: Let’s not pussyfoot. They are, by our standards, ugly animals—maybe cute ugly, more often just ugly ugly. And though the science of ugliness lags behind investigations into the evolution of beauty and the metrics of a supermodel’s face, a few researchers are taking a crack at understanding why we find certain animals unsightly even when they don’t threaten us with venom or compete for our food. Citing researchers like neuroscientist Nancy Kanwishwer, and evolutionary biologist Geoffery Miller, Angier shows how most of our ideas about the aesthetic appeal of animals are based on how closely their physical appearance conforms to, or deviates from, the physical appearance of healthy, attractive, human beings—an idea which cultural critic Wendy Steiner (also quoted in the NYT article) both draws from and complicates with her account of changing perceptions of beauty in her books, Venus in Exile: The Rejection of Beauty in Twentieth-Century Art, and The Real Real Thing: The Model in the Mirror of Art, the latter of which . . .

Read more »

Free e-book of the month: Freaks Talk Back

June 2, 2010
By
Free e-book of the month: Freaks Talk Back

In Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity author Joshua Gamson digs deep into the complex sexual politics of one of the most influential forces in modern American media—daytime TV talkshows. Using extensive interviews, hundreds of transcripts, focus-group discussions with viewers, and his own experiences as an audience member, Gamson argues that talk shows give much-needed, high-impact public visibility to sexual nonconformists while also exacerbating all sorts of political tensions among those becoming visible. With wit and passion, Freaks Talk Back illuminates the joys, dilemmas, and practicalities of media visibility—and for the month of June only, you can download it free from the University of Chicago Press website. Also, read an interview with the author and an excerpt from the book. Check back each month for more free e-books from the University of Chicago Press or for all our currently available e-books, see our complete list of e-books by subject. E-books from the University of Chicago Press are offered in Adobe Digital Editions format for Mac, PC, and a number of mobile devices such as the Sony Reader, IREX, BeBook, and more. Check out these links to find out more about Adobe Digital Editions or more about e-books . . .

Read more »

Michael Forsberg multimedia in Nature Conservancy Magazine

February 23, 2010
By
Michael Forsberg multimedia in Nature Conservancy Magazine

Michael Forsberg, the man behind the lens in Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild has an article in the Spring 2010 edition of Nature Conservancy Magazine. Forsberg discusses his three year project to photograph the stark beauty of the remaining natural habitats in this once thriving ecosystem that stretches over one million square miles from southern Canada to northern Mexico, but which is now one of the most threatened environments in North America. Complete with a special Youtube video that matches some of the images from the book with Forsberg’s commentary, the article drives home the urgent need for to protect the Great Plains and the surprising abundance of wildlife that rely on it. Read it online at the Nature Conservancy Magazine website. Also see a gallery of photographs from the book and sample pages in PDF format (4.2Mb). . . .

Read more »

Roger Ebert’s Big Month

February 19, 2010
By
Roger Ebert’s Big Month

For a man that hasn’t uttered a word since 2006, Roger Ebert is speaking loudly to all of us this week. He has been in the news twice recently, most notably for his candid interview in the new issue of Esquire magazine (which includes a jarring portrait of the famous film critic, whose face has transformed nearly beyond recognition since he last graced our television screens and offered his famous thumbs up or down from the balcony of the set of “At the Movies”). Ebert emerges in Chris Jones’s touching prose as a fighting spirit who has reconciled his lot and turn tragedy into triumph—Ebert now blogs prolifically (and in meta moment facilitated by the immediacy of online publishing, Ebert wrote this week about his interview, the reception of the article, and that photo on his blog just as buzz about the Esquire article was reaching a crescendo online) and has become a popular tweeter on Twitter. On which platform he again made headlines. You see, pop singer John Mayer recently made some contentious comments in a Playboy magazine interview, and Ebert chimed in, defending the very women Mayer derided. (You can read all about the tongue-in-cheek Twitter tsk-ing here). . . .

Read more »

How the Second City became first in comedy

December 11, 2009
By
How the Second City became first in comedy

As nearly everybody knows, or should know, the Second City is responsible for producing some of the best comedic talent of the last fifty years—Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Tina Fey—the list is quite long. But the story of how the Second City became the number one source for great comedy, (and the University of Chicago’s not so small role in its rise to fame), is perhaps less well known. As this excerpt from Stephen E. Kercher’s Revel with a Cause: Liberal Satire in Postwar America relates, it was in the mid-50’s that, David Shepherd, Paul Sills, and Eugene Troobnic formed the Compass Players—an improvisational comedy troupe consisting of “alumni, dropouts and hangers-on from the University of Chicago,” several of whose members would go on to form the venerable Second City in 1959. But even though stardom didn’t strike until the Second City, it was the Compass Players who established the improvisational style, and foundational principles upon which the fame of its successor relied. Expanding on the chapters of Kercher’s book touching on the Players, Janet Coleman’s The Compass: The Improvisational Theatre that Revolutionized American Comedy provides the definitive account of this phenomena and how the rag-tag comedy troupe from the . . .

Read more »

Dorothea Lange’s forgotten photographs

September 10, 2009
By
Dorothea Lange’s forgotten photographs

Having produced some of the most powerful images of Depression-era rural America, including the now iconic Migrant Mother, Dorothea Lange’s documentary photography for the Farm Security Administration offers a profound (and timely) record of the devastating effects of the Depression, as well as American’s resilience in the face of hardship. But surprisingly, many of Lange’s photographs for the FSA, (and arguably some of her best) have remained hidden from the public eye, consigned to archives where they have languished for years, rarely seen. Now, in Anne Whiston Spirn’s recent Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange’s Photographs and Reports from the Field Lange’s never-before-published photos and captions from her fieldwork in California, the Pacific Northwest, and North Carolina during 1939 can finally receive the exposure they merit. Focusing on selections of photographs accompanied by field notes and citations strategically selected by Spirn, as a recent review in Bookforum notes, “presents a case study of Lange’s artistic agility”—the juxtapositions of image and text allowing readers to experience a diversity of voices and points of view, dismissing what reviewer Jordan Bear calls the “maudlin sentimentality” sometimes ascribed to Lange’s work. And for a sampling of some of these images see this . . .

Read more »

From bad to worst

June 30, 2009
By
From bad to worst

People who live in fear of airplane accidents, flu pandemics, and other such disasters are often cast as alarmist or paranoid, despite the painful fruition of their fears in such incidents as the crash of a Yemeni jet this morning into the Indian Ocean (the second major plane crash this month), the lethal explosion last night of a freight train in northern Italy, and the collision last week of two Washington, D.C., Metro trains. In Worst Cases, Lee Clark confirms that such individuals are more reasonable and prescient than they’re given credit for. Surveying the full range of possible catastrophes that animate and dominate the popular imagination—from toxic spills and terrorism to plane crashes and pandemics—he explores how the ubiquity of worst cases in everyday life has stripped them of some of their ability to shock us. Fear and dread, Clarke argues, have actually become too rare: only when the public has more substantial information and more credible warnings will it take worst cases as seriously as it should. A timely and necessary look into how we think about the unthinkable, Worst Cases is essential reading for anyone attuned to our current climate of threat and fear. . . .

Read more »

Tank Man of Tiananmen: enough said?

June 4, 2009
By
Tank Man of Tiananmen: enough said?

Tomorrow, June 5, marks the twentieth anniversary of one of the most famous images in recent memory. On this day in 1989, the Los Angeles Times was probably the first American newspaper to publish a photograph that continued (and still continues) to appear on countless TV screens and in publications around the world: that of an anonymous man who had stepped in front of a row of tanks near the embattled Tiananmen Square. Four photographers captured this now-iconic moment, and in commemoration of its anniversary they reflect on the the encounter at the New York Times‘s Lens blog. Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites, authors of No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy, have also reflected—extensively—on the definitive image. In their chapter devoted to Tiananmen imagery, they reconsider its meaning, arguing that the photo can be seen as both a progressive celebration of human rights and as a societal vision limited by individualism. “The choice between the individual and the authoritarian state is any easy one,” they conclude, “but either way you get the empty street.” In addition to their extensive discussion in No Caption Needed, Hariman and Lucaites also have discussed the matter on their blog . . .

Read more »

U of C film theorist to receive $1.5 million Mellon grant

March 23, 2009
By
U of C film theorist to receive $1.5 million Mellon grant

. . .

Read more »

Search for books and authors