9781844677511%20film%20after%20film

Film After Film: (Or, What Became of 21st Century Cinema?)

How the digital turn and 9/11 have changed motion picture history.

In this sly and thought-provoking volume, J. Hoberman turns an erudite eye to the study of twenty-first-century cinema and finds that, only a dozen years into the new millennium, the world of movies has already experienced a revolutionary transformation.

The advent of new digital technology has displaced the medium of photographic film—and, perhaps, the reality on which it once depended. With locations, sets and cameras now optional, the history of motion pictures has become the history of animation.

This sea change in filmmaking spanned the 2000 American presidential election and the trauma of 9/11, events that reshaped world politics and left an indelible imprint on the emerging aesthetic of the new century’s cinema. A rupture opened up in the evolution of film, presaging, as Susan Sontag forlornly predicted a few years earlier, the death of cinephilia, or at least cinephilia as we know it.

Witty and allusive, in the style of classic film theorist/critics such as André Bazin and Siegfried Kracauer, Film After Film expands on a much-discussed era-defining Artforum article by Hoberman before moving on to a chronicle of the Bush years in cinema (featuring reviews from Hoberman’s final decade at the Village Voice). The book concludes with considerations of the twenty-one central movies of the twenty-first century, which include works by Lars von Trier and Jia Zhangke as well as the hi-tech spectacles WALL-E and Avatar.

Reviews

  • “Spirited, thought-provoking and popping with fresh perspectives.”
  • “[Film After Film] does what Hoberman does best: use movies and movie culture as prism for understanding political events—and vice versa.”
  • “Hoberman is tremendously insightful as he integrates his concerns with cinema’s political, historical, and aesthetic past and his visions of its future. For cinephiles of any stripe, it’s a rare book. He soundly articulates the ideological transformations, digital facelifts, and aesthetic insurrections that have tugged at cinema since the turn of the millennium—ones that have made the medium seem simultaneously stagnant and livelier than ever.”
  • “Elegiac and anxious, critical and poetic, Film After Film surveys the current seismic shifts in movies and considers their effect on the cinematic imagination...[Hoberman's] prose shines without qualification, and the selections remind us that his tenure at the Voice was, simply put, one of the greatest ever by an American film critic, influencing as it did an entire generation of writers.”
  • “A brilliant, patchwork statement about the future of the cinema—spoiler alert: there is a future—in the face of reports of its imminent demise...Hoberman’s book is a broadly accessible errand in the articulation of how we might imagine digital cinema to reflect twenty-first century culture.”
  • “Always a witty and engaging writer, Hoberman has one of the most recognizable voices in contemporary film writing.”
  • “Hoberman wittily traces the interlocking of political reality and moviemaking fantasies, to often disturbing effect.”
  • “Crisply written…offers many interesting insights…it will afford knowledgeable general readers and film buffs much to savor.”
  • “Put simply, nobody writes about the connection between movies and culture better than Hoberman, and Film After Film is a reminder of that fact.”
  • “Nobody in America writes as well about culture and film as J. Hoberman.”
  • Film After Film is both a concise history book and one of the best viewing guides available.”
  • “One could go so far as to say that these days Hoberman’s a thinker akin to Bazin in his influence.”
  • “One could go so far as to say that these days Hoberman’s a thinker akin to Bazin in his influence, through his frequent reviews, books, and as an occasional guest curator.”
  • “A dense, fascinating assemblage that...encapsulates a decade of film and politics…by turns jocular and brilliantly reflective.”
  • “Cogent and compelling”
  • “J. Hoberman is probably the most acute political analyst of cinema among the medium’s regular commentators. You won’t find a closer reading of how films made in the first decade or so of the twenty-first century intermeshed with the issues of their day than this volume.”

Blog

  • J. Hoberman's 21 Films of the 21st Century

    Is it possible to speak of a twenty-first century cinema barely a decade into the millennium? Acclaimed film critic J. Hoberman’s new book, Film After Film, is a timely and provocative collection of writings that chronicle how the advent of digital technology has led to the displacement of the medium of film—and the very relationship between movies and reality. This sea change in filmmaking also spanned the 2000 American presidential election and the trauma of 9/11, events that reshaped world politics and left an indelible imprint on the emerging aesthetic of the new century’s cinema. 

    In his book, Hoberman presents considerations of the defining movies of the twenty-first century. GoWatchIt—a new platform and social network that allows users to track where they can watch movies online and share their picks with other users—has assembled a channel where viewers can browse and watch Hoberman's 21 selections.

    View Hoberman's list below, or skip right to the channel to watch online:

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  • Trapped in the total cinema: J. Hoberman on the end of film



    "It's not so much that we're taking the issue of verisimilitude or truth to another level, it's that the historical base of motion pictures has shifted. They're closer to animation than documentary, with this change." - J. Hoberman, author of Film After Film: (Or, What Became of 21st Century Cinema?)

    In the last decade, film's capacity to provide an immersive experience has increased dramatically, from 3-D glasses to progressively uncanny CGI representations of humanoid creatures. While the 3-D box office boom and its subsequent falloff remain the subject of some debate, two of the three highest grossing films of all time were rendered using the relatively new technology. What might this mean, asks J. Hoberman, for the medium or film, and for the increasingly imbricated relationship between art and reality?

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  • AV Club lauds Film After Film

    A new glowing review of J. Hoberman's recently published Film After Film at the AV Club grades the book an "A," praising Hoberman's analysis of the transformations undergone by cinema barely a decade into the new millennium:

    Hoberman is tremendously insightful as he integrates his concerns with cinema’s political, historical, and aesthetic past and his visions of its future. For cinephiles of any stripe, it’s a rare book. He soundly articulates the ideological transformations, digital facelifts, and aesthetic insurrections that have tugged at cinema since the turn of the millennium—ones that have made the medium seem simultaneously stagnant and livelier than ever. 


    Visit the AV Club to read the review in full.

Other books by J. Hoberman