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Film, Nihilism and the Restoration of Belief Paperback – 25 Oct 2013

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 173 pages
  • Publisher: Zero Books (25 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780992459
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780992457
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,151,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Darren Ambrose is a Senior Lecturer in Art Theory in the Department of Media, Art & Design at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent.

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I realised when I got past the first few pages and then got stuck on the turgid polysyllabic prose, and saw the inevitable names of Lacan, Zizek, et al. popping up everywhere, that this was not the book I expected it to be. When did it become impossible to write without using the term 'trope' on every other page? What are people like this actually saying? There's a fuzzy anti-capitalist morality buried under all the intellectual posturing of precious metro-academics like Ambrose but a little plain English would go a long way towards promoting that morality. 'Films I like and dislike' would be a more honest title than this selective critique of films the author just doesn't like! The back-page blurb claims the book resists alienation but in fact it just increases alienation. All the talk of 're-enchanting the world' is merely further disenchantment. It's quite enough to convert you to nihilism if you weren't already there!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book does not just give an introduction to the competing trends in film criticism current today, but also (and I think more importantly) offers a powerful argument for why we care about art, and what drives us to raise the demands that we make of a film when we enter a cinema.

Darren Ambrose describes two trajectories within cinema throughout its history - one which reaffirms our current ways of thinking, viewing and living in the world, which gives us (broadly) what we expect, and another which challenges these and offers us the opportunity, sometimes forces us, to see the unexpected. This is not necessarily a hierarchical distinction - the first category includes some wonderful films - but rather one which captures an almost physiological difference in how we react to the second type of film. The author argues that the physical and sensory immersion we feel as viewers gives film an unrivalled impact upon our minds. When the film reinforces the paths our thought is accustomed to travel, the effect is alluring and addictive. However when the film operates against our expectations, it delivers a shock to thought that is more powerful than any other artform.

The wider concern addressed by this book is why such a shock to thought is a desirable, if sometimes uncomfortable, experience. This takes the sphere of the argument beyond cinema and art into politics and society more generally, suggesting that art need not always be reduced to the level of an opiate, escapism as 'light entertainment' that makes it possible to bear a mundane and banal existence as the weekend piss-up allows us to endure the remainder of the working week. Instead art can challenge this existence, and by encouraging us to think in new ways, may even allow us to change it.
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