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American Eccentric Cinema
Bloomsbury Academic

American Eccentric Cinema

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American Eccentric Cinema
Author(s): Kim Wilkins

Since the late 1990s a new language has emerged in film scholarship and criticism in response to the popularity of American directors such as Wes Anderson, Charlie Kaufman, and David O. Russell. Increasingly, adjectives like 'quirky', 'cute', and 'smart' are used to describe these American films, with a focus on their ironic (and sometimes deliberately comical) stories, character situations and tones. Kim Wilkins argues that, beyond the seemingly superficial descriptions, 'American eccentric cinema' presents a formal and thematic eccentricity that is distinct to the American context. She distinguishes these films from mainstream Hollywood cinema as they exhibit irregularities in characterization, tone, and setting, and deviate from established generic conventions. Each chapter builds a case for this position through detailed film analyses and comparisons to earlier American traditions, such as the New Hollywood cinema of the 1960s and 1970s. American Eccentric Cinema promises to challenge the notion of irony in American contemporary cinema, and questions the relationship of irony to a complex national and individual identity.

Review(s):

American Eccentric Cinema restores politics to the core of the indie agenda, deftly tracing the contours of some of the most critically and popularly successful films of the contemporary era as symptoms of - but also challenges to - the anxieties and divisions of neoliberal society. Kim Wilkins' welcome take on this sector brings the central debates in scholarship on American independent cinema into conversation with some of the most pressing social and political developments of the moment.” —Claire Perkins, Senior Lecturer in Film and Screen Studies, Monash University, Australia

“I was highly impressed by every dimension of this superb work. Focused on American films of especially the last two decades, its foundation establishes its perspective as a historical counterpoint to the existential cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, and then builds a fairly intricate framework on notions of "irony with sincerity" and a mode of cultural and personal anxiety that is "essentially objectless." As a mode that inflects different contemporary genres, for Wilkins, these films mobilize four textual characteristics: 1) transgressions and subversions, 2) "hyper-dialogue," 3) pure cinematic characterizations, and 4) "eccentric" cinematic worlds. Each chapter lucidly follows these textual strategies, anchored in some quite brilliant and often original readings of individual films. Throughout, the research and writing are impeccable, wide-ranging, and stylish.” —Timothy Corrigan, Professor of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Pennsylvania, USA, and author of The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker (2011)

“This is a remarkable book that successfully identifies and delineates a peculiar mode of contemporary American cinema. Kim Wilkins achieves this feat by cultivating a wealth of invaluable concepts – from general theories of neoliberalism, existential anxiety, irony, and sincerity, to specifically filmic notions of hyper-dialogue, overtly cinematic characters, and idiosyncratic cinematic worlds. American Eccentric Cinema is thoroughly researched, well-organized, and lucidly written.” —Warren Buckland, Reader in Film Studies, Oxford Brookes University, UK





ISBN:  9781501336911