Shining in Shadows: Movie Stars of the 2000s

Shining in Shadows: Movie Stars of the 2000s

Shining in Shadows: Movie Stars of the 2000s

Shining in Shadows: Movie Stars of the 2000s

Synopsis

In the 2000s, new technologies transformed the experiences of movie-going and movie-making, giving us the first generation of stars to be just as famous on the computer screen as on the silver screen.

Shining in Shadows examines a wide range of Hollywood icons from a turbulent decade for the film industry and for America itself. Perhaps reflecting our own cultural fragmentation and uncertainty, Hollywood's star personas sent mixed messages about Americans' identities and ideals. Disheveled men-children like Will Ferrell and Jack Black shared the multiplex with debonair old-Hollywood standbys like George Clooney and Morgan Freeman. Iconic roles for women ranged from Renee Zellweger's dithering romantics to Tina Fey's neurotic professionals to Hilary Swank's vulnerable boyish characters. And in this age of reality TV and TMZ, stars like Jennifer Aniston and "Brangelina" became more famous for their real-life romantic dramas--at the same time that former tabloid fixtures like Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. reinvented themselves as dependable leading men. With a multigenerational, international cast of stars, this collection presents a fascinating composite portrait of Hollywood stardom today.

Excerpt

Murray Pomerance

These pages contain discussions of twenty-five stars of Hollywood cinema who flourished, all to a distinctive degree in the international eye, in the decade between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2009. Although these stars were as bright as stars have ever been in Hollywood, producing a kind of illumination that had staying power and global effect, the book itself is called Shining in Shadows because all of them shone within an intensively American darkness brought on by the surprise attacks of 11 September 2001. in our economy, our philosophy, our social thought, our poetic hopes, and the screen dreams that energized and mirrored us, 9/11 lasted throughout the decade in one way or another: as a memory, as a wound, as a pretext for the withdrawal of civil liberty, as an incitement to ongoing fear. Whether or not it affected any particular cinematic endeavor or begrimed any actual performative work (beyond the relatively small number of films actually depicting it, such as the omnibus 11‘09”01 [2002], Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center [2006], or Paul Greengrass’s United 93 [2006]), 9/11 can generally be said to have shocked, slowed, rigidified, and made self-conscious the entire cultural apparatus of the United States and the West; to have tinted the decade and leeched out some of the light that might otherwise have illuminated our world. Perhaps it can be suggested that if after the Great Depression of 1929 American cinema turned to a “feel good” aesthetic, with morally uplifting drama, ebullient social comedy, and gay musicals working to take people’s minds off the bleakness of their real conditions, the cinema of the 2000s largely worked through spectacularization, intensified distribution, and oddball dramatic setups to perform the same escapist function, to give people reasons for believing the “War on Terror” declared by the Bush administration and its apparently incessant side effects were not all there was to life.

The 2000s were born in a storm of global panic and alarm, something of a foundation for the numerous American and global crises that would follow. Y2K, a “millennium bug,” had already been bruited around the world, a virus that would strike all computer systems at the stroke of midnight on . . .

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