Academic journal article Film & History

Engaging Film Criticism

Academic journal article Film & History

Engaging Film Criticism

Article excerpt

ENGAGING FILM CRITICISM. Walter Metz. Peter Lang, 2004. 226 pages; $29.95.


In this book, Walter Metz gives traditional notions of intertextual studies another turn of the screw by asking us to consider what he terms "imaginative intertextual relations." While this approach to the study of film traditionally refers to work done in exploration of one text directly referencing another, or to the constructing of evidence that shows that different texts were, somehow, in contact with one another, Engaging Film Criticism's, intertextual approach offers another paradigm.

Metz compares film texts that may or may not ever have encountered one another. He structures intelligent comparisons of movies that make no direct reference to each other, and he states upfront that it is "possible, perhaps probable" that under his critical paradigm "no one making the film had any awareness of the existence of the other films which he is using in constructing his comparisons.

Much of Metz's study compels the reader to evaluate the merit of his stance. Instead of traditional intertextual scholarship, Metz is interested in how a film can be seen as politically and historically meaningful in relation to a wide range of other texts. By juxtaposing films made many years apart, he explores how "the cultural" continues to struggle with recurring issues.

To this end, he applies this approach to a wide variety of contemporary "millennial" films made between 1994-2003, linking the millennial movies to film antecedents made many years apart. Throughout his consideration of specific films, he explores theoretical, social, and historical contexts. In each of three sections, he uses a contemporary film to illuminate different cultural crises that transpired as the twentieth century millennium changed to the twenty-first.

Part I considers geopolitical thrillers in the context of a postCold War milieu. In Metz's "imaginative intertextual" reading he begins with a close textual analysis of Outbreak (1995) and Panic in the Streets (1950). Divided into three sections, this chapter also considers True Lies (1994) in relation to several 1950s Hitchcock films, as well as the Cold War films in the James Bond series, with special attention paid to Die Another Day (2002) . Extending Robert Corber's theory (as stated in In the Name of National Security), each of these sections considers the films' treatment of the Cold War in terms of its linking of national security and "domestic morality. …

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