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9780199595488

Wolf Hall: count up the bodies

Historians should be banned from watching movies or TV set in their area of expertise. We usually bore and irritate friends and family with pedantic interjections about minor factual errors and chronological mix-ups. With Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and the sumptuous BBC series based on them, this pleasure is denied us. The series is as ferociously well researched as it is superbly acted and directed. Cranmer probably didn’t have a beard in 1533, but, honestly, that’s about the best I can do.

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Policing

Is Broadchurch a classic crime drama?

January saw the critically acclaimed and award winning Broadchurch return to our TV screens for a second series. There was a publicity blackout in an attempt to prevent spoilers or leaks; TV critics were not sent the usual preview DVDs. The opening episode sees Joe Miller plead not guilty to the murder of Danny Latimer, a shock as the previous season’s finale ended with his admission of guilt. The change of plea means that the programme shifts from police procedural to courtroom drama – both staples of the TV schedules. Witnesses have to give evidence, new information is revealed through cross-examination, and old scores settled by witnesses and barristers.

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9780190211561

The audience screams; people duck

Millions of Americans are eagerly anticipating this year’s Academy Awards ceremony. For over a century, motion pictures have been a dominant cultural and leisure medium. There are, however, two aspects worth highlighting: the sheer novelty of motion pictures and the medium’s initial democratic nature. Twenty-first century Americans have difficulty imagining the wonder and awe motion pictures inspired in the early 1900s.

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9780199982875

The neuroscience of cinema

Why do we flinch when Rocky takes a punch in Sylvester Stallone’s movies, duck when the jet careens towards the tower in Airplane, and tap our toes to the dance numbers in Chicago or Moulin Rouge? With this year’s Academy Awards upon us, we want to know what happens between your ears when you sit down in the theatre and the lights go out. Take a look at some of the ways our brains work when watching a movie—you may just find some of them to be all too familiar.

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O

An A-Z of the Academy Awards

After what feels like a year’s worth of buzz, publicity, predictions, and celebrity gossip, the 87th Academy Award ceremony is upon us. I dug into the entries available in the alphabetized categories of The Dictionary of Film Studies– and added some of my own trivia — to highlight 26 key concepts in the elements of cinema and the history surrounding the Oscars.

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9780199366491

Great man drumming: Birdman, Whiplash, and myth of the male artist

Among this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture were two films with drum scores: Whiplash, in which a highly regarded but abusive conductor molds an aspiring young jazz musician into the genius he was meant to be, and Birdman, in which an aging film actor who was never a genius at all stars in a play and possibly flies. In spite of their innovative soundtracks, neither film received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score.

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The Grand Budapest Hotel and the mental capacity to make a will

Picture this. A legendary hotel concierge and serial womaniser seduces a rich, elderly, widow who regularly stays in the hotel where he works. Just before her death, she has a new will prepared and leaves her vast fortune to him rather than her family. Wills have always provided the public with endless fascination, and are often the subject of great books and dramas.

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Oxford Dictionaries

Fresh Off the Boat and the language of the Asian-American experience

Fresh Off the Boat, the newest addition to ABC’s primetime lineup, has garnered more than its share of attention in the lead-up to its recent debut: based on restaurateur Eddie Huang’s critically-acclaimed memoir, it’s the first sitcom in 20 years since Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl to feature an Asian-American family at its epicenter, assuming a place among the network’s recent crop of 21st-century family comedies, including Modern Family, Blackish, and Cristela.

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IDPL front-matter

Selma and re-writing history: Is it a copyright problem?

A few days ago The Hollywood Reporter featured another interesting story concerning Martin Luther King or – to be more precise – his pretty litigious estate. This time the fuss is about already critically acclaimed (The New York Times critic in residence, AO Scott, called it “a triumph of efficient, emphatic cinematic storytelling”) biopic Selma, starring David Oyelowo as the Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

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9780195183481

Bob Hope, North Korea, and film censorship

Seth Rogen isn’t the only actor to have a film about North Korea nixed: A script helmed by Bob Hope met a similar fate in 1954. If US government sources are correct, North Korea cowed Sony Pictures into withholding a bawdy comedy about assassinating supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

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The Lerner Letters: Part 3 – the unknown collaborators

This final post on my collection of the lyricist Alan Jay Lerner focuses on another exciting series of letters: correspondence with famous composers with whom Lerner hoped to work, but never completed a musical. Some of these letters reveal how certain figures – such as Hoagy Carmichael – wrote to Lerner but were politely declined.

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14781395 jicj journal of international criminal justice

An enigma: the codes, the machine, the man

Prometheus, a Titan god, was exiled from Mount Olympus by Zeus because he stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. He was condemned, punished and chained to a rock while eagles ate at his liver. His name, in ancient Greek, means “forethinker “and literary history lauds him as a prophetic hero who rebels against his society to help man progress.

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Annie and girl culture

The musical version of little orphan Annie – as distinct from her original, cartoon incarnation – was born a fully formed ten-year-old in 1977, and she quickly became an icon of girlhood.

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9780195341119

Lifetime’s Women of the Bible and conservative Christian theology

On the surface, the Lifetime channel’s special Women of the Bible tells a very different story than The Red Tent. The two-hour program which aired just prior to the miniseries premiere claims to read with the Bible rather than against it, suggesting that the text itself depicts strong and faithful women—no retelling necessary.

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9780195341119

Biblical women and Lifetime’s The Red Tent

The Red Tent was perfect for the Lifetime channel. The network’s four-hour miniseries closely followed Anita Diamont’s 1997 novel, which gave voice—and agency—to the biblical character of Dinah.

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