Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

La La Land and the Hollywood film musical

Say what you will about the strong fan base of La La Land and its probable domination of the upcoming Oscars after sweeping so many of the guild awards, not to mention the critical backlash against it that I have seen in the press and among scholars on Facebook, but Damien Chazelle certainly knows the history of the Hollywood film musical!

Read More

“Don’t cry white boy. You gonna live”

On 20 February 2017, Sidney Poitier—“Sir Sidney” both in the colloquial and in reality (he was knighted in 1974), and just “Sir” in one of his biggest hits, To Sir, With Love (1967)—will turn ninety years old. Even today, Poitier continues a decades long career of collecting accolades for his pioneering role as Hollywood’s first Black movie star.

Read More

Market solutions for improving treatment of farm animals? A review of At the Fork

How are farm animals treated and should one care? For the record, I am not vegetarian and I follow something similar to a paleo diet high in animal proteins and fats. But whether or not one believes animals have rights, libertarian philosopher Loren Lomasky once gave me the most succinct argument for caring about the welfare, at least some, of animals: “You wouldn’t put your cat in a microwave, would you?”

Read More

From Byron to boy bands: A timeline of heartthrobs

From dreams of Prince Charming or dashing doctors in white coats, to the lure of dark strangers and vampire lovers; from rock stars and rebels to soulmates, dependable family types or simply good companions, female fantasies about men tell us as much about the history of women as about masculine icons. The timeline below highlights ten heartthrobs, fictional and real, that set hearts aflutter over the decades.

Read More

The enduring legacy of François Truffaut

On 6 February 2017, François Truffaut (1932-1984) would have been 85 years old. As it was, he died tragically from a brain tumor at the age of 52, thus depriving the world of cinema of one of its brightest stars. His legacy, nevertheless, continues, being particularly evident in his influence on the current generation of filmmakers.

Read More

Super Bowl madness

Every year we worship at the altar of the Super Bowl. It’s the Big Game with the Big Halftime Show and the Big-Name Advertisers. That we do this, explains why Donald Trump is now president. I’ll get to that shortly. But for now, back to the show. From an advertising perspective, the Super Bowl is the most expensive commercial on television. This year, Fox charged upwards of $5 million per 30-second spot according to Sports Illustrated

Read More

Rise, read, repeat: Groundhog Day at OUP

Bill Murray fought tirelessly to combat the ennui and frustration that accompanied repeating the same day over and over and over again in the film “Groundhog Day.” For him, repetition was torture, but for several of us at Oxford University Press, it’s not so bad…when it comes to reading!

Read More

David Lynch’s dream of dark and troubling things

January 20th marks the 71st birthday of American film director David Lynch. At 71 years old, the master of innovative film-making shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. In celebration of his unique and highly influential work in the realm of cinema, this essay takes a look back at some of the director’s best work and discusses what it is that makes his films so memorable and effective.

Read More

The visual poetry of documentarian Frederick Wiseman

Wiseman’s films are often, yet mistakenly, grouped with his contemporaries Richard Leacock, D.A. Pennebaker, and Albert and David Maysles as part of the American direct cinema movement of the 1960s and 70s. These filmmakers, like Wiseman, were using recently developed lightweight, portable 16mm cameras with synchronized sound recording equipment to capture events spontaneously, but there the similarity to Wiseman ends.

Read More

Christmas on the radio

Back in 1944 the Archbishop of York, Cyril Garbett, wrote in the Radio Times that “the wireless and the English tongue are means by which God’s message of love and peace can spread through the world”. We may find it difficult these days to construe the BBC’s output over Christmas as taking on such a missiological flavour, but certainly in its early days Lord Reith, saw religion as one of the four principal pillars.

Read More

Quotes of the year 2016 [quiz]

2016 has truly been a year to remember — from the amazing competition of the Rio Olympic Games to shock Brexit from Europe, and from environmental woes to the American presidential race. Famous faces have had no shortage of opinions on current events, with celebrities, athletes and politicians not being shy to express their views.

Read More

Marking Cassavetes’ birthday with a discussion on male discourse in his films

On the cusp of what would have been John Cassavetes’ eighty-seventh birthday, it is not only possible to pause and imagine the work the man could have made throughout his sixties and seventies — think, for a moment, on Cassavetes as being alive and well, writing and directing films in a post-9/11 America — but also we can turn to his works for a lens onto a version of the world that, given the recent state of affairs on this planet, we could sorely use.

Read More

Woman as protagonist in BBC’s re-adaption of Conrad’s The Secret Agent

With the recent surge of interest in Conrad’s text following the programme airing in July, one needs to question the contribution that BCC’s adaption offers to the oeuvre of Conrad’s criticism. Tony Marchant’s adaption is acutely aware of global relevance of this text, noting that the “contemporaneity just hit[s]” you “in the face”. Yet, his production precisely fails in this presentation of terrorism.

Read More

From Harlem to Wakanda: on Luke Cage and Black Panther

While watching the first episode of Luke Cage, I noticed something of a minor miracle. Starting from the amazing opening credits sequence, you could actually count the minutes before a single non-black face graced the screen. Every character of consequence, heroic or villainous, was black. Not only that, they were characters well-versed in blackness, however stereotypical.

Read More

The nothingness of hyper-normalisation

In recent years my academic work has revolved around the analysis of two main concepts: ‘hyper-democracy’ and ‘normality.’ The former in relation to the outburst of forms and tools of democratic engagement in a historical period defined by anti-political sentiment; the latter relating to the common cry of those disaffected democrats – ‘why can’t politicians just be normal?

Read More

Why we love horror (and Halloween)

It’s dark and warm and chaotic. The people in my group are screaming and scrambling to get away from the maniac who’s lumbering toward us with a roaring, smoke-belching chainsaw.

Read More