Author: Film Quarterly

Cinematic TV: A Conversation with Rashna Wadia Richards

Much has been said about serial dramas such as The Sopranos (HBO, 1999–2007), The Wire (HBO, 2002–8), Mad Men (AMC, 2007–15), and Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008–13) bringing about a new golden age of television. A lot of these discussions, however, have centered on the idea that quality television has become more cinematic than ever—a modifier that implies a superiority of cinema and a teleological linearity toward a particular aesthetic. Notwithstanding the overuse of the term and its implications, there is no consensus about what exactly “cinematic” means in these contexts.

Tearing, Stitching, Quilting: The Abolition Poetics of Garrett Bradley

A young black woman dressed to signal a 1920s time frame walks along an empty country road, holding an umbrella. She stops in front of a white man sitting beneath a large tree, slowly kneels in front of him, and removes her hat. We see a close-up of his hand before shifting to hers. She begins ripping his white robe, a garment unambiguously suggestive of a Ku Klux Klan costume.

Tragedy Plus Time: A Conversation with Philip Scepanski

Season 8 of Friends (NBC, 1994–2004) included an episode in which Monica and Chandler, en route to their honeymoon, are detained by TSA agents after Chandler mocks a TSA sign forbidding jokes about bombs. By the time the episode aired on October 11, 2001, however, the scene had been excised, its humor nullified in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The scene’s later resurrection as bonus material for a DVD box set—and, inevitably, on video and social-media platforms—reflects the sort of time-sensitive relationship between comedy and context that Philip Scepanski explores in Tragedy Plus Time: National Trauma and Television Comedy.

Theater Openings and Vaccinated Viewings in Pandemic Year Two

It has been more than a year since this editorial space filled with speculations about streaming films and the closing of theaters. It was with distinct excitement, then, that I began to read the reopening announcements. The beloved Paris Theater in New York City, with its lease now held by Netflix and with programming selected by former Museum of the Moving Image curator David Schwartz, trumpeted an Al Pacino retrospective. The Film Forum, that mainstay of downtown New York tastemaking, announced its theater’s reopening while retaining its virtual marquee, too.

Redemption Song: Performing Black History and Masculinity

James S. Williams From Film Quarterly, Summer 2021, Volume 74, Number 4 Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Ugly, hurtful, joyous, painful. —Steve McQueen This is how Steve McQueen presents his project in “Small Axe” (2020) to honor recent Black British history—a story of systemic injustice and discrimination, protest and resistance, that has never before been properly narrated in British cinema. 1 Yet despite its compelling period re-creation of London from the late 1960s to the early 1980s and its eminently accessible, linear and realist style (aided by low-lit, muted browns, greens, and blues shot by cinematographer Shabier Kirchner), the experience of watching this sweeping pentalogy—Mangrove; Red, White and Blue; Alex Wheatle; Lovers Rock; Education—often seems, paradoxically, to work against the historical record, even to the point of swerving away from Black history at the very moment of retrieving it. 2 One sees this most graphically in Mangrove, the only film to provide a date and location (“Notting Hill, London, 1968”) as a formal element. The film is just settling …