Toward Cinema and Its Double

9780253214751: Paperback
Release Date: 26th September 2001

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 336

Indiana University Press

Toward Cinema and Its Double

Cross-Cultural Mimesis

Paperback / £17.99

Toward Cinema and Its Double brings together Laleen Jayamanne’s discussions of Australian films, Sri Lankan films, European art films, silent film comedy, contemporary American films, and her own films. While some of her essays are based on formal film analysis, others include more theoretically based ways of considering films. In her studies, Jayamanne employs Walter Benjamin’s and Theodor Adorno’s concept of mimesis, and Gilles Deleuze’s theses on cinematic time and movement as tools for thinking about the cinematic experience in new ways.

Toward Cinema and Its Double addresses a number of issues that have been crucial areas of contention in film studies over the last 20 years—from the role of women both in front of and behind the camera, to the position of the postcolonial subject. Jayamanne demonstrates how arguments over these issues might be inflected in specific ways by specific practices in specific films. In addition, she places all these particularities in time—the time of the critic as well as that of the filmmaker. This collection contains work done over a span of 20 years, and rather than try to efface this time of writing by (re)presenting everything from a single, achieved final viewpoint, it demonstrates the way Jayamanne’s own thoughts about film in general, and the various films discussed, have changed over the course of time.


Introduction: Criticism as "Exact Fantasy"

Part One: Two-Way Street: Three Australian Films
1. A Sri Lankan reading of Tracey Moffatt's Night Cries
2. Reception, genre and the knowing critic: Dennis O'Rourke's The Good Woman of Bangkok
3. Post-colonial Gothic: the narcissistic wound of Jane Campion's The Piano

Part Two: Performance of Narcissism
4. Speaking of Ceylon: a clash of cultures
5. Anna Rodrigo interviews LJ on A Song of Ceylon(1988)
6. Anna Rodrigo interviews LJ on Row row row your boat (1992)

Part Three: Melodramatic Femininity in Sri Lanka
7. Myths of femininity in the Sri Lankan cinema, 1947-1989
8. Sri Lankan family melodrama: a cinema of primitive attractions
9. An alternative cinematic and critical practice: Under the Bridge (Palama Yata) as critical melodrama

Part Four: Movements of Time
10. Deleuzean redemption of Bazin: a note on the neorealist moment
11. Modes of performance in Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
12. Life is a Dream, Raul Ruiz was a surrealist in Sydney: a capillary memory of a cultural event

Part Five: Convulsive Knowing
13. A slapstick time : mimetic convulsion, convulsive knowing
14. "Eyes in the back of your head": erotics of learning in Blue Steel and Silence of the Lambs
15. "Forty Acres and a Mule Filmworks"— Do the Right Thing —"a Spike Lee joint": blocking and unblocking The Block


Laleen Jayamanne is a lecturer in Cinema Studies at the Power Institute of Fine Arts, University of Sydney. She is also a filmmaker, whose work includes A Song of Ceylon and Rehearsing and a dance video, LAMA. Her articles on her own film work and the work of other independent filmmakers have appeared in Screen, Discourse, and The Australian Journal of Screen Theory.

A Sri Lankan filmmaker, feminist, critic, and theorist who has worked in Australia for the past two decades, Jayamanne collects 15 old and new essays not otherwise easily accessible in most US libraries. The style is personal, even idiosyncratic, with occasional outbursts of self-indulgence. Jayamanne is an astute reader of films and a writer who avoids theoretical obscurity. She is opposed to the overvaluation of theory over criticism, [which has] impoverished the field. She has much to say that is intriguing about a range of subjects: postcolonial film and its travails, the gothic, the sublime, and melodrama, for example. Some sections will find only a small readership because few Americans have access to the films in question; but even the analyses of obscure films are worth reading for the insights they offer on feminist and Australian film and cultural criticism. Several chapters—on Chantal Akerman's films, The Piano, Do The Right Thing, and, above all, what Jayamanne calls the erotics of learning in Blue Steel and The Silence of the Lambs—will be accessible and suggestive for film majors and graduate students. Though no exactly comparable work exists, the book is embedded in the matrix of Australian feminist film criticism exemplified best in the work of Meaghan Morris.May 2002

K. Tölölyan (Tololyan)
Wesleyan University