FILM CRITICISM

Besides the obvious relevance of critical reception to any effort of contextualization, and as such part of a method I do cherish, and apart from a few forays into the early Italian cinema magazines [La fotografia nelle riviste di cinema italiane (1907-1918); see also below Symposium n. 1], I am particularly interested in the study of film criticism from the point of view of the relationship established within academic historiography between rigor and inhibition, that is between tradition and innovation (of topics and methods), and the other way round between innovation and sanction, methodological challenge and institutional absorption.

 

Thus, on the one hand the establishment of scholarly traditions, methods, theories, and practices (not to mention fashions) which aim at determining what can be the subject of a research (and how it should be addressed) through recognitions of methodological rigor and cultural prestige. My research on Luchino Visconti, for example, is inspired also by the desire to reconstruct the way in which some commonalities settled on the literature has become prescriptions of academic ways of thinking (occasionally endorsed by theoretical assumptions) which, under their apparent scrupulousness, have authorized interpretations that in their partiality did not interest me just as polemical targets, but also to trace the roots of this scholarly knowledge to postwar leftist criticism, with all their cultural and ideologic conditionings.

On the other hand, oppositional forms of criticism have become academically fashionable, or have asserted a freedom so unreserved to compromised rigor, supported by postmodern deconstructionism, eventually establishing themselves as theoretically prescriptive for a lazy and dutiful tradition based on unverified repetitions. In caphter 5 of Nell’ombra di Hitchcock, for example, my concern with the first slasher horror cycle of the 1970s and early 1980s is also linked to the intention to review the feminist literature on it, particularly J. Carol Clover’s Men, Women, and Chainsaws (1992), as an example of a tradition become influential aside from its accuracy, indeed questionable in this case.

Nowadays this is the case also of queer theory, which is influencing more and more the study of sexuality in the academia (in Italy too) with controversial results as far as cinema is concerned. In this case the issue is (borrowing Carlo Ginzburg’s terms) the conflict between historiography, rhetoric and proof. My book Homosexuality and Italian Cinema is also an attempt to bring the research on homosexuality back from queer theory rhetoric to historical and archival research. The book examines also forms of discourse traditionally ignored, like gossip, whose meaning as countercultural weapon, when adopted by a social minority, can hardly be denied.  

The volume also reflects on the odd coincidence between the instruments adopted by the homosexual minority and, on the opposite side, by ultraconservatives, such as gossip itself and a film criticism characterized by a strong one-sideness, which is the object of my current research on a criticism that can be defined as marginal with respect to its ideological extremism, its limited circulation, and the social position of the readers it targeted.

The last chapter of Homosexuality and Italian Cinema, devoted to the magazines of the gay rights movement, it is just an example of how these kind of sources can be useful to reconstruct a cultural history of cinema and also as roots of forms of discourse later formalized in academic traditions such as the feminist film theory and gender studies. Of this kind is also the study devoted to trace the history of the film magazine Films and Filming [‘Una rivista equilibrata per spettatori intelligenti’…].

Thanks to a post-doc fellowship, from 2014 to 2017 I had the chance to extend my investigation to the ultraconservative press produced by the most extreme fringes of the lay right-wing in the after-war. Giorgio Padoan's judgement of this press as “barks of rearguards without a real cultural insight and moreover scarcely influent on the following events” is a clear example of the refusal to acknowledge any relevance to it which has characterized the studies so far. Nonetheless, to rebuff this press so drastically means to miss that it was not just the polemical reversal of the politically egemonic one, or simply devoted to repeat dogmas which one would have preferred to think outdated. On the contrary, exactly because of its rudeness, the ultraconservative press is interesting on three different levels. Firstly, as a source to trace the development of the relics of fascism in the republican years, a recurring shadow in Italian history (most notably with Tambroni’s government in 1960 and the years of lead, not to mention what is going on in Italy today). Secondly, it mirrors better than any other press aspects relevant to a reconstruction of Italian cultural history (cinema included) which other forms of press (often as much ideologically connoted) preferred to ignore, or addressed in a much more cautious way. Thirdly, it allows to measure how much the hegemonic cultural tradition established by the left (and particularly by communism intelligentsia), higly influential also in the Italian academia, is neither the repository of an indisputable truth nor necessarily less rhetorical or opportunistic, as some theories and methods inherited by academic studies pretend it to be. As far as cinema is concerned, this press can help not only to enlighten obscure points in the knowledge, theories and methods (and thus proscriptions) we have inherited, but also to understand why these exact points have remained obscure instead of others.

OUTCOMES OF THE RESEARCH / RISULTATI DELLE RICERCHE

 

BOOKS / LIBRI

  1. Alfred Hitchcock: Psyco, Torino, Lindau, 2009.

  2. Poetica e prassi della trasgressione in Luchino Visconti: 1935-1962, Milano, Libraccio, 2011 (2nd ed. 2018).

  3. Luchino Visconti: Rocco e i suoi fratelli, Torino, Lindau, 2011.

  4. Scandalo e banalità: Rappresentazioni dell’eros nel cinema di Luchino Visconti. 1963-1976, Milano, LED, 2012.

  5. Nell’ombra di Hitchcock: Eros, morte e malattia nell’eredità di Psycho, Pisa, ETS, 2015.

  6. Homosexuality and Italian Cinema: From the Fall of Fascism to the Years of Lead, London, Palgrave MacMillan, 2017; trad. it. Omosessualità e cinema italiano. Dalla caduta del fascismo agli anni di piombo, Torino, UTET, 2019. 

EDITED BOOKS, JOURNAL ISSUES AND TRANSLATIONS

  1. Parker Tyler, Allucinazione Hollywood (ed. or., The Hollywood Hallucination, New York, Creative Age Press, 1944), translated, introduced and annotated by / tradotto e curato da M. Giori, Trento, Temi, 2017.

 

ARTICLES AND BOOK CHAPTERS / SAGGI

  1. “Note sulla critica Hitchcockiana” (§ 2: “Prendere Hitchcock sul serio: la critica dopo i Cahiers”), in M. Giori, T. Subini, Nel vortice della passione. Vertigo di Alfred Hitchcock, Milano, Cuem, pp. 18-29 (2nd ed. as / 2a ed. con il titoloMother is here. La donna in Vertigo di Alfred Hitchcock, Milano, Cortina, 2011, pp. 11-21).

  2. V e il cinema come istituzione. Il film ‘difficile’ di Fellini e la cultura italiana del suo tempo”, in R. De Berti (ed. / a cura di), Federico Fellini, Milano, McGraw-Hill, 2006, pp. 75-101.

  3. VLa fotografia nelle riviste di cinema italiane (1907-1918)”, in E. Dagrada, E. Mosconi, S. Paoli (eds / a cura di), Moltiplicare l’istante. Beltrami, Comerio e Pacchioni tra fotografia e cinema, Milano, Il Castoro, 2007, pp. 125-138.

  4. VMr. and Mistress Smith: una tipica commedia americana di Alfred Hitchcock”, in R. De Berti (ed. / a cura di), Sophisticated comedy e cinema déco. Un genere e due declinazioni: Hollywood e l’Italia degli anni Trenta, Milano, Cuem, 2007, pp. 173-199.

  5. VMaria, Clarissa e le altre: le figure femminili nei tre Heimat”, in T. Subini (ed. / a cura di), Cronaca di un secolo concluso. La trilogia di Heimat di Edgar Reitz, Trento, Temi, 2007, pp. 109-138.

  6. VPolimorfi ma non perversi. Aspetti euristici del mostruoso nel cinema di David Cronenberg”, in M. Bellini (ed. / a cura di), L’orrore nelle arti. Prospettive estetiche sull’immaginazione del limite, Milano, Lucisano, 2008, pp. 285-397.

  7. VQuadri piccanti e spettacoli indecentissimi: la ricezione dell’osceno come attrazione”, in M. Mazzocut-Mis (ed. / a cura di), Estetica della fruizione. Sentimento, giudizio di gusto e piacere estetico, Milano, Lupetti, 2008, pp. 267-291.

  8. V‘Una rivista equilibrata per spettatori intelligenti’. Appunti per una storia di Films and Filming (1954-1990)”, Paragrafo, n. 5, 2009, pp. 57-88.

  9. Stanley Cavell interprete di Alfred Hitchcock. Note a margine di un saggio su North by Northwest”, Materiali di Estetica, n.s., n. 1, March 2010, pp. 385-391.

  10. VL’anti-diva, l’anti-autore e una certa idea del pudore. Note intorno a Dimenticare Venezia”, in C. Formenti (ed. / a cura di), Mariangela Melato, Milano, Mimesis, 2016, pp. 137-152.

  11. VDesiderio e allucinazione. Hollywood secondo Parker Tyler, pioniere della critica cinematografica”, introduction to / introduzione a: Parker Tyler, Allucinazione Hollywood, Trento, Temi, 2017, pp. 7-39.

 

PAPERS AND PRESENTATIONS / CONVEGNI E CONFERENZE

  1. “The Controversy over Pornography in Early Italian Cinema Magazines (1907-1918)”, invited paper, XII MAGIS - Gorizia International Film Studies Spring School, 11 April 2014.

  2. “Marcello Mastroianni attore per Visconti”, invited paper, International Symposium Marcello Mastroianni. Stile Italiano, icona internazionale / Italian Style, International Icon, Università degli Studi di Torino, 5 November 2014. 

  3. “Re Luchino e la sua corte. Visconti visto dalla stampa dell’estrema destra laica”, invited paper, Symposium Luchino Visconti oggi: il valore di un'eredità artistica, Università degli Studi di Trieste, 12 May 2017.

  4. “Ercole e la dolce vita. L’estrema destra, il culturismo e il modello maschile del peplum del boom”, paper, International Symposium Body Politics. Representing Masculinity in Media and Performing Arts, Università degli Studi di Torino, 6 June 2017.

  5. “Introduzione al progetto: filoni di ricerca a partire da un’ipotesi di periodizzazione. Appunti preliminari intorno a un caso esemplare: le riviste di estrema destra”, paper, Symposium Cinema e sessualità nell’Italia del secondo dopoguerra: mappare il campo, Link Campus University, Roma, 19 September 2017.

  6. “‘Il Grande Maestro di vita avente per cattedra lo schermo’: giovani, cinema e omosessualità tra legge Merlin e ‘77”, invited paper, Symposium Giovani si diventa! La rappresentazione delle culture giovanili nel cinema italiano, Università degli Studi di Bari, 21 November 2017.

  7. “Helmut Berger, Visconti e il movimento omofilo: strategie di appropriazione di un ‘corpo d’autore’”, invited paper, Symposium Corpi politici e politica dei corpi tra cinema e media in Italia intorno e oltre il ’68, Università degli Studi di Torino, 17 January 2018.​

  8. "Vecchi fusti e nuovi fusti: tipi e controtipi nei discorsi sul cinema della destra del dopoguerra", invited paper, Symposium Oltre l’inetto? Rappresentazioni plurali della mascolinità nel cinema italiano, Università degli Studi di Bari, 6-7 December 2018.

  9. La cultura di destra e la pornografia, intervento al workshop Cinema e sessualità nell'Italia del dopoguerra. Generi, mascolinità, nuovi confini del visibile del progetto PRIN 2015 Comizi d'amore. Il cinema e la questione sessuale in Italia (1948-1978), a cura di F. Di Chiara e G. Rigola, Università degli Studi eCampus, Novedrate, 19-20 febbraio 2019.

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© 2018-2019 by Mauro Giori

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