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A Brief Introduction to Cosmic American Cinema

A Brief Introduction to Cosmic American Cinema

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Published by Ben Burr
This is a brief and somewhat incomplete introduction to Cosmic American Cinema, an upstart film movement coming from the midwest.
This is a brief and somewhat incomplete introduction to Cosmic American Cinema, an upstart film movement coming from the midwest.

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Published by: Ben Burr on Mar 09, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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“A film is never good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.” – Orson WellesMany film movements begin as a reaction to something. Italian neorealism was a reactionto World War II. The French New Wave was a reaction to the French filmmaking statusquo. A new style of cinema, Cosmic American Cinema (CAC), is a reaction to ourselves.And the movement can be as broad as the country itself.Gram Parsons coined the term “Cosmic American Music” to describe his blend of country and western, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. The resulting music was areflection of both the nation and the people in it. Cosmic American Cinema borrows fromthis idea in that it is a blending of influences: the playfulness and experimentation of theFrench New Wave, the surrealism of Luis Bunuel, life in the Midwest, the existentialundertones of Ingmar Bergman, middle-class existence, Bob Dylan, the impossibility of sainthood, and the stanch self-examination of John Cassavetes.CAC is mainly out to seek truth in everyday life. It’s about emotion and the fact thatcinema can be driven purely on emotion. Story doesn’t matter. How do we becomenormal? How does it all fit together?Some common themes or devices in Cosmic American Cinema are: the Midwest,extended conversations, usually some form of traveling, country music, daydreams,summertime, drug use, Christmas lights (or other forms of low-key lighting), handheldcameras, middle-class living and occasional religion.The Cosmic American Cinema CanonFive Easy Pieces (Rafelson, 1970)Faces (Cassavetes, 1968)Don’t Look Back (Pennebaker, 1967)Persona (Bergman, 1966)Easy Rider (Hopper, 1969)Vivre sa vie (Godard, 1962)Les bonnes femmes (Chabrol, 1960)Hour of the Wolf (Bergman, 1968)Hiroshima, mon amour (Resnais, 1959)Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Scorsese, 1974)Renaldo and Clara (Dylan, 1978)A Woman Under the Influence (Cassavetes, 1974)Half Nelson (Fleck, 2006)Cries and Whispers (Bergman, 1972)The Go-getter (Hynes, 2007)Talk to Her (Almodovar, 2002)The Devil’s Rejects (Zombie, 2005)Candy (Armfield, 2006)Closer (Nichols, 2004)Belle de jour (Bunuel, 1967)

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