Issue 4 is Alphaville's first Open Theme edition. Despite this issue's open nature, however, thematic consistencies arise, with authors re-evaluating female roles and representations in filmic genres, engaging with issues developing from evolving modes of censorship, working through the complexities of filmic narrative and merging distinct analytic approaches with aesthetic readings of key films.
Edited by Stefano Odorico and Aidan Power, University College Cork
(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2012) Murphy, Ian
This essay explores Jennifer Jason Leigh’s portrayal of the young prostitute Tralala in Last Exit to Brooklyn (Uli Edel, 1989) as a case study in performance style that can be usefully understood as bisexual. Drawing firstly upon Joan Riviere’s concept of womanliness as a masquerade, it examines how Tralala’s feminine performativity masks a confused, neurotic and androgynous gender identity and a raging bid for phallic power. As played by Leigh, Tralala’s snarling speech and undulating swagger evokes the wounded rage, rebellion and alienation of 1950s Method “bad boy” stars such as Marlon Brando, James Dean and Montgomery Clift, and the result is a performance style that oscillates freely between male and female subjectivities. Reading the male Method stars in terms of alternative masculinities that transgress the social order, the article argues that Tralala’s essential masochism is fuelled by a similar disavowal of her biological gender. In this regard, she demonstrates a desire to annihilate the self that has less to do with standard screen representations of female masochism than with the explosive psychic processes of classic Method masculinity.
(Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2012) Witt-Jauch, Martina
While the 1962 French science fiction film La Jetée presents a straightforward narrative premise, it nonetheless details the story of a man who “becomes a human projectile to be pro-jeté through time,” as Paul Sandro claims. Incriminating the audience in a theatre of cruelty, the film moves through the past and future via the mental time-travel of the protagonist in a series of stills, which appear independent from the consciousness of the agent. In the course of events, the protagonist builds a cognitive map out of this chaotic sequence of memories that allows him to then create new spaces of thought. The first mention of the “theatre of cruelty” by Antonin Artaud in 1935, considered pain and terror to be the most important elements of any kind of play or film. The protagonist's situation of constantly chasing his own ghost and restoring his memory corresponds to these conditions and thus opens up new venues of considering cruelty, and in extension trauma, as an important third element in Chris Marker's film. His film La Jetée created a filmic embodiment of this interplay in both the redemptive yet productive powers of memory and the cyclical notion of time as it manifests itself in the mind of the protagonist and viewer.