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Edinburgh University Press

The Feel-Bad Film

The Feel-Bad Film

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In recent years some of the best-known European and American art film directors have made films that place the spectator in a position of intense discomfort: Feel-Bad Films. These films systematically manipulate the spectator: sometimes by withholding information from her, sometimes by shocking her, and sometimes by seducing her in order to further disturb her. As a result, they have been criticized for being amoral, nihilistic, politically irresponsible and anti-humanistic.

The Feel-Bad Film raises three questions to this body of work: How is the feel-bad experience created? What do the directors believe they can achieve in this manner? And how should the films be situated in intellectual history? Through close analysis of films by Lars von Trier, Gus Van Sant, Claire Denis, Michael Haneke, Lucille Hadzihalilovic, Brian de Palma, Bruno Dumont and Harmony Korine, the book argues that feel-bad directors invite the spectator to think of art as an experimental activity with ethical norms that are different from the ones we hope to find outside the movie theatre. Only when given the freedom to take advantage of this asymmetry can film realize its ethical potential.

Author: Nikolaj Lübecker
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Published: 05/19/2015
Pages: 200
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 0.75lbs
Size: 9.20h x 6.10w x 0.50d
ISBN: 9780748697991

About the Author

Nikolaj Lübecker is Professor of French and Film Studies at St John's College, University of Oxford. His publications focus on contemporary American and European cinema, French literature and critical theory. His most recent book, The Feel-Bad Film (Edinburgh UP, 2015), investigates logics of unpleasure in films by directors such as Claire Denis, Lars von Trier, Gus Van Sant, Bruno Dumont and Harmony Korine.

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