Jeremy Geltzer – Dirty Words & Filthy Pictures: Film and the First Amendment (2016)

Dirty Words & Filthy Pictures: Film and the First Amendment
by Jeremy Geltzer
Foreword by Alex Kozinski
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: University of Texas Press (January 4, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477307435
ISBN-13: 978-1477307434

From the earliest days of cinema, scandalous films such as The Kiss (1896) attracted audiences eager to see provocative images on screen. With controversial content, motion pictures challenged social norms and prevailing laws at the intersection of art and entertainment. Today, the First Amendment protects a wide range of free speech, but this wasn’t always the case. For the first fifty years, movies could be censored and banned by city and state officials charged with protecting the moral fabric of their communities. Once film was embraced under the First Amendment by the Supreme Court’s Miracle decision in 1952, new problems pushed notions of acceptable content even further.
Dirty Words & Filthy Pictures explores movies that changed the law and resulted in greater creative freedom for all. Relying on primary sources that include court decisions, contemporary periodicals, state censorship ordinances, and studio production codes, Jeremy Geltzer offers a comprehensive and fascinating history of cinema and free speech, from the earliest films of Thomas Edison to the impact of pornography and the Internet. With incisive case studies of risqué pictures, subversive foreign films, and banned B-movies, he reveals how the legal battles over film content changed long-held interpretations of the Constitution, expanded personal freedoms, and opened a new era of free speech. An important contribution to film studies and media law, Geltzer’s work presents the history of film and the First Amendment with an unprecedented level of detail.


Quote:
A scholarly, legal history of the parallel attempts of movie producers to stretch the limits of content and language and of censors to limit them.
Geltzer brings a variety of skills and experience to this book: a lawyer, he also has worked in the movie business for some major studios (Paramount, Disney, and others), taught film theory and history at Georgia State University, and wrote and produced for Turner Classic Movies. His text, however, illustrates the difference between still and motion pictures. Although he is surpassingly qualified and although his knowledge and research are formidable and impressive, his text—save for some of the interesting photographs of sexy movie posters and scenes—targets a more academic readership and features numerous long block quotations from court arguments and decisions. Geltzer tries to lighten things a bit with what appears to be a genuine love affair with alliteration and assonance. The nudity in film he calls an “epidermis epidemic”; filmmaker Russ Meyer liked “nudie cuties”; comedian Lenny Bruce employed the “excremental expletive.” The author shows how the initial defenses of filmmakers did not employ First Amendment arguments—but eventually they did. He shows how local, state, and national authorities of various sorts clashed over the control of films. As the decades advanced, a pattern emerged: local authorities would ban, and higher courts would overturn. Later on, opponents of pornography used zoning regulations to control screenings. However, as the author notes near the end, public tastes and tolerances are in perpetual flux, and the arc of attitude has bent, for most people, toward increasing tolerance, especially in the age of the Internet. Child pornography and animal cruelty, however, remain verboten for the majority. The author describes many films (often resorting to euphemism), especially those involved in key court cases—e.g., Deep Throat. An important reference book for scholars of the law and cinema.






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Philippe Lesage – Les démons AKA The Demons (2015)

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A young boy begins to experience the adult world as he enters adolescence.

A daring, exquisite study of agitated child psychology that marks Quebecois filmmaker Philippe Lesage as a name to watch.

Fevered imagination and nightmarish reality brush shoulders to disconcerting effect in “The Demons,” Quebecois filmmaker Philippe Lesage’s extraordinary examination of childhood fears festering in broad suburban daylight. Putting his documentary training to disciplined use as he teases out the largely internalized insecurities — sexual, social and practical — of his 10-year-old protagonist. Continue reading

Ivo van Hove & La Comédie-Française – Les Damnés AKA The Damned (2016)

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Ivo van Hove’s first staging with the Troupe marks the entry into the repertoire of the scenario of The Damned. In two decades, the artistic director of the Toneelgroep in Amsterdam, whose field of exploration encompasses the world of theatre, film and opera, has explored a vast repertoire of works, from Sophocles and Shakespeare to Molière, Koltès, Cassavetes or Arthur Miller. The intention in this production is not to adapt the cult film, directed byVisconti, but “to return to the screenplay in order to stage it for theatre”. What Ivo van Hove retains from this sharply drawn chronicle of a family of industrialists during the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 in Germany is the ideological depravity of a company willing to makes the most poisonous alliances to benefit its own economic interests. “In my view, it is the celebration of evil”, says the director, whose work “always combines strong theatricality with the exploration of complex psychological zones and refined emotions”. Continue reading

Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt – Havana Motor Club (2015)

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Reforms have offered opportunity in Cuba but the children of the Revolution are unsure of the best route forward. For a half-dozen drag racers, this means last-minute changes to their beloved American muscle cars, as they prepare for the first sanctioned race in Cuba since 1960. Punctuated by a lively Cuban soundtrack, Havana Motor Club offers a fascinating glimpse at the resilience and ingenuity of the competitive spirit. Continue reading

Werner Herzog – Werner Herzog Masterclass (2016)

Capture the spectacular

When the legendary director Werner Herzog was 19, he stole a camera and made his first movie. 70 films and 50 awards later, Werner is teaching documentary and feature filmmaking. You’ll learn storytelling, cinematography, locations, self-financing, documentary interview techniques, and how to bring your ideas to life. By the end, you’ll make uncompromising films.

26 VIDEO LESSONS
Watch, listen, and learn as Werner covers every aspect of filmmaking, from pre-production to distribution.

37-PAGE WORKBOOK
A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials. Continue reading

Sergei M. Eisenstein – Sergei M. Eisenstein : Notes for a General History of Cinema (2016)

Sergei M. Eisenstein : notes for general history of cinema

Author: Sergei Eisenstein; N I Kleĭman; Antonio Somaini; Margo Shohl Rosen; Brinton Tench Coxe; All authors
Publisher: Amsterdam : Amsterdam University Press, 2016.
Series: Film theory in media history.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English

Genre/Form: History
Named Person: Sergei Eisenstein; Sergei Eisenstein
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Sergei Eisenstein; N I Kleĭman; Antonio Somaini; Margo Shohl Rosen; Brinton Tench Coxe; Natalie Ryabchikova Continue reading

Gianfranco Rosi – Fuocoammare (2016)

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Storyline
Situated some 200km off Italy’s southern coast, Lampedusa has hit world headlines in recent years as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants hoping to make a new life in Europe. Rosi spent months living on the Mediterranean island, capturing its history, culture and the current everyday reality of its 6,000-strong local population as hundreds of migrants land on its shores on a weekly basis. The resulting documentary focuses on 12-year-old Samuele, a local boy who loves to hunt with his slingshot and spend time on land even though he hails from a culture steeped in the sea. Continue reading