In Hollywood Incoherent, the films afforded the most scrutiny are recognizable to mainstream audiences as those of rare artistry and quality.
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Moreover, with the exception of the chapter covering the aggressively independent work of director John Cassavetes, most of the films examined at length were monetary successes, to the extent that they taken together can be said to have salvaged perhaps even saved the American film industry from liquidation. Despite the well-worn, overly familiar quality of some of the films up for discussion, Berliner is not making an easy appeal for their continued relevancy.
Nor is he ceding to such tropes as accessibility or unclouded nostalgia. This narrative "perversity," a kind of pleasure through weirdness, typifies the achievement of the s But as Berliner notes, he is less interested in allegorical or ideological incoherence—the axis of Wood's emergent brand of Marxist-Freudian analysis—than with violations of conceptual unity and narrative causality One way to frame Berliner's project is to see it as a sustained attempt at making sense of what happened to Hollywood einema in the nebulous moment at which it beeame fully articulate as "Post Classical.
Berliner's break with Wood and alignment with Bordwell and Thompson is even explicitly announced: "Political, historical, and ideological analysis, although potentially useful in understanding how movies fiinction within culture, cannot answer myriad fundamental questions about cinema that neoformalist film analysis addresses directly, the most fundamental being, 'How does a film constmct an aesthetic experienee?
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He is primarily addressing the narrative poetics inclusive of formal and stylistic devices that eoalesee to form the storytelling apparatus. From the early stages of the book, then, one expects carefially argued elose readings. These are delivered, but sometimes at the cost of the kind of culturally and politically transformative rhetoric the Utopian imagination favored by scholars like Wood, Michael Ryan, and Douglas Kellner.
This is not to say that Berliner seeks comedie eruptions in films that are primarily intended to be read as serious. Rather, "in humor or in serious situations, narrative incongruity induces us to mentally resolve a discrepancy between what context tells us must be true and what logic, pattem, or probability tell us should not be true" As viewers, even of supposedly streamlined Hollywood entertainment, we are constantly channeling narrative meaning through the wild synthesizing power of jokes.
After establishing this context for pleasurable incongruities, Berliner offers chapters that focus on close readings of specific films. Each chapter situates the chosen text within its avowed genre and production contexts.
Berliner's defense of s movies—films that take the middle way between popular entertainment and art cinema, or auteurist indulgence and tested genre credentials—seems to peak with his carefully structured chapter on Taxi Driver. This high estimation only partially has to do with DeNiro's famously volatile performance as Travis Bickle, Paul Schrader's fluent script, and expertly chosen New York City locations. A calculated inconsistency in its palette of film techniques accentuates the other aspects: "In Taxi Driver, Scorsese creates idiosyncratic stylistic devices so pervasive and bold that they become a form of narration in themselves, cueing spectators to frame hypotheses and draw inferences based on patters in the film's style" The ensuing chapter, more than any other in the book, makes excellent use of screen grabs and frame enhancements in order to argue for the film's success in merging abstract and mainstream visual grammars in service of a challenging, memorable film experience.
Berliner's Hollywood Incoherent does not provide the broadest and most comprehensive estimation of the films of the s, but it does offer one of the most revelatory. Related Papers. By jamil khader. By Adam O'Brien. By Frank P Tomasulo. Sell it yourself.
Hollywood Incoherent: Narration in Seventies Cinema
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