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The last laugh; strange humors of cinema. [Reference and Research Book News]

August 1, 2013


ISBN: 9780814335130

TITLE: The last laugh; strange humors of cinema.

AUTHOR: Ed. by Murray Pomerance.

PUBLISHER: Wayne State Univ. Press


PAGES: 244

PRICE: $31.95


SERIES: Contemporary approaches to film and media


REVIEW: This book in the contemporary approaches to film and media series from Wayne State U. Press looks at unusual sources of laughter in the movies. It grew out of a panel on dark humor at the 2010 Cinema and Media Studies conference, and so is an anthology of film analysis by professors of film studies for academics in film studies. Television and digital media are not included here. The editor is Murray Pomerance (sociology, communication and culture, Ryerson U., CA), who has edited many anthologies and several book series on film. Topics include joking in film noir, the school of critical humor that involves mocking science-fiction films, giggling in gangster movies, mortality and absurdity in avant-garde film, Don't Look Now, Black Swan, Henry Fool, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, A.I., and The Dark Knight. A few of the essays offer some minor analysis of how humor is built and used unexpectedly (that Lon Chaney Sr. uses hand gestures to great effect in The Last Laugh, for instance). There is some attention to the social dimensions of film and humor that addresses why filmmakers produce these effects (that critics who mock a science-fiction film may or may not be aware of whether its absurdities are intentional, or whether they are not part of the intended audience, for instance.) Most essays are interested in the visceral response of the audience. Scene descriptions for readers who have not seen the film are included. ((C) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR)

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