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A Review of Hilton Als’ God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin

This essay reviews Hilton Als’ 2019 exhibition God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin at the David Zwirner Gallery. The show visually displays Baldwin in two parts: “A Walker in the City” examines his biography and “Colonialism” examines “what Baldwin himself was unable to do” by displaying the work of contemporary artists and filmmakers whose works resonate with Baldwin’s critiques of masculinity, race, and American empire. Mirakhor explores how Als’ quest to restore Baldwin is part of a long and deep literary and personal conversation that Als has been having since he was in his teens, and in this instance, exploring why and how it has culminated via the visual, instead of the literary. As Mirakhor observes, to be in the exhibit is not to just observe how Als has formed and figured Baldwin, but to see how Baldwin has informed and made Als, one of our most lyrical and impassioned contemporary writers and thinkers.

James Baldwin Review
Art, authorship and activism

This book charts and analyses the work of Oliver Stone – arguably one of the foremost political filmmakers in Hollywood during the last thirty years. Drawing on previously unseen production files from Oliver Stone’s personal archives and hours of interviews both with Stone and a range of present and former associates within the industry, the book employs a thematic structure to explore Stone’s life and work in terms of war, politics, money, love and corporations. This allows the authors both to provide a synthesis of earlier and later film work as well as locate that work within Stone’s developing critique of government. The book explores the development of aesthetic changes in Stone’s filmmaking and locates those changes within ongoing academic debates about the relationship between film and history as well as wider debates about Hollywood and the film industry. All of this is explored with detailed reference to the films themselves and related to a set of wider concerns that Stone has sought to grapple with -the American Century, exceptionalism and the American Dream, global empire, government surveillance and corporate accountability. The book concludes with a perspective on Stone’s ‘brand’ as not just an auteur and commercially viable independent filmmaker but as an activist arguing for a very distinct kind of American exceptionalism that seeks a positive role for the US globally whilst eschewing military adventurism.

Editor: Mandy Merck

Moving images of the British monarchy, in fact and fiction, are almost as old as the moving image itself, dating back to an 1895 dramatic vignette, The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots. Led by Queen Victoria, British monarchs themselves appeared in the new 'animated photography' from 1896. Half a century later, the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II was a milestone in the adoption of television, watched by 20 million Britons and 100 million North Americans. At the century's end, Princess Diana's funeral was viewed by 2.5 billion worldwide. Seventeen essays by international commentators examine the portrayal of royalty in the 'actuality' picture, the early extended feature, amateur cinema, the movie melodrama, the Commonwealth documentary, New Queer Cinema, TV current affairs, the big screen ceremonial and the post-historical boxed set. These contributors include Ian Christie, Elisabeth Bronfen, Andrew Higson, Steven Fielding, Karen Lury, Glyn Davis, Ann Gray, Jane Landman, Victoria Duckett, Jude Cowan Montague, James Downs, Barbara Straumann, Deirdre Gilfedder, Jo Stephenson, Ruth Adams, Erin Bell, Basil Glynn and Nicola Rehling.

Queen Victoria, photography and film at the fin de siècle

being shown throughout Britain and the British Empire, as well as elsewhere, has hardly been assessed. Nor has the relationship between Victoria’s long-standing interest in photography, still very much in evidence at the time of the Jubilee, and her response to ‘animated photography’. While John Plunkett has argued convincingly for seeing Victoria as ‘media made’, his focus is primarily on ‘the tremendous

in The British monarchy on screen

question the dominant stylistic approaches or provide stimulus for social change, with the result that there has been virtually no avant-garde film-making and no effective militant cinema in Britain’. 2 Durgnat is much less time-bound and his analysis of British cinema has proved remarkably prescient. A Mirror for England deals with topics such as national identity and the decline of empire, realism and

in British cinema of the 1950s
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The Queen in Australia

Commonwealth conquest of Everest, an event broadly reported as a royal tribute. 2 These events bracket a period of Commonwealth optimism, a temporary pause between the imperial ‘implosions’ of the late 1940s (the independence of India, Pakistan, Ceylon/Sri Lanka and Burma) and the next round of Empire-diminishing events (e.g. Suez in 1956–57, followed by African decolonisation starting in the early 1960s). 3

in The British monarchy on screen
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An allegory of imperial rapport

, the Scot heals an English monarch in mourning, while in Hooper’s The King’s Speech , the future monarch suffers from the crippling condition of a speech impediment. Life-blood is needed from somewhere in the realm, and in The King’s Speech , it is drawn from the Empire. The question of representing monarchy spreads beyond Britain’s metropolitan borders, and this film pictures the sovereign’s ‘help

in The British monarchy on screen
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Conclusion Although we are clearly overreaching, it’s too easy to talk about the USA losing its grip because we happen to be rooting for another approach. It’s not going to go away that easily. This empire is Star Wars in the ‘evil empire’ sense of the words … We are virtually becoming a tyranny against the rest of the world. It’s not evident to people at home, because they don’t see the consensus in the media and they don’t see the harm the USA does abroad. We are not in decline. We are decayed and corrupt and immoral, but not in decline. The USA exerts its

in The cinema of Oliver Stone
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post-​9/​ 11 change was proving terribly difficult to do. By the time that the Untold History project began to form as an idea in late 2007, the 201 Th e ci nem a of Ol iver   S to ne 202 fact that the media had so little to say about the condition of the USA galvanised Stone to press on with a series underwritten by the idea that the pursuit of empire was an economic project for the USA as much as it was a political one, and that American corporate interests were invariably the (major) beneficiaries of whatever intervention the government had initiated in the

in The cinema of Oliver Stone
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political meanings – of Crown and Parliament, Empire and Commonwealth, sovereign and subject – do these moving images convey? How are these meanings assimilated to the commercial significance of royalty? Or indeed to the commercial imperatives of the media industries that portray them? If, as many commentators and the British Council itself maintain, the Olympic opening ceremony was a triumphant celebration of the

in The British monarchy on screen