Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism is a refereed journal dedicated to publishing rigorous but accessible work that is concerned with the aesthetics of film and television style, close textual analysis, and/or the theory and practice of evaluating works of film and television. We welcome articles up to 8,000 words in length, though are also open to the possibility of longer pieces, to be judged on a case-by-case basis. The journal operates on a rolling publication model, meaning that submissions will be accepted and published throughout the year. Each Issue number will be associated with the year of publication.
A style guide for submissions can be found here. Articles should be submitted as email attachments to movie dot journal at gmail dot com. We also welcome style-based videographic criticism. Submissions should take the form of a password-protected link to the video on Vimeo and a statement of approximately 500 words contextualising the essay. Statements will be published alongside accepted audiovisual essays.
In addition to the general call for papers, we are developing themed dossiers that respond to the following topics:
i) The politics of close analysis, and its object
What should be the object of writing on film and television aesthetics at this contemporary moment? Public reflection on the relationship of cultural representation to historical and current power structures that oppress particular peoples and communities has recently gathered pace and prominence. This activist moment reposes pressing questions about who gets to make films and television, who gets to write criticism, and which films, television shows and their makers should be examined and celebrated as the object of analysis. The form of rigorous analysis often present in the pages of Movie is attentive to style not as natural or neutral, but meaningful and engaging with questions of representation, of race, gender and class. In this dossier, we invite contributions which give voice to and reasoned evaluation of figures, communities, and films or television that have traditionally been marginalised in critical analysis and culture, and in wider cultural discourse. We seek to reject what So Mayer and Ania Ostrowska (2015) have called ‘the perception of scarcity’ that such has so often framed and perpetuated marginalisation, and embrace the prompt to ‘celebrate and participate in [the] plenitude’ of marginalised films and filmmakers instead (ibid).
ii) Focus and contemporary film style
Shallow focus, blur, lens flare and micro close-ups are increasingly prevalent in contemporary film. Films such as Wuthering Heights (2011), American Honey (2016), Revenge (2017) and Madeline’s Madeline (2018), for instance, all make extensive use of such devices – though they can be found in many strands of contemporary filmmaking. To what extent do these stylistic choices provide an alternative film aesthetic? Might they suggest that our sense of visual ‘realism’ is shifting, rejecting Bazinian ‘composition in depth’ in favour of experiential perception? Articles could also respond to theoretical debates on texture, affect, and visual uncertainty. Critical concepts such as spectacle, coherence, point-making, distraction and boredom are also relevant, if anchored in close analysis of film style.
iii) Intention in film and television criticism
What role should aesthetic intentions (conceived as actual, implied, or inferred) be granted in claims about the meanings, effects, and achievements of film and television texts? Once a topic of intense theorising, this challenging question has in recent years largely receded from the forefront of critical debates. We invite articles that address themselves to the nature, status, and – above all – usefulness or irrelevance of appeals to/assumptions about intention for film and/or television criticism. Submissions might be predominantly theoretical, proposing or debating the usefulness of particular intentionalistic models for understanding film and television media. However, we especially welcome articles that use close analysis to show how one’s theoretical commitments regarding intention also inform how we account for the details of individual texts.
iv) Digital moments
We invite close analysis of moments in which the digital is somehow at issue in filmmakers' decisions – in the film-as-object, or in the task of interpretation. The digital can be taken as object, or as context. Contributors can engage with different modes and forms, such as independent and art cinema, experimental works, and mainstream production. Short pieces are encouraged (3,000 words) but longer pieces will also be considered. Essays may concentrate on moments that last only a few seconds of screen time, or on a range of related moments across a sequence, a film, or more than one film. Articles which reflect on critical methodology as part of their discussion are also welcome.