By Hal Young, Rebecca Cavanagh, and Wesley Kirkpatrick
Welcome to the 21st issue of Frames Cinema Journal, “Alternative Film Canons: From B-Z”!
This issue tackles the multifaceted nature of film canons and how audiences interact with them. In what ways do we approach them? Does the notion of a film canon represent something different now that it did ten, or twenty years ago? With the increasing proliferation of digital film lists, canons are becoming both more personalised, and more accessible; more specific, more comprehensive. User-based sites like Letterboxd and IMDB give one the opportunity to curate their own lists, thus adding to the ever-increasing heterogeneity of modern film canons. With this in mind, this 21stFrames entry can be read as a critical exploration of the different ways we can approach – and potentially move beyond – the notion of ‘film canon’. We hope that, in doing so, the reader will also strive to create their own alternative canons.
The articles within this issue stand as a testament to the global diversity of alternative film canons, with the locations of the films discussed ranging from Ecuador, Japan, USA, United Kingdom, Chile, and Argentina to name but a few. In reading these pieces together, the case for a ‘definitive’ film canon becomes a great deal weaker.
Opening this issue is Steve Rawle’s feature article ‘Every Kaiju Ever Made: Fan Collecting and Curation of the Kaiju Film’. Here, he examines the position of the Kaiju movie within cult film canons, discussing the key role fan communities have in curating these films. From this, he covers everything kaiju-related, from the well-known classics, to the ‘lost’ films, and the obscure Taiwanese kaiju films circulated online. Following this, Ted Fisher critically re-assesses Len Cella’s ‘imperfect and beautifully strange’ bite-sized Moron Movies. He does so against the critical reception these films have received online, whilst evaluating how they are perceived by different generations, with particular insight into how these conceptions are shaped by different viewing platforms. Karen Sztajnberg analyses the lack of Latin film representation within the filmic canon in her piece ‘Close But No Cigar’. She problematizes this through looking at the Sight and Sound top 100 Film list from 2022, comparing this with the relationship between Latin American film and the festival circuit. Exploring two recent British horror films, Men (2022) and Last Night in Soho(2021), Milo Farragher-Hanks defines, and critically analyses, a recent trend on contemporary horror which he labels as ‘abjection chic’. In the process of doing so, he touches upon how the lines between mainstream and cult film have become blurred in recent years. Maria Fernanda Miño looks at the works of Ecuadorian underground filmmaker Jackson Jickson, analysing his guerilla filmmaking practices and Isla Trinitaria’s geographical, cultural, and ecological context. In addition to this, she discusses how the ‘unearthed’ nature of Jickson’s filmography can be linked to global exchanges of ‘cinematic taste and waste’. Focusing on the actress Meiko Kaji, Ash-Johann Curry Machado’s feature ‘The Voice of Meiko Kaji in 1970s Japanese Exploitation Cinema’ looks at the narrative of her filmography, and the way in which her singing voice impacts, and alters, the violent themes of the works in which she appears. In the article ‘Curating Folk Horror: Anti-Canonisation, Critical Transnationalism, and Cross-Over Festival Programming’, Cüneyt Çakirlar engages with the contemporary folk horror revival, and reflects on questions pertaining to transnationalism and folk horror in world cinema by using the Istanbul International Film Festival’s (2022) folk horror film screenings, as a case study. Following, Polly White critically examines science fiction programmes, and the remediation process texts of this genre typically undergoes – post-release – to obtain ‘cult-status’. This is undertaken with particular emphasis on how media can be reshaped over time; thus, the author evaluates how this process re-defines fans’ relationship with such texts. We then move on to Clementine Vann-Alexander’s examination of Miss Congeniality(2000), in which they explore Julia Kristeva’s definition of abjection with regards to the ‘makeover narrative’. In the process of doing so, they explore the relationship between abjection, femininity, and identity beyond the scope of horror studies in cinema.
Finally, our book review section features reviews of Erika Balsom’s TEN SKIES (Fireflies Press, 2021) by Richard Bolisay, Claire Lebossé and José Moure’s Modernités de Charlie Chaplin: Un Cinéaste dans l’Œil des Avant-Gardes(Les Impressions Nouvelles, 2022) by Wesley Kirkpatrick, and Neil Archer’s Cinema and Brexit: The Politics of Popular English Film (Bloomsbury, 2020) by Dean Richards.
We would like to extend our gratitude to our dedicated editorial team, and our contributors, for all their hard work on this issue. It’s been a pleasure to work with you all. Happy reading!
Hal Young, Rebecca Cavanagh, and Wesley Kirkpatrick