Sex in the Christmas Film

by Lauren Rosewarne, University of Melbourne, Australia. The typical Christmas word cloud is filled with holly jolly words like wishes and faith and festiveness. Bethlehem, yuletide and snowflakes are likely included; a word with no place there is sex.  Easter we could, perhaps, draw a bow long enough to recognise that with it being a season associated with rebirth and renewal, fertility might play a role. However, the birth that – in a roundabout way – led to the celebration of Christmas didn’t involve intercourse. Distinctly so. To stir sex into the season therefore, feels inappropriate. Christmas is about family and gift-giving and fat men clad in red; all the debauchery, seemingly, gets postponed to New Year. At least in theory.

Book Review – Troubled Everyday: The Aesthetics of Violence and the Everyday in European Art Cinema

Review of Troubled Everyday: The Aesthetics of Violence and the Everyday in European Art Cinema by Alison Taylor. Edinburgh University Press, 2017. Review by Alice Haylett Bryan, King's College London, UK. So often European extreme cinema is spoken about in terms of shock, spectacle and provocation that we forget that the narratives of many of these films are grounded in the everyday, and even the banal. In her book Troubled Everyday, Alison Taylor addresses this oversight, carrying out a formal analysis of a range of films such as Michael (Markus Schleinzer and Kathrin Resetarits 2011), Twentynine Palms (Bruno Dumont 2003) and I Stand Alone/Seul contre tous (Gaspar Noé 1998) in order to reframe the extreme through its relationship with the quotidian. Taylor argues that it is the tension between extremity and the ordinary that gives these films their affective power, a tension that refuses clear-cut meaning and hermeneutic closure, and spills out beyond the screen as part of their intrusive viewing experience. 

Book Review – Gay Pornography: Representations of Sexuality and Masculinity

Review of Gay Pornography: Representations of Sexuality and Masculinity by John Mercer. I. B. Tauris. 2017. Review by Brandon Arroyo, Concordia University, Canada. The title of John Mercer’s book certainly intends to make an impression. With an assertive, commanding, and all-encompassing title like Gay Pornography, one eagerly wonders if this might be the contemporary sequel to Thomas Waugh’s foundational Hard to Imagine (1996). However, Mercer’s aims are far more modest - yet no less essential - than Waugh’s. I bring this up to suggest that the over-reaching title ultimately overshadows the sensible and focused line of thought maintained throughout. A more accurate title might have been: Gay Pornography’s Keywords, because of its success in articulating a vocabulary describing the role of gay pornographic culture within masculinist society. This is the book’s primary contribution: to provide readers with a unifying discursive framework through which to understand gay pornography’s contemporary mediascape. Mercer’s keywords are the linguistic tools essential to producing dynamic pornographic studies in the future.