The Phantom Empire
Movies in the Mind of the Twentieth Century
By (author) Geoffrey O'Brien
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Phantom Empire by Geoffrey O'Brien
Book DescriptionIn his intense and mysterious evocation of (seemingly) every kind of movie ever made, Geoffrey O'Brien erases the distinction between spectator and commentator and virtually reinvents film writing in our time.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780393312966
(211mm x 140mm x 17mm)
Imprint: WW Norton & Co
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Publish Date: 2-Jul-1997
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Geoffrey O'Brien
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Hardback (November 2012)
Ten years in the making, the eighteenth edition of the longest-lived and bestselling collection of quotations in history introduces hundreds of new quotations from writers all over the world.
Bartlett's Poems for Occasions, Hardback (September 2004)
This title offers a collection of the world's greatest poems, organised for every occasion, public and private, from birth to death and everything in between.
Browser's Ecstasy, Paperback (March 2003)» View all books by Geoffrey O'Brien
A prose poem about reading, this is a playful, epigrammatic nocturne upon the dream-state one falls into when "lost in a book," and the uncanny, trance-like pleasure of making silent marks on paper utter sounds inside one's head.
US Kirkus Review » Pop-culturist/spiritual autobiographer O'Brien (Dream Time, 1988; Hardboiled America, 1981) spins a brilliant, bullying monologue telling you Everything You Always Felt Was Happening Just Below The Surface Of The Movies. Like Michael Wood and David Thomson, O'Brien is convinced that he can generalize from his own experience of films (which seems heavier on German silents and Italian splatter flicks than on, say, Renoir's French films or anything since 1980) to a sense of "The Movies." Substituting a challenging rhetorical "you" for the more customary "we" ("the films get their hooks into you by propping up memory, or perhaps more accurately by substituting for memory"), O'Brien presents cinema as contemporary religion, history, and epistemology rolled into one. In chapters on the relation between realism and dream in the art film, on the coercive function of the director, on the western and the horror film, on TV as the ultimate recycler and trivializer of visual magic, he comes up with one gorgeous apercu after the next. On movies as Scripture: "Why settle for words when you could go see photographs of God?" In Fritz Lang's geometric films, "existence could be defined as what was demarcated by walls." Genres keep developing "as if everybody set out to make exactly the same movie...and failed in revealing ways. The failed imitation then became someone else's original." But the shower of epigrams has a price: Instead of developing a sustained argument from chapter to chapter, or even from paragraph to paragraph, O'Brien keeps reinventing the reel with every indent. And his strenuous reverie borrows too much from Michael Wood's America in the Movies and Leo Braudy's The World in a Frame to justify what comes across as his relentless mannerism. Not the history or social anatomy of the movies the jacket copy promises, then - or even the systematic explanation of their enduring power - but a bracing trip through O'Brien's personal movie landscape, which just might turn out to be yours too. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Geoffrey O'Brien
Geoffrey O'Brien is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and the author of Hard-Boiled America and Dream-Time: Chapters from the Sixties. He lives in New York City.
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