The American Cinema of Excess: Extremes of the National Mind on Film
This book draws conclusions about the American mind through analysis of what might be called "cinema of excess:" cinema about Americans that includes culturally transgressive material such as violence, graphic sexuality, apocalyptic themes, and paranoia. The work begins with an introduction to far left and far right schools of film criticism, including Marxism, cultural conservatism, and religious conservatism. The author then takes a balanced look at various films' interpretations of several traits of the American conscious: paranoia (Dr. Strangelove), aggression (Rambo, Natural Born Killers), oedipal/Freudian themes (The Hulk, Star Wars), sexual obsession (American Beauty), the apocalypse (The Passion of the Christ, the Left Behind trilogy), Native Americans and cultural genocide (Little Big Man), new age narcissism (I Heart Huckabees), nihilism and self-destruction (Fight Club, Taxi Driver), intellect and cultural autism (A Beautiful Mind), and virtual reality/fantasy (The Matrix). Finally, a look at American sanity is provided through films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Fisher King, Vanilla Sky and 21 Grams.
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