Just published: 'Danny Dyer, Class, Cultism and the Critics' in the Journal of British Cinema and Television
Today sees the publication of mine and Sarah Godfrey's article on Danny Dyer's stardom and his critical reception. The article, 'From Pinter to Pimp: Danny Dyer, Class, Cultism and the Critics' appears in issue 12.1 of the Journal of British Cinema and Television.
Danny Dyer is one of Britain's most prolific stars, with a career spanning both critically acclaimed and critically derided material, the latter exemplified by his work in exploitation movies. This article investigates Dyer's film stardom, considering some of the central debates surrounding his status as an actor. Central to the discussion is the significance of Dyer within the contemporary cultural landscapes of gender and class, and the various complexities and contradictions that circulate around his persona. The article analyses Dyer's stardom in the wake of his role in the cult exploitation movie that consolidated his subsequent ‘hard man’ typecasting, The Football Factory (2004), and considers how the marketing of the majority of his subsequent films has been instrumental in perpetuating a particular construction of his stardom which, in turn, informs his reception by the critics. The article traces connections between Dyer's popularity and recurrent critical derision aimed at him as an actor lacking artistic integrity and genuine talent. It contends that the politics of both Dyer's star construction and his critical reception are linked to the renewed legitimacy of class hatred in British society, represented by media discourses surrounding the ‘chav’, which appositely reflects his ‘low’ cultural status as a ‘straight-to-DVD’ actor.
Dr Cecilia Sayad has kindly invited me to the University of Kent on 18 February to deliver a paper as part of their Research Seminar Series. Find the title and abstract for my talk, below.
‘From the makers of The Woman in Black’: Hammer Films and contemporary horror cinema
Since the release of Hammer Films’ The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957, the sobriquet ‘Hammer Horror’ has, for many, become synonymous with British horror cinema. Known the world over for its Gothic horror films ‘set in a dislocated but quintessentially Victorian hinterland’, Hammer enjoyed box office success throughout the 1950s and 60s with this ‘distinctive generic style’ (Meikle 2009: xiii). As David Pirie notes, it was Hammer’s penchant for an ‘English Gothic’ modality—at least until its closure in 1979—which helped position it as the main producer of British horror cinema: ‘the only staple cinematic myth which Britain can properly claim as its own, and which relates to it in the same way as the western relates to America’ (Pirie 2008: xv).
In light of these grand claims and Hammer’s alleged centrality to the cultural purity of the genre in Britain, this paper will explore how Hammer attempted to reintegrate itself into the horror movie mainstream as a major transnational brand between the release of its first contemporary films, including Beyond the Rave in 2009 and The Resident and Wake Wood in 2010, to its higher-end productions of recent years such as Let Me In, The Woman in Black and The Quiet Ones.
Having briefly considered the factors that led to the company’s rebirth—including the numerous company handovers between 1979 and 2007—the paper will argue that the company’s perceived centrality to British cinema history and nationally specific discourses of horror cinema ultimately proved inconsequential to its various developments in the 2000s and 2010s.
CFP -- Conference: Global Exploitation Cinemas: Historical and Critical Approaches, University of Lincoln, May 2015
Find below the CFP for a conference I am helping to co-organise. The event is being funded by the University of Lincoln and will take place on 28 and 29 May 2015 at the historic Ritz Cinema and Theatre (http://ritzcinema.org/)
GLOBAL EXPLOITATION CINEMAS:
HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL APPROACHES
An academic conference and film event
The Ritz Cinema and Theatre, Lincoln (UK), 28 and 29 May 2015
CONFIRMED KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:
Eric Schaefer (Emerson College, US)
author of Bold! Daring! Shocking! True! A History of Exploitation Films, 1919-1959 (Duke University Press, 1999) and editor of Sex Scene: Media and the Sexual Revolution (Duke University Press, 2014)
I. Q. Hunter (De Montfort University, UK)
author of British Trash Cinema (BFI, 2012) and Cult Film as a Guide to Life (Bloomsbury, 2015).
The academy's approach to film history has undergone a significant shift in the 21st century, with previously marginalised, despised and neglected aspects of popular film being afforded unprecedented levels of attention. This process of revaluation has occurred on a global scale, highlighting the development of rich and relatively uncharted alternative film cultures and histories, including those of "exploitation" films, and in turn enabling fresh empirical and critical methodologies.
The academic conference and film event "Global Exploitation Cinemas"-which is being funded by the University of Lincoln (UK) and is working in conjunction with the forthcoming Bloomsbury book series of the same name-aims to bring together an eclectic and diverse range of approaches to exploitation cinema, welcoming any perspective that adds to the burgeoning scholarship in this field of study. Proposals which emphasise the international dimensions of exploitation cinema are especially welcome, but the conference will remain broad and inclusive in considering topics for discussion.
Potential subjects and approaches include, but are by no means limited to:
* Critical reception and/or re-assessment
* Socio-historical dimensions and debates
* Form and aesthetics
* Global and transnational perspectives
* The pornographic feature film
* Media controversies and censorship
* Publicity and advertising
* Directors, writers and producers
* Movements, cycles and sub-genres
* Exhibition and distribution
* Restoration and re-appropriation
* Exploitation in the video age
* "Mainstream" infiltrations
* DVD documentaries/special features
* Festivals and conventions
* Ephemera and the collector
* The internet and participatory cultures
* Neo-exploitation in the 21st century
Abstracts (of around 300 words) and some brief biographical information (of around 50 words) should be sent no later than FRIDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2015 to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the event (and its affiliated book series) go to: http://globalexploitationcinemas.weebly.com.
We look forward to receiving your abstracts!
Dr Shaun Kimber (Bournemouth University)
Dr Neil Jackson (University of Lincoln)
Dr Johnny Walker (Northumbria University)
Mr Thomas Joseph Watson (Northumbria University)