Dissertation Reviews has posted Kristof Van den Troost’s review of Brian Hu‘s Worldly Desires: Cosmopolitanism and Cinema in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Here’s how it begins:
Much of the growth in the field of Chinese cinema studies over the last two decades has been fuelled by a questioning of the category of Chinese cinema itself. With the national cinema paradigm considered outdated and inadequate, scholars have explored new ways to understand the film industries of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as the many transnational connections forged by Chinese filmmakers in an increasingly globalized world. Despite the wealth of research already produced on this topic, Brian Hu’s dissertation manages to break new ground, and makes an important theoretical intervention in the field. But Hu’s contribution goes further than this. Methodologically, he combines archival research and close readings of films with less explored avenues of research—particularly the study of film music, industrial texts, and audiences. Covering a period of more than sixty years (from the 1950s to the 2000s), Hu consistently looks at film genres, production cycles, and stars that have been relatively ignored, in the process offering a fresh perspective on Hong Kong and Taiwanese film history.
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Dissertation Reviews has posted Yang Wei‘s review of Kristof van den Troost‘s dissertation, The Hong Kong Crime Film: Genre and Film Noir from the 1940s to the Present. Here’s how it begins:
Although an impressive amount of scholarship on Hong Kong cinema has been published in the last two decades, crime film as a genre has mostly evaded critical attention. Narrated in a keen, persuasive scholarly voice, Kristof Van den Troost’s Hong Kong Crime Film fills this gap by establishing the general lines of this important Hong Kong genre since its early inception in the 1940s. At the heart of this genre-oriented approach lies the author’s fundamental mistrust of the predominant academic practice in Hong Kong cultural studies, one that privileges the importance of 1997 and its impact on local identities. The single-mindedness of this approach often prompts scholars to find political corollaries in given film productions. Granted that no film can be truly independent of ideology and the dominant mechanism of socio-economic productions, the challenge here is to avoid overreaching, a mission the author suggests many have failed in various degrees. Common problems include “treating a film (or a select group of films) as a direct representation of society” and “singling out one film for a political analysis.” As a result, studies on Hong Kong cinema have become “more [focused] on ‘Hong Kong’ than on its cinema,” with many significant aspects of Hong Kong cinema, including the historical study of genres, remaining virtually unexplored.