The Aesthetics of Neoviolence

Once upon a time, art movies and independent films were able to corner their share of the market by trading in sex. They delivered on an implicit promise to offer the public more than could be found in mainstream, above-the-waist productions, but times have changed. The torch has been passed from sex to violence. Noted film writer and educator B. Ruby Rich will moderate a stellar panel discussing the film-festival season’s hottest topic: the wave of neoviolence. Beginning with last year’s Sundance Festival hit Reservoir Dogs, and including the European communities Man Bites Dog and the king of Hong Kong art shock, John Woo, the panel will address the issues of neoviolence, not simply it customary sociological point of view, i.e., doesn’t it cause imitation or spur violent reaction? but also from the perspective that it proceeds from the minds and stylized visions of filmmakers responding to the appreciative urgings of an audience. The kind of violence that these films depict, and particularly the nature of realism, are central to an understanding that can transcend the tendency to lump all violence together. Catharsis, horror, morality, genre, victims, bullets and blood, media violence, powerlessness, and rage: it’s time to isolate issues and discuss what’s really going on it these works.

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