“Black and Blue in Florida: Moonlight’s Poetics of Space and Identity.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video. Routledge. 2021.
Florida is a land rich with migration history that has influenced the production of many well-known films throughout the 20th and 21st century.
With its unique racial and culturally diverse settler history, Florida stands out as a highly productive region for the articulation of a subaltern America. A border peninsula, the state has a rich transnational and migration history, involving both US southern migration of former slaves and black offshore migration from the West Indies where slavery had been abolished in the 1830s. Whether we think of the peninsula's various indigenous populations - particularly the Seminoles - or its various hybrid Latin American and Latin Caribbean cultures as well as the more recent Cuban and Afro Cuban influx, Florida can be characterized as a culturally diverse space in constant flux. For writers and filmmakers, Florida similarly evokes fantasies of difference such as the black township of Eatonville captured in the writings of Zora Neale Hurston; its exotic marine and tropical appeal to writers such as Ernest Hemingway or Wallace Stevens; or films highlighting an unpredictable cultural terrain including Key Largo (1948), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Body Heat (1980), Scarface (1983), Magic Mike (2012), and The Florida Project (2017).
“Black Faces Matter: Close-Ups in Selma, Fruitvale Station and Moonlight.” Face Forward.
Black filmmakers are righting the wrongful portrayals of black film aesthetics in Hollywood, a culture with deep roots in racial discrimination and segregation.
Contemporary African American film directors, now more firmly in control of the medium’s production apparatus, are articulating a new black film aesthetics on their own terms. This newly advanced aesthetics addresses and revises a legacy of severely biased and impaired representations in Hollywood rooted in vaudeville minstrelsy and practices of Jim Crow racial segregation. This essay limits its analysis of this broad topic and focuses in particular on the close-up of the face.
“Kubrick’s Red Room: The Architecture of Race and Nation in The Shining.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video.
Bathrooms have become strongly associated with advanced civilization, particularly since the discovery of germs and the increased demand for sanitized bathroom environments, resulting in a shift from wooden structures to ceramic tiles in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Sigmund Freud considered bathroom training of children an important developmental step and bathrooms as a taboo location, articulating our neurotic and repressed behavior toward the human body. In the US, bathrooms took on a legal significance as racially segregated spaces during the Jim Crow era and more recently have also been questioned with regards to gender politics. Hollywood's production code similarly banned the depiction of bathrooms from its major screens until Hitchcock would prominently display a toilet and shower in Psycho (1960). Semiotically, the use of language circumscribes bathrooms as ambivalent sites in which socially censored content may resurface, as in the common expression of a "potty mouth.” Finally, more in line with Kubrick's aesthetics, one thinks of Marcel Duchamp's famous re-purposing of a ready-made urinal, titled "Fountain, as a museum sculpture in the spirit of the iconoclastic modernist avantgarde.