I just wanted to mention that I'm currently reading Gilbeto Perez's _The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium_. It's fantastic and reminds me of what interested me in studying film seriously to begin with.
I like the following quotes from his introduction about some film studies approaches:
"Academic who criticize bourgeois individualism think they are bucking the establishment. They seem not to recognize that the individualist model of capitalism has mostly given way to the corporate model and that a critique of individualism suits the corporate capitalism now reigning. The director as auteur certainly does not suit corporate Hollywood."
"Hardly anyone has called into question the founding premise, skimpily argued in Mulvey's essay yet taken for granted since, that the film spectator is always in the position of a voyeur. The voyeur's pleasure comes from furtively watching something he (or she--except that the voyeur is theorized as male) is not supposed to be watching, a sight he is not invited to see; but what is on the screen os surely something that we are being invited to watch, a sight meant for us to see. In certain cases it may be part of the fiction of a film that we are to assume the furtive position of a voyeur, but surely most of the time films don't take place in bedrooms or peep into sights normally concealed from view. And even if one grants the voyeur premise, there is the further largely unquestioned assumption that the voyeur position belongs solely to the male."
This is just the introduction! I think this book does well calling into question the idea of whether analyzing film aesthetics merely boils down to description, something those to take a more sociological approach to media seem to want to argue.
This is a book I'd use for a class if given the option. It's a class for myself anyway, as I get the Antonioni and other stuff I've missed out of the library to go with the text. I've seen most of the other examples he uses.
Of course it's a bit different, as the title implies, than simply aesthetics, but it's closer to that than the audience analysis that was stressed so much as I was earning my master's degree.
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