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Wes Anderson and the city spaces of indie cinema

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This paper explores the implications of urban gentrification in the 1990s and 2000s on the development of the American indie cinema. I argue that these implications have been far ranging, such that we are able to speak of a ‘cinema of gentrification’ during this time period. Using Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer (2009) as representative examples, I show how the films of this cinema developed a vexed relationship with the city and with urban life. In particular, I contend, we can productively read Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) through the prism of gentrification. Following from Michel de Certeau, Neil Smith and others, I argue that Anderson's representation of the city in Tenenbaums marks a break within the history of city cinema, as it denies the social and cultural logics of urban identity by instead reducing city space to mere location.
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Keywords: American indie film; Michel Gondry; Wes Anderson; gentrification; urban studies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: c/o Department of Communication and Culture,University of Calgary, Social Sciences 320, 2500 University Drive NWCalgary,Alberta,T2N 1N4, Canada

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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