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Site Specifics: World Picture Journal

By Paul Fileri

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The world doesn't need another film journal, but it gets great film journal

Plenty of small online magazines lie strewn about the Web landscape, many barely readable, others effectively defunct, most easily ignored. On the outskirts of the areas covered by long-running English-language fixtures—Senses of Cinema, Screening the Past, Rouge, Bright Lights Film Journal, Reverse Shot, and Midnight Eye—it’s appealing to come across a promising newcomer like World Picture Journal. Aimed at the happy few and imbued with sensibilities neither wholly amateur nor professional, WPJ was launched last year by a trio of media scholars split between university towns in Oklahoma and East Sussex, England.

WPJ appears set to blaze an unpredictable trail out of the sometimes stale confines of dime-a-dozen online film journals. Longtime friends and founding editors Brian Price, John David Rhodes, and Meghan Sutherland describe its outlook as experimental. The project, Sutherland says, began from “a certain shared frustration with the technological specialization of film and television studies scholarship that came with the institution of the fields themselves, and with the professionalized styles of writing . . . it tended to produce.” Committed to “style and aesthetics,” the editors are trying to “cultivate a space [for] more speculative and porous ways of thinking that can cut across the typical genres, styles, and media of thought.”

The first issue is entitled “Jargon” and approaches, in a manner both critically acute and slyly ruminative, the ways that epithet gets bandied about. The current issue broaches the hardly obvious theme of the “Obvious.” Between the two you’ll find long interviews with Olivier Assayas and Emmanuel Bourdieu, trenchant pieces on Bamako and Otto Preminger, and a charming piece of fiction by Sam Lipsyte called “A Pimple on the Ass of Drew Barrymore Speaks.” Soon to come is issue #3, on “Happiness.”

Go to www.worldpicturejournal.com

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