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Cindy Sherman's Office Killer: Another Kind of Monster Paperback – May 15, 2014
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'Schweitzer's deft, witty and empathetic prose takes the reader from the corporate space of Constant Consumer magazine, through the confining domestic structures of the film's protagonist, Dorine, and down to the basement where her victims find a new home. As our tour guide through this female-centred environment, Schweitzer encourages our sympathy in strange, surprising places, pointing out telling details, cluing us into the cultural context, and analysing the uneasy atmosphere. If Office Killer is the movie of Sherman's famous photographs, this is another kind of text that deserves to be considered alongside them: an authentic and compelling love letter from Schweitzer to Sherman.'
'Dahlia Schweitzer is THE major Jeanne Tripplehorn scholar!'
- STEPHEN MAMBER, Chair of the Cinema and Media Studies Program at UCLA
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"We do not get another chance to see Mrs. Michael's. Just like that, her appearance in the movie is over. Disjointed, confusing, disorienting, Sherman's brief departure from the offices of Constant Consumer shows us the kind of slice of life which makes up any housewife's day, referencing her own 'Untitled Film Stills' and drawing obvious comparisons between Kim, as the single working woman, and Mrs. Michaels, as the frumpy and exhausted housewife. They are both grim options for modern-day women." (Pg. 68)
Schweitzer understands that removing the film from Sherman’s collective works would lose the overall impact; it is so clear that each image, in her film and art, were chosen from such a personal vision. This kind of comprehension is what makes Schweitzer's book such an absorbing read. It absolutely tapped into my curiosity of Cindy Sherman's rationality in making a "mainstream" movie while delivering fun and well founded critical art analysis. It's incredulous that Cindy Sherman's Office Killer: Another Kind of Monster hasn't received formal critical appraisal. I highly recommend Schweitzer's book, it certainly made me re-visit and appreciate Cindy Sherman's application of visual form with new eyes.
Even though it's not what the book was intended to do, it nonetheless provides a strong, clear over-view of Cindy Sherman and her body of work.
It does an excellent job of describing the very particular set of historical/cultural/political/economical/technological circumstances from which Sherman's only movie, the ultra-obscure OFFICE KILLER, emerged.
For people who have never actually seen OFFICE KILLER, Schweitzer's prose (and intelligent selection of stills) brings the movie to life. So much so, in fact, that one might be better off reading this book first, then watching the movie, for the fullest, richest possible viewing experience.
In terms of writing style and critical voice, it does a spectacular job of being fun/accessible/entertaining while also falling well within the realm of serious, considered, well-researched and -referenced academic writing. That said, this book bears far more resemblance to Camille Paglia's old-fashioned/extended-length/shot-by-shot/ultra-formal analysis of Hitchcock's THE BIRDS (for the BFI film-studies series) than any of its other peers on the film-studies shelf. Apparently unwilling to use the film as a vehicle to prove a political point--or to invoke endless footnotes shouting out to obscure theorists--Schweitzer's valourization of Sherman's cinematic contribution comes at exactly the right moment, when academics seems to have lost their ability to perform close readings and delve into the particulars of sound, light, and camera angle.
Whereas Schweitzer's actual narrative is somewhat old-fashioned (and I mean that in the best possible way) she truly innovates in terms of packaging and presentation. Breaking all academic-publishing conventions, she delivers a truly twenty-first century model that includes COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE-style character profiles, a handy chart of movies that influenced or anticipated OFFICE KILLER, and an organizational structure (slash) table of contents that other film, media, and cultural-studies scholars might want to consider using as a template. Applause is also deserved by Intellect Press for choosing to publish in a larger-than-usual format on a lusciously satiny stock, onto which excellent typography and other stylistics are printed.
By finding the brilliant in the obscure, the comedy in the horror, the photographic in the cinematic, and the related in the seemingly disconnected--her most daring, shocking insights have to do with Jeanne Tripplehorn's character and the one the same actress played a few years later in BASIC INSTINCT--Schweitzer demonstrates that, by looking a little closer and harder at things that don't seem to matter, we can find meaning, pleasure, and brilliance when we want and need most.
File under: Best cross-over publication since SEXUAL PERSONAE.