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ReFocus: The Films of Spike Jonze

Edited by Kim Wilkins, Wyatt Moss-Wellington

Hardback (Forthcoming)

Examines how the work of American filmmaker Spike Jonze crosses boundaries between genre entertainment and experimentalism

  • Surveys the breadth of Jonze’s work as a director and screenwriter of features, shorts and music videos
  • Considers Jonze’s oeuvre in both its industrial and philosophical contexts, with a focus on film production, psychology and identity, posthumanism and gender studies
  • Connects Jonze to other relevant filmmakers, American political and cultural events and institutions

ReFocus: The Films of Spike Jonze is the first collection of essays on this important and original contemporary filmmaker. It looks at his ground-breaking work in both features and short forms, exploring the impact of his filmmaking across a range of philosophical and cultural discussions.

Each of Jonze’s feature films, from Being John Malkovich (1999) to Her (2013), is discussed at length, focusing on issues of authorship, narration, genre and adaptation. As well as the textual aspects of Jonze’s feature films, the contributors consider his work in music videos and shorts – investigating his position as a filmmaker on the blurred boundaries between studio and independent modes of production.


Introduction: Jonze Between the Lines; Kim Wilkins and Wyatt Moss-Wellington

PART I: Authorship and Originality

1: Adaptation in Adaptation in Adaptation in Adaptation; Wyatt Moss-Wellington

2: "I’ll eat you up I love you so." Adaptation, Authorship, and Intermediality in Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are; Eddie Falvey

3: Converging Indiewood: Spike Jonze, Propaganda Films and the Emergence of Specialty Film Giant USA Films; Yannis Tzioumakis

PART II: Psychology, Identity and Crisis

4: "You can be John Malkovich." Celebrity, Absurdity, and Convention in Being John Malkovich; Kim Wilkins

5: "I can’t sleep. I’m losing my hair. I’m fat and repulsive." Crises of Masculinity and Artistry in Spike Jonze’s Adaptation; Julie Levinson

5.5: Spike Jonze’s Screenwriting: The Screenplay; Wyatt Moss-Wellington


7: "Are These Feelings Even Real?" Intimacy and Authenticity in Spike Jonze’s Her; Peter Marks

8: Machinic Empathy and Mental Health: The Relational Ethics of Machine Empathy and Artificial Intelligence in Her; Frances Shaw

9: The "tedious yammering of selves": The End of Intimacy in Spike Jonze’s Her

PART IV: Beyond the Feature

10: Spike Jonze Shorts Stories; Cynthia Felando

11: Spike Jonze, Propaganda/Satellite Films and Music Video Work: Talent Management and the Construction of an Indie-Auteur; Andrew Stubbs

12: Spike Jonze’s Abbreviated Art of the Suburbs; Laurel Westrup

About the Author

Kim Wilkins is a sessional film scholar at the University of Sydney in the Department of English and the Department of Film and Art History. She is the author of American Eccentric Cinema (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), articles in Film Criticism, The New Review of Film and Television Studies, Sydney Studies in English, Texas Studies in Literature and Languages, and chapters in edited collections on Wes Anderson and HBO’s Westworld.

Wyatt Moss-Wellington is an Assistant Professor in Media and Communication Studies at The University of Nottingham, Ningbo. He has recently published work in journals including Projections, Style, Sydney Studies in English and Film International. Moss-Wellington received his PhD from The University of Sydney in 2017, with a thesis titled “Humanist Narratology and the Suburban Ensemble Dramedy.”

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