Against the background of rising temperatures and shorter tempers among film theorists, 'Studying Contemporary American Film' sets out to pour oil on troubled waters. Between classical models of film interpretation and analysis (auteurist, structuralist, psychosemiotic) and the current plethora of contending paradigms (cognitivist, Deleuzian, post-feminists, deconstructivist and hypertextual) it treads a delicate, but determined path. The authors accept that film analysis is a matter of being wise after the fact, and being aware of open or hidden agendas. In order to be clear and consistent, you don't have to be dogmatic; being able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of certain critical positions doesn't mean that 'everything goes'. Although centered on close analysis of nine mainstream movies, this is not just another collection of essays on the authors' favorite films. The distinction classical and post-classical narrative, the Hollywood/Europe divide, the co-existence of linear narrative and videogame logic, and the differences between ontological realism and digital realism are all lucidly laid out and practically demonstrated. Highlights - to this reader at least - are the chapters on Die Hard, Lost Highway, The Fifth Element and Silence of the Lambs. The general movie buff may think the bullet points and numbered sub-headings rather too prescriptive; however, the authors tone is for the most part refreshingly dead-pan and descriptive, and students may be grateful for the many useful hints of how to ask the right questions and structure their papers accordingly. This is a guide in the best tradition of 'Teach Yourself Film Studies', of which 'Studying Contemporary American Film' could be seen as a welcome sequel.