How should the student set about exploring contemporary American cinema? This book takes an innovative approach to film analysis: each chapter examines the assumptions behind one traditional theory of film, distils a method of analysis from it, and then analyses a contemporary American movie. It then goes beyond the traditional theory by analysing the same movie using a more current theory and method. Traditional theories featured include mise-en-scene criticism, auteurism, structural analysis, narratology, studies of realism, psychoanalysis and feminism. More current theories include new and post-Lacanian approaches to subjectivity, cognitivism, computerized statistical style analysis, the philosophy of modal logic, new media theory and deconstruction. Films analysed include Chinatown, Die Hard, The Silence of the Lambs, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Back to the Future, Lost Highway, plus two European imitations of American filmmaking, The English Patient and The Fifth Element. All students of film and popular culture will find this book the ideal preparation for writing clear, well-structured, detailed analyses of their favourite American movies.