Christian Metz is the most important aesthetician of film to have appeared since the death of Andre Bazin, his mentor. Those familiar with Bazin's literary and philosophical style, however, have a shock in store when they confront the dense, brainy texture of Metz's work. This collection of articles, written at different times, with varying motifs and perspectives, is not only frequently contradictory, but also studded with intimidating allusions to structuralist controversies, ""phenomenological approaches,"" and anthropological studies, the names of Saussure, Levi-Strauss and Barthez appearing even more often than those of Rossellini, Eisenstein, Von Stroheim, et al. Metz is concerned primarily with a ""semiotics of the cinema,"" deciphering cinematic language, the denotative and ""connotative universe"" of film discourse. ""An easy art, the cinema is in constant danger of falling victim to this easiness. . . . The cinema is also a difficult art: for, sisyphus-like, it is trapped under the burden of its facility."" Similarly, Metz is often unbearably weighted with his own ponderous terminology, intricate proliferations, and great zest for ""theoretical problems."" A provokingly brilliant book, not for the popcorn crowd.