BRAD: i’d say at best it’s more of an ‘approach’ or ‘mode’ than a genre per se, at least if we consider the traditional understanding of genre.
The only problem i have with the generalisation is not that it’s completely innacurate, but that it’s used to slate what is perceived to be a trend. To name is to know as they say, but in this case, it seems completely reactionary, since often the people doing the judging are not really in a position to be criticising it in the first place.
I know some film buffs like that. ‘oh this observational cinema is getting tired’, when they have barely seen any examples of the ‘style’, and they often haven’t seen the best ones anyway.
Well, I don’t make movies, so maybe I’m wrong about this. But it sure looks a lot easier and less labor intensive to make a “contemplative” film than it does to make, say, a special-effects heavy blockbuster film full of fancy camerawork and trick shots. (Not that the level of difficulty in making a film has any connection whatsoever to the quality of the film. There are lots of “contemplative” films I enjoy much more than lots of Hollywood blockbusters)
There are many filmmakers who use it to good effect, including some of the ones I named, but I think the style has worn out its welcome.
“Well, I don’t make movies, so maybe I’m wrong about this. But it sure looks a lot easier and less labor intensive to make a “contemplative” film than it does to make, say, a special-effects heavy blockbuster film full of fancy camerawork and trick shots.”
Because the complexity is more subtle in the best CC films, that’s why. I know i’ll get critcised for this but much of the complexity in Hollywood shots now comes from logistics, not from the ideas themselves. The fancy shots are just stunts to me, visual tricks, and sure they require a lot of method and planning, but to what end?
Sure, Jerry. I’m just trying to point out the uselessness of those blanket statements.
I know- I just got the image of Godard ordering Coutard to shoot Breathless on a tripod and couldn’t stop laughing. (film nerd humor?)
Something similar actually did happen on A Woman is a Woman. The idea was to film a Hollywood musical, but when Coutard and crew show up on set, they discover Godard had fake ceilings installed so they couldn’t light from above (which is, of course, how Hollywood studio musicals were lit). I think the last laugh was on Godard, because damned if Coutard wasn’t able to ambient-light the fuck out of all those sets anyway.
How many of these new CC movies are the products of laziness on the part of the filmmaker?
In other words, how many of these CC movies are a cheap way to win acclaim? How many of the CC filmmakers are pulling the wool over the eyes of viewers?
I don’t think we can really answer that. Are some films and filmmakers guilty of the above? Perhaps. I wouldn’t be too surprised. However, this shouldn’t negate the films and filmmakers working in this “style”—for many of the them are truly good, imo (including the filmmakers you mentioned). They’re not frauds, imo.
Having said that, some of the films aren’t always successful, and I don’t care for some of the films; but as someone pointed out, that’s true for of any style or approach. My point is that this is a perfectly valid approach, and I don’t think we need to disparage it—even if some filmmakers may be using it as cheap way to win approval.
One last thing. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing a new direction of filmmaking, but I’m not as negative about this style of filmmaking as you seem to be. (Then again, I don’t see a ton of these films, and the ones I watch are generally good to very good. Moreover, I can’t think of a film I’ve seen in this vein that made me feel like the filmmaker was a fraud or lazy.)
>>But it sure looks a lot easier and less labor intensive to make a “contemplative” film<<
I don’t think how difficult a film is or is not to make has any bearing on the effectiveness of the final result.
>>often the people doing the judging are not really in a position to be criticising it in the first place.<<
I’m sure you’re not saying these films are above criticism. Shouldn’t all film lovers be in a position to praise or citicize any work?
But it sure looks a lot easier and less labor intensive to make a “contemplative” film than it does to make, say, a special-effects heavy blockbuster film full of fancy camerawork and trick shots.
They can’t all be as robust as Gaspar Noe…tying their camera to their dick with a rope and swinging it around until it smashes their actors in the face.
“I’m sure you’re not saying these films are above criticism. Shouldn’t all film lovers be in a position to praise or citicize any work?”
Yes but Brad, they are criticising something they don’t like or understand and lump all the directors into the same category. that’s the problem i have. I’ve seen it time and time again, both online an off.
Jerry, say what you want about Gasper Noe, but i’m sure he puts more thought into his shots than most Hollywood directors nowadays. He also has more control.
and he is also better than them too. and i’m not even a fan.
“The same can be said of film noirs or just about any other genre.”
Well, yeah, I would say that noir really isn’t a genre proper either—you can have a noir detective story, a noir heist film, a noir Western, a noir romance, noir action, etc. Genre is useful for the purposes of taxonomy, and, to a certain extent, groupings based on harmonies in style, tone or mood can be helpful when it comes to gathering together gathering together lumpen cinema, but these things only get you so far. If you end up suppressing numerous dissonances among the works in order to highlight a few areas of harmony, it’s probably not a good tool with which to proceed.
Joks- I’m sure Noe does have to put more thought into his shots than most Hollywood directors. After all, Hollywood isn’t mentally slow like Noe- just corrupt. And Noe demands control of his audience, which is why the clumsy one-liners in Irreversible hang like turd blossoms on the expository Tree of Knowledge.
Brad said, I don’t think how difficult a film is or is not to make has any bearing on the effectiveness of the final result.
I agree with this, but, fwiw, I think the ease or difficulty is a factor in this discussion. If CC filmmaking is generally easier—that is, it doesn’t require a substantial amount of technical skill to pull off—if, moreover, viewers will have difficulty distinguishing a good CC film from a bad one—then I think this is unnerving for many viewers. What happens is that people begin to question if they’re being fooled and made fun of.
This discussion reminds me of discussions about free jazz and avant-garde music in general. The free jazz musicians didn’t always play in key, with proper intonation, etc. This seeming lack of technical skill lead some to charge that the musicians were pulling a fast one over critics and the public; that some jazz musicians chose this route to get easy and instant acclaim. The absence of standard measures of technical skill made the music suspect for many people. (I happen to like a lot free-jazz and avant-garde, so I don’t fall into that camp, but I understand the rationale behind the criticisms, even if I don’t agree with all of them.)
“Got news for you. Most films that get made are not very good, no matter under what label they are made.”
Ditto. As an extension of this I’d also like to express issues I have with the notion of obscurity for the sake of obscurity. Granted, among equally great artists and works of art some will be more well known than others for reasons unrelated to the quality of the actual art, and that’s simply the way it is, but I sometimes have the sense people will choose to watch a film they haven’t heard of over a film they have heard of simply because watching the more obscure film will enable them to congratulate themselves on being a more daring, adventurous cinephile. The reality is, however, that many works of art are obscure simply because they’re not that good. I don’t mean obscure among the general public, but I mean obscure among film lovers and others heavily invested in the art of cinema in some way or other. Obviously Hiroshima Mon Amour isn’t known by the average American, since the average American doesn’t give two shits about the art of cinema. Likewise, the average American probably couldn’t even recognize the second movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony if it was played for them. But there’s a reason Hiroshima Mon Amour is far more heavily discussed and widely known in film circles than say a film like Claude Sautet’s Vincent, Francois, Paul, et les autres or Makk’s a Weekend in Pest and Buda. The latter films aren’t terrible, but they’re not great either.
And to think we were under the impression that the Hollywood tent pole summer movie was the nadir of cinematic expression. How wrong we were.
Maybe Michael Bay will make a Contemporary Contemplative Cinema movie now.
It is after all, Bay’s vim and vigor that drives other directors to laziness.
I think what needs to be defined now is what constitutes a high level of technical skill as a filmmaker? Does it relate to storytelling skill? Or is it an extension of photographic/cinematographic skill? The thing is with mediums like painting, music, and writing, people already are familiar with how to determine whether or not someone’s a “good” writer, musician, or drawer, regardless of indefinable artistic talent. How is a comparable requisite skill defined with regard to filmmaking? I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I just want to determine how it’s defined. It’s obvious from watching Persona, Hiroshima Mon Amour, or even Valley of the Bees that a high level of technical skill is present, and that technical skill doesn’t exactly relate to storytelling abilities.
So this was a flame thread. Ashoka still hasn’t provided any specific examples and analysis of the examples.
I guess we can wrap things up here. right?
That’s why I’m saying this doesn’t interest me. Nothing to see here.
""Ashoka still hasn’t provided any specific examples and analysis of the examples.""
Only the original post and a one liner. Kind of lazy, it is not?
I think what needs to be defined now is what constitutes a high level of technical skill as a filmmaker? Does it relate to storytelling skill? Or is it an extension of photographic/cinematographic skill?
I think technical skill refers to various aspects of filmmaking—e.g., the writing, camera work, acting, etc. My sense is that it’s easier to make a CC film than, say, a Hollywood blockbuster. I could probably make a CC by myself. Would it be any good? Probably not. But I couldn’t even begin to make a Hollywood blockbuster style movie by myself—even if it were terrible.
However, the relative ease of making a CC film doesn’t necessarily mean that making a good CC film is easy. Not at all.
“However, the relative ease of making a CC film doesn’t necessarily mean that making a good CC film is easy. Not at all.”
But it is not that the heart of the matter in this discussion?
""But I couldn’t even begin to make a Hollywood blockbuster style movie by myself—even if it were terrible.""
You would be surprised. Just watch the Tintin trailer. Go buy some video game and maker a Machinimia.
Most likely it would be better than what they did with 100 million dollars plus.
Budget has to be a factor. Claire Denis doesn’t have mega millions to work with. Making White Material involved using flashlights because the lighting was held up in customs for a month. . The film was made in the Cameroon. But impressionist films are what she does. She just makes it look easy.
Also Jazz, an issue which has been discussed ad nauseum is that most people don’t know how to view films as works of art. They watch films looking for things that aren’t even there or if they are there, they’re not that crucial to determining a film’s quality (i.e. straightforward narrative and plot structure). After all, it’s filmmaking, not storytelling. Much of it has to do with audience reluctance to appreciate filmmaking based purely on its own merits. They only appreciate insofar as it can enhance their enjoyment of a story. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but certainly to many who are frustrated with CC films. Would this debate be less necessary if more people were willing and capable to simply examine a film as a string of images on a reel backed up by sound.
“But impressionist films are what she does. She just makes it look easy.”
Yeah, ultimately the true greatness of most of the filmmakers mentioned on here is they make something extremely difficult look so easy as for it to be called “lazy.”
“…After all, it’s filmmaking, not storytelling…”
One of the best posts on here in a long while.
Could not agree with the OP more.
“CCC” to me is just fear. These people are afraid to take risks and try new things, they hide behind their safe little “genre”, and who can blame them? Make a “CCC” film and you are all but guaranteed to have droves of critics fawning all over you.
And you know the worst part? Most of these “CCC” films just diminish the actual innovative work being done by the real artists, your Haneke, your Tarkovsky, your Chabrol, ect.
I doubt the work done by filmmakers such as Tsai, Costa or Weerasethakul in any way diminish the films by Haneke, Tarkovsky or Chabrol. And what would those risks and new things be? Faster editing and more close-ups?