“While a person can certainly find the experience of a movie to be ‘tedious” “empty” and “unrewarding”, asking that person to explain how is likely to be a futile endeavor since the terms used would describe a failure to engage with the film, and that failure is going to limit the usefulness of what they have to say about it, leaving only the personal impression of the time spent. That’s a large part of why those terms aren’t conducive to any discussion which is seeking something more than a sort of polling of reaction."
This might be the most spot-on statement I’ve read on Mubi in a while. And I’ll take it a step further and say that just because someone wasn’t engaged with a film (or thought it sucked) but can’t specifically articulate why, it doesn’t mean they are wrong (or that their opinions are any less valid). Just because OJ had lawyers that were better at arguing his innocence, it doesn’t mean he didn’t kill his wife. I’m not sure if that was the intent of Greg’s comment above – I get the sense that he was more or less pointing out the shortcomings of people who make these negative comments – but I think this dovetails nicely.
“Is there a difference between experiencing a still image like a photograph or painting and a series of moving images edited together?”
I think this is a fascinating question. Of course by now (100+ years of motion pictures) we’ve been programmed to watch a movie expecting a story – still images run together, edited together, to create a narrative. But I’m gathering from Jazz’s question that these CCC filmmakers are trying to go backwards to creating still images running together to create an experience like a still image? If this is the case, it’s an interesting way of using the medium of motion pictures. One question that immediately comes to mind is – what is the effect? If the intention is to create an experience akin to a still image, what is the difference? In other words, what is the difference in experience between a still image and a collection of still images (24 frames per second) that when run together create an experience similar to a still image? What does the addition of motion pictures add?
It’s funny because I was just having a conversation with a photographer friend of mine of the complete opposite. How can you create a static image that appears in motion, appears cinematic? I’ve always approached my photography from a still image perspective but this idea made me reevaluate my approach; in other words, try to create something that appears “mid-action” even though technically it’s static.
“This is why I don’t think these films are anything new exactly, though they have obviously changed over time, but the roots of this “movement” go at least as far back as someone like Sjostrom”
@Santino ….wasn’t engaged with a film ……can’t specifically articulate why….
“Good topic, speaking for myself I find that while I can certainly appreciate the craft that goes into a painting, I’ve never encountered a painting that affected me so deeply that I was literally altered, permanently.”
I have to agree with this personal experience. This is why I am drawn to cinema more than any other art form (even photography); it’s affected me in ways no other art form has. And I’ve heard from a lot of filmmakers who feel the same way – that they got into filmmaking because it applies so many art forms into one.
“I think what Axel is trying to say is that if you experience great art, you shouldn’t have to rationalize that it’s great, but rather you should just feel it on an intuitive/gut level, and I can’t exactly disagree with that”
This is a good way of articulating what I was saying to Jazz on another thread (or was it this thread?). Film can certainly be an intellectual experience but it’s first and foremost an emotional experience for me. And so I really need to feel it when I watch it and that’s usually what decides what I define as “great”.
I think there has been some very good, respectful discussion going on here and I find validity in the positions of both sides. Even if I lean towards being suspicious of CCC filmmakers, I’ve certainly encountered plenty of these films that have blown me away (and so I try to take it on a film by film basis).
“Wang Bing’s Crude Oil begins with a four-hour shot of a man sitting in a room, waiting to go to work. It is something he has to do every day as a part of his job. Boring? Tedious? Of course it is. In fact, I’d call it torturous, but so it must be for that man to have to do that every day, and therefore the slowness of the film becomes for the audience a direct experience of another human’s plight.”
I haven’t seen this Crude Oil but it sounds like the intention is similar to Jeanne Dielman. If so, I agree that the film needs to be four hours long (or however long it is). If it were half is long, the ending of Jeanne Dielman wouldn’t be nearly as powerful. Although I’m not sure I’d call it “brilliant”; the idea of “boring” your audience so that they feel the tedium that the character feels is not a very complex notion. It’s an interesting one, definitely. And it’s certainly unique, but only because it’s so different from what audiences are used to; in other words, part of the power comes from it being the antithesis of a conventional narrative film.
This brings up an interesting question – would these films be so powerful if they became the norm? If the majority of films too the approach of “slow cinema”, would they lose some of their power? I wonder if part of the shine comes from the distinction against the norm (in which case, CCC filmmakers should be thanking people like Michael Bay).
HAHA LOOK AT ME IM POSTING IN THIS THREAD
(all of my facepalm)
I think it would be interesting to hear people who love CCC talk about a CCC film that doesn’t work (for instance, House mentioned not liking Silent Light). Conversely, I think it would be worthwhile to hear from people who don’t like CCC to talk about a CCC film that they did like. I think this might be a better way of understanding each other.
“On the contrary, I think that just like every other “genre”, CCC is very difficult to do well, and it is attempted by many, partly due to the fact that it is so budget friendly…. BUT, only few artist working in it are actually worthwhile, which I think is true for any genre.”
This is a good point. While every genre has crap, CCC genre is much easier to do because it doesn’t require a massive budget. So of course if more people are making CCC films than giant spectacle sci-fi films because they can afford it, there will be more crap (it should be said though that with digital filmmaking, even big spectacle films are becoming easier to do since it’s all done in a computer).
Not to pull at strings or anything, but sometimes it seems as though some contemporary ‘CCC’ filmmakers operate in this vacuum in which they’ve conditioned themselves to believe cinema was invented on the European continent in 1959. They seem to be looking for ways to make an “art” film in order to be enshrined as a regular on the international festival context. Antonioni, Bresson, Godard, et al. are important, but one must examine them within a certain context just as Debussy and Andrew Hill need to be appreciated and examined within a certain context. Hong Sangsoo’s problem is that he wants to be an “arthouse” filmmaker. I know what I’m saying may go over certain people’s head. Philippe Garrel, Kiarostami, Claire Denis, and Bela Tarr are also probably guilty of wanting to be “arthouse” filmmakers, but they all have enough genius to get away with it. Hong, Joe, and Sissako do not, at least not in my opinion. The problem is they’re so eager to be seen as serious artists that they do anything they can to avoid being seen as mainstream in the least, not realizing if they have talent/genius this shouldn’t have to be an issue. They’d be artistically respected regardless. This is sort of the Old Guard European art house tradition’s way of dying out with a whimper as people like Joe and Hong self-consciously try to keep an old tradition alive. In order for cinema to survive as a medium, artists need to allow themselves to be influenced by the rules and conventions, in order to break them, all the while allowing themselves to appreciate and be influenced by the best works that still play by the rules (i.e. Nicholas Ray, Hitchcock, Renoir, Lang, early Bergman, Chaplin, etc.). In other words you need to start from scratch and figure out your own method of reacting to conventions that differs from how Godard or Antonioni reacted to them. It’s okay to be influenced by Antonioni, just as long as you’re capable of viewing his work within a certain context, instead of perceiving his method or that of Bresson as a mastered convention of filmmaking. If you want to take what Antonioni attempted to a whole other level you must operate with what came before Antonioni in mind, as well. In other words, you need to put things in perspective and have an understanding cinema history in its entirety rather than just an understanding of experimental/arthouse cinema.
Sorry, I totally threw up all over thread.
Trying to catch up from the weekend.
Or maybe they’re just trying to get us to see the invisible gorilla
^That was an interesting essay. I’d seen the gorilla clip, but I don’t think I’ve encountered Yarbus’s experiments before.
Yeah, I think it’s interesting work, and relevant here, where what we’re talking about is really about Bazanian mise-en-scéne style vs. montage style. Obviously, if you have more time for your eye to move over an image, it significantly impacts what actually registers.
“Not to pull at strings or anything, but sometimes it seems as though some contemporary ‘CCC’ filmmakers operate in this vacuum in which they’ve conditioned themselves to believe cinema was invented on the European continent in 1959.”
Hou Hsiao-hsien’s 2003 film Cafe Lumiere (operating as both an homage to Ozu and the Lumiere brothers) seems to put that statement in question.
In fact, a lot of these so-called ‘CCC’ filmmakers say their main influences are classical era filmmakers. Spielmann and Ceylan also citing Ozu as the main influence in their work. Tsai with Tati (although his predominate influences are post-wave filmmakers) Costa even going so far as to claim In Vanda’s Room is a remake of Hawks’ Rio Lobo (and Costa also cites Tourneur as one of his favourite filmmakers).
They operate in a vacuum no more so than any other contemporary filmmakers (it seems odd Anderson never gets criticism for his near constant self-conscious referencing of American New Cinema of the 60’s and 70’s)… Almost as if there were a double standard being applied…
I would actually say the opposite is true. Before 1959 long takes and films that averaged takes in the 12-15-20 second range (which is relatively close to these films’ averages) were common (Ozu’s There Was a Father, for example, only contains about 200 shots in its runtime, an ASL of around 15 seconds).
That’s true both if you are “in the film” or are aware of yourself as a viewer. Sometimes while watching a fast montage, I find myself thinking about how much detail I’m not seeing, and then I probably see even less. When watching a long fairly static shot, I feel like I can—even should—drift back and forth between being aware of myself as a viewer and not.
I don’t even know exactly what CCC means, and it may be easier to hide behind than other types of films, but I really doubt that filmmakers would make these types of films unless they were passionate about it. The idea that they make CCC films just to impress a few critics that are rapidly disappearing into their own assholes is just silly to me. So I’m all for criticizing filmmakers that make annoyingly long films with no substance, but I don’t think it’s right to say they do it because they are lazy.
Also, I think “boring” is a perfectly valid criticism and Mubi would be an awful place if no one used their personal feelings on a film to discuss it with others. I hate it when people say words are “not valid”, as that’s a really easy way to completely dismiss someone’s opinion. I think a film being boring is probably the number one reason to dislike a film. No matter the films intentions if you didn’t enjoy it you didn’t enjoy it, and boring is a good way to express that.
Anyway these are responses to month old statements, sorry, the thread just caught my eye today.
I’ve really enjoyed reading this thread, there’s some great discussion.
Santino, that first quote you highlighted of mine was value free in that I just think this is generally the case whenever one has that sort of experience with a film, which is something we all have at times I suspect. In those cases, the reaction alone is pretty much all we can go on, for good and bad, regarding the film. It isn’t a very useful response outside our own experience, as it can’t go very far towards illuminating much about the movie. Unavoidably though, if that is all we got out of the movie that is all there is to say, so if one accepts one’s own possible limitations or contribution to the response, the occasional use of those sorts of terms is fine though not enlightening.
While having that sort of experience is something familiar to almost all of us, when one denies or donwplays one’s own limits or relies almost exclusively on opinions without evidence, then there is a problem. Regularly using terms like those in discussion is pretty much like making an appeal to authority where “my” experience is held to be a sort of standard which one can hold as defining. At its best, this is a sort of Hank Quinlan school of criticism, more commonly though it is out of the school of Inspector Lestrade.
“Unavoidably though, if that is all we got out of the movie that is all there is to say, so if one accepts one’s own possible limitations or contribution to the response, the occasional use of those sorts of terms is fine though not enlightening.”
I understand what you’re saying and this is why when talking about Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, I have to admit my own shortcomings and not make a definitive statement like “it sucks.” To do otherwise would be dishonest (it’s like saying “I didn’t get it so it must be bad”). But that isn’t to say that these limitations bound any instance where you dislike a film; certainly there are films that I “get” but don’t particularly think are good. Those are the situations where I’m most apt to voice my displeasure because I can usually better articulate why I don’t think something worked. The converse can also occur – sometimes I’ll love a film but won’t know how to best articulate why whereas other times I am much more aware of why something hits me. But in all of these situations, each are valid experiences (whether I can articulate my feelings properly or not).
_This might be the most spot-on statement I’ve read on Mubi in a while. And I’ll take it a step further and say that just because someone wasn’t engaged with a film (or thought it sucked) but can’t specifically articulate why, it doesn’t mean they are wrong (or that their opinions are any less valid). _
I agree that articulating specific reasons for not being engaged can be difficult, and I don’t want to come down on someone just because they can’t be specific. At the same time, would you agree that stopping at “boring,” “empty,” etc. won’t lead to interesting discussion, can be dismissive and annoying?
Moreover, there is another way around this problem. Those who find CCC filmmaking and/or films “boring” can respond to specific comments supporting and defending this style as well as specific films. As long as naysayers haven’t closed themselves off to the possibility that CCC filmmaking/films aren’t a sham and they’re willing to discuss this, I think this can be a fruitful approach. And I do think people have tried to offer specific arguments for CCC filmmaking/films.
Let me also suggest another approach for the naysayers: talk specifically about what the film is about and what’s it’s trying to do and explain why the film doesn’t work or isn’t any good within this context. If one can do this, then, at the very least, we can know if the person has a good understanding of the film—because if they really don’t understand the film, then this could considerably weaken their criticisms against it. But if they do understand the film, they it does provide more credibilty for the critic.
Btw, in case you were wondering, what I’m saying also applies to the supporters of these films.
But I’m gathering from Jazz’s question that these CCC filmmakers are trying to go backwards to creating still images running together to create an experience like a still image?
Do you mean that the experience of the entire film is akin to the experience of a still image? I guess that would apply to what I’m saying, but I had something slightly different in mind. There’s a movie on film editing where Scorese talks about how two images placed side-by-side create a third meaning. The meaning of movies comes from the relationship of these images—more than from the individual images themselves (which is what painting and photography are like). My feeling is that some of the CCC filmmakers want to uncouple the images from these relationships and allow viewers to experience the images as a singular entitty. The image, by itself, can have value, meaning and experiencing it as such can be aesthetically, emotionally and intellectually rewarding. That’s why there are a longer, static takes and minimal or simpler editing. Sometimes the result feels like a moving painting.
(Now, this is only one aspect of the trend I notice. What I’m saying wouldn’t necessarily apply to all the filmmakers who could fall under the CCC label.)
One question that immediately comes to mind is – what is the effect? If the intention is to create an experience akin to a still image, what is the difference?
What is the difference between a movie and a painting? How is the experience and effect of a painting different from the experience and effect of a film? If that’s essentially what you’re getting at, I think answering these questions might really be helpful to this discussion. Unfortunately, I’m struggling to answer this question (although I’m working on it), and I would love for someone to provide an answer to these questions. (Where’s all the people that participates in that “favorite painting” thread?)
And I’ve heard from a lot of filmmakers who feel the same way – that they got into filmmaking because it applies so many art forms into one.
But if you’re implying that film has a greater impact because it involves so many different art forms, I don’t know if I agree with that. I love movies, but I can’t say the greatest or my most favorite films have moved or changed me like the greatest/favorite books, music or almost any other art form.
How can you create a static image that appears in motion, appears cinematic?
I imagine this has been a question that many painters and other visual artists have wrestled with. Related to the difference between paintings and films, I wonder what the difference is between motion experienced in film and motion experience via a still image.
“I imagine this has been a question that many painters and other visual artists have wrestled with.”
They should watch Noonan’s The Wife.
This is literally the difference between the heart and the mind, and I think this difference/preference is at the core of this whole “debate”. For me it is the opposite, I’ve never read a book or heard a piece of music that has moved or affected me half as much as any film I’ve rated 10/10.
Yet I think CCC films are targeted more to people like you Jazz who like to “think” more than they like to “feel”. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t you agree that truly all-time films should do both? Make you think and feel all at once? To me this is the power of cinema as an art-form, and it is unique in that it is able tap into all of these things at once, the left brain and the right brain get “juiced” simultaneously, as it were.
It’s interesting when people talk about their experience in a film good or bad, some say “Well I thought this…” versus “I felt like such and such…” Some people approach art from a more intuitive, gut-level where as others take a more deductive, logical standpoint. I think this is great and makes for interesting topics where these forces collide! (This thread anyone?)
Santino, yes, there are any number of films where I didn’t connect with them either right away or at any point so far. When that happens I own up to that experience and, if asked, might share it, but I don’t necessarily put all that much stock in it if there is counterevidence suggesting the “fault” may lie more in a failure to apprehend on my part. Dismissal of something that doesn’t immediately appeal is easy to do, too easy in fact, and adopting that practice as a default reaction almost ensures that what one appreciates will be simple and easy to digest, which is pretty much the opposite of how I view the most rewarding type of interaction with artworks, which involves a sort of self questioning and dialogue with the work and others who found things to appreciate which eluded me. Without that kind of interaction, one doesn’t grow in knowledge or appreciation which leaves one stunted and rewards repetition of norms as the highest cultural value.
How is this a question of the heart and mind? Are you saying the cinema appeals primarily to the heart, while all other art forms appeal to the mind? If so, I completely disagree with this. I think great art tends to appeal to both. As for me, literature, music(!) and other art forms can appeal greatly to the heart. I might argue that music is the most emotional or spiritual art form.
Nothing wrong with that, but don’t you agree that truly all-time films should do both?
As I mentioned, I think that all great art tends to appeal to both the heart and mind (and spirit). Having said that, I think a work of art can be great if it’s primarily conceptual or intellectual. In any event, are you assuming that the CCC films exclusively appeal to the mind? I’d disagree with that characterization—just as I don’t think paintings only appeal to the mind.
@ Jazz -
“At the same time, would you agree that stopping at “boring,” “empty,” etc. won’t lead to interesting discussion, can be dismissive and annoying?”
I would agree that if you stop at these statements, it won’t lead anywhere. But I don’t agree that these adjectives can’t lead to interesting discussions. As I’ve said before, all words are valid and provide insight and saying a movie is “boring” does not necessarily mean the discussion has to end. I agree though that these are dismissive adjectives and can be annoying to anyone who disagrees with the assessment of a particular film. But for instance, today someone told me they saw The Hunger Games over the weekend and said it was boring. And I immediately understood what they were saying because I felt the same way.
I think maybe part of the issue with this discussion is sincerity. If you are sincere in your assessment, the discussion will be more fruitful. If you go into a CCC film wanting to like it and being open minded, then your response to the film (even if it’s negative) will be more enlightening. This is why I said I would be interested to hear from people who generally don’t like CCC films but can cite a CCC film they did enjoy. If you can do this, I think you’re going in the right direction towards being sincere in your respect for this specific style of filmmaking. But if you hate all slow films and then go see The Turin Horse and say it sucked – well, I’m not really interested in hearing from you. Of course this isn’t specific to CCC – I couldn’t care less what people who hate big Hollywood action films thought of X-Men.
“Let me also suggest another approach for the naysayers: talk specifically about what the film is about and what’s it’s trying to do and explain why the film doesn’t work or isn’t any good within this context.”
I think this is a good approach. If you can do this, if you can identify what a film is trying to do and talk specifically about how it failed to do what it was trying to do, that’s the ideal.
“My feeling is that some of the CCC filmmakers want to uncouple the images from these relationships and allow viewers to experience the images as a singular entitty.”
Yes, this is what I was saying. But my question is, why? What purpose does it serve to “uncouple the images from these relationships”? Why not just create a single image? There must be a reason for this – there must be an added benefit to using cinema this way, right? What is that benefit? There clearly are differences between a picture (painting) and a motion picture. But what’s the purpose of creating a motion picture that evokes a picture? Why create a film that denies the aspects of cinema that make it different from other art forms in order to mimic another art form (painting, for instance)?
“But if you’re implying that film has a greater impact because it involves so many different art forms, I don’t know if I agree with that.”
Not a greater impact but a different impact. I wouldn’t presume to say that one art form is greater than another. I mean, for myself personally, yes, cinema is the most personal art form and the one I love the most. This is why I chose film over writing or photography. But I don’t feel comfortable saying it’s the “best” simply because I love it the most.
“Related to the difference between paintings and films, I wonder what the difference is between motion experienced in film and motion experience via a still image.”
This is a good question and one that is helpful to keep in mind when an artist is working in these mediums. The most obvious answer is that in film, you can literally show motion whereas in a painting, you have to be more “creative”.
“It’s interesting when people talk about their experience in a film good or bad, some say “Well I thought this…” versus “I felt like such and such…” Some people approach art from a more intuitive, gut-level where as others take a more deductive, logical standpoint. I think this is great and makes for interesting topics where these forces collide! (This thread anyone?)”
Yeah, I’ve noticed this too. On this site when making a comment, I usually try to make a conscious effort to say “I felt…” or “I thought…” particularly because I think it’s important to let people know where you’re coming from.
“I might argue that music is the most emotional or spiritual art form.”
I think Jazz just admitted he likes to dance.
I’m going to respond to your recent post, but I want to jump on something Greg said, which relates to our discussion in the “best year in the 2000s” thread. He said, Dismissal of something that doesn’t immediately appeal is easy to do, too easy in fact, and adopting that practice as a default reaction almost ensures that what one appreciates will be simple and easy to digest, which is pretty much the opposite of how I view the most rewarding type of interaction with artworks, which involves a sort of self questioning and dialogue with the work and others who found things to appreciate which eluded me.
What Greg is describing is not enjoyable. It’s rewarding, interesting and even thrilling—but it can be laborious and time-consuming and difficult, too—hence, the word enjoyable doesn’t fit. (I’ll try to respond soon to your other comments.)
Btw, I also plan to respond to your earlier post. I appreciate you listing some specific movies and pushing the discussion in that direction. I’d like to suggest that we discuss some of these specific films, if you’re game. Actually, if you’re open to this, I was thinking I could pull up some of the threads, and we can discuss those specific films in those threads. (I’ll be back to post links, etc.)
Lol. My moves to Cecil Taylor are pretty scary.
^Post the vid.
I could speak to Wendy and Lucy being good. I never understood the complaint that “nothing happens” since it seems pretty plotty compared to other CCC films. I do however understand people not liking the pacing, which clearly is slower than most conventional films.