Depends on how you define “filmmaking language” . . . and “new.”
It never takes long to get to this at Mubi.
One could say that Bay, Cosmatos, Franco, Burton, and Ed Wood have a specific language they use as well but is means nothing if what they are saying is trite or stupid.
I really feel like the Southern-Asians have arsforged a new filmmaking language in the last ye. I can not say that I know a lot about neither Thai nor Singaporese cinema, but I’ve noticed a very particular narrative structure in films coming from these two countries.
These films tend to repetition, they show a routine that is repeated day after day, and where the story is told by single variations on these daily routines. Two examples could be Weerasethakul’s Ashes or Tan’s 4:30. They are usually divided into two parts in a certain way that, once you get to this division, there is some kind of fresh sensation that relieves the fatigue one could have felt from watching the previous 40 or 50 minutes. I don’t know if I am making myself clear, but anyone who has seen Syndromes and a Century will understand what I am talking about.
I agree that innovating a new language from a historical perspective is not particularly important in terms of whether or not an artwork has been well-constructed with poetic value.
There have been plenty of great artists throughout history who did not innovate a new language; in fact, the number of innovative artworks in history can be seen as relatively small compared to the number of great artworks in general.
Even the most innovative artists started out in their youth by imitation in order to learn and develop their use of a medium. If you’re a creative genius with the potential to innovate, you can’t just invent a new artistic language on your first attempt without a due process of creative evolution, and any historical context for measuring an innovation’s resultant impact can only really come after – not during – the creative process.
Many otherwise talented artists (and not-so-talented artists) can be blinded by the lure of fame and are obsessed with the notion that being innovative is the most important thing in order to achieve posterity. Such artists often create artworks which have little grounding in how human beings actually respond emotionally to an ordered and unified aesthetic, no matter what the style. It seems to me that it would be more beneficial for an artist – who is in the process of creating an artwork – to simply forget about imagining that their artwork may possibly go on to become innovative, and to instead focus all their energy upon creative flow, problem solving, insight, inspiration and hard work.
Creating a new language is overrated. Esperanto isn’t interesting in and of itself, it’s what you say with I that matters.
I don’t know a new film language or vocabularly isn’t easy—not creating one that is coherent. Esperanto or any literal language (not sure if that’s the proper expression) isn’t a good analogy, imo. A more apt analogy, imo, is something like a new style of music—e.g., swing, bebop, free jazz, etc., to use jazz examples. Creating those new styles is very special and exciting, imo. I think the same is true in film. That’s not to say that the content doesn’t matter, but I think you’re being too dismissive.
Again, means nothing seems to be going a bit too far, imo. I’m not familiar with Cosmatos and Franco, but of the others I don’t think they’ve developed a new language of film. With Wood, I’d question if he’s developed a coherent style or language. But Bay and Burton, they have a personal style,although, and that counts for something. But I’m a jazz fan and a personal voice matters a lot to most jazz fans.
I agree with most of everything you wrote. However, when a new language does come along, you don’t think that’s exciting?
Here’s how I responded to Robert, when he made a similar remark:
Regarding “new language” here’s what John said: I feel like nothing is very free or playful anymore. I want to watch a movie that unfolds in a new way, that scrubs away a lot of the grammar of film but at the same time is coherent enough to actually be a vision. Something as good as Cassavetes or Marker.
The last movies I can remember doing this are julien-donkey boy and Ten
Jazz: I think he’s also talking about an unpredictability and surprise, not in terms of content (plot twists), but the filmmaking. The use of sound, editing, composition and the way filmmakers combine these elements have a pattern that makes filmmaking predictable (in a broad way). I think John is looking for someone to use these elements—indivdually and collectively—in an entirely new way; hence, a new film language.
when a new language does come along, you don’t think that’s exciting?
Yes, but speaking for myself, whenever I discover an artist whose language is unlike any other artistic language I’ve ever come across, it doesn’t mean that this particular language was created by this artist or that this language is a recent invention. We all discover various artistic languages at different times of our lives, and so our perception and appreciation of “unique” art is tempered by this to some degree. I don’t experience a great deal of current art compared to past art, and so most of the unique artistic languages I’ve discovered actually belong to a previous time, sometimes decades ago, sometimes centuries ago.
Also, as I outlined above, I think that artworks made in a new language ought to resonate poetic emotions, no matter what the style i.e. be well-constructed, have depth and unity, etc. Which is why I recommended Aleksei German, who has been developing a unique aesthetic with some high quality films over the years, and whose latest film will be released shortly.
We all discover various artistic languages at different times of our lives, and so our perception and appreciation of “unique” art is tempered by this to some degree.
I agree. But what are you saying? Are you suggesting that there’s no such thing as a new language? Or are you suggesting, perhaps, that instead of looking for “new” film languages, I should look to older filmmakers who probably already developed the "new’ language?
Which is why I recommended Aleksei German, who has been developing a unique aesthetic with some high quality films over the years, and whose latest film will be released shortly.
Are you suggesting that there’s no such thing as a new language?
I wouldn’t say that there’s no such thing as a “new” language, seen as all artistic languages have to start somewhere, even if they evolve in unpredictable ways which can often be difficult to chart. But I think that there will always be an infinite many ways to creatively express any number of feelings and ideas, and so there will always be opportunities for more unique artistic languages to come into being, even if I feel that they ought to come about “naturally” rather than being forced.
Or are you suggesting, perhaps, that instead of looking for “new” film languages, I should look to older filmmakers who probably already developed the "new’ language?
I don’t see why you couldn’t look for both.
Sure, but in this thread, I wanted to focus on newer filmmakers—i.e., 21st century films and filmmakers.
Of the films you’ve listed, I’ve seen
Gotz Speilmann – Revanche
Abbas Kiarostami – Certified Copy
Claire Denis – White Material
I don’t know if I “got you,” but I wouldn’t say these films are creating a new film language (versus, for example, developing a personal voice). I’d want to leave out Kiarostami because this doesn’t seem dramatically different from some of his other films, although maybe I’m wrong about that. I can’t get more specific on Revanche or White Material, unfortunately. If you feel comfortable doing so, perhaps you could share why you think these films demonstrate a new film language. (And if you’re not comfortable that’s totally cool.)
Oh, Wang Bing. I have never seen anything like Tie Xi Qu, and I’m a CCC whore.
To your point about dialoug, or lack thereof, there is Bartas and Tarr, whose work is immense.
I just saw that this thread exists and I’m about to sleep so it’s probably not the best time for me to chime in. But so far I’m getting a lot of good recommendations here. I had no clue about many if not most of these directors. I read up on Oxhide and it’s just exactly the type of thing that makes me most excited.
It seems like Asia in general is embracing the low budget filmmaking I’m talking about- grab a video camera and make a piece of work. Use your family. Why not? Why not make portraits of people you love or know? Other arts do it.
Why not make first person films? Why does sound have to be synchronous? Why can’t you make a film about peoples’ legs? Etc.
I’d ramble on more but I’m losing my thoughts.
I’m not sure I’d say he is creating a new language but Miguel Gomes is definitely making “very free” and “playful” films. Jacques Rivette and Godard’s ideas about documentary/fiction are clearly influences but I think ‘Tabu’ and ‘Our Beloved Month of August’ are unique films.
Cassavetes or Marker:I think John is looking for someone to use these elements—indivdually and collectively—in an entirely new way; hence, a new film language.
Right, but to go back 30-40 years to find new is kinda ironic isn’t it? The new stuff, no one likes – they apparently like the new stuff that has been vetted by 2 or 3 generations.
…..you can’t just invent a new artistic language on your first attempt without a due process of creative evolution, and any historical context for measuring an innovation’s resultant impact can only really come after – not during – the creative process.
Besides the directors/films already you mentioned I would add Denis’s L’Intrus. Her Style was always something special but with that film she really made something that i had not seen before.
Is thats new? I think so. Well at least for me.
“It never takes long to get to this at Mubi.”
Right, but to me this is mostly a matter of arguments of a few basic concepts—“new”, “pure,” etc.—being continually shifted into slightly different terminology, and when the metaphorical flow of a particular term hardens, it’s simply shifted to yet another term or set of terms. So what’s generally at stake is not so much things of film so much as it is about taste and about preferred ways of talking about film.
“A more apt analogy, imo, is something like a new style of music—e.g., swing, bebop, free jazz, etc., to use jazz examples. Creating those new styles is very special and exciting, imo. I think the same is true in film. That’s not to say that the content doesn’t matter, but I think you’re being too dismissive.”
For me, the same holds true for music. I don’t particularly care whether Fats Waller invented his style, I only care whether his work speaks to me at this moment (which it does:)) As I think Flani was sayin/suggesting, what seems new to us we may later learn was run of the mill or at least second to the mill after some research. When I listen to Armstrong’s Hot Five and Seven recordings, nothing of it’s historical value means anything to me. Those sides are the sound of what i see on the street right at this very moment, much more so that a lot of the old-fashioned, conservative (in the stultifying tendentiousness of it’s vision of humanity) R&B on the radio today.
I tend to be wary of “newness” especially in terms of language. A tracking shot is a dead thing without a heart and pulse.
I think he’s also talking about an unpredictability and surprise, not in terms of content (plot twists)
From my point of view plot twists should be annihilated, we had enough.
I did think bout Miguel Gomes when I read the thread’s title, and I’d say every filmmaker inside this O som e a fúria producing company (Joao Nicolau, Sandro Aguilar, Manuel Mozos) have made some very fresh cinema in the last years.
Miguel Gomes´ lastest work “Tabu” actually shares quite a few similarities with the the cinema of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, I´m wondering if it was intentional or if both filmmakers just share very similar concerns. I´ve yet to watch his previous “Our Beloved Month of August”.
A tracking shot is a dead thing without a heart and pulse.
—I am pretty sure we were all aware of this, but decided to dwell, if only for the sake of social interaction about film, on film language. But whatever gets you off, Spence.
I’ve only been able to skim most of these responses but it seems to me that most people are confusing personal style with cinematic language. There have been dozens of filmmakers to emerge with distinctive voices, but as for language, it’s not really going to change that much. There are only so many types of shots that are possible. The one exception, as much as I dislike it and it pains me to admit, is 3D, which offers something different than what we’ve seen and could potentially be used to expand upon the language of cinema. It seems like most filmmakers are just in it to make ticket prices higher though, as I’ve not encountered any that do anything that couldn’t be done better using traditional depth of field shots.
—I am pretty sure we were all aware of this, but decided to dwell, if only for the sake of social interaction about film, on film language. But whatever gets you off, Spence."
Noted. Carry on…
For me, the same holds true for music. I don’t particularly care whether Fats Waller invented his style, I only care whether his work speaks to me at this moment (which it does:))
Really? You don’t care if a musician (or artist) revolutionizing their artform and influences everyone else? I mean, you don’t think it’s a big deal? Musicians, critics and fans revere people like Armstrong, Hawkins, Parker, Ornette Coleman—to name a few—not just because their music is so wonderful, which it is, but because it changed the artform—i.e., they created new vocabularly for playing jazz. This isn’t an easy thing; indeed, it’s rare, special and exciting, imo.
it seems to me that most people are confusing personal style with cinematic language. There have been dozens of filmmakers to emerge with distinctive voices, but as for language, it’s not really going to change that much.
Yes, “new” languages are incredibly rare, and the number of artists who innovate a new language is relatively small compared to the number of artists with individual “nuances” in style.
Though, we cannot really take a single artistic innovation/new language as the work of a single artist within a single artwork, a snapshot in time; languages evolve bit by bit from person to person, group to group, culture to culture, time to time, and every innovative artist will have influences which can oftentimes be difficult or even impossible to chart. With the benefit of hindsight we often like to isolate specific moments in time as the “big moments” where everything was suddenly and irrevocably changed, but the reality is that such changes and upheavals are generally much more gradual and nuanced. We can’t always know how they did what they did, or whether there are more sides to the story hidden by our ignorance.
Again, I think that puzzles may have the potential to expand the cinematic medium into a new and different art-form/artistic language, and I feel that cinema may have the potential to do it differently to how video games are evolving, and to be more like how musicians can “re-arrange” a composition, but within more controlled environments and without complete freedom i.e. to be given specific options and purposes in mind from the artist. But the main problem with this approach is that cinema unfolds at the bidding of time, at how the filmmaker chooses to structure the artwork, which results in the same time-frame for every viewer, a long sought after expression chiseled away like a sculpture, and that when this structure changes the artwork changes too. For instance, an example I used in another thread, if Georg Solti were to change the structure of a Beethoven symphony by cutting and pasting passages here and there, it would no longer be a Beethoven symphony in traditional terms. On the other hand, the ability to manipulate the structure of that time could introduce some interesting ramifications as to how a filmmaker chooses to create their world for an audience to navigate within controlled environments for specific purposes, and how the audience perceives this in temporal terms, but it could also destroy the fabric of what makes an artwork an artwork depending upon how you define it.
Yes, editing offers the greatest chances for advancement of the art. Or, more likely, the lack of editing. A filmmaker like Bela Tarr, for example, has shown how powerful not cutting can be. Not that he invented the long take by any means but he has incorporated it in a way that makes people see cinema as a whole in a different light.
cinema may have the potential to do it differently to how video games are evolving….
the ability to manipulate the structure of that time could introduce some interesting ramifications as to how a filmmaker chooses to create their world for an audience to navigate within controlled environments for specific purposes
heh – this would never be accepted at MUBI though. After many pages of drivel this thread had to be closed.
Yes it would. People at Mubi for the most part LOVE Sans Soleil.
This part was key for me:
….for an audience to navigate within controlled environments for specific purposes…
Sans Soleil is dead, and quite palatable – no one has to navigate Sans Soleil.
“no one has to navigate Sans Soleil.”
Completely incorrect. If you are not navigating Sans Soleil, you are not watching it, and if you want to be technical about it, it’s also available on interactive CD-Rom.