Overt references to things that are seen as intellectual or important. Not that I have any hard a fast rule. It’s just that something like say John Woo’s Hardboiled will get less consideration than a movie that deals directly with the philosophical.
From whom? Every person and every film, without exception? I doubt it. If only certain films, then perhaps the style of the film with the philosophical content is as important (or moreso) as content – or maybe they are the same thing. If only certain people, who cares about those people?
An example of what Malik may be talking about is platitudes (forgive me if I’m wrong, Malik). A movie that has dialog filled with platitudes (recently seen example: Antonioni’s Beyond the Clouds : “Don’t you just want to be thought about, know a person is thinking about you, right now?” “Maybe that’s what love is.”) will get more attention towards the “seriousness” or “philosophical importance” of its statement than a movie that develops a statement via rote character development (recently seen example, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World : “Or is there any other evil ex’s around this bar I should know about?” “Hmmm, you know what? I don’t think this is going to work out.” (i.e., same point, Scott isn’t thinking about his girlfriend, he’s thinking only about himself)).
Unfortunately I may have opened up an argument that I don’t want to make, that Scott Pilgrim and Beyond the Clouds are better or worse or more or less meaningful or anything, I am just trying to speak to what I understand Malik to be saying. Ultimately it would necessitate a conversation about form because theoretically, truths begot through character development are content, not style, whereas truths spoken in self-aware dialog is style, not content.
But, as you said, that is a false dichotomy, and as this thread indicates, my usage of “style” and “content” in the last sentence can be contested.
In my opinion that lays on the film itself. It most certainly can be. Furthermore style can be content.
Yes, that is along the lines of what I was speaking of. But to go back to my original example of Hard Boiled, everything is seen as flashy excess or cheesy. And Inspector Tequila is largely seen as a ‘2D’ character. No thought is ever put into why this character is written this way in context to Hong Kong cinema at the time or what the director was attempting to do. It is simply seen as a flashy action movie. Even though the context of the action has significance.
Leaves, I don’t particularly care about those people. Just an offhand thing I’ve noticed.
even more important is style, can you imagine Kiss me Deadly or the Night of the Hunter without
it’s distinctive stylish visuals.
What I think I like best about cinema is not that it can tell stories (any medium can do that), but what it does visually. However, as somewhat of a structuralist, the visual style in my mind does become “content”, so yeah, I struggle with being able to state definitively either way what is what and whether either is better. Ultimately, is it significant? What does it say for the art of cinema (or even better, what does it say about the art of cinematography? Hmmmm…), if anything?
Yet another way of thinking about this is, classically there were “schools”, now there are “styles”. An artist chooses a mode of presentation, but since the modernists privilege the individual’s distinctive mode, not the shared school of thought, style has become signature, a la the auteur theory, for one.
Evil Dead 2 wouldn’t be anything without Raimis virtuoso, hyper-kinetic style.
This is true. You contrast, however, to Raimi’s same virtuoso, hyper-kinetic style in Spiderman 3, and find that what separates them in terms of pure entertainment and mad skill is content. So on the flip side, Evil Dead 2 wouldn’t be anything without it’s carnal embrace of b-movie kitsch and slapstick humor, something done by many other people in different styles. Style and content compliment each other.
Meanwhile, I really like movies of his like A Simple Plan, For Love of the Game, and to a degree The Hudsucker Proxy that only show the merest hints of his “style” but still exemplify his skill (of course, The Hudsucker Proxy is much more credited to the Coens for good reason, and more show Raimi’s sensibilities influencing them than vice versa). This is what people refer to when they say a director is “reserved”, I think.
My coworker worked with Raimi on Drag Me to Hell and said that Drag Me to Hell was sort of a test run of Raimi’s towards the oft-rumored but still not in production next installment of the Evil Dead franchise. It’s really cool to see that movie in that way, as well as imagine what Raimi has in mind…
those rumors were negated too and a remake was then in talks for couple years… :(((
Raimi’s the perfect example to use in this discussion because he epitomizes the modern day stylist (he’s not the best or the only, but certainly one of the most recognizable for most film-goers).
There’s really nothing that can be said against ‘style’ or ‘content’ individually, but only in contrast to each other. James Joyce was a stylist just as much as Vladimir Nabokov (or say, John Updike or Burgess) and it’d be pretty difficult to fault any of these writers’ careers as being ‘empty’ or ‘contentless.’ Style is needed, and in many ways, unavoidable. And content can’t really be argued as valueless (that I can fathom at least – “There’s too much meaning in this film!” – wha?).
And Raimi is, in his small way, very similar to the approach of the likes of Nabokov, etc.; he pursues his work from the approach of a stylist (of course, content also plays a factor, but I’m talking about the ‘approach’). In a way, I think it’s more difficult to be a stylist with a ‘signature’, to be recognized as ‘oh, that’s Raimi’s style’ or whatever (not like Raimi was the first to do…well, anything, but he certainly made it fun) than it is to just write a solid story (that’s my opinion as a writer, disagree if you so desire, heh).
I was excited to see Drag Me to Hell in the theatre (and enjoyed it), it’s neither a great film nor a terrible one, but it’s steeped in his original style which just oozed atmosphere and “style.” As Polaris previously pointed out, the signature ‘Raimi style’ is still there in films like Spider-Man, but god, when Raimi’s restricted (or restricts himself), such as in A Simple Plan, he really shines. When he isn’t reined in (Spider-Man) he doesn’t seem too concerned with focusing on anything and just goes in all directions (sometimes good, sometimes bad – in the case of Raimi, so far bad).
David Fincher is another good example, his early films had really distinct dark style.
agree with Hans Lucas. Should be like that.
“Style” always sounds like something forced and artificial to me. Honestly, could anyone say “Tarkovsky’s stylish” without feeling ridiculous?
Tarantino is stylish, but sometimes it’s just style for style’s sake – one of the worst things that can happen in my opinion.
When artist is driven by the real IDEA, bigger than himself – there’s no style, no content – there is IT. Chemistry.
And when you see the art like that – you have no doubt.
After some thoughts about the style and content dilema, i’ve come up with this; depending of every film’s circumstances, any element in the movie can become content if its role in developing the story or the feelings that we are supposed to feel is the most important (and viceversa; become style if its role is just to spice things). Whether it’s audio or video. A recently seen example is Derek Jarman’s Blue , there is no video as to take it for style, therefore the voiceover becomes content and style. Style because its structure, its neat writing and great dedication, the slow paced voice and silent gaps get us involved in Jarman’s situation.
PD: I’m glad there were more posts than only mine, I hope they keep coming!
Here’s a example of how style IS content, from Antonioni’s Eclipse. In this case the mise-en-scene, or shot composition, is the element that conveys the ideas and themes.
(I tried several times to post the frame enlargement using the standard exclamation points but to no avail. Those who are interested will have to look it up from the URL below.)
The ancient stone pillar in the Roman Stock Exchange separates the man from the woman (and cuts her in half), suggesting that capitalism intrudes on personal relationships in the modern world.
For Dr. T:
I think style is what makes a film interesting, I know several movies that have a fantastic plot but their scripts and realizations lack of any kind of style what makes them become boring. i.e. Nicotina
Well, how you say something is as important as what you say, when it comes to art of any kind, I think. It’s the vehicle for expressing your thought. The better that vehicle is in terms of communicating your message, the more powerful the message will be to the viewer.
Content without technique is disappointing. But, that can be improved. Technique can always be learned.
However, technique without good content is totally useless. You have to start with good, solid content if you want anyone to maintain interest in what it is you’re trying to say.
But think if the film has all style, but the content is banal or incoherent. That can be just as unsatisfying as a film with good content, but bad style, right?
Perhaps technique can be taught, but I don’t think a personal style can be (not a good one anyway). I do agree with everything else you’ve said, though. The content has to be meaningful.
What I’m wondering is if filmmakers and critics seem to value filmmaking (style) over content. That is the sense I get, and I wondering if this is true, and if so, why?
@Jazz — lol! Ok, now I’m serious (sorry fashion came to mind for a moment). Yes style — everyone has one, and no one can really teach it to you. You have to find that out for yourself.
Whether people think it’s a good style, well to an extent that is a matter of taste. But you know, there’s a market for everything. “Good,” “bad,” and EVERYTHING in-between… :)
In the last discussion on this thread, we never really set on a definition of what style actually is. Isn’t it actually impossible to have “content without technique”, yes? What’s a film with a lot of style, and one that doesn’t have much?
In the modern age, we’ve had the same style drummed into us so much that we can no longer recognize it. That a film uses a three act structure will be seen as standard, while one that doesn’t could be said to be heavily stylized. That’s bullshit, of course. Both films are using style, it’s just that we’re not paying attention to one of them.
Fraser-Orr — I agree. I think in the case you’re talking about, “style” has crystalized into a formula. For example, film is a visual medium and in that it has many unique qualities and capabilities that are different from other media. Yet, it’s been treated for the longest time as a way to replicate and elaborate on plays, it’s become a vehicle for the stage, and the stage has a very particular history and particular rules. It doesn’t have to be that way. It can evolve away from that, tell a story in a different way. But those kinds of films, while they are made, are seldom viewed by the general public. That doesn’t mean the general public won’t appreciate them.
Also on the topic of style, I think it’s impossible for anything that we make not to have a style. Look around you, everything was made with a design or style in mind, from the most mundane things, like how sidewalks are designed, to the grandest, like the Taj Mahal. There is thought and a style underneath everything around us. When I think about this, it kind of blows my mind.