22 May 2006

the new world

remember what i said about editing in regards to "rize"? it killed there, but here it creates. i've heard a lot of very serious filmmakers remark that the thing that sets cinema apart from other arts is cutting, and in his movies, malick uses the editing to evoke a sense of stream-of-consciousness that is virtually unlike anything else anyone is doing, making his movies almost a feature-length montage. the technique is mind-boggling, and i can't imagine actually shooting all that stuff and sorting through it. and the emotional effect is such that even some movies critics (like matt seitz) consider it an almost religious experience.

that's why, when i think about who i love and who i'm influenced by in terms of writers and directors, i rarely mention malick. its not because i think he isn't good; i think he is so good great amazing that i don't even put him on the same level as the others. malick is doing stuff that no one else is doing: making movies so deeply personally philosophical that they encompass the transcendently universal. i really don't know how else to explain it.

malick can do no wrong as far as i'm concerned, and here he does so many things so gloriously right: the aforementioned cutting, which blends scene and montage, does completely away with the idea of an establishing shot, melds characters inner monologues with spoken dialogue, and generally treats shots like instruments in a score; uses music to startling effectiveness, most particularly with the beginning and end section set to "vorsspiel" from "das rheingold"; shot on 65mm (!!!), almost exclusively with natural light, almost entirely on location, with jack fisk's fucking incredible 3D sets, with tonnes of work from the awesome 2nd unit; got great performances, including probably the only performance from colin farrell that's any good, and especially from q'orianka kilcher, who was 15 but played an earth mother as effectively as anyone could, and also the many american indians playing "the naturals", and the astounding level of commitment to recreating their body movements; the remarkable historical accuracy, and the fact that malick was still able to completely make the story his own.

boy, there's more, much more that can be said about this movie. it is wonderful. have you seen it? go see it, on as big of a screen as you can, and with the sounds up loud. and let yourself sink into it, because you are in the hands of a master.

remember what i said about a new thing i was gonna do? a "secret"? well, the secret is this: starting next week or so, i'm going to begin a new project that involves this blog. the writer's guild recently released a list of what they consider the 101 greatest screenplays. as with any list, there are bound to be some that you're gonna agree and disagree with, either in terms of rank or omissions or what-have-you. but fuck all that -- i'm gonna watch all of these movies, from last to first, and blog about them, playing particular attention to the writing, but also veering off on whatever tangents i want.

sound good? good. first up will be "notorious".

03 May 2006


editing! it can create and it can kill.

create: the short montage of juxtapositions of krumping & clowning with old black and white images of african tribal dancing was inspired and fucking amazing.

kill: pretty much every other dance shot in the movie, most notably the ending clowns vs. krumpers competition. mostly i wished that lachappelle wouldn't have cut so many of the performances short. i have a short video of krumping by locals at venice beach. its a little handheld camera and its just music on a boombox, but its unedited and i love that. in some ways that's better than some of the stuff in rize because you see the whole arc of the dance -- and oftentimes there's a STRUCTURE to a krumping session. weird, but true. and lachappelle destroys that. i would have loved to have seen more of the clowning vs. krumping battle at the arena. unedited footage of la nina and miss prissy battling? who doesn't want that?

other than that, this was a solid movie. the narratives that they dug up were good, in showing that this dance and subculture that's sprung up around it gives poverty striken folks something to live for and do. and, based on his excellent photography and his not-excellent video work, its obvious that lachappelle knows how to photography the human body. he does that well here, showing the movement and speed of the dances.

note: i'm going to be done for about two weeks shooting skate videos in cincinnati, but when i come back, i'll be starting an ambitious new project relating to this blog. it's a surprise...