Got home last night, pretty beat after two days’s intensive teaching, so I dialled up Apple TV, which has a very limited selection of movies to choose from, mainly B grade (but much better for TV). Anyway, I chose, to my regret, Taken 2 (Dir. Luc Besson, starring Liam Neeson). Pretty sure Neeson knows how bad it is. But it’s the editing style, known as intensified continuity, which is taken to extremes in this movie and really got on my nerves. Split-second cuts in the action scenes, which makes you think that the protagonists’ fists aren’t really coming anywhere near each other, so they’re using editing to cover up the gap. I remember one brilliant, breath-taking moment in which a single take is allowed to rest on an air-borne car before it crashes. Completely restful. Then on the with show…
Anyway, it reminded me of this video essay by Matthias Stork.
Stork argues that the techniques of ‘chaos cinema’ extend beyond the editing into camerawork and CGI integration.
It’s a shotgun aesthetic, firing a wide swath of sensationalistic technique that tears the old classical film-making style to bits.
These directors’ bi-word is spectator disorientation, to the extent of narrative break-down. “The only art here is the art of confusion”, Stork argues. Intelligibility – such as it is – is derived from the soundtrack. The sound design saved these movies.
Stork goes on to illustrate how the techniques of chaos cinema extend to other genres, and inhibit the actor’s ability to communicate. I’m wondering whether a lot of the transmedia phenomenon is an extension fo chaos cinema – a profusion of media in which order is threatened, the spectator is meant to piece it together, sometimes rather impressionistically.
Narrative will never be threatened, only projects that fail to strike a balance between the chaos aesthetic and narrative convention. What drives people to wade through the chaos to make sense? It must be the core narrative values of character, drama, location, etc.