Join me in a blogathon for week of Valentine’s day

**folks I’m too busy to do this at the moment; i’ll get it together soon, write up the theme, and send it back around! in the meantime if you have thoughts, don’t hesitate to let me know!**

There’s a genre of film that I don’t have a name for, but it goes something like this:

Society is unravelling. Our relationships are threadbare and worn. We spend a lot of our time detached, separated by distances. We have encounters with other people but we miss opportunities to really connect. Then a random or arbitrary set of circumstances, events, or encounters brings us together in a chain, or converging on an place in space and time, or we are implicated in something beyond our control… And our individual choices then offer us an opportunity to change the sitaution, each other, and possibly heal or at least redeem ouselves, and with that humanity.

The film-makers would include Inarritu, PT Anderson, Kieslowski, Haneke, Wai, among others. I think of them as upside down crime movies, because they are Whodunnits or Whydunnits in which the act is a gift not a theft. Films would include Babel, AmoresPerros, Red, Chunking Express, Magnolia, Crash, Code Unknown, Cache, Amelie, and a whole ton of others.

Perhaps the whole thing could be an homage of sorts to Altman, whose Nashville and Shortcuts might set this whole thing up.

We could cover the use of
–situations on which characters converge as if in drawn by some inevitable reckoning
–character choices based not an obvious and plot-driven motive, but revealing an inner humanity that resolves plot points as if by chance
–happy accidents, accidents that provide redemptive possibilities, conflicts that can be resolved by means other than opposition and violence
–narratives built on subtexts and subplots, each with their own logic, but woven together to create a sort of uplifting and transcendental story based in a kind of it-could-never-happen-like-that-reality
–a sense that the film-maker wishes to address social issues and is doing it through individual story lines

Interested? Leave a comment. I’m thinking Feb 10 – 17. Each blogger covers a director, film, or some aspect of the genre.

7 Replies to “Join me in a blogathon for week of Valentine’s day”

  1. I’m interested, especially within Kieslowski’s oeuvre. From which angle do you consider this topic? To me it’s merely a narrative device, a gimmick to artificially interconnect scenes and characters. It is not inherently a clever device. And it can be used in bad movies also to desastrous effects…

  2. ok, so this might be too inventive, but i think you can break down the different types of films according their view of society. then you have a view of what’s broken. then what might repair it…..
    furthermore there are ways of unfolding the relations as parallel, as multi-tracked, as sequential (relays), and so on….
    and then there’s the matter of what kind of human action/communication/relationship is involved, and what that says about our future, etc: moral acts, self-centered acts, acts based on profit motive, on knowledge, on impulse…. that we are fundamentally good or fundamentally f**ked! etc.
    i’ve a theory that us films = action; british = etiquette/drama; french = social; icelandic-scand = existential; and so on…

  3. Tell me what its not and I’ll tell you what it is… I’ll take Linklater since his films have crossed my eye lately, My Waking Life and Tape most explicitly. What is wrong with society? It doesn’t exist, every belief about the external world is a belief you would like to believe, its something you desire and have to believe or else… (insert trauma-related complex, condition, identity-related phobia here). Interesting part of Linklater, his best ‘edge’: the cure is that you have to accept the weakness of ontology as primordial. The social problem is that perspectival opinion is all there ever was – the cure is asking why you ever thought otherwise. (Rhetoricity trumps technicity, even in rotoscopy, every time.) The cure again, in Linklater? I’d say… probably making more art about how opinion and belief are swamping the expert systems and crooked fingered empirical processing of everything into ‘reality media’ and art that ‘says something’.

  4. matt,
    linklater could be an interesting choice for films that reflect on social relations — i need to see tape. but i was focusing on films in which story, characters, action, and events are built on a sort of social model. hence crash, magnolia, altman’s nash and short, (gosford is an excellent choice as you mentioned — want to take altman instead of linklater?), and indies from haynes, or even little miss. i think a study could be done on use of vehicles as a device for getting people together (e.g. in a road trip, chase, or through crashes)….

  5. Trust me, Linklater has a “social model” its just that its rhetorical and not sociological. And it is his view, that esse est percipi which I take to be three things: deeply cineaste, berkeleyan and petit bourgeois… it is not my personal view that there is no social… and thus, the articulation of this worldview in Linklater’s films might be a fit for your blogathon…but it also points to a critical limit in the ontology of film for rendering experience…

  6. I wish I could have rewatched a Kieslowsky film but your blogathon had a rather short notice I’m afraid…
    I’ll try to come up with something else.

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