**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.


This is one of those films that must be hard to fund — films like the
Woodsman, The Magdalene Sisters, War Zone (by Tim Roth) or Monster –
but which, when made, distributed, and seen, recoups any expense and
undresses any doubt. The problem with films like this is that they
involve inappropriate undressing, be it by pedophiles, insitutions,
families, or serial killers. The appeal of the genre is in some ways
the unthinkable, unacceptable, the distasteful and the unwatchable.
It’s that last part, the unwatchable, that creates tension, serving as
a kind of offscreen reference that anchors the film’s story and becomes
its power for not being seen.

(Herzog’s Grizzly Man reveled in this, for it was a film about a guy
who was eaten, along with his girlfriend, by the very Grizzlies he
believed himself to be protecting, and everybody knew it. That was the
whole catch: to know something that is not going to be shown, to be
compelled by it, and to rent and watch this film knowing that it’s a
long set up to a final act we will not be allowed to see. Can it be
that a film such as that prepares us for something horrible? Do we
become complicit with it then, as consumers of that preparation?)

Complicitness. This film shows us what happens. It is simple in its
presentation, and for that complicates its subject matter. Because it
does not plant a stake in the ground and draw clear, distinct and
straightforward lines between right and wrong. Those are the films that
are hard to fund. But better to watch. For they complicate their
concepts, distribute perspectives and motivations, and sometimes even
put the viewer harm’s way.

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