Friday, September 12, 2008

Further comparison: Madame Tutli-Putli and Street of Crocodiles - Toward an understanding of poetic form

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Some time ago (feb 21st to be exact) I felt compelled to start a thread at the SMA message board comparing and contrasting two great stopmotion films - the classic masterpiece Street of Crocodiles by the inimitable (but so often copied) Brothers Quay, and the fresh masterpiece of the Clyde Henry production company Madame Tutli-Putli. Here's the result if anyone's interested in reading a lengthy mess of a preliminary alnalysis:

"Surrealism versus narrative.... let's brainstorm"

It isn't necessary to read that in order to understand this post though (I hope you didn't just wade through the whole thing!) At that point I was vaguely aware of a certain difference between the two films that interested me. There's a certain similarity as well - otherwise I would never have felt the urge to compare them to understand the differences. But for some reason I felt like it was important for me to try to understand WHY they're different, and why to me Street of Crocodiles seems to work better structurally. There was a lot of misunderstanding on that thread, as there tends to be when I do these analyses. Most people don't seem to understand that an analysis isn't a blanket statement of whether you like a film or not... it's a detailed study of some particular part of it (in this case the structure). Comparison and contrast is a powerful tool to help gain insight into matters that would otherwise remain elusive, and when I say that Street seems to work better overall than MTP, it doesn't mean I"m condemning the film or that it sucks or anything... just that I don't feel the structure is coherent. So I state right here - I absolutely LOVE both films, and in spite of any esoteric problems with the structure of one of them, I have bought it in several forms (the original DVD, only available to Canadians, which was extremely difficult to get ahold of let me tell you, and then the iTunes version to have on my computer) as well as writing about it multiple times and lavishing it with praise - a lot more so than anyone else on the board has done. So please, I don't want to hear any whining here about "Hey you @$$hole... I LIKE that movie!" - please let's take off our emotional hats and put on the student hats for a while, ok? I like it too, but this comparison serves the valuable purpose of helping me to understand the underlying structure of poetic films. You have to tear something apart in order to understand it, and at least for me, this doesn't lessen its value - in fact it deepens it.

Ok, so to business then!!

My entire understanding of poetic film and poetic fiction has changed dramatically since I delved into Theatre of the Absurd. That's because, prior to that study, I knew almost nothing about it... just vague intuitions. Little did I realize how important that particular study would prove to be.... and it's not that I necessarily LIKE Theatre of the Absurd all that much... I don't care for most of the plays I've seen versions of, but I love the ideas behind it and in particular the essential study done by Martin Esslin in his book of the same name. It's this book that gave me the underpinnings of a greater comprehension of what poetic fiction is. Not that I completely understand it now... but I have a much better grasp than I did before. And in light of that greater understanding, I now have a more clear idea of what it is that bugs me about Madame Tutli-Putli's structure, and why I don't have the same reservations about Street of Crocodiles.

One of the major problems with MTP for me is the fact that, while it seems to be an attempt at poetic film, it comes across more as a mess of narrative fragments that don't add up to a whole. Now I know --- I just did a post about what I call Poetic Narrative, but here's the problem --- if you're going to do a narrative (poetic OR straightforward), then you need to address the concerns of narrative - IE wrap up loose ends and make sure everything fits. MTP starts one narrative thread, then just drops it and switches to a different one without resolving anything in the first thread. Characters are introduced elaborately, and when this is done you expect them to figure into the story in some way, but as soon as they're introduced they quite literally just disappear and we enter the second narrative thread. The first thread began with an elaborate shot of MTP's excessive baggage, which seems symbolic (baggage in the emotional sense). Possibly it's meant to be taken in that sense... in fact I'm pretty sure it is, but once that idea is introduced, it like the extraneous characters also just disappears. Whether you're doing straightforward narrative OR poetic film It seems to me if you introduce something (idea, character, theme, whatever) you should follow up on it... it should prove to be some part of the overall concept of the piece. Especially if that introduction is elaborate and drawn out, giving it great import in the eyes of the viewer. When a viewer has been really hit over the head with something it takes on special significance... and they'll keep thinking about it throughout the film trying to understand what part it plays. In my studies of film form, I learned that any image or sound that's repeated is what's known as a motif - and simply because it's repeated it takes on extra significance and becomes a powerful element that viewers feel they should know more about. This is true also of any element that is given particular attention by the filmmakers.

Imagine you're sitting in a bar and the guy next to you begins making elaborate, magicianlike gestures with his hands, pulls some object from his pocket, and says "hey buddy... check THIS out! Ever seen anything like it?" --- then he just puts it back in his pocket and walks out, leaving you wondering what all the fuss was. And it was nothing special... just maybe a rock or a bean or something. Frustrating because he set up powerful expectations and then failed to deliver on them. The Clyde Henrys do this repeatedly in their film.

The second narrative thread also introduces new characters, making them even more important than the more ordinary characters from thread one. We never find out who they are, what they're doing, or what part they play in the story (if there is one) or in the poetic image (if there is one).

So the lesson I've gained is.... it doesn't matter if your narrative is straightforward or poetic, if you use narrative at all in a film you must obey the laws of narrative. You can bend the hell out of them, distort them to no end, but you must obey them. if you introduce an idea... and especially if you favor it with extra significance, then FOLLOW UP ON IT. This applies really even if you're doing a poetic piece with no narrative. You still have to follow up on any ideas you introduce, especially if they're in boldface and flashing neon colors.

Finally, here's one of the major reasons MTP feels like narrative and not poetry --- it's a JOURNEY film. Not only does it take place on a train, but there's a distinct sense of beginning (MTP waiting for the train, boarding) middle (journey itself) and end (literally). Even if otherwise it was handled in a purely poetic fashion, this whole journey device is a staple of narrative. It gives narrative structure. It may be the biggest flaw, though the introduction of then unused characters and ideas comes in a close second.

Street of Crocodiles doesn't suffer from any of these problems because the overall structure is purely poetic. Not only is it not contained within a stereotypical narrative framework like a train journey, the entire thing takes place INSDE a small machine -- going nowhere. It's a frozen tableau, an idee fixe. And even the box, the housing in which the action takes place, is a mere representation of "The Zone", which is a stagnant part of an ancient city.... another sense of "going nowhere"... literally stagnating. There's no exhilarating forward rush of movement to relieve the fixed idea of the poetic image. Also the puppets don't represent real people - and in fact don't really represent people AT ALL except in the loosest most metaphorical sense. It's largely the sheer REALISM of MTP that works against it's being poetic. Another factor.... Street is a film framed within a film. The intro and closing take us to a different work=ld which seems metaphorical/symbolic. MTP is presented as a straight movie.

I don't think it's NECESSARY for a poetic film to take place in a static environment, but honestly I can't think of an Absurdist play set on anything like a moving train, or with a sense of the plot (or anything else) moving forward. Progress by it's very nature is narrative. I COULD see a poetic film set on a train, but in a very different manner.... possibly beginning and ending inside the oppressive train itself, never getting out into the fresh air, not seeing the passengers boarding or disembarking... only trapped inside playing out their static roles. This would be a microcosm -- train interior as small version of the world, representing the world of the character(s). I think the old fashioned notion of forward progress (for humankind and for individuals, evolution etc) has been pretty much obliterated by more modern thinking. And I"m not only referring to stagnancy as a metaphor for a depressing life. I don't think poetic fiction need necessarily be depressing. But it does seem to rely on a still setting. A Poetic Image sounds to me like a still image, or one with limited movement (ha! Imagine assembling an animated GIF!). I see narrative as a forward progression through a storyline, and poetry as the study of items arranged on a table like a still life or the pieces of a puzzle.

Ok, here's the part where I soothe any raw nerves I might have roughed up. In all honesty, I really do love Madame Tutli-Putli. I love many films in spite of any problems they may have and I don't know of any perfect movies. Even Street of Crocodiles, which comes pretty close for me, is incomprehensible and vague, but it does offer fascination that makes up for that. Good points in the favor of MTP -- some of the absolutely FINEST design, fabrication, and animation I've ever beheld bar NONE!!! Character animation like I've never seen before, brought to a completely new level, and not entirely just thanks to the innovative and breathtaking use of composited eyes (which is another fantastic feature of the film). My vast enjoyment of the film is only slightly disturbed by my vague sense of something wrong under the surface, a nagging hint that only revealed its nature under close scrutiny. I know from all my writing about "What's Wrong With Madame Tutli-Putli" it must seem like I hate it, but let me assure you that's the farthest thing from the truth. I only write so much about it in my efforts to understand, because I know it's these vague feelings that will lead me to my own way of filmmaking. It's these soft inner voices we MUST heed over all others... follow wherever they lead.

Ok, I"m done. Wow, is it just me, or did I get REALLY wordy on this one?!??!?! Sorry about that!

19 comments:

Kelly said...

Hey Mikey,
I thought I might post this email excerpt here too, for to share and discuss openly:

As Far as MTP, I cannot agree with you more. I do feel like the artists failed at stringing together any cohesive narrative, but with obvious traces that they tried to search for something profound. I kinda feel like they copped out trying to leave the end open for interpretation. And I tell ya, I do love the film too. but at the point where the train gets hijacked by the Tool video (with the strange beings that board the train), it's almost laughable. Which makes MTP and the Quay's just apples and oranges. Awhile back after seeing Matthew Barney's Creamaster films in NYC at the Guggenheim, (you should check some of his stuff out) I remember trying to describe his works to other people and found it quite difficult to explain that; while yes, his art film Cremaster 4 is a 4 hours long non narrative film without dialog, it fits within scope of the artists chosen medium: sculpture. Barney makes these elaborate bizzare sculptures out of non traditional materials like self lubricating medical plastics or 400 gallons of solidified vasoline! With his sculptures on display alongside exhibition of his films, the objects become artifacts or relics from within the films. Which lead me to describe his films as "temporal sculpture." It's not the kind of film that you can experience with expectations of being "entertained" from beginning and middle to end. The viewer is led through a series of images/impressions whereas the lens becomes the artists means for editing of ideas & focus of interest. Unlike the experience of just seeing a sculpture in a gallery. Matthew Barney uses the films to contextualize the objects/sculptures on display. I feel the quay's do this really well too. they always tend to use alot of "found" materials/objects which are already interesting works on their own. The films contextualize these spiritually or metaphorically "charged" items within their hidden stage dioramas. A Quay film tires to gives the viewer a sense of pathos rather than just cold process (the act of animation/reanimation), while exposing tiny bits of seemingly familiar fuzzy vignettes. However, above all else they're about experiencing the sculptures/objects onscreen woven into a time based medium (temporal sculpture), where the lens becomes a looking glass to a seemingly ambiguous microcosm on display. Anyhow I'm outta steam..

Darkstrider said...

Hey cool.... I'll post part of my response:

"at the point where the train gets hijacked by the Tool video" Hah!!! Classic!!

I think the Henrys got too caught up in the material they collected on their train voyage and wanted to include a bunch of the anecdotal stories, and that took precedence over any structure. Judging from what I've seen of their earlier work, they don't understand structure, have mostly done still images (with narrative content) and experimental shorts. Hey who knows... maybe they'll read what I've been writing and it'll spur them to look into it.

Cremaster... I remember you telling me about it. Wonder if Netflix has it? Hell, it's probably on the Tube by now! Yep... at least bits and pieces of it. Not like seeing it in glorious full resolution on DVD, but better than nothing.

Melvyn Erville said...

Top notch Bloggery my friend, when I see a new post here I make a nice hot cup of tea and settle in for some good reading, right up my street, I hope you can keep it up. I really enjoyed MTP and think it has merit however I kept thinking this is more like a show reel than a story, albeit a really awesome show reel! I think stop-motion in particular walks the razors edge of just being the “Look what we can do now” trick film kind of thing. There’s nothing wrong with that I love trick films, but it would be even better if a showcase for new tricks was seamlessly worked into story or poetically presented. People become sophisticated quickly as Georges Méliès found out they know how it’s done it loses the magic, and yet magic in a live theatre is still popular because people want to believe in Magic. I don’t mean to demean MTP to the status of just a show reel, I think maybe the rules of motif and poetry can be thrown out the window of a moving train, and you could argue that there is in fact a coherent story there in a metaphorical streamy way. I enjoyed watching it several times, maybe that is all that matters. Cheers, I'm off to look for Cremaster...

Sven Bonnichsen said...

MTP breaks down when the mysterious train thieves come onboard. Agreed.

The Quays have an aesthetic based on "assemblage" sculptures (built from found objects). Agreed.

MTP invokes a journey -- which makes us anticipate that questions posed at the beginning of the trip will be resolved at the end. Good point.

If it sounds like there's going to be a "but" here, where I suddenly disagree with you... Well, that's not the case. ;-)

==========

I still feel like I'm figuring out what it is that you mean by "poetic narrative." I think that absurdist theatre is pointing you in the direction of clarification -- but that it won't get you all the way there.

I haven't read Esslin yet -- but from what I know of absurdism's history, it's utterly tied to existentialism. The idea that "life has no inherent meaning, therefore we must find artificial ways to create meaning" is embodied in plays where no big event occurs, and where the characters' sense of identity is shown to be full of holes.

Attempting to structure a piece of fiction so that it reflects existentialist beliefs will necessarily mean that it bucks the traditions of... Well, the Aristotelian model of drama.

The fact that absurdist art rebels against tradition means it's at least a "fellow traveler" for the cinematic heretics that you like -- but I'm not convinced that absurdism's particular formula for creating imagery could ever produce Street of Crocodiles.

==========

It's been a while since I've watched SOC, so I'm probably going out on thin ice here... But perhaps the film is structured a little bit like an elaborate machine? Where we get little glimpses of how life in the "zone" functions... Until by the end we have assembled a complete picture of the how the whole functions?

Supposing that there are multiple ways to structure a "poetic narrative," perhaps this is one option: to show fragments of a whole thing, which ultimately add up to a complete understanding? Not in the sense of clues which ultimately lead to solving a mystery -- but rather a collection of niches which summed comprise an ecology?

I'm just digging around, exploring here... But the "snapshots from an ecology" structure could be useful in a practical way... Design your world -- then break it into components, which on their own are mysterious, lyrical, haunting... But do ultimately fit together.

Sven Bonnichsen said...

(I hate it when I forget to check the "email follow-up comments to" box...)

Darkstrider said...

Thanks for weighing in Sven, and making some excellent points!!

I must admit, I was grimacing and waiting for the big But.

Yes, yes and YES!!


You're absolutely right, I also don't believe Theatre of the Absurd completely defines Street of Crocodiles, and possibly fails to define it at all. Like you, I"m feeling my way in the Dark here, trying to find what Matters, and I know I"m going to say some boneheaded things along the way.

I really like your Snapshots of an Ecology analysis.... more to the point and specific (in describing SoC) than my overused and formulaic Clues to a Mystery. So glad you posted this! The discussion is opening my eyes to new variations.

I guess the reason I keep equating SoC with TotA is simply because it has what feels to me like a completely poetic form.... though I agree it doesn't really fit with Esslin's description (as posted in the About Me box). When I'm writing these things I do tend to jump to the nearest (simple) thing I can grasp and just keep using it, even if it's a poor fit. It still helps me gain insight and begin to develop an understanding of poetic form.

I definitely feel like there's a whole spectrum of poetic approaches, many of which have little or nothing to do with Esslin's description of TotA. Right now I'm like a drowning man, clutching at that straw of meaning because it's all I've got. Hopefully starting from it, I can begin to crack this walnut and begin to understand poetic form in all its many splendor'd forms. And your alternate analogy is another huge step along the way.

I suppose what I"m trying to do with all this talk of Poetic Form is simply find an opening that will let me effectively escape the straightjacket of narrative form that I've grown up with. I think it will take a sustained assault, and it's probably most important that I find things that appeal personally to me that lie within the realm of the poetic, rather than lay out a full diagram of all that's poetic in film.

So think of Esslin's description (and our analogies) as a sort of paper template for a suit jacket that I have cut out crudely and pinned together on myself and am wearing to events where a real suit would be more... suitable. I know it's a poor substitute, but at least it gives me the feel of almost being the real thing, and by trying it on I can feel how it needs to be modified. i think the modification process will be slow and halting, proceeding by jumps and starts (and some false ones at that).

I had a feeling I hadn't adequately described what I'm calling Poetic Narrative. I suppose I should start writing out a more complete description, rather than referring to it obliquely in passing the way I tend to in the blog entries. But again, I suspect I'm categorizing things here that might be more personally meaningful to me than actually serving as broad categorical descriptions.

Probably what I'm doing is mapping and attempting to illuminate the dim regions of my own psyche, seeking my own way toward the kind of films I want to make, which really aren't necessarily *POETIC* in the strict sense, but midway between the poetic and the standard narrative. It's important first for me to define (in terms that make sense to me in a personal way) what I consider the polar opposite of narrative structure - POETIC FORM; Essiln's description serving as a *good-enough* stand-in for now, until something better comes along.

Wow, now look what you did!! I went off on another gabblefest, repeating myself endlessly again and just chasing my tail. But I can see something there, tantalizing, just beyond peripheral sight, and if I keep trying, maybe I'll run into a doorframe and it will suddenly spring into full sight...

I appreciate the input!

Edwound Wisent said...

(^ admittedly, I'm barely thin slicing here (haven't read the whole slew )..SMALl butt..
(^ one thing I've always liked is reading my old journals.
(^ ANYone's actual day to tay diary will do..
(^ biggest point to poetic narative for me?
9^ the unresolved conflict that just keeps going and going and going..
small breaks in it, but there's often this underlying upended "i have no answers to this.. just documenting my conflict" kind of thing to certain sojourns.
(^ as soon as I see a punchline comming, I often duck out for cover.
(^ perhaps it comes from being raised by a minister:
(^ sermons HAVE to have a point you see.
(^ life?
(^...notsomuch.

(^ sometimes life IS NOTHING BUTT a string of remembered events.

(^ logic defies reason for simply being tHere.

(^ i'll trail off into the darkness on that .. maybe go listen to something about mary or some other johnathen Richman.

Edwound Wisent said...

(^ oh. one last comment.

(^ "underSTANDing" structure does NOT mean insiting on sticking to itiveness.
(^ in facet, I find rigid standardized formality disgustingly purile and for graduate students at their best effort at being .. professional.
(^ experts often get SOoooobored with "been there; dung that data".. that..
"TADAHhhh!" blamo.
(^ they cast off all restraints and just whoopdeefoowie.. mark their time together and then have the gaul to show private moments to a general public,
(^ knowing full well that controversy breeds intrigue.

(^ normalized structure? pha.
not for festival viewing. (^ go watch cable TV and commercials if you prefer structure.

(^ there dungdiddled.
(^ finitoed.
(^ please don't take any offense from my oddly corrosive slant.
(^.. unless it helps more than hinders the brain processing to do so.

(^ toodles!

Darkstrider said...

I completely agree.

No punch lines.... Monty Python used to be my absolute favorite show... nothing like it before or since.

Structure should disappear.... become invisible. Rules were made, not to be broken (or followed blindly) but to be TRANSCENDED.

I've said it many times before, but not recently. so I'll repeat... my studies into structure are so I can transcend it (hopefully). It needs to be done from knowledge though, not ignorance. Otherwise you end up with a mess and can't understand why it just doesn't work.

When I study things like story structure, my technique is to absorb it into the gestalt, let it soak in and simmer for a while, let it either graft and take or slough off and slide down the drain, then I work intuitively. I don't like to create graphs and charts to work out my ideas... at most maybe a few jotted notes.

stephanie said...

Hey Mike,

You raise some interesting points here... I've thought about that ending to Tutli a lot, and when I first saw the film, I was a little peeved (or, at least, uncomfortable) about it.

BUT -- I've come to think that that was entirely the point. I think you're right about the cliché of the train trip as a narrative: you get on the train, you take off, and you end up somewhere else. There is a traditional A --> B structure to such a timeline. I think Chris and Maciek chose that cliché precisely to break it. They are kinda goofy guys, and yet very smart and serious, so I'm 99% sure this contrast in "here's my traditional narrative" vs. "oops there's no ending" was completely intentional.

I think they would get a kick out of setting the story up reasonably and then letting all reason slide. It makes you feel uncomfortable in a way that a purely poetic, consistently non-narrative "storyline", à la Street of Crocodiles, can't really do. I would argue that it's harder to break the structure of the cliché without referencing it first, and then messing with it. I think the feeling of being left hanging after the tease of a traditional storyline was the main point of the entire film... to bring about a kind of existential "Waiting for Godot" type angst in the viewer.

Edwound Wisent said...

(^ jeaz yer gonnah get me up and ranting again.
(^ perhaps watching an old music video from talking heads might help?

road to nowhere ? or maybe (nothing but) flowers would be better.

(^ the problem with "living"
(^ is its end(s) ha(ve)s less meaning
(^ than its meandering middle.

"where you FROM?"
"what's yer NAMEtag?"
" Y R U Bing? "
(^ it's all structured to make explorers and fishers feel discontent if nothing (product)
is lost nor gained in the process.

http://www.mypodcast.com/fsaudio/exileguy_20080610_0813-243407.mp3 yes we can?! so frickin what?
I mean, hey. I've a child here I'm trying to teach the wonders of open ended conceptualizations and there being no need for closure every time we say aloha or "till we meet again"


so try to figger out why this is almost better than hearing the full piece.

bRYEnd:
http://cdbaby.com/mp3lofi/cchandler-04.m3u

use this one as a sample.
(^ see if you can tweek it open? all i needed to do was open it in a second window.


(^ bull)Xenfree, ollie ollie.
(^ we make dew because it's something to doo with moments strung out over a series of random events .

like playing chess on a trainride and getting grumpy every time the board gets jostled and the silly stalemated game has to be reset.

(^ just a game gambit anywho....

stephanie said...

Also... for me, Tutli raises the same kinds of questions as that Charlie Kaufman / Spike Jonze movie, Adaptation. In Adaptation, the question for the main character, the writer, was -- how can I write a story without following the traditional narrative? But in the end, he goes with all those stories that he was avoiding telling at first -- the drug deals, car chases, and heartbreak clichés, because he concedes that that's what storytelling is all about. The extremes of human emotions, that have been tooled and refined into ideas that are told over and over again, because they get right at the meat of the matter -- human conflict and drama.

Tutli asks the same question but inverses the approach. So, we start out with the clichés and then throw them all out the window at the end. Order and certainty turn to emptiness and chaos. Everything in the film is symbolic of this idea: the chess game (chaos and chance wins the game, rather than skill and reason), the tennis player (strict athleticism turns to sluggish hedonism, perhaps), the baggage (a straight line of stuff disappears into the ether). The thieves are the mysterious catalysts for death and chaos, loss of reason and identity.

OK, that's it for my analysis! ;)

Nofby said...

I've changed the web adress on my blog, so you may need to change it on your sidebar. If you don't know, I'm starting a new film. Check out my blog to have a look

Sorry, this is a bit interruptive, but I am grateful for these posts, very understandable

Darkstrider said...

Wow, all these new posts after I stopped checking here for them!

Stephanie..... wow, where did you come from? I clicked through to your blog, and it looks like everybody else already knew about it. Glad to find it!

Your analysis sounds completely sound to me.

There's no reason both our analyses can't coexist peacefully without stepping on each others' toes. Yours is probably lot more on the mark concerning their intentions, mine was really more a vehicle for me to work out some half-glimpsed thoughts and ideas about poetic structure, just using the two movies as a springboard.

Nof buddy, I'll switch that straight away!

And Brian... what can I say? Come to think of it, what did YOU say? I need to ponder on it a bit. Maybe clicking the links will clarify?

Darkstrider said...

Ok Nofby...

Can you point out the essential flaw in your logic?

"check my blog to see the new blog address...."??!?!??!!

:)

Can you give me a hint?

Darkstrider said...

Ok, a second reading brought much light to Brian's post.... just skimmed it the first time. Actually pretty damn profound. Nice sound byte too.

Nof, YOUR mystery remains....


(though I'm sure I can find the new addy on the mess board)

Edwound Wisent said...

(^ the MESS board.
(^ what a lovely awakened term!

(^ sigh. perhaps I should turn
(^ off my reverse blind bignosed smily face >)

my EdwoundWisent youtube is now
my main form of communication with self. using the vlog to gather notes . much easier that trying to typo up a stream of disconnected `concIOUsness `.

broken glass shards found while on mysticktwalkies.

spell checkers for me: shed light in ways that perhaps the MAKING
of journals about sojourns used to.

Further comparison: Madame Tutli-Putli and Street of Crocodiles - Toward an understanding of poetic form

ok I'll byte:
in the making of Tutli-Putli i've seen,
a lot was discussed on setting up lighting tricks using found objects.


(^ there and back again.

sigh . i noticed this write up was posted the day after 911.

it may have been read over by those trying to make sens of this newformed holy day created to mark this new millennium as one of simBooleanic reasoning and the lack of logic being what makes most joy.
logic causes thinking.
unless it causes eureka momentum.

Darkstrider said...

Don't hang up the symbolface Prosser, it just takes more concentration to read your posts.... I sometimes can't muster the mustard. But when I do I often RELISH the results! ;)

And I see exactly what you're saying (well, maybe I should never claim to understand your meaning EXACTLY.... but close enough anyway). Open ended nonsensicalisms replete with feedback loops and flip-flop stylings. Definitely another option, and one that would make for some very memorable films if they could be done right. That way could be harder to navigate though, you'd have to completely trust your own intuition.

Been thinking more about Stephanie's statements. And in retrospect it seems completely obvious that the Clydes were being post modernist. I said before that maybe they just didn't think about or know about structure.... more likely they wanted to undermine it. Postmodernism isn't something that appeals to me much, at least that strain of it. To me deliberately setting out to frustrate and confuse your viewers is a form of passive aggression. I can imagine Pee Wee Herman making a movie and when he's accused of not wrapping up loose ends etc saying "I MEANT to do that". Nanny nanny boo-boo!

If MTP is an example of postmodern filmmaking, then it reinforces my aversion to postmodernism. I don't like the structure of the film, though I love many other aspects of it.

Darkstrider said...

Hey Prosser, I just realized.... what you described (unfinished meanderings, journalistic journeys, no conclusions drawn etc) is pretty much New Wave. French, Czech, and Italian Neo-Realism. I was thinking more along Bickford lines when you said it (which also fits your description of course) but just got hit in the head all of a sudden. Those films feel at the same time more realistic and more poetic and dreamlike than a more structured narrative. Sophisticated without being formulaic.