With scripts, there’s a constant process of writing things that are very literal and having characters say what’s about to come next—which you want to avoid—and then paring everything back. But in transitioning from script to screen, you’re making choices in production about how much to show. And in the edit you find that things can be shown very simply. I would love to find a way to synthesize screenwriting logic and the logic of production and how it all comes together in post-production. But you’re fighting against yourself and dominant forms of storytelling. Does a filmmaker know what we’ll like as an audience watching a movie? All our preferences and dislikes? I try to make sure that we’re not pandering and not withholding too much purposefully. For the subjects I think that sometimes implies distance, but the more I can tell visually, the more exciting of an experience it is for the audience.
2. Tarkovsky wrote a book about cinema called “Sculpting in Time.” At least this was the English title. It can be translated more literally as “Depicted Time” or “Written Time,” which sound less poetic but feel more accurate. A devotee of eternal takes and glacial tracking shots, Tarkovsky was a sworn nemesis of rapid-cut editing and other filmic conventions that alter our perception of time, which we, the audience, often expect and demand. For Tarkovsky, the cinematic image was “essentially the observation of a phenomenon passing through time,” and an image became “authentically cinematic when (amongst other things) not only does it live within time, but time also lives within it.”
One of the great, time-released pleasures of movie-going is watching the actors of your generation grow older. Maybe pleasures isn’t precisely the right word, but maybe it is. I am only now beginning to discover it, seeking out some sign of accreted wisdom, pain, or contentment–experience–in their faces. This one had a baby, that one just lost her dad. Watching Ethan Hawke in Before Sunset was probably, along with the R-train moment, which happened around that same time, the beginning of my realization that time was really passing, that this thing was really happening. Life began to show itself as more than a series of days, or movies, all in a row, which I might or might not attend. He was gaunt and slightly stooped, but it was his face—rough skin and sunken cheeks, with an angry, exclamatory furrow wedged like a hatchet blade between his eyes—that transfixed me. Some said he’d come through a divorce, and it took its toll; that that’s what life does to people. I’d heard about such things but never really seen it in action on the face of someone only a few years older than me. There was something awful and yet so marvelous, so real and poignant and right, about Ethan Hawke’s face, and about getting to see it in this beautiful meditation on what life does to people, a ten-years-in-the-making sequel to a film about people too young and smitten to be too concerned about what life might do to them. And what was life doing to me? I worry.
Linklater’s greatest formal innovations probably result from his experiments in structuring narratives around real-time sequences. Because he has always favored philosophical dialogue over physical action, Linklater typically also favors long takes to fast cutting, and many of his movies consequently take place over the course of a single day: Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, SubUrbia, Tape, Waking Life, Before Sunset andBefore Midnight all take place in a span of less than 24 hours. Additionally,Tape and Before Sunset are among the few feature films in the history of cinema that take place entirely in real time. The apotheosis of Linklater’s style can be found in Before Midnight, in which the lack of cutting and the choreography between the camera and the performers seem so organic to the material and achieve such a perfect sense of harmony that the film’s ostensible European-style “art-film” aesthetic has deservedly found success among general audiences — as if it were a more typical American-style rom-com.
With these strictures and reservations in mind, I come to what may be my most controversial recommendation, certainly for me: never again watch the films you cherished in your youth, for youth lends a wonder and tolerance that age erodes and disdains. The point applies equally to the British "Carry On" series of farces and Bergman’s medieval meditation "The Seventh Seal" (1957), wherein Bengt Ekerot’s Death has lost his sting, even when playing chess with Max von Sydow’s knight, and the final hilltop dance of death by the knight and his followers, stretched out, arms linked, is one of the clearest examples of where my abidingly etched memory is far too strong to make a return viewing anything other than an anti-climax.
Here, Cameron Diaz goes looking for the lip gloss on the car floor, ass end up. The biker who passes by presumes some erotic activity, which Christina Applegate takes as an opportunity to have some fun. The biker, by the way, seems a reimagination of the Wolf from Tex Avery's 1943 Red Hot Riding Hood. His manner is animated in multiple senses of the word—he hops on his seat, he grinds his pelvis, he howls. When he crashes, he survives. In this brief sequence, the three actors are performing characters in three different “realities”: Diaz as innocent friend, biker as an energized onlooker, Applegate as ludic puppetmaster. There are three degrees of knowledge corresponding to these realities: Diaz knows nothing, the biker thinks he knows something, and Applegate actually knows something. It is simple, elegant, and what's more it is light and disposable. On to the next!
Now things get really interesting. In Fast Five, the entire cast is on the lam in Rio, Brazil, (cue requisite shot of the Christ the Redeemer statue). We learn Mia is pregnant after she experiences nausea and looks concerned. Vince returns, still sullen and prone to betrayal. The gang is being hunted by The Rock who is spritzed and shiny and so swollen with muscles you cannot help but wonder when his body will break. There’s a train heist. At one point, Dom and Brian jump from a moving car, over a gorge, into a river. There are foot races through the favelas. The Rock flexes. Dom’s t-shirts get tighter. Through some convoluted events, they realize they have something a very powerful bad guy wants. They need to assemble a team so everyone joins in the fun—Tyrese, Ludacris, the two Dominican guys from the fourth movie, Han and Gisele. It’s like the “Quintet” sequence in West Side Story, only spritzier.
"I had this idea," Korine told the Los Angeles Times. "With music remixes sometimes, when certain producers take a song and chop them up and deconstruct them - why not try that with a feature film? Using all different footage, making the same film all over again." ...Korine added: "It'll be the first chopped and screwed movie."