Match Frame

Thoughts from an American editor and filmmaker in New Zealand about film and video production and post-production. Plus whatever else I feel like talking about.

Location: Balmoral, Auckland, New Zealand

A work in progress.

Friday, August 13, 2010

astonishing cinema: SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE BURGLARS

There's a movie that opened yesterday in New Zealand. It's got lots of effects and references to video games in it and is supposed to be pretty "awesome".

There's a movie that my friend is seeing tonight in New York. It's from the 70s and is probably laughably dated to many. Here's the trailer:

I've not seen either, but on the basis of available evidence, there's only one of these that blows me away, and it's the second one. Here's why: despite its lack of stylization, there's something real and visceral about it that I fear is gone from cinema forever. I know that Jason Schwartzman did sword training, yeah, and there's probably a lot that's "real" in SCOTT PILGRIM, but there's so much that's UN-real (gauging by the trailer, but by most reviews I've seen so far, it accurately represents the contents) that it doesn't connect with the part of my brain that gets astonished. "Numbed" is probably a better description.

On the other hand, take a look at the shot in THE BURGLARS at around :41, where Belmondo (or a stuntie - can't tell at this resolution) is hanging out a window of a moving train, kicking at the open door of a moving car while it's being pushed against him. It's a crude stunt, but it's also undeniably real, and therefore (to me) exciting. But more than that: it's virtually unthinkable that I'd have the same reaction to even the same shot in a 2010 movie, because I would doubt that it was real. Here, though, there's no question as to whether the car was composited in, or if it was all shot on a green-screen - they just got out there and did it.

Also: I just discovered THE BURGLARS is directed by Henri Vernueil, who I've long been curious about after seeing a film varyingly titled ANY NUMBER CAN WIN, MELODIE EN SOUS-SOLEIL, and THE CAPER THAT SANK. Regardless of the name you see it under, it's an awesome lark.

At some point I want to write a long manifesto on the nature of astonishing cinema and why it's endangered, but there's no better object lesson than those two trailers. (And I say that knowing 90% of those who read this, and 99.9% of the world, would rather watch SCOTT PILGRIM than THE BURGLARS. Oh well.)

(On the other hand, I kind of have a crush on Anna Kendrick, so I will probably see SCOTT PILGRIM eventually.)


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