by Ryland Walker Knight
After some hummus and half a cucumber sliced, but before any beer, I found my way on the eve of another move (via twitter, of course) to a thread on The Auteurs about a topic I'm particularly, well, obsessed with—in fact, that I have been obsessed with for some time: cinema's shift to digital. So I gave it some more words, jotted rather quickly, which I quote below. It should be noted that this is not so much a full argument as a volley, an invitation to more, as ever.
For this record, while I'm here, as if it needed repeating on this interweb: I find INLAND EMPIRE to be truly beautiful. I love the smear. Likewise, Mann knows what's up. The paradoxical mechanics of aperture and shutter speeds makes Mann's argument that much more interesting, too, since a lot of what seems to have motivated his shift is his interest in the speed (and the ramping up of the speed) of story and of action to the point where it gets hardly representational. I think this impatience operates differently in Soderbergh, though both men are interested in working and how one works and how much one works. It's never a question of why one works. One simply works. That is, if they do not work, then they die. What's cool about Mann is how much he's after a vividness of the world over against the remove of Soderbergh; both are fascinating, but the world Mann makes is the world I want to live in; or, at least, the world I want to see every day. Then again, one might say that those are the same (though different, of course).
I'm sure my friend Danny would love it if you kept the conversation to the thread you can find by clicking those words above, but I would love it even more if you continued a conversation with me here! Expect more Michael Mann stuff soon, when that new movie opens.
I feel compelled to say that this conversation, by necessity, ignores both the broader history of digital trends in cinema and the particular efforts of some genius frogs who have been playing with grain and mauling light like this for some time: Godard and, more importantly, Chris Marker. (To say nothing of Costa and Jia and their projects.) But I don't have time for that right now. Now is the time to hunt for that beer, to fly off a little ways into a brighter dumber haze.