Random Factoid #528

7 01 2011

Shaky cam blues?  Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman wrote an interesting piece on their blog today; here’s an excerpt:

“Shooting a dramatic feature film with jittery, handheld shaky cam — for that imitation-documentary, ‘this isn’t just a movie, it’s reality!’ feeling — isn’t new, and neither is the complaint that so often gets heard in response to it: ‘I couldn’t watch that movie — it made me sick!’ Personally, I have to say that I’ve never once had the experience of sitting through a film shot in the aggressively off-kilter, wavery-cam style only to have it make me sick to my stomach. When you see as many movies as I do, it may be an occupational hazard to become immune to that sort of quease-inducing kinesthetic-visceral fake-out. (If it makes the afflicted feel less jealous, I can’t go on twirly carnival rides.)

… in ‘Black Swan,’ when Aronofsky employs the same technique, with the camera weaving and bobbing up the steps of Lincoln Center as it trails Natalie Portman’s overwrought bunhead ballerina, there’s nothing especially novel or precious about it. It’s an idiosyncratic style nudged, via a high-gloss horror movie, into the mainstream.

In ‘The Fighter’ (on which Aronofsky was one of the producers), the handheld mode, potent and effective as it is, starts to become something even more standard: the cornerstone of a new Hollywood house style. For one thing, the technique has simply been around long enough that people have gotten used to it. A few of them may still feel sick, but now, at least, they’ll expectto feel sick. For another, reality TV has accustomed people to the rhythm and sight and spirit of cameras trailing people in authentic yet highly charged dramatic contexts, be those subjects real housewives or the party-hookup masters of ‘Jersey Shore.'”

I’ll admit that it is becoming such a standard part of movies that I hardly recognize it anymore except when it’s made especially nauseating.  I didn’t even realize how much it was used in “The Fighter,” and I think the only reason I recognized it in “Black Swan” was because Darren Aronofsky used it to bring about some nauseating sensations.  The scenes of Nina walking were especially difficult to watch as we bobbed up and down so quickly.

Ultimately, I think shaky-cam is going to be another filmmaking tool to use, much like 3D will eventually become.  Filmmakers can use it for a variety of purposes, and indeed they already have.  Aronofsky used it to make us a little nauseated; Russell made us feel real.  Who knows how else it can and will be used?

Like we needed any sort of excuse to keep eagerly watching the development of cinema…

On another note, DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY TO WIN “THE SOCIAL NETWORK” BY PARTICIPATING ON THE DISCUSSION BOARDS ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE!


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One response

8 01 2011
James D.

Aronofsky still hasn’t mastered its use the same way the Dardennes have.

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