Quotes of Quotes (XII): The Future of the “Fast & Furious” Franchise

Wouldn’t that be awesome? I’ll happily take more suggestions in the Comments.

Quotes of Quotes (XI): Danny Boyle on Marketing

[Y]ou lie to raise money. You lie all the time. I remember to sell Slumdog Millionaire, we said it was Amélie with a bit of Trainspotting thrown in.
– Danny Boyle in the April issue of “Sight and Sound”

This is a little bit old already, but it’s genius nevertheless!

Quotes of Quotes (X): The Operational Aesthetic

Accounts of cinematic special effects highlight how these moments of awe and amazement pull us out of the diegesis, inviting us to marvel at the technique required to achieve visions of interplanetary travel, realistic dinosaurs, or elaborate fights upon treetops. These spectacles are often held in opposition to narration, harkening back to the cinema of attractions that predated narrative film and deemphasizing classical narrative form in the contemporary blockbuster cinema. While such special effects do appear on television […] complex television offers another mode of attractions: the narrative special effect. […] These moments of spectacle push the operational aesthetic to the foreground, calling attention to the constructed nature of the narration and asking us to marvel at how the writers pulled it off; often these instances forego strict realism in exchange for a formally aware baroque quality in which we watch the process of narration as a machine rather than engaging in its diegesis.
– Jason Mittell, Complex TV, “Complexity in Context”

I do love it, when a plan comes together. And I love it even more, when someone finds a technical term for that love. After reading my defense of Star Trek Into Darkness‘s plotting, a friend alerted me to Jason Mittels excellent work-in-progress book Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling which is now fully online for free! I have only devoured two chapters so far, but it is an excellent read with not too many academic strings attached. Highly recommended!

As for the “Operational Aesthetic”, that is: the joy of watching a machine work, I feel like Mittell has found me out. Since I have always been a fan of visual special effects, it comes as no surprise that I’m also a fan of narrative special effects – and I think it’s one of the few joys left to us in the realm of market-oriented contemporary franchise filmmaking. Mittell mentions puzzle movies like Inception as examples from the big screen, but I think the same terms fit perfectly with the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and evolving franchises like The Fast and the Furious.

Finally, I also like the fact that Mittell mentions the “baroque quality” of these narrative shenanigans. I have been trying to link the baroque to contemporary cinema before, and it’s always good to see people agree with me. (Although Mittell’s quotation referred me back to Angela Ndalianis’s book which I remember quoting six years ago in my MA thesis, so maybe the thought wasn’t really my own in the first place.)

Quotes of Quotes (IX)

What was important to us in Phase One was acclimating an audience who maybe never read the comics, who didn’t know that Iron Man and Thor and Hulk all inhabited the same Marvel universe in the comics, and start seeding that idea through the films to get them used to the notion that these characters live in the same world; that this is a shared universe […].

Now with the beginning of Phase Two, the audience knows that. The audience knows there are connective tissues leading to it and will continue so now we have the leeway and the ability to have fun with that, just like they do in the comics. We can have fun and surprises with who connects where.
– Kevin Feige über die Zukunft des Marvel Cinematic Universe

Interessant zu wissen, dass dies die offizielle Marvel-Position zu Phase 2 des Marvel Cinematic Universe ist: “fun and surprises”. Zu hoffen bleibt, dass es Marvel gelingt, die richtige Balance zwischen Insider-Verbinde-Spaß und für sich stehenden Geschichten zu erzählen. Iron Man 2 hat in dieser Hinsicht beispielsweise stark darunter gelitten, dass er gleichzeitig “Avengers 0.5” sein musste.

[Ergänzung, 16.4. – Joss Whedon hat die Arbeit an Avengers 2 als glorious Challenge bezeichnet]

Quotes of Quotes (VIII)

Hello, I’m Leos Carax, director of foreign-language films. I’ve been making foreign-language films my whole life. Foreign-language films are made all over the world, of course, except in America. In America, they only make non-foreign-language films. Foreign-language films are very hard to make, obviously, because you have to invent a foreign language instead of using the usual language. But the truth is, cinema is a foreign language, a language created for those who need to travel to the other side of life. Good night.
– Leos Carax, in Reaktion auf die Auszeichnung von Holy Motors als “Best Foreign-Language Film” durch die Los Angeles Film Critics Association

Was für ein großartiges Zitat, das perfekt die Absurdität des Hollywood-zentrischen Blickwinkels vorführt, die in Hollywood (und in Rest-USA eigentlich auch) herrscht, und ihr dann zum Schluss auch noch einen poetischen Twist gibt. Nach welchem merkwürdigen Wahrnehmungswürfelspiel ausländische Produktionen bei den Academy Awards etwa außerhalb ihrer Getto-Kategorie “Best Foreign-Language Film” auftauchen, wird mir auf ewig ein Rätsel bleiben. Warum, zum Beispiel, hat ausgerechnet Michael Hanekes Amour in diesem Jahr Nominierungen quer durch die Bank während andere nicht-englische Erfolge der vergangenen Jahre überhaupt nicht wahrgenommen wurden. Hängt das nur an den seltsaen Reglements der Academy, die etwa jedes Land für die Foreign-Language-Kategorie nur einen Film einreichen lässt und überall sonst nur Filme zulässt, die mit einer Mindestzahl von Kopien in den USA zu sehen waren? Oder treffen Filme wie Amour in den USA einen Nerv, der etwa den Ziemlich besten Freunden versagt bleibt (Stichwort: unterschiedliche gesellschaftliche Rollen von Afro-Amerikanern und Afro-Franzosen)?

Holy Motors gehörte ja auch zu meinen Lieblingsfilmen des Jahres. Ich hoffe, dass Leos Carax am Filme machen wieder neuen Gefallen findet und uns in den kommenden Jahren noch mehr Werke beschert.

Quotes of Quotes (VII)

Food for thought, and the reaction to Retromania and everything around it that I could most relate to:

Retromania is a provocation. It deals in what Mark Fisher calls ‘negativity’. The term is intended to be less pessimistic that it sound. ‘Negativity’, for Fisher, is a productive spure: discontent as a call to arms. […] Rather than simply represent that negativity, however, Reynolds and Fisher would have us respond to it. This is the difference too between the kind of negative politicism expressed during the recent London riots and those camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral and across the nworld in the name of the Occupy movement. Negativity is obviously not an end in itself, but sometimes it simply has to come first.
– James Parker, University of Melbourne (via)

Quotes of Quotes (V)

As a big fan of the idea that artistic trends make so much more sense when you take a step back, I very much recommend this article in the “Guardian” that uses Skyfall as an entrypoint into a discussion of the “New Serious”.

Beneath humanity’s mood swings, a self-correcting pattern can be detected. The laughing cavaliers beget Cromwell’s roundheads, who in turn beget the Restoration’s libertines. Edwardian buoyancy morphs into Great War despair. This delivers the roaring 20s, which bring forth the despondent 30s. Frivolity, it can be conjectured, is intrinsically wearing and eventually boring: it produces a backlash of its own accord. By this reading, we should have been due for a period of pensiveness about now, even without the debacles that have beset us.
David Cox

Personally, I thought Skyfall was probably one of the prettiest Bonds ever, but I could have done without the over-psychologising. I liked James Bond a lot better when he was an almost mythic cypher without much of a past. On the other hand, I loved the first half of Skyfall for the succesful exploration of the new continuum set up by Casino Royale. Can you have one without the other? Believable universe-building without putting too much weight on the shoulders of the characters? That is probably a topic for another blogpost.

Quotes of Quotes (IV)

Der perfekte spricht-mir-aus-der-Seele-Kommentar inmitten all der Retromania und des Untergangs des Zeitschriften-Abendlandes.

“Dieser andauernde Nostalgie-Scheiss mag ganz lustig sein, aber muss man den wirklich so breit treten? Ich weiß, das ich morgen 36 werde, daran muss mich kein Heft erinnern. Immer ist alles ‘kultig’ und ‘retro’ und auf dem Heft und dem Heftrücken steht in grellem Pink: ‘Eigentlich sind wir doch schon erwachsen!'”
Nilz Bokelberg über die neue “Yps”

Da ich kaum mit “Yps” aufgewachsen bin, habe ich mir das Remake gespart. Aber zu “Donald”, das Nilz ebenfalls zu Recht kritisiert, habe ich damals gelästert geschrieben.

Quotes of Quotes (III)

I did not have time to comment on the most recent “Sight and Sound” poll, but I loved this quote on Vertigo:

“Vertigo has always struck me as the Hitchcock film for those who don’t really like Hitchcock all that much (it’s long, hasn’t got much in the way of jokes and the plot doesn’t work, when he is known for his economy, wit and storytelling), or at the least wish very much that he had been French.”
Tom Shone (via)

My favourite Hitchcock film, by the way, is The Birds.