Thursday, January 12, 2006

Inventing new film terminology

Often the best way to describe a film is to compare it another that already exists. Screenwriters do it all the time, selling their projects as previously inconceivable blends of beloved movies. (Example I guarantee has been used in a Hollywood boardroom in the last six months: "It's Crash meets Gone With the Wind! It can't miss!")

Film critics, particularly those who subscribe to the auteur theory, tend to write about new films in comparison with the work of directors they admire. Criticism is possibly the only place in English language writing where proper nouns are permitted to become adjectives. Things are Hitchcockian. They are Hawksian. They are Spielbergian.

But working on a piece today at the Voice, Sweeney and I were struck with a dilemma. In an review to be published next week, one of our colleagues describes the cinematic world of Eugène Green as the intermingling of the personal styles of Bresson and Ozu. It's a fine observation, but one that would be better served by a new addition to the criticism lexicon. Indeed, if something resembles both Bresson and Ozu, is it not Bressozusian?

The possibilities to this sort of thinking are limitless. Here are some more directorial terms you are encouraged to use (along with an example usage):

-Hitchcockenbergian: (Alfred Hitchcock & David Cronenberg) Any film that features icy blondes and carefully-crafted sequences of suspense involving body horror and/or men with confused double identities.

"If Rachel McAdams' hair was a little lighter, Red Eye would be totally Hitchcockenbergian."

-Peckinwoodian: (Sam Peckinpah & Clint Eastwood) A Western set close to the turn of the twentieth century that features extensive gore, aging anti-heroes, and buxom but forceful women.

"Brokeback Mountain certainly features scenes that deconstruct the notion of the Old West, but it's hardly a Peckinwoodian exercise."

We needn't restrict ourselves to just directors:

-Stalloneggerian: (Sylvester Stallone & Arnold Schwarzenegger) A robust, intensely burly action film involving a man allergic to sleeved shirts who saves the world from Commie robots from the future.

"I had such high hopes for Walking Tall. But ultimately it wasn't nearly Stalloneggerian enough."

I invite my fellow Termite Artisans to continue inventing their own dual-director descriptions.


Blogger R. Emmet Sweeney said...

Some ideas:

Tarkovskurovian (Andrei Tarkovsky & Aleksandr Sokurov)Films of intense spirituality, fog, long takes, and a bunch of Russians.

"I'd make my films more Tarkovskurovian except I'm not Russian"

Boettimannic (Budd Boetticher & Anthony Mann)A film with a lone stoic hero fighting against the ghosts of a violent past, and framed against a sparse yet imposing landscape. Hero an old star playing against type. Possibly gay.

"That Three Burials film sure looks Boettimannic with Tommy Lee all bent on revenge and all."

von Stangian (Fritz Lang & Josef von Sternberg)Rigidly composed films with an especially cruel hand of fate screwing people over. Monocles encouraged. Can be used as a verb: "Man, Hilary Swank really got von Stang'd in Million Dollar Baby"

Santarrian (Bela Tarr & Gus Van Sant) Roving long takes and shit. I'm tired.

3:17 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Gallozu — long, nearly speechless sojourn that culminates in a shocking tea ceremony.

12:06 AM  

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