Unspoken Cinema 2012 banner

Sunday, January 06, 2008

CCC week opening

Sunday 6th - Sunday 13th, January 2008

Contemporary Contemplative Cinema (a.k.a. CCC, take note) is mostly known and admired for its distinctive camerawork, pace, silence and visual style (long takes, stationary shots, landscapes). Yet I realize I always come back to narrative typologies when attempting to define this loose family of filmmakers, especially in reference to the mainstream codes of storytelling. Even though I'm usually a visual kind of spectator, with a visual memory and a penchant for mise-en-scene and composition, rather than music, plot and narrative content. But this trend I feel strongly about, without being able to delimited it yet, seems to me now to be a narrative breakthrough after all, rather than a truly visual novelty. Its aesthetism is largely shared with silent cinema mise-en-scene and the cinematography developed by the (modernist) precursors of the 60ies (which we discussed a lot last year).

But on a narrative basis, I believe there is something definitely unique created by these new plotless films. Of course we can argue about the reality of this absence of plot (total or truncated or minimized to the barest), or this non-narrativity (read the discussion by Durgnat and Rosenbaum on this subject here). There is always a form of plot and narration when a succession of images is involved. The question is how much narration there is and what is its role in the "reading" of the film. So we're going to talk about plot drive and narrative strategies specific to CCC (briefly described here).

I'm surprised by the number of sketptics we got last year, and how easily this suggestion of a trend was brushed off and forgotten. I know the word "contemplative" was an issue, though I still don't see anything wrong with it, and I noticed its growing (albeit rare) recurrence in CCC reviews. So the contemplation may come to mind when talking about some of these films. I'd like to read more anti-contemplative sceptics to better grasp the misunderstanding around this trend (which seems so natural to me I can't even explain it to myself). Anyway, this year, we'll move past this superficial consideration. Let's talk about these films now.

Well, if we failed to make sense of this trend as a new "stylistic movement", as the coherence between film styles too far apart is yet to demonstrate, then maybe we could try this time to see in there a new "narrative mode". Again this is a game play you may or may not want to take part in. And this blogathon is certainly not restricted to this nominal topic.
We are all here this week to celebrate Contemplative Cinema, (or to criticize and deconstruct it), in all its forms, whatever you want it to be. Welcome everyone, thank you very much for your future participation, I hope you'll enjoy it like last time around.

You may post your contribution(s) on this team-blog (you have until next Sunday to do so) if you requested to join (give me an email address where I can send an invitation, and open a Blogger account if you don't have one already). Or else you can notify us of your blogpost by leaving a link to your blog in the comments of this post or anywhere on the blog. I'll compile a list linking to all the contributions.

All contributions are listed here.

If you're not writing a post, you may join the discussions that will hopefully develop everywhere on this blog and on the participants' blogs.
Don't forget to use labels for further researches, and to put a link to your blog in your post. You may also use a CCC banner on your blog to link back here, if you want.

Since it's a collegial blog all suggestions and initiatives are most encouraged (opening roundtables, games, polls, volley-posts in reaction to another post, spawning a new topic from an idea arising in a comment-discussion...), so don't hesitate to create new posts here, however small or insignificant, be creative or territorial, there is no boss (I'm just the housekeeper here). Make yourself at home, treat this place like if it was your own blog. I'd like to see how an event-blog could be run by a spontaneous group of strangers (which we couldn't fully experience last year).
Every contribution is welcome, don't be shy!


Oggs Cruz said...

Hi Harry, wrote this just in time for the blog-a-thon, and a few other CCCs from the Philippines:




HarryTuttle said...

Thanks a lot to inaugurate the blogathon. It's all good.

NOTE: I forgot to mention that, of course, older posts are also welcome. This blogathon is an opportunity to gather information about CCC and discuss it, so whether it is new posts written on purpose for the blogathon, or dragging attention to an older post of yours, or even linking to articles you have found elsewhere (in the press or on the blogophere).

Ryland Walker Knight said...

Would that mean my grappling with _Syndromes and a Century_ alongside _I Don't Want To Sleep Alone_ might count? I think I failed the Tsai Ming-liang film, and would be able to appreciate its rhythms more now, but here's a link to that first essay. Must admit, tho, I have yet to seek out any more Tsai films while now I've seen all of Joe's films. In fact, I just watched _Blissfully Yours_. I will try to write something about it this week and send you a link. Or, I guess I could cross post it myself.

Edwin Mak said...

Howdy all.

My contribution is an essay titled,
The Grit of Postsocialist Discourse: Aesthetics of Realism in Jia Zhangke's Platform and Unknown Pleasures. Which should make it self explanatory what it is about. All comments, responses and critiques are welcome and encouraged!

Oggs Cruz said...

Here's one more from the archives...


HarryTuttle said...

Of course Rylan Walker Knight, that was an interesting comparison of these two films, especially in terms of the limits of tolerance of the contemplative viewership. I'm looking forward to your write up on Blissfully Yours.

Hi Edwin Mak,
This is a great essay there. Thanks for posting it. I'm going to read it now and will be back to comment.

Thanks Oggs Cruz for your productive contribution. :)

Edwin Mak said...


I don't think I can even name a Philippine film, let alone comment on one. I'm glad I have discovered your blog!


Those are two films I desperately wanted to watch last year and have missed. Your piece just made me feel even worse, haha.


Thanks in advance, please brutalize it. I am very interested in your response as one for contemplative formalism. I would say quite explicitly, I hold my reservations on this view. I shall try to find some time to write a proper response. How does one go about becoming a contributor in here?

Edwin Mak said...

Please also add my piece on Zhang Yuedong's Mid Afternoon Barks.

Which I believe is a film that deserves more attention, I able to pose a few questions to the Zhang himself which I recount in the piece.

Oggs Cruz said...

Thanks Harry and Edwin,

Edwin, your blog is terrific as well. Makes me want to quit my day job and just spend time discoursing about these films.

Harry, great great job with the blog-a-thon. Hopefully, there'll be more great reads forthcoming.

HarryTuttle said...

Edwin, send me our email (you can find my email on my blogger profile) so I can send you an invitation to join, when you valid it, you'll be in.

This works for everyone who wants to join.

HarryTuttle said...

There are many administrators among the older members who can invite new members by the way. ;)

celinejulie said...

Hi, Harry, can I submit my friend’s review of PHANTOM LOVE (2007, Nina Menkes) as part of the blogathon? I think PHANTOM LOVE may belong to the “G” category (Fantasized Contemplation)


HarryTuttle said...

Yes thanks Celinejulie, I've added it to the list. What about your contribution? ;)

Everyone should check out the poll on slow films at Limiteless Cinema. I haven't seen half of the nominees yet actually...

celinejulie said...

Hi, Harry, thank you very much for linking to my poll of favorite slow films. I just discovered an article by Jonathan Romney in the Guardian website. The article is called ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY? (7 October, 2000). It can be read from the link below:


In the article above, there is something said by Fred Kelemen which I like very much and I think it can best describe both Kelemen’s films and some contemplative films by other directors. Here is what he said:

“Even if you sit in your room and do nothing, time is passing and something is happening - which is a very big adventure."”

celinejulie said...

Hi, Harry, please also add Filmsick’s review of FATE (1994, Fred Kelemen). I just finished translating his review. :-)


HarryTuttle said...

This Guardian article is great! Thanks for digging it out. I've added your page to the contribution list.