Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Shipping News (and another crackpot theory)

Headline: damaged misfits find new lease on life

I'm ashamed to say i've never read the book. I'm talking about the movie. In particular, i find it a nice example of the ability to create a sense of physical presence, of solid reality of the world on screen. There is a slight theatrical exaggeration throughout that emphasizes the contact between objects, limited to one distinct effect in each otherwise static scene: water flowing from a car being pulled out of a river, rain beating against an actor's face, a character's footsteps crunching on frosted-over grass through another's monologue, and of course taut cables singing in a strong offshore wind.

It reminds me of a crazy theory i had once that most good directors share the peculiarity of being strong tactile thinkers (yes i take credit for making that up), of interpreting physical contact in all its attendant sensory details, and this is the best point of many of the best movies, the visceral quality lent to scenes on a flat screen. Of course, knowing nothing at all about film-making, it could just as well be the seventh cameraman from the right that's creating that effect.

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