Film Crit Hulk Smash: THE REVENANT, MAD MAX, And The Nexus Of Cinematic Language

Hulk's back. And he has beef.

KYLE / STAN: "You'll never get a platinum album doing Christian rock, Cartman!" / "Yeah, you don't even know anything about Christianity!"

CARTMAN: "... I know enough to exploit it."

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IN THE EPISODE OF SOUTH PARK REFERENCED ABOVE, CARTMAN MAKES A 10 DOLLAR BET THAT HE CAN BECOME A POPULAR ARTIST ON THE CHRISTIAN ROCK CIRCUIT AND EARN HIMSELF A PLATINUM ALBUM. IN TRUE SOUTH PARK FASHION, THIS CYNICAL VIEW ENDS UP BEING VALIDATED AS CARTMAN USES SIMPLE TRICKS LIKE CHANGING THE LYRICS IN POP SONGS FROM "BABY" TO "JESUS" - WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY APING ALL SURFACE-LEVEL STUFF OF THE CHRISTIAN ROCK GENRE - AND ACHIEVES MASSIVE SUCCESS. IT'S ACTUALLY A GREAT EPISODE, BUT IT IS THAT QUOTE ABOVE THAT GETS TO THE ESSENTIAL HEART OF THE INHERENT PROBLEM OF... WELL, JUST ABOUT EVERY DISCIPLINE ON THE PLANET. FOR THE ABILITY TO USE WHAT "WORKS" ABOUT SOMETHING AND MILK IT FOR ALL IT'S WORTH IS BOTH OFTEN EASIER AND LESS NOTICEABLE THAN PEOPLE THINK (FOR A HORRIFIC EXAMPLE, LOOK AT THE WAY PEOPLE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE HOUSING BUBBLE). BUT EVEN WHEN IT COMES TO A SUBJECT FAR MORE INNOCUOUS LIKE CINEMA, HULK STILL BELIEVES THAT THINGS LIKE "EXPLOITATIVE SURFACE POSTURING" REALLY DO EXIST. SO MUCH SO THAT HULK GENUINELY BELIEVES IT SPEAKS TO THE PROBLEM OF WHY PEOPLE ARE SO DIVIDED ABOUT THE WORK OF ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU.

NOW, PLEASE DON'T THINK HULK IS TRYING TO SAY INARRITU IS SOME KIND OF INSIDIOUS AND CYNICAL CON-ARTIST LIKE CARTMAN. HECK NO. INARRITU IS HONESTLY MUCH MORE OF A WIDE-EYED, PERPETUAL ADOLESCENT WHO ASPIRES TO GREATNESS AND THOUGHTFULNESS, WHILE SECRETLY ESPOUSING (WHAT HULK CONSIDERS TO BE) A REDUCTIVE AND VULGAR PHILOSOPHICAL UNDERPINNING - A FILMMAKER WHOSE DEFAULT USE OF "BEAUTIFUL" AND "SOULFUL" TONES SPEAK TO THE FILM HE WANTS TO MAKE, INSTEAD OF WHATEVER THE CINEMATIC MOMENT ACTUALLY CALLS FOR. NOW, ALL OF THIS IS PERHAPS BEST CHARACTERIZED BY HULK'S 18,000 WORD SCREED AGAINST THE MORAL QUAGMIRE THAT WAS BIRDMAN, BUT DON'T WORRY, HULK'S NOT GOING TO DREDGE ALL THAT UP AGAIN. INSTEAD, HULK WANTS TO USE THIS SUBJECT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GO A LITTLE BIT FURTHER INTO A MORE PRODUCTIVE REALM OF DISCUSSION.

BECAUSE WHEN HULK SAW INARRITU GOING UP TO ACCEPT THE BEST DIRECTOR AWARD FOR A SECOND YEAR IN A ROW WHILE MASTER FILMMAKERS LIKE GEORGE MILLER AND STEVEN SPIELBERG (WHO WASN'T EVEN NOMINATED) SAT WATCHING FROM THE AUDIENCE, HULK WAS STRUCK WITH A THOUGHT: THAT THESE TWO MASTERS, BOTH IN THEIR 70S, JUST MADE WHAT ARE PERHAPS TWO OF THE MOST CINEMATICALLY-FUNCTIONAL FILMS OF THE DECADE AND THEY "LOST" TO THE AFOREMENTIONED PROBLEMATIC APPROACH OF INARRITU. AND IN THAT MOMENT HULK WASN'T FILLED WITH ANGER OR EVEN CYNICISM. NO, HULK JUST REALIZED THAT THIS WAS NOTHING MORE THAN AN OPPORTUNITY TO TALK ABOUT SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT...

IT'S TIME TO DISCUSS THE NEXUS OF CINEMATIC LANGUAGE.

1. GLOSSARY

WHAT MAKES A SHOT THE "CORRECT" ONE?

FITTINGLY, THERE ISN'T A CORRECT ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION. FILMMAKING IS TOO EPHEMERAL A PROCESS, BUT WE SHOULDN'T LET THE REFLEXIVE NATURE OF ART STOP US FROM KEYING IN ON A PRACTICAL ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION. BECAUSE EVERY TIME A DIRECTOR AND CINEMATOGRAPHER SIT DOWN TO DO A SHOT LIST OR LINE UP A FRAME ON SET, THEY ARE ESSENTIALLY ASKING THEMSELVES THAT QUESTION OVER AND OVER AGAIN: "WHAT MAKES THIS SHOT THE RIGHT ONE?" IT'S SO FREAKING IMPORTANT AND HULK FEELS LIKE WE CHALK THE ANSWER UP TO THIS WEIRD COMBINATION OF CREATIVE INSTINCT AND MERE PREFERENCE. WHICH IS UNDERSTANDABLE, BUT HULK WOULD ARGUE THE BASIC TENET OF A "CORRECT" SHOT IS TWO-FOLD:

1) A SHOT SHOULD HELP EMPHASIZE THE INFORMATION ON SCREEN / THING YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO FEEL AT THAT MOMENT.

AND 2) THAT THE CHOICE OF THIS PARTICULAR FEELING IS "CORRECT" IN THAT IT HOLISTICALLY SERVICES THE NARRATIVE'S OVERALL FUNCTION.

VAGUE, SURELY, BUT DOES THE INTENT OF BOTH STATEMENTS MAKE SENSE? IT HAS TO BE CORRECT FOR THE MOMENT. AND THE MOMENT HAS TO BE CORRECT FOR THE MOVIE.

MEANING THE SHOT SHOULD HAVE A MOMENTARY GOAL WHICH ADDS TO AN OVERALL GOAL OF THE STORY. FOR INSTANCE, AS YOU MAY WANT A SCENE TO BE SCARY, BUT IS IT THE "CORRECT" KIND OF SCARY? DOES THIS MOMENT PLAY BETTER AS DREAD, SURPRISE, SHOCK, OR TERROR? THOSE ARE ALL DIFFERENT THINGS AND EACH EMOTION HAS A VERY SPECIFIC AFFECTATION ON THE AUDIENCE. AND OFTEN TIMES YOU NEED TO USE ONE TO FLOW INTO THE OTHER, ETC. AND ANY ONE OF THOSE CHOICES MAY BE INCORRECT FOR THE FUNCTION OF YOUR FILM. HULK WANTS TO POINT OUT THAT THAT WORD IS JUST SO CRITICAL: FUNCTION. FOR IT IS THE VERY ROOT OF HOW WE EXPERIENCE CINEMA.

YOU HAVE TO START WITH FUNCTION AND BUILD OUTWARD TOWARD MEANING. AND WHEN YOU CONSIDER THE GLOSSARY OF CINEMA HULK TALKED A BIT ABOUT IN CHAPTER 3 OF THIS GUY, THEN YOU HONESTLY HAVE THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF CINEMATIC LANGUAGE. HIGH ANGLES. LOW ANGLES. DEPTH OF FIELD. ETC. ALL THESE THINGS ARE USED IN SPECIFIC, COMBING WAYS TO CREATE FEELINGS IN A VIEWER. AND ARE ALL TO BE USED WITH AWARENESS AND UNDERSTANDING. NOW, IT'S NOT LIKE THERE ARE SOME HARD AND FAST RULES ABOUT THE 1:1 RELATIONSHIP OF CINEMATIC LANGUAGE. BECAUSE SO OFTEN THE LAYERS OF INTERPRETATION LEAD US INTO A COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP WITH THE THING WE ARE SEEING ON SCREEN.

IN THE END, LIKE EVERYTHING, IT'S REALLY JUST AN ARGUMENT.

SO CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING ARGUMENT...

2. THE ACT OF LOOKING

HULK IS CONSTANTLY "LOOKING" AT INARRITU'S FILMS.

THAT WORD IS IMPORTANT. BECAUSE HULK IS NOT ABSORBING. NOT EMOTING. NOT FEELING. NOT EVEN WATCHING. HULK FEELS LIKE HULK IS CONSTANTLY LOOKING AT HIS FILMS. AND ON ONE HAND, THERE'S A VERY GOOD REASON TO LOOK AT THEM. HIS WORK WITH CINEMATOGRAPHERS RODRIGO PRIETO AND EMMANUEL LUBEZKI LENDS ITSELF TO SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, SOULFUL, ELEGANT, AND SUMPTUOUS IMAGERY HULK CAN THINK OF. THEIR WORK PRACTICALLY BEGS TO BE LOOKED AT. AND YET, TO BE FAIR, INARRITU IS ALSO TRYING TO GO FOR MUCH MORE THAN THIS MERE "ARTFULNESS" BY SHOWCASING HIS BLATANT ARTISTIC AIMS IN THE SUBJECT MATTER. FOR THESE GORGEOUS IMAGES ARE LAYERED OVER SO MUCH OVERT COMMENTARY AND DIRECT TEXT THAT IT IS CLEAR HE IS GOING FOR AN ARTFUL AESTHETIC WITH DEEP THEMATIC IMPORT. WHAT'S PERHAPS MORE, IS THAT HIS WORK IS NOT AFRAID TO DIG INTO THE DEPTHS OF HUMAN UGLINESS, DESPAIR, LONGING, AND YES, EVEN HOPE. THESE THEMES ARE DEEPLY EMOTIVE AND FEARLESS. AND ALL THE WHILE, EVEN WHEN BRINGING YOU INTO A VISCERAL MOMENT OF INTENSITY, THERE IS STILL THAT UNMISTAKABLE AESTHETIC FOCUS ON THE GRACEFULNESS OF THE MOMENT AND THE INHERENT BEAUTY OF EVERYTHING WITHIN THE FRAME. THUS HIGHLIGHTS THE EXACT KIND OF FILMS INARRITU WANTS TO MAKE...

BEAUTIFUL & SOULFUL.

AND NOW HULK WOULD LIKE TO ARGUE THAT BOTH THE INCLINATION TO DO THIS, AND EXECUTION OF THIS, IS KIND OF BULLSHIT.

OKAY, OKAY, CALLING BULLSHIT ON SOMETHING IS OFTEN FOLLY, BUT WHATEVER. HULK REALLY WANTS TO DIG INTO THIS. SO FIRST, LET'S THINK ABOUT THE EFFECT OF THIS "BEAUTIFUL & SOULFUL" STYLE OF FILMMAKING ON THE RESPECTIVE SUBJECTS BEING COVERED IN HIS WORK. HE'S MADE FILMS ABOUT: DOG FIGHTING. GRIEF. INCIDENCE. LONELINESS. LONGING. SELF-LOATHING. ANGER. REVENGE. PATHOS. AND THE GRIZZLED NATURE OF SURVIVAL AND VIOLENT CYCLES. NOW, THAT'S NOT ACTUALLY A PROBLEM IN AND OF ITSELF - BECAUSE WHAT IS MOSTLY BEING ATTEMPTED HERE IS YOUR BASIC "HIGH / LOW." APPROACH (SOMETHING HULK ESPOUSES QUITE OFTEN), BUT IT'S WHEREIN A "LOW" SUBJECT MATTER IS EXPLORED IN A "HIGH" A.K.A. HIGHFALUTIN WAY. IT IS A STYLISTIC METHOD PROBABLY BEST CHARACTERIZED IN THE WORK OF A FILM, SAY, LIKE THE THIN RED LINE, WHEREIN THERE IS A GRACEFUL AND POETIC APPROACH TO THE DEPICTION OF THE PACIFIC THEATER OF WORLD WAR II. BUT ONE OF THE CENTRAL REASONS THIS APPROACH WORKS WITH MALICK IS BECAUSE IT IS THE CHARACTERS WHO ARE VERY DIRECTLY LOOKING FOR THE SOUL IN THE HEART OF SUCH UGLINESS, AND POETRY IS THEIR OWN LANGUAGE. OR PERHAPS A MORE INTERESTING AND STARK EXAMPLE IS THE WAY JONATHAN DEMME CAREFULLY GLIDES OVER THE MACABRE SUBJECTS OF THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. BUT YOU'LL NOTICE THE GRACE OF THE CINEMATOGRAPHY IN THAT FILM IS FAR MORE DELIBERATE, CONFRONTATIONAL, AND INTENSE. FOR IT'S THE KIND OF FILM THAT DIRECTS YOUR VISION AND HAS YOU STARE MONSTERS RIGHT IN THE EYE. ULTIMATELY, THE EFFECT IS GRACEFUL YET INTENSELY VISCERAL.

BUT UNLIKE THESE TWO EXAMPLES, HULK WOULD ARGUE THERE THERE IS A FAR MORE CLUNKY JUXTAPOSITION BETWEEN THE HIGH AND LOW IN INARRITU'S WORK. FOR ONE, THE "HIGH" LANGUAGE SO OFTEN DOESN'T COME FROM THE CHARACTERS OR THEIR PERSPECTIVES. IT SEEMINGLY COMES FROM INARRITU HIMSELF. THE VIEWPOINT IS WATCHING THE CHARACTERS, OFTEN APART FROM THEM. IT IS SEPARATE, CONSTANTLY GETTING IN THEIR FACE TO MAKE THEM SUBJECTS TO BE STUDIED. AGAIN, THERE IS NOTHING INHERENTLY WRONG WITH THIS, EXCEPT WHAT WE ARE WATCHING SEEMS SO OFTEN A COMPLETELY JUVENILE BLENDING OF THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE. TO WIT, IN BIRDMAN IT'S SO OFTEN "HERE IS A GORGEOUS SWEEPING CAMERA MOVEMENT OVER TWO GUYS MAKING DICK JOKES." OR "HERE'S A SLOW ZOOM IN OVER PRETENTIOUS DIATRIBES ABOUT MILLENNIALS." AND IT GETS WEIRD WHEN YOU REALIZE IT'S NOT MEANT TO PLAY IRONIC OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. IT IS THE VIEW ITSELF, I.E. "THE MOVIE" AND BY EXTENSION INARRITU REALLY FEELS THIS WAY. THE DIATRIBE ON MILLENNIALS IS MEANT WITH THAT SAME PASSION. AND WHEN WE GET TO THE VIOLENCE OF A FILM LIKE THE REVENANT. WE LOOK AT RANDOM CARNAGE: SCALPING, STABBING, ANIMALS BEING SHOT, ALL AS EPIC MUSIC SWOONS AND THE CAMERA DRIFTS UP TO LANDSCAPES AND PRACTICALLY SCREAMS...

"THIS IS POIGNANT! BEAUTIFUL! SOULFUL!"

AND SO OFTEN IT IS... NOT. SO OFTEN IT IS SOMETHING ELSE. GRIZZLY. OR BLUNT. OR SEEDY. OR STRANGE. OR TENSE. OR A MILLION OTHER EMOTIONS AVAILABLE TO US. AND AS A RESULT? THE GRIZZLY FEELS SO MUCH LESS GRIZZLY. THE BLUNT FEELS MORE OUT OF PLACE AND FLAT. THE STRANGE, THE TENSE, AND THE MILLION OTHER THING ALL GIVE WAY TO SOULFUL GLIDE THAT CAPTURES THEM, THAT GIVES WAY TO THE STARK REALIZATION THAT ALL THESE MOVES MIGHT BE HERE REGARDLESS OF THE SUBJECT MATTER. REGARDLESS OF THE NEEDS OF THE MOMENT. REGARDLESS OF BASIC UNDERSTANDING OF CINEMATIC STORYTELLING. AND BECAUSE THIS IS DONE REGARDLESS, THE CONSTANT EFFECT ON A VIEWER IS THAT OF "MERELY LOOKING."

BUT THE REAL QUESTION IS WHY? WHY HAS HE CHOSEN TO EXECUTE THE FILM THIS WAY?

HULK CAN ONLY SUPPOSE IT COMES FROM THE DANGEROUS NOTION OF DEFAULT THINKING. LET'S TAKE THE MOST OBVIOUS EXAMPLE FROM THIS PROBLEMATIC STYLE: THE BELIEF THAT "HOLDING ON AN ACTION" (AND NOT CUTTING) IS INFINITELY BETTER WITH REGARDS TO IMMERSION THAN NOT HOLDING ON IT. OKAY, THAT'S NOT ALWAYS TRUE, BUT EVEN IF YOU TAKE THE INHERENT VALUE OF THAT IDEA THERE IS PROBABLY A LOT TO BE GAINED FROM IT, RIGHT?

WELL, IF YOU LOOK AT THE IMMERSIVE GRACE OF CUARON'S GRAVITY THEN YOU CAN SEE THE CONCEPT AT MAXIMUM EFFECTIVENESS. THE ONLY PROBLEM IS CUARON SEEMS TO ALSO HAVE A UNIQUE UNDERSTANDING OF KNOWING EXACTLY WHEN AND HOW TO CUT OUT OF THOSE SEQUENCES. JUST AS HE UNDERSTANDS THE LITTLE THINGS, LIKE HOW TO CHANGE THE EMOTIONAL LANGUAGE OF THE FRAMING WITHIN THE SHOT TO CONSTANTLY CHANGE MOODS. IT'S WHY GOING FROM PING PONG BALLS CAN QUICKLY SHIFT TO TERROR IN THE SAME MOMENT BECAUSE HE'S STILL A MASTER OF MISE EN SCENE (WE'LL ACTUALLY GET TO WHAT *REALLY* MAKES THESE SCENES WORK IN A LATER SECTION). BUT WITH INARRITU, HE'S TOO BUSY LINING UP THE MOST AESTHETICALLY PLEASING IMAGERY. SURE, HE OF COURSE FLIRTS WITH MOMENTS BUT WHEN HE SEEMS THE LEAST CONCERNED WITH HIS BEAUTIFUL / SOULFUL DEFAULT HE DOES HIS BEST WORK. IT'S WHY A FEW MOMENTS IN THE BEAR ATTACK SEQUENCE WORK BEAUTIFULLY. BUT HULK WOULD ARGUE THOSE MOMENTS ARE MORE "A BROKEN CLOCK IS RIGHT TWICE A DAY" THINGS. AFTER ALL, THERE'S A REASON THE BEAR ATTACK ENDS IN AN AWKWARD LAUGH WHEN IT GOOFILY ROLLS DOWN HILL AND LANDS ON HIM IN THAT STRANGE WIDE SHOT. ALL OF THESE RESULTS COME OUT OF NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS REALLY BEING ACCOMPLISHED AND COMMUNICATED IN THOSE MOMENTS. HULK CAN SEE THE INTENTION, BUT AGAIN, IT IS AN INCORRECT DEFAULT ASSUMPTION.

TO WIT, IT IS ABUNDANTLY CLEAR HOW MUCH INARRITU WANTS YOU TO FEEL THE WEIGHT, TORMENT, AND DEPRAVITY OF LEO'S HARROWING JOURNEY IN THE FILM. HIS ANSWER OF COURSE, IS TO COME AT IT WITH THE SAME "HOLDING ON ACTION" MENTALITY. HE THINKS HE HAS TO TAKE YOU THROUGH EVERY STEP OF HIS JOURNEY. FROM PASSING OUT. TO HEALING. TO FALLING ASLEEP. TO EVERY MEAL. TO EVERY SINGLE STEP. ULTIMATELY, THE FILM HAS MORE CAMPING THAN HARRY POTTER AND DEATHLY HALLOWS. HE NEVER SEEMS TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU CAN JUST SKIP OVER MOST OF THIS STUFF AND GET THE SAME EXACT EMOTIONAL AFFECTATION. HE BELIEVES EVERY MOMENT HAS TO BE EXPERIENCED IN FULL UNBROKEN EXPERIENCE IN ORDER TO BE FELT. AND HULK'S SORRY, BUT THE END RESULT IS NOT ONLY UNNECESSARY, IT'S SUPER BORING. AND THAT'S BECAUSE THERE IS NO ACTIVE DECISIONS BEING MADE. EVEN ON THE SURVIVAL LEVEL, THERE'S NO FASCINATION OR CAST AWAY ANGLE TO THE JOURNEY. WE JUST WATCH HIM MEANDER AND BOUNCE AROUND FROM NONSENSICALLY BAD THING TO BAD THING. LIKEWISE, THERE'S NO REAL INTROSPECTION OR ANYTHING HAPPENING ON A CHARACTER LEVEL. IT'S WHY AN ENTIRE SECOND ACT IS JUST WAITING FOR HIM TO COME BACK AND THEN GO SOMETHING INTERESTING AT THE END (KIND OF). MEANWHILE, THERE IS A REASON EVERY SINGLE TOM HARDY SCENE IS FASCINATING. IT'S NOT ONLY AN INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE, BUT HIS CHARACTER IS CONSTANTLY MAKING GOAL-ORIENTATED DECISIONS AND OBFUSCATING MOTIVE, LYING, AND HAVING LAYERS. AND HULK'S SORRY, BUT THE PORTRAYALS HERE SPEAK TO THIS HORRIFIC DEFAULT THINKING.

... SIGH... HULK KNOWS THIS IS HARSH, BUT HULK KEEPS NOT BEING ABLE TO FIND ANSWERS THAT TURN UP ANYTHING PROMISING.

FOR INSTANCE, HULK WAS TALKING WITH A FRIEND WHO WAS PLAYING DEVIL'S ADVOCATE IN THIS ARGUMENT - AND HE SAID THAT THE REMOVAL OF AUDIENCE INTEREST AND THE BEAUTIFUL AND SOULFUL CINEMATIC GRACE IS INTENDING TO DO JUST THAT, TO REMOVE THE AUDIENCE'S INTEREST FROM STANDARD TRAPPINGS OF GENRE FARE. WHICH, YES, HULK AGREES THERE ARE PROBLEMATIC ASPECTS TO GENRE FARE ABSOLUTELY. AND INARRITU HAS TALKED ABOUT THIS INSTINCT AD NAUSEAM, CONSTANTLY ESPOUSING THAT HE ISN'T INTERESTING IN MAKING GENRE FILMS OR FILLING IN THE INSTINCTS OF BLOODLUST. BUT THE IMPLICATION OF THE ARGUMENT IS THAT WHAT HIS CINEMA ALLOWS US TO DO IS PULL BACK, REMOVE INTEREST, AND LET US MAKE JUDGEMENTS AS IF IT WAS SOME MORALLY-AMBIGUOUS MICHAEL HANAKE FILM. IT'S A LOVELY NOTION, BUT DOESN'T HOLD AN OUNCE OF WATER BECAUSE INARRITU IS SIMULTANEOUSLY TOO BUSY TELLING YOU EXACTLY WHAT TO THINK TO THE POINT OF PRACTICALLY RUBBING IT IN YOUR FACE. HULK WOULD GO SO FAR AS TO ARGUE THAT THE TWO INCLINATIONS, TO REMOVE THE AUDIENCE AND YET TELL THEM WHAT TO THINK, ARE SO DEEPLY ANTITHETICAL IN AIMS, THAT THE ONLY CONCLUSION OF WHAT COMES FROM IT ARE TWO EQUALLY-ANTITHETICAL RESULTS.

THE FIRST IS THAT HE IS GLOSSING OVER DARKNESS WITH A BEAUTIFUL SHEEN TO MAKE THE INSIGHT, ACTIONS, AND OBSERVATIONS SEEM MORE POIGNANT THAN THEY ACTUALLY ARE. MEANING IN THE END, HE'S JUST LIKE THE KID WHO SETS A GUN FIGHT TO OPERA MUSIC, THINKING IT MAKES THE FIGHT "MORE ADULT" (THIS IS NOT A SHOT ON JOHN WOO BY THE WAY. NOT AT ALL). AND THE SECOND RESULT, IS AN EXTENSION OF THAT IN WHICH INARRITU IS EFFECTIVELY TELLING YOU THAT "MY OBVIOUS OPINION IS BEAUTIFUL." AND WHAT'S SO DAMNING ABOUT THAT SECOND STATEMENT IS YOU CAN LOOK AT THE FIRST AND REALIZE THAT HE IS SO DESPERATE TO MAKE GOOD CINEMA THAT HE IS SIMPLY LATCHING ONTO THE PASTICHE OF "GOOD CINEMA."

AND THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS TO TALK ABOUT WITH THIS REALIZATION, BUT AGAIN, HULK WANTS TO BE PRODUCTIVE SO PERHAPS THE BEST PLACE TO START WITH THIS REALIZATION ABOUT INARRITU'S CINEMA IS TO GO BACK TO WHERE THOSE INCLINATIONS COME FROM. CASE IN POINT, WHY DOES HE THINK FILMS NEED TO HAVE DEFAULT SETTINGS AND TONES IN THE FIRST PLACE?

WELL THE TRUTH IS HE'S NOT ALONE IN THIS FEELING, AND IT GOES BACK TO THE LARGER CONCEPTUAL "MISTAKE" THAT PEOPLE FEEL ABOUT MOVIES IN GENERAL...

3. THE DANGER OF SINGULAR TONES

WHEN JUSTIFYING THE DIFFICULT CHOICES HE MADE DURING THE PRODUCTION OF THE REVENANT, INCLUDING THE STARK COMMITMENT TO FILMING IN NATURAL LOCATIONS, INARRITU MADE A CURIOUS COMMENT IN AN INTERVIEW WITH INDIEWIRE ABOUT WHY THIS DECISION WAS SO NECESSARY: "...he compares making a movie to rock climbing. “Once you start to establish the language of the film, there’s no way back,” he says. “You either go up or you die.” THAT'S DEFINITELY AN EXTREME WAY TO PUT IT, AND AS SUCH IT SEEMS TO HIGHLIGHT INARRITU'S EQUALLY EXTREME, ABSOLUTIST WAY OF THINKING IN GENERAL. WORSE, IT IMPLIES THAT CINEMATIC LANGUAGE MUST BE SINGULAR AND UNIFORM IN ORDER TO BE FUNCTIONAL. TO THE POINT THAT FAILING TO UPHOLD AN INTRODUCED CINEMATIC LANGUAGE IS EQUIVALENT TO KILLING YOUR FILM.

TO PUT IT BLUNTLY, THIS IS WAY FUCKING WRONG.

HULK TALKED ABOUT IT BEFORE, SPECIFICALLY IN THAT SAME COLUMN ON CINEMATOGRAPHY LINKED ABOVE, BUT THE GREAT GORDON WILLIS TALKED CONSTANTLY ABOUT NOT JUST THE NEED TO CHANGE CINEMATIC LANGUAGE WITHIN A FILM, BUT THE TREMENDOUS POWER OF DOING SO. FOR HAVING THE ABILITY TO TAKE AN AUDIENCE FROM DARK AND PLUNGE THEM INTO LIGHT, TO GO FROM ELEGANCE, TO ABRUPTNESS, TO SADNESS, TO GREAT JOY, REFLECTS NOT ONLY THE CAPACITY OF A STORY'S MANY EMOTIONS, BUT THE CAPACITY OF EMOTION THAT HUMANS CONTAIN AS WELL. YES, THESE TRANSITIONS CAN SOMETIMES BE JARRING, BUT THAT'S OFTEN THE VERY POINT. DRAMATIC EXPERIENCE SHOULD MOVE US FROM FEELING TO FEELING - ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS POINTING TOWARD WHAT THE CHARACTER IS EXPERIENCING. IN THAT SPIRIT, THESE ARE NOTHING MORE THAN AMPLIFICATIONS OF THE RISE AND FALLS OF A STORY'S BASIC DRAMATIC STRUCTURE. FOR CHANGING CINEMATIC LANGUAGE CAN MAKE THE AUDIENCE FEEL THAT VERY CHANGE AS IF IT IS HAPPENING TO THEM TOO, AS IF THEY ARE EVOLVING RIGHT ALONG WITH THEM. SO LIKE EVERYTHING, CHANGING CINEMATIC LANGUAGE IS JUST ABOUT HONING IN ON YOUR PURPOSE.

SO WHY DO PEOPLE CONSTANTLY FEEL THE INCLINATION TO SHY AWAY FROM SUCH CHANGES AND INSTEAD USE A SINGULAR CINEMATIC LANGUAGE?

WELL, IT ALL GOES BACK TO THE POWER OF "TONE."

SIMPLY PUT, THE TONE OF A MOVIE IS THE FEELING OF A MOVIE, AND HULK WOULD ARGUE THAT ALMOST ALL PEOPLE ARE JUST CRAZY SENSITIVE TO IT. IT'S WHY PEOPLE CAN CRY DURING A 30 SECOND COMMERCIAL. AND THAT'S WHY THOSE WHO ARE SO DEEPLY MOVED IN FILMS OFTEN HAVE PROBLEMS WITH CONFRONTATIONAL TONES. BECAUSE IF SOMETHING SHIFTS IN A WAY THEY DON'T LIKE OR ARE UNPREPARED FOR THEN THEY GO FUCKING NUTS BECAUSE THEY ARE EXPERIENCING IT. BUT THAT JUST GETS INTO THE WHOLE "UNPREPARED FOR" ANGLE. BECAUSE WHAT HULK WOULD ARGUE IS THAT WHAT MANY PEOPLE ARE SENSITIVE TO IS ACTUALLY THE HAPHAZARD TONE JUMPS, NOT THE FUNCTIONAL ONES - CHANGES OF FEELING THAT DON'T HAVE A CLEAR SENSE OF EMOTION AND PURPOSE TO THE GREATER NARRATIVE MOMENT, BUT INSTEAD FEEL LIKE A DIRECTOR NOT BEING IN CONTROL OF HIS OR HER MESSAGE. CONSIDER THE TONAL JUMPS AND INCONGRUITIES OF A NARRATIVE FILM LIKE THE ROOM, BUT THEN COMPARE THE HIGH-WIRE TONAL JUMPS OF SAM RAIMI'S WORK. OR EVEN THE PLAIN-FACED FUNCTIONALITY OF YOUR STANDARD MARVEL MOVIE JUMPING BETWEEN JOKES AND ACTION. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE EXECUTION, NOT THE MERE ATTEMPT.

BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT BEING SAM RAIMI IS REALLY DIFFICULT. AND IN ORDER TO SOLVE THIS INITIAL DILEMMA OF HOW TO HANDLE TONE, A LOT OF FILMMAKERS INSTINCTIVELY ADOPT THE EASIEST SOLUTION ON THE BOARD:

LAYER A SINGULAR TONE OF THE ENTIRE FUCKING MOVIE SO PEOPLE DON'T FREAK OUT.

YOU MAY LAUGH, BUT IT'S THE MODUS OPERANDI OF A LOT OF REALLY SUCCESSFUL FILMMAKERS. LIKE NONE OTHER THAN CHRIS NOLAN. ALL HIS FILMS PRACTICALLY COAST OFF THAT PROPULSIVE ZIMMER-LIKE EXPOSITION MACHINE WITH THAT KINETIC-YET-ELEGANT EDITING AND DOUR, GRIEF-FILLED SERIOUSNESS. BUT THE TRUTH IS NOLAN DOES THIS SO WELL THAT MOST OF THE TIME IT WORKS TO HIS PURPOSE. HECK, HULK THINKS THE GUY HAS MADE THREE MASTERPIECES IN INCEPTION, THE DARK KNIGHT, AND THE PRESTIGE, BUT THAT'S LARGELY BECAUSE EVERYTHING ABOUT THOSE FILMS IS RIGHT IN HIS WHEELHOUSE. JUST DON'T EVER HOPE A NOLAN FILM HAS TO EXPRESS THE CONCEPTS OF JOY, WONDER, AWE, OR ACTUAL SEXY SEXUALITY. AND IT'S PRECISELY THAT WHICH SERVES AS THE OBSTACLE TO FILMS LIKE INTERSTELLAR, WHICH INHERENTLY NEED FAR MORE DEXTERITY. BUT OUTSIDE OF NOLAN, THERE ARE EVEN MORE PROBLEMATIC EXAMPLES OF THIS TACTIC.

FOR INSTANCE, HULK TALKS OFTEN ABOUT THE SINGULAR TONE PROBLEM WITH DAVID FINCHER. BECAUSE HULK WOULD ARGUE HIS CINEMATIC APPROACH ISN'T EVEN TONAL, BUT INSTEAD AN AESTHETIC APPROACH. HIS MOVIES ARE MORE ARTFULLY DESIGNED. A FUSSY ARRANGEMENT OF PERFECTLY COMPOSITIONS AND COOL COLOR GRADES. AS MUCH AS HE WOULD LOATHE TO HEAR IT, THEY'RE THE FILM EQUIVALENTS OF THOSE TASCHEN STORES. AND IF HULK'S BEING BLUNT, HE DOESN'T EVEN SEEM TO BE AWARE OF TONE WHATSOEVER, RESULTING IN THIS WEIRD, DETACHED ANTI-FEELING TO THE MOVIE THAT PERHAPS REFLECTS A KIND OF SNARKY ENNUI THAT REFLECTS THE SUBJECTS WITHIN HIS BEST WORK. SO UNLIKE THE ROOM, IT'S HAPHAZARDNESS IS INFINITELY MORE SNEAKY. BUT PEOPLE TALK ABOUT HIM LIKE HE'S ANOTHER FILM GENIUS EVEN THOUGH, JUST LIKE NOLAN, THERE ARE TIMES WHERE HIS APPROACH WORKS AND THERE ARE SOOOO MANY TIMES WHERE IT SO DOESN'T. AND KEEP IN MIND HULK STILL THINKS FINCHER MADE A FULL-ON MASTERPIECE IN ZODIAC, BUT THAT'S LARGELY BECAUSE THE FILM ITSELF SOMEWHAT ESCAPES THE SNARKY ENNUI BECAUSE IT REFLECTS HOW HE APPROACHES CINEMA ON THE WHOLE. WHAT WITH THE LAYERING OF MICRO-DETAIL AND SCRUTINY OF FRAMING IN THE NAME OF BUILDING DETAILS TOWARD ACCURACY ITSELF; IT'S PRACTICALLY FACT-FINDING IN PLACE OF NARRATIVE, A KIND OF PURE CINEMATIC JOURNALISM. AND KEEP IN MIND - THIS IS NOT TO INSULT THE ARTISTRY OF WHAT HE DOES ONE IOTA, HULK HAS LOST ENTIRE NIGHTS DOING RESEARCH ON FINCHER AESTHETICS AND DRAWING UP PERFECT COMPOSITIONAL EXAMPLES FOR WORK. BUT THAT DOES CHANGE THE FACT THAT FINCHER WILL SO OFTEN MISS THE MARK WITH THE TONE OF A MOMENT, SCENE, OR ENTIRE FILM (BENJAMIN BUTTON), PRECISELY BECAUSE HIS DISTINCT AESTHETIC IS ONLY GOOD FOR A FEW EQUALLY DISTINCT THINGS.

BUT WHAT YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED IS THAT HULK IS TALKING ABOUT TWO FUCKING BELOVED DIRECTORS (CURIOUSLY NOTE HOW THEY ARE MOSTLY LOVED BY YOUNGER MALES WHO, YOU KNOW, REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY AND SUCH). SO AS A LAST EXAMPLE, HULK WILL GO WITH A DIRECTOR MANY OF THOSE NOLAN AND FINCHER FANS SEEM TO ACTIVELY DISLIKE: WES ANDERSON. YOU'LL NOTICE THAT THE THE "SINGULAR TONE" THING IS AN ACCUSATION LEVELED AT ANDERSON ALL THE TIME FOR HIS OVERT, DIORAMA-LIKE STYLIZATION. BUT HULK WOULD ARGUE THAT ANDERSON IS ACTUALLY FAR MORE AWARE OF THE FUNCTION OF HIS PARTICULAR STYLE AND TONE THAN HIS DETRACTORS WOULD FIGURE. TO BE FAIR, HULK WILL BE THE FIRST TO ARGUE THE TONAL FAULTS OF HIS WORK IN THE DARJEELING LIMITED, WHERE HE ABSOLUTELY SEEMS TO HAVE THE PROBLEMS THAT MANY ACCUSE HIM OF. BUT WITH HIS LAST THREE CINEMATIC EFFORTS (THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX, MOONRISE KINGDOM, AND THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL), ANDERSON SEEMS LIKE HE HAS FINALLY COME TO UNDERSTAND THE CINEMATIC FUNCTION OF HIS ARTIFICE BEYOND THE MERE INSTINCT FOR IT. WHICH ALLOWS THE STYLE TO BECOME THE TARGETED LENS OF OBSERVATION OR REVERENCE. MEAING HE'S SUDDENLY FOUND ALL THESE NEAT WAYS TO LET AN UGLY MEAN JOKE OR EVEN A MOMENT OF DRAMA ACTUALLY PENETRATE THE TWEE ARTIFICE FOR MAXIMUM EFFECTIVENESS. IT'S WHY RALPH FIENNES SUDDEN SWEARING IN THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL CAN BE SO DAMN FUNNY, AND IT'S THE SAME UNDERSTANDING THAT ALLOWS FOR HIS SURPRISING HUMANITY TO RING SO TRUE.

BUT THE POINT OF ALL THESE EXAMPLES IS THAT THEY GET TO THE NOTION OF FUNCTION.

BECAUSE WHILE THERE ARE SUCCESSFUL "SINGULAR TONE" MOVIES AND UNSUCCESSFUL ONES, HULK WOULD ARGUE THAT ALL THE TRUE MASTERS OF CINEMA ARE THE ONES WHO UNDERSTAND NOT ONLY HOW TO JUMP TONES CONSISTENTLY, BUT DO SO WITH PURPOSE. TO THE POINT THAT THEY OFTEN MAKE IT LOOK SO EASY THAT YOU DON'T EVEN NOTICE YOU'RE JUMPING TONES AT ALL. IT'S THE WAY MARTIN SCORSESE CAN SUBLIMELY WHIP BETWEEN MENACE, HUMOR, AND PATHOS WITH THE AIR OF POINTED COMMENTARY. OR THE WAY THE COENS JAUNT BETWEEN INTENSE SERIOUSNESS, SLAPSTICK, SUFFERING, AND JOY SO EFFORTLESSLY THAT IT POOLS INTO A "TONE" ONE CAN ONLY IDENTIFY IT AS COEN-ESQUE. AND OF COURSE THERE IS THE GREAT STEVEN SPIELBERG, THE ABSOLUTE MASTER OF FUNCTIONAL CINEMATIC LANGUAGE WHOSE SKILLS ARE SO SHARP AND POINTED THAT WE ALMOST OVER-FEEL HIS MOVIES (WE'LL GET TO HIM MORE IN DEPTH IN A BIT). THE STARK DIFFERENCE IN CAPABILITY WITH THESE MASTERS IS CLEAR TO HULK, TO THE POINT THAT HULK CAN'T HELP BUT ARGUE THAT THE FINCHERS, THE NOLANS, AND THE INARRITU'S KNOW THEIR STYLE AND WHAT THEY CAN GET OUT OF IT, BUT THEY JUST DON'T SEEM TO KNOW HOW TO MANIPULATE THE LANGUAGE OF CINEMA ON THE WHOLE. AND THAT MEANS THEY CAN'T BEST EXECUTE THE IDEAS THAT THEIR FILM'S ARE TRYING TO SET FORTH. AND IN ORDER TO DISCUSS A FILM THAT NOT ONLY USES EVERY CINEMATIC TRICK IN THE BOOK AND SHOWCASES HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO DO JUST THAT...

YUP. IT'S FINALLY TIME FOR HULK TO TALK MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

FUCKING FINALLY.

4. FUNCTIONAL FILMMAKING

IF YOU WERE ASKED TO DESCRIBE THE TONE OF MAD MAX: FURY ROAD PEOPLE WOULD GIVE YOU A HOST OF DIFFERENT ANSWERS. IN FACT, HULK TOOK TO TWITTER AND DID JUST THAT. THE ANSWERS WERE GIVEN CHRONOLOGICALLY AS FOLLOWS:

INTENSE, UNRELENTING, PERFECT, GRANDIOSE, PROPULSIVE, HOPEFUL, MYTHIC, CARNIVALESQUE, SATURATED, FIERCE, HUMANE, FULL-THROTTLE, WHACKY, FEMINIST, IMPORTANT FUN, DIESEL FIESTA, GONZO, SWELTERING, ROARING, SHINY AND CHROME, RAMPANT, DEFIANT, BADASS, OPERATIC, GRUNGY, BRUTAL, FURIOUS, FRENETIC, LOVELY, RIOTOUS, SCORCHING, URGENT, JAW-DROPPING, CONSISTENTLY CONTRASTING, APEX DYSTOPIA, SEETHING ACTION, FIRE CIRCUS, NOT MEDIOCRE, SYMPHONIC, HIGHLY KINETIC, THUNDERING, CONFIDENT, INSANE, AND HALLUCINOGENIC HURRICANE... THE ANSWERS WENT ON AND ON LIKE THIS WITH EVEN MORE VARIANCE, BUT OF COURSE, THE ONE WORD HULK SAW KEPT SEEING SEVERAL TIMES OVER WAS MASTERPIECE. AND TO THINK...

... HULK GOT ALL THOSE RESPONSES OVER A PERIOD OF JUST FIVE MINUTES.

...... FIVE MINUTES.

THE TRUTH IS THAT A FILM GETS THOSE IMMEDIATE ADJECTIVES BY ACTUALLY BEING ALL THOSE ADJECTIVES. FROM THE OPENING SEQUENCE, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD LAUNCHES YOU NOT ONLY INTO A SUN-DRENCHED WORLD OF BURNT ORANGE AND DEEP BLUE MADNESS, BUT THE CHAOTIC, DAMAGED HEADSPACE OF MAD MAX ROCKATANSKY. WE ARE TREATED TO AN ENDLESS ARRAY OF STYLISTIC CHOICES IMMEDIATELY: VOICE OVER. THEN NEWS CLIPS. STOCK FOOTAGE. THEN HYPER EDITS. PUSH ZOOMS. SPEED RAMPING. A QUIET, TENSE BEAT. A LONG TAKE. BLENDED CUTS. HYPNOTIC CROSS DISSOLVES. PSYCHOLOGICAL REALISM...

... AND THAT'S JUST FOR THE FIRST TWO MINUTES AND FIFTY SEVEN SECONDS OF THE MOVIE:

AND THAT'S FORGETTING HOW ALL THAT JUST SERVES TO AMP UP THE UNRELENTING TENSION OF HIS FIRST ESCAPE ATTEMPT DURING THE BRANDING SCENE, BEFORE CASCADING TO THE TERRIFYING TITLE SLAM ITSELF. BUT WHAT MAY SIMPLY "FEEL" LIKE UNRELENTING MADNESS AND HYSTERIA BELIES JUST HOW MUCH PURPOSE THERE IS TO EVERY SINGLE CHOICE MADE IN THE SEQUENCE. IT'S ALL ABOUT ESTABLISHING HEADSPACE, HIS PAST, AND HIS GOALS. AS HE PUTS IT HE'S A MAN "WHO RUNS FROM BOTH THE PAST AND THE FUTURE, WITH ONE SIMPLE URGE: SURVIVE." BUT PLEASE PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS NOT WHERE HE ENDS UP. THIS IS HIS STARTING POINT. BECAUSE THIS FILM IS THE BEAUTIFUL STORY OF MAX GOING FROM A PERSON WHO JUST WANTS TO SURVIVE TO BEING SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO DO MORE THAN THAT... TO STOP RUNNING, TO HELP OTHERS, TO CONFRONT SOCIETY ITSELF, AND ULTIMATELY SEND NEW FRIENDS OFF TO REBUILD IN THE NAME OF SOMETHING BETTER. AND TO THAT PURPOSE, THE FUNCTION OF THE NARRATIVE NOT JUST IN THIS SCENE, BUT THROUGHOUT THE FILM, IS COMPLETELY POINTED.

TAKE CAREFUL NOTE OF THE WAY THE FILM THEN GOES ON TO INTRODUCE THE REST OF THE WORLD AND CHARACTERS WHO WILL BE IMPORTANT. THE WAY IMPERATOR FURIOUSA SCOWLS AT HER SURROUNDINGS WHILE STILL GUARDING HER TRUE PURPOSE. THE WAY KNUX IS SUCH A BULLIED LOST SOUL; A BOY WHO WANTS NOTHING MORE THAN TO BE SEEN AND TO BELONG. AND SOON ENOUGH, THESE THREE CHARACTERS WILL BE THRUST TOGETHER IN DRAMATICALLY CONFLICTING WAYS... AND YET THEY DO SO STILL IN THE MIDST OF A TWO HOUR SCI-FI CHASE FILM.

BUT PLEASE NOTE HOW MUCH SPECTACLE IS GROUNDED IN CHARACTER MOMENTS. THE WAY EVERY SCENE IS DENSELY PACKED WITH INFORMATION AND HISTORY. THESE DETAILS ARE NOT ALBATROSSES OF EXPLANATION FOR MILLER HAS NO INTEREST IN EXPOSITION FOR EXPOSITION'S SAKE. HE ONLY WANTS TO BE EXPLICIT WITH CHARACTER AND MOTIVATION. THE MYTHOLOGY COMES THROUGH BY PRESENTING THE WORLD AS IS, AND CONSTANTLY HINTING AT LARGER IDEAS THROUGH THE EXECUTION ITSELF. THERE'S THAT GREAT MOMENT WHERE A NIGHTTIME DRIVE CUTS TO A WIDE, REVEALING A SERIES OF CLOAKED INDIVIDUALS SKIMMING THE DESERT ON STICKS. IT LASTS JUST A SPLIT SECOND, BUT HULK'S FRIEND IMMEDIATELY TURNED TO HULK IN THE THEATER AND SAID "WHAT ARE THOSE GUYS LIVES?!?!?" THIS REACTION SPEAKS TO SO MUCH EFFECTIVE METHODOLOGY. NOT JUST IN THE WAY IT TRUSTS THE AUDIENCE, BUT THE WAY IT USES STORY ECONOMY TO NOT ONLY PREVENT IT FROM GETTING IN THE WAY OF THE FILM'S CONSTANT ACTION, BUT ACTUALLY USES IT IN THE PROPULSION OF TELLING AN ACTION-BASED STORY.

THE POINT IS THAT THE CINEMATIC EXECUTION BACKS ALL OF IT UP. BECAUSE "A NON-STOP ACTION FILM" CAN ACTUALLY BE ONE OF THE MOST BORING THINGS YOU'LL EVER SEE. SO WHY IS IT NOT BORING HERE? WELL, FIRST NOTICE HOW LITTLE OF THE ACTION IS TRYING TO BE "COOL' OR DETACHED. THERE IS NO SENSE THAT THE AUDIENCE IS OBSERVING THE SITUATION AS AN OUTSIDER. NO, THE TRUTH IS THAT THE ENTIRETY OF MAD MAX: FURY ROAD IS TRYING TO GROUND EVERY SHOT OF EVERY SUBJECT IN WHAT THEY ARE FEELING AT THAT MOMENT. EVERY PUNCH IS NOT ONLY MEANT TO HAVE IMPACT, BUT EVERY FEELING AND EMOTION DOES TOO. IT ALL ADDS TO THE PROPULSIVE QUALITY OF THE FILM AND MAKES THE FILM FEEL INVOLVING FROM START TO FINISH.

ALL BECAUSE THE CINEMATOGRAPHY IS TRYING TO INCLUDE YOU.

TO WIT, NOTICE THE WAY YOU FEEL AND HOW YOU ALIGN YOURSELF WHILE WATCHING EVERY MOMENT OF THIS SCENE, THE WAY YOU ARE PING-PONGED NOT JUST CINEMATICALLY BUT EMOTIONALLY:

IT DOESN'T MATTER THAT YOU DON'T EXACTLY KNOW WHO TO "ROOT" FOR. EVENTUALLY YOU ARE GOING TO BE ROOTING FOR ALL OF THEM. THE POINT OF THIS SCENE IS TO ACTUALLY TO MAKE YOU EMPATHIZE WITH WHOEVER IS GETTING HIT AT THAT MOMENT.

SO THE DRAMA COMES FROM THE FACT THAT YOU'RE ACTUALLY ROOTING FOR NO ONE TO GET HURT, BUT EVERYONE KEEPS COMING CLOSE TO KILLING THE OTHER, PUTTING EVERYONE IN A DANGEROUS SITUATION. IT'S A BRILLIANT WAY TO GO ABOUT THAT SCENE AND SPEAKS NOT JUST TO THE ACTION CHOPS OF GEORGE MILLER, BUT ALSO SHOWS HOW CLEARLY HE UNDERSTANDS CHARACTER MOTIVATION AND THE HOLISTIC STORY GOALS OF HIS MOVIE.

ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU COMPARE IT TO THE OTHER DIFFERENT KINDS OF ACTION THAT HAPPENS THROUGHOUT MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. ALL THE GIANT STUNTS HAPPEN IN LONG UN-CUTTING WIDES TO HIGHLIGHT THE INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE NATURE OF THOSE STUNTS, MAKING THEM FEEL ALL THE MORE REAL AND NOT CHEATED. SIMULTANEOUSLY, MILLER SEEMS SO UNINTERESTED IN PLAYING THOSE MOMENTS AS "BADASS" THAT HE MOVES ON FROM THEM VERY QUICKLY, BEFORE UNDERCUTTING THEM WITH ANOTHER GRIEVOUS THREAT AND MORE DRAMA. HE UNDERSTANDS HOW THIS IS HOW YOU BUILD DRAMA AND TENSION TO FEEL UNRELENTING. YOU CAN ESCAPE DANGER, BUT YOU CAN'T 'WIN" YET - WHICH IS PART OF WHAT MAKES THE TRULY CATHARTIC MOMENTS OF REVENGE FEEL STAND-UP-AND-CLAP WORTHY. AND HE SEEMINGLY JOSTLES BETWEEN ALL THESE KINDS OF MOMENTS AT ONCE, EACH SHOT LASTING ON SCREEN FOR THE PERFECT AMOUNT OF TIME AND NEVER OVERSTAYING ITS WELCOME BEFORE WE MOVE TO NEXT PERTINENT BEAT. HECK, THERE'S A REASON HULK JUST WANTS TO KEEP SHOWING YOU CLIPS OF THE FILM. BECAUSE THEY CLARIFY EVERYTHING HULK IS TALKING ABOUT HERE:

DAMMIT... HE DOES THIS SEQUENCE SO SUCCINCTLY THAT IT FEELS ALMOST EFFORTLESS. (THERE'S A REASON SODERBERGH SAID HE WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DIRECT ACTION LIKE THAT EVEN WITH A GUN TO HIS HEAD):

AND JUST WHEN YOU THINK IT COULDN'T GET ANY MORE INTENSE, THE FILM BRINGS YOU THAT JAW-DROPPING FINAL ACTION SEQUENCE, WHICH DOES LITTLE THINGS ON THE CINEMATIC LEVEL - LIKE INTRODUCE A Z AXIS TO THE ACTION - BUT FAR MORE CONCRETE THINGS TOO, LIKE CONSTANTLY STACKING THE ODDS AND DANGERS EVERY SECOND IT GETS. FROM THE VERY START, THE WORRIES OF OUR HEROES START PILING UP. CHARACTERS GET MINOR VICTORIES AND THEN ARE IMMEDIATELY PUSHED BACK WITH DEVASTATING LOSSES. SURE, IT'S A CHASE THAT ALWAYS "MOVES FORWARD" BUT YOU CONSTANTLY FEEL LIKE OUR PROTAGONISTS ARE GETTING ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK. AND IT'S BRILLIANT BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU CONSTANTLY AFRAID FOR THEIR SAFETY. YOU AREN'T WATCHING SOME UNSTOPPABLE BADASS UNLEASH HELL. YOU AREN'T DELIGHTING IN COMEUPPANCE. INSTEAD, YOU ARE ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT FOR THIS TOUR DE FORCE.

IT FEELS ALMOST UNFAIR, BUT WHEN YOU COMPARE THESE SEQUENCES TO JUST ABOUT ANY FIGHT SCENE IN THE THE REVENANT, YOU CAN'T HELP BUT SEE A STARK AND POINTED DIFFERENCE. SURE, THEY HAVE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT STYLES, BUT DO THEY REALLY HAVE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT AIMS? IS INARRITU NOT TRYING TO CONVEY INTENSITY? IS HE NOT AIMING FOR CONTRADICTORY MOTIVATIONS? IS HE NOT AIMING FOR POINTED HUMANITY AND COMMENTARY? HE TOTALLY IS, BUT HE'S TOO BUSY TRYING TO MAKE GOOD ON THAT WHOLE "BEAUTIFUL AND SOULFUL" DEFAULT SETTING THING THAT HE'S NOT ACTUALLY GOING AFTER THE THINGS HE... ACTUALLY NEEDS TO BE GOING AFTER. BY TRYING TO ESCAPE THE TRAPPINGS OF GENRE, HE'S IGNORING THE VERY GENRE ELEMENTS THAT WOULD HELP EMPHASIZE HIS POINTS.

TO WIT, YES, HULK WOULD ARGUE THAT THE OPENING SEQUENCE WITH THE NATIVE AMERICAN RAID ON THE FUR TRAPPERS HAS A NUMBER OF SUCCESSFUL MOMENTS IN IT, BUT IT'S SORT OF THE BROKEN CLOCK ISSUE ALL OVER AGAIN. BECAUSE THE MOMENTS WHERE A BULLET OR ARROW SURPRISES YOU ARE ALL EFFECTIVELY QUICK "JUMP SCARE" BITS WITH THINGS HAPHAZARDLY COMING OFF SCREEN FROM THE SIDES, WHILE YOUR VOYEURISTIC VIEWPOINT OF THE CAMERA IS SITTING JUST WATCHING. IT MAY BE CHAOS, BUT YOU ARE WATCHING THE CHAOS. YOU DO NOT FEEL LIKE AN ACTIVE PART - YOU ARE "THERE" BUT MOST OF THE TIME IT FEELS LIKE ONE OF THOSE AWKWARD VIRTUAL REALITY DEMOS WHERE YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THERE, BUT YOU ARE JUST A STATIONARY POINT WITHOUT AGENCY. YOU ARE A VIDEOGAME CHARACTER "IMMERSED" BUT WHO CAN'T ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING.

WE WILL GET MORE INTO THIS LATER, BUT JUST NOTE HOW THE CINEMATIC STRATEGY ALMOST HYSTERICALLY BACKFIRES WITH THE ENDING KNIFE FIGHT BECAUSE WE JUST SIT THERE AND AWKWARDLY WATCH TWO DUDES FIGHT EACH OTHER WITHOUT AFFECTATION AT ALL. AGAIN, THE SHOTS THEMSELVES ARE BEAUTIFUL AND WHAT SO MANY WOULD CONSIDER "OBJECTIVELY GOOD," BUT INSTEAD THEY ARE COMPLETELY WITHOUT DRAMA OR AMPLIFICATION. SO HULK WOULD ARGUE THEY ARE ACTUALLY "NOT GOOD," NOR EFFECTIVE TO THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE... SO HULK WANTS TO JUST GO AHEAD AND CALL THAT "OBJECTIVELY BAD." CAN WE DO THAT? AFTER ALL, IT'S NO ACCIDENT THAT THE MOST IMPACTING ACTION BEAT OF THE ENTIRE MOVIE HAPPENS WITH A COOL MISDIRECTING WIDE SHOT CUTTING TO DICAPRIO POPPING OUT FROM BEHIND THE SECOND HORSE. IT'S AN EXAMPLE OF PURE CINEMATIC FUNCTION. AND IT'S THE KIND OF SHOT SEQUENCE YOU MIGHT EVEN SEE IN MAD MAX.

AGAIN, THE ENTIRE POINT IS THAT YOU CAN USE THE LANGUAGE OF INARRITU BUT MORE FOR WHEN THE MOMENT IS APPROPRIATE. JUST AS MAD MAX USES THE SAME GRACEFUL, LONG-TAKE LANGUAGE WHEN IT IS APPROPRIATE FOR ITS NEEDS. AFTER ALL, TWO OF THE THE DEFINING IMAGES OF THE FILM USE THAT SPECIFIC ELEGANT LANGUAGE. THE FIRST IS WHEN FURIOSA SCREAMS TO THE WINDS OF THE DESERT. AND THE SECOND IS OF COURSE KNUX'S FINAL SACRIFICE, WHICH DOESN'T REFLECT THE "BANG BANG" LANGUAGE OF THE FILM'S KINETIC ACTION, BUT INSTEAD OPTS TO FOCUS TONE ON THE SENTIMENTALITY OF THE MOMENT, CASCADING INTO THIS HEARTFELT, OPERATIC, AND EVEN SOMEWHAT GOOFY SHOT OF THE CARS CRASHING AND PILING UP. BUT THE EMOTIONAL INTENT COULD NOT BE MORE CLEAR, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, COULD NOT PLAY MORE EFFECTIVELY.

THE FUNCTION OF CINEMATIC LANGUAGE IS JUST SO IMPORTANT, ISN'T IT?

AND IT MAKES YOU WONDER... IF WE CALL IT "CINEMATIC LANGUAGE" THEN WHY DON'T WE JUST USE LANGUAGE ITSELF AS AN ANALOGY?

IN WHICH CASE, YOU HAVE FOLKS LIKE GEORGE MILLER, WHO WOULD BE "SPEAKING" WITH NOT ONLY A DEEP AWARENESS OF LANGUAGE'S CAPACITY BUT THE OUTRIGHT CLARITY IT NEEDS TO COMMUNICATE TO EVERYONE ON AN INTRINSIC LEVEL, RIGHT DOWN TO BODY LANGUAGE. BUT THEN YOU'D HAVE INARRITU GOING AROUND EFFECTIVELY SAYING SENTENCES LIKE "Well, pardon me if I don't happen to coagulate a paradox of antidistablishmentarianism!" WHICH SURE IS A BUNCH OF BIG REAL WORDS, BUT DOESN'T MAKE A LICK OF SENSE, ESPECIALLY TO WHATEVER HE MIGHT BE REALLY TRYING TO SAY. WHICH WOULD JUST MAKE HIM THE KIND OF GUY WHO DOESN'T KNOW WHAT THE WORDS MEAN, BUT WANTS TO SOUND SMART. TO CONTINUE WITH THE ANALOGY, YOU HAVE A GUY LIKE FINCHER, WHO HULK COULD SAY "SEEMS LIKE THE FUSSY MONOTONE TECH GUY WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE TELLING YOU A BEDTIME STORY AND MORE JUST FREAKS YOU OUT." AND TO ROUND OUT THESE MEAN-SPIRITED EXAMPLES YOU GOT A GUY LIKE TOM HOOPER "LITERALLY SAYING NONSENSE WORDS AND FARTING, BUT HAS SOMEHOW MADE IT INTO A FANCY DINNER PARTY CAUSE HE WAS WEARING A SUIT AND HAD A BRITISH ACCENT."

... OKAY THESE EXAMPLES ARE FUCKING RIDICULOUS AND MEAN, BUT THEY'RE MEANT TO BE GET AT A LARGER POINT. BECAUSE A GUY LIKE HOOPER REALLY IS THE ANTI-GEORGE MILLER. HE'S OFF THROWING UP A HODGEPODGE OF LANGUAGE WITHOUT ANY INDICATION HE REALLY KNOWS WHAT IT MEANS. IT'S LIKE HE JUST KNOWS KUBRICK USED THESE KIND OF WALK AND TALK SHOTS A BUNCH, SO DAMN IF HE DOESN'T WANT TO BE LIKE KUBRICK! (DON'T WORRY THOUGH. HE'S GOT AN OSCAR AND KUBRICK DOESN'T. WHICH ISN'T ABOUT BEING UNFAIR, IT JUST HIGHLIGHTS YET AGAIN THAT AWARDS DON'T MATTER). BUT IN A MOVIE LIKE THE KING'S SPEECH WE DON'T REALLY NOTICE THE PROBLEM, BECAUSE THE MOVIE IS TOO BUSY PUTTING ON AIRS AND FUNCTIONING OFF A GREAT SCRIPT, WITHOUT THE HEAVY-LIFTING NECESSARY WITH GENRE. BUT GET INTO A MOVIE LIKE LES MIS WHERE THE LANGUAGE BECOMES REALLY IMPORTANT TO THE SUCCESS OF THE MUSICAL NUMBERS AND SUDDENLY WE'RE IN TROUBLE.

AGAIN, IT'S A LANGUAGE. SO THE WORDS MEANS SOMETHING. IT ALWAYS MEANS SOMETHING, EVEN WHEN IT ADDS UP TO GOBBLEDYGOOK. SO HULK HAS A LEADING QUESTION FOR YOU...

WHY DOES ALMOST EVERY SINGLE SHOT IN THE REVENANT SEEM CENTERED AT A LOW-ANGLE?

SERIOUSLY, YOU'LL NOTICE THAT VERY RARELY ARE WE ON EYE LEVEL WITH THE ACTORS, WE MORE SEEM CENTERED AT THE CHEST, WHICH CONSTANTLY GIVES US THE EFFECT THAT WE HAVE TO LOOK UP AT THE ACTORS AND SUBJECTS... SO WHETHER SUBCONSCIOUS OR NOT, THE TONE OR FEELING THAT HULK KEPT GETTING THROUGHOUT THE FILM WAS CLEAR...

"LOOK UP AT ME."

WHICH A WEIRD FEELING TO HAVE WATCHING A FILM, AND A RATHER ACCUSATORY THING TO THINK ABOUT WHEN IT COMES TO A DIRECTOR'S INTENTION. BUT IF YOU LOOK AT INARRITU AND WHAT HE SAYS OF HIS WORK... WELL...

5. EGO

“This film deserves to be watched in a temple”

THIS IS AN ACTUAL QUOTE FROM INARRITU ABOUT THE REVENANT.

SURE, HE COUCHES IT IN SOME TALK ABOUT THE SACRIFICES HIS CREW MADE, WHICH IS CERTAINLY TRUE (AND EVERY GOOD CREW MEMBER DESERVES PILES OF MEDALS AND ADORATION). BUT IT ALSO IGNORES THE REALITY THAT INARRITU'S SLAVISH DEVOTION TO HIS MODUS OPERANDI PUT THEM INTO SUCH HARSH CONDITIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE. TO BOOT, THE EXPRESSION OF IT SEEMS WEIRDLY LIKE ONE OF THOSE TIMES WHERE THE WORD "CREW" FEELS ODDLY LIKE "I." AND WHETHER THAT'S TRUE OR NOT, HE IS CLEARLY NOT HIDING THE BRAGGING SENTIMENT OF THE STATEMENT. IT'S ACTUALLY THE SORT OF QUOTE YOU COULD IMAGINE HEARING FROM QUENTIN TARANTINO, WHO AT LEAST HAS THE CONSIDERATION TO MAKE HIS PARTICULAR BRAVADO FUN AND INFECTIOUS. NO, INARRITU'S IS THE KIND OF EGO-SOAKED HIGHFALUTIN ATTITUDE THAT MAKES THE DARK PART OF HULK'S BRAIN WANT TO WATCH THE REVENANT ON A PHONE OUT OF SPITE (HULK DIDN'T DO THAT, NOR WOULD HULK EVER DO THAT, BUT YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THE INCLINATION).

NOW, HULK IS HIGHLY AWARE THAT A DIRECTOR'S RELATIVE EGO OR DICKISHNESS HAS VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH THE QUALITY OF THE END RESULT. HECK, IT TAKES A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF CHUTZPAH TO BECOME A DIRECTOR ANYWAY, LET ALONE A GOOD ONE. AND THERE ARE A LITANY OF HUUUUUGE EGOS OUT THERE WHO HAVE MADE TRULY GREAT FILMS. BUT IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, HULK GENUINELY BELIEVES THAT INARRITU'S PARTICULAR EGOTISTICAL MINDSET COMBINES WITH SOME OF HIS MORE OSTENTATIOUS QUALITIES TO CREATE A CORE MISUNDERSTANDING OF CINEMA THAT ENDS UP PLAGUING HIS WELL-INTENTIONED WORK.

TO WIT, FROM THE SAME INDIEWIRE ARTICLE: "And while Iñárritu welcomes all comments about his film, just don't call "The Revenant" a western. “I don’t consider [my] film a Western,” he explained. “Western is in a way a genre, and the problem with genres is that it comes from the word ‘generic’, and I feel that this film is very far from generic.”

FIRST OFF, THAT'S LITERALLY INCORRECT. [*PUTS ON ETYMOLOGY HAT*] BOTH WORDS GO BACK TO THE ROOT LATIN WORD "GENUS" AS IN "OF A KIND," BUT GENRE ACTUALLY SPLIT FROM THE OFF SHOOTS OF WORDS LIKE GENDER, WHILE GENERIC EMERGED FROM THE MIDDLE FRENCH WORD GENERIQUE AND OBVIOUSLY HAD A BASIS IN THE ENGLISH WORD "GENERAL." THE POINT OF THIS IS NOT TO BE A NITPICKY JERK (ETYMOLOGY IS FUZZY ANYWAY), IT'S TO POINT OUT THAT THIS BLATANT STATEMENT HIGHLIGHTS BOTH THE GROSSEST MISUNDERSTANDING AND MANIPULATION OF LANGUAGE POSSIBLE - THAT EVEN THOUGH THEY BOTH HAVE TO DO WITH "TYPE" AND "CATEGORIZATION" THE HONEST TO GOD INTENT OF BOTH WORDS IS RADICALLY DIFFERENT - SO NO, GENRE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING GENERIC, EVEN IF THEY COME FROM A SIMILAR ROOT WORD. AND THE GROSS, INCORRECT STATEMENT BEING MADE ONLY SERVES TO HIGHLIGHT BOTH THE PRETENSION AND FEAR OF INARRITU:

THAT HE'S SO DESPERATE TO BE GREAT, SMART, AND ANYTHING BUT GENERIC.

YOU CAN JUST START COASTING THROUGH THE QUOTES FROM INARRITU AND FIND STUFF THAT MAKES YOUR HEAD COCK TO THE SIDE. LIKE ' Everybody is looking for validation, no matter who you are, and I think that's a need of the human condition - to look for affection or recognition or validation." OR EVEN "I think films are bigger than structure." AND ON AND ON AND... WELL... YOU CAN GET COMFORTABLE WITH STARTING TO CALL A DUCK A DUCK: INARRITU SEEMS LIKE A PRETENTIOUS EGOMANIAC ASPIRING FOR GREATNESS WHO IS ALWAYS TRYING TO JUSTIFY WHY HE IS DIRECTING HIS FILMS TO THOSE AIMS INSTEAD OF TRYING TO MAKE FUNCTIONAL CINEMA. THIS IS A GUY WHO THINKS "FUNCTIONAL CINEMA" IS A DIRTY AND BASE CONCEPT. HE DOESN'T JUST WANT TO MAKE POETRY.

HE WANTS TO MAKE IT POETICALLY.

SO WHILE HE MAY HAVE THE EGO OF TARANTINO, HE'S ACTUALLY THE ANTI-TARANTINO. BECAUSE TARANTINO TURNS INTO THE GENRE ARTIFICE SO HEAVILY THAT IT PRACTICALLY BECOMES COMMUNICATION SHORTHAND, AND NOT ONLY ELEVATES BUT USES HIS STORY / CHARACTER SKILLS TO CONSTANTLY HOP, SKIP, AND JUMP AROUND THROUGH LANGUAGE AND TONES. MEANWHILE, INARRITU IS SO DESPERATE TO REMOVE HIMSELF FROM THE TRAPPINGS OF GENRE THAT HE WILL EVISCERATE EVERYTHING THAT MAKES GENRE FUNCTION IN THE FIRST PLACE. HE SO DOESN'T WANT TO BE NORMAL OR BASE THAT HE RUNS AWAY FROM WHAT HIS FILMS ACTUALLY ARE AND NEED. MAKE NO MISTAKE, THE REVENANT IS A WESTERN. IT CAN BE A REVISIONIST WESTERN, AND IT CAN BE A SPARSE. IT CAN BE MEDITATIVE; IT CAN ELEVATE IT INTO DRAMA OR PHILOSOPHY. BUT IT'S STILL A WESTERN. AND PRETENDING IT NOT IS SO PART OF THE CORE PROBLEM.

BECAUSE THE TRUTH IS THAT DIVING INTO GENRE SHOWS YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY FUCKING KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. HULK'S SORRY BUT IF INARRITU TRIED TO MAKE A HORROR MOVIE HE WOULD HAVE HIS FUCKING ASS HANDED TO HIM BY A PLETHORA OF YOUNG FILMMAKERS WHO ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE OF THE GENRE THEY LOVE. PUT SIMPLY: MAKING A LOOSE DRAMA IS EASY. MAKING A GENRE FILM IS FUCKING HARD AND YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING FOR IT TO BE EFFECTIVE. AND IT'S ESPECIALLY NOT ABOUT REACHING PAST THE TRAPPINGS OF THE GENRE TO SAY SOMETHING MEANINGFUL. HECK, HULK WOULD ARGUE BLUE RUIN MAKES THE SAME EXACT POINT AS THE REVENANT WITH TEN TIMES THE CLARITY AND DRAMATIC FUNCTION.

... IS IT AS PRETTY?

NO.

BUT IS IT AS POWERFUL?

INFINITELY MORE SO.

AND IT ALL COMES DOWN TO UNDERSTANDING CINEMATIC LANGUAGE. YOU LOOK AT WHY INARRITU CHOOSES THE LONG TAKE LANGUAGE HE SO OFTEN IMPLORES, AND HE JUSTIFIES IT BY SAYING THINGS LIKE, "From the time we open our eyes, we live in steadycam form. The only editing is when we talk about things or remember them." THAT'S SUCH AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION ABOUT HOW HUMAN BEINGS OBSERVE AND PROCESS THE WORLD. BUT THAT'S THE WHOLE THING: IT'S STILL NOT HOW ACTUAL COMMUNICATION WORKS. BECAUSE CINEMA COMMUNICATES THROUGH EVERY SINGLE CHOICE THAT IS MADE. IT'S NOT LIFE. IT'S CINEMA. BUT INARRITU GENUINELY THINKS CINEMA SHOULD BE OBSERVED MUCH LIKE WE OBSERVE LIFE. AND THAT'S THE WHOLE THING - WE MAKE CHOICES ALL THE TIME WITH WHAT TO LOOK AT AND HOW TO LOOK. AND IN A WEIRD WAY, IT IS GETTING DIRECTLY INTO THE CATCH 22 OF EDITING'S VERY PURPOSE. HIS EXECUTION IS ULTIMATELY IGNORANT OF ALL THE CHOICES HE'S ACTUALLY MAKING, AND HIS DESIRE FOR A "HANDS OFF" APPROACH WITH THE AUDIENCE IS IGNORANT OF HIS OWN DIDACTIC STORY INTENTIONS. SO NO WONDER THE END RESULT IS CONFUSED.

AND HULK UNDERSTANDS THAT IT'S WEIRD TO SAY THIS IS ALL THE "RESULT" OF EGO, BUT IT IS AN INTRINSIC PART OF THE COMPLICATION HERE. TO WIT... TARANTINO WOULD NEVER SAY THAT A FILM DESERVES TO BE WATCHED IN A TEMPLE.

BECAUSE HE ALREADY THINKS MOVIE THEATERS ARE TEMPLES.

LIKEWISE, YOU CAN WATCH GEORGE MILLER AND KNOW THAT THERE IS NO ONE MORE EXCITED TO SEE HIS INCREDIBLE MAD MAX CREW WINNING AWARD AFTER AWARD. IT'S NOTHING MORE THAN OBSERVATION, BUT YOU CAN GENUINELY SEE IT IN EVERY INTERVIEW, THE WAY HE CONDUCTS AND BRINGS PEOPLE ALONG. YOU CAN SEE IT IN HIS FRIENDSHIP WITH HUGH KEAS-BYRNE. YOU CAN SEE IT IN THE GLOWING WAY HE TALKS ABOUT HIS WIFE EVERY CHANCE HE GETS. YOU CAN SEE IT IN THE THE WAY HE TALKS ABOUT THE AUSTRALIAN COMMUNITY BEHIND HIM. IT'S NOT LIP SERVICE. THERE ARE JUST PEOPLE WHO RADIATE INCLUSIVENESS AND PRIDE IN THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM.

TO GO TO AN ANECDOTE, TOM HARDY WAS PUT THROUGH AN EQUALLY TOUGH SHOOT ON MAD MAX AS HE WAS ON THE REVENANT. BUT UPON SEEING THE FINAL FILM HE SAID OF GEORGE MILLER: "I knew he was brilliant, but I didn’t quite know how brilliant."

MEANWHILE, INARRITU WAS THE ONE HE PUT IN A HEADLOCK.

... THOSE SHIRTS WERE HIS GIFT TO THE CREW.

6. MOTIVATED CAMERA MOVEMENT

THERE WAS A MOVIE THAT CAME OUT LAST YEAR, AND IF IT HAD BEEN DIRECTED BY SOME YOUNG RAGAMUFFIN WE WOULDN'T HAVE SHUT UP ABOUT HOW AMAZING IT WAS AND HOW WE JUST FOUND ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT YOUNG VOICES IN THE WORLD...

BUT INSTEAD IT WAS MADE BY STEVEN SPIELBERG.

AT THIS POINT, HULK HAS NO IDEA HOW THE GENERAL POPULACE REGARDS SPIELBERG. HE'S OBVIOUSLY UBER-RESPECTED. WE KNOW HE'S STILL "GREAT." BUT IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYONE IS MISSING THE SPECIFICITY OF HIS CURRENT GREATNESS. WHICH IS PERHAPS UNDERSTANDABLE. IT'S THE OLD TANGIBLE DETAILS THEORY AT WORK. BECAUSE WHEN WE LOOK FOR WHAT'S INTERESTING ABOUT SOMETHING WE OFTEN LOOK FOR WHAT FEELS "NEW." WE WANT THE FRESH, ORNATE CHANGES ON A TEXTURAL LEVEL. FOR INSTANCE, IT'S NOT SO MUCH THAT INCEPTION IS A MODERN HEIST FILM, IT'S THAT IT FEELS LIKE A MODERN HEIST FILM.

AND THE TRUTH IS SPIELBERG IS STILL FIRING 103 MPH, PERHAPS DOING BETTER WORK THAN ANYONE... IT JUST DOESN'T FEEL THAT WAY. MAYBE BECAUSE THE COMPLEXITY OF HIS MID-2000'S WORK WENT OVER THE AUDIENCE'S HEAD AND NOW SPIELBERG SEEMS TO BE ENTERING THIS WONDERFUL OLD-SCHOOL "FRANK CAPRA" STAGE OF HIS CAREER. FOR BOTH LINCOLN AND BRIDGE OF SPIES HAVE A WAY IN WHICH THEY FEEL LIKE HOLDOVERS OF '50S BRAND MORALISM. AND REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE INTO IT, HULK UNDERSTANDS THE WAY IT FEELS REACTIONARY OR SIMPLISTIC.

THE TRUTH IS HULK WOULD ARGUE THOSE FILMS ARE ANYTHING BUT REACTIONARY OR SIMPLISTIC. THEY ARE BOLD, DECLARATIVE STATEMENTS THAT ACCOUNT GREATLY FOR COMPLEXITY IN ORDER TO GET AT THE HEART OF MODERN HUMANITY AND MORALISM ITSELF. AND THEY HONESTLY EMPLOY SOME OF THE MOST SEAMLESS USES OF MODERN FILMMAKING TECHNOLOGY EVER (LIKE SCORSESE, LOOK INTO HOW MUCH INVISIBLE CGI THEY USE). IT'S NOT REACTIONARY WHATSOEVER, IT'S JUST MODERN CLASSICISM WITH CLASSIC FILMMAKING LANGUAGE. BUT EVEN AMONG THE TWO FILMS, WHAT SETS BRIDGE OF SPIES APART IS ITS INCREDIBLE USE OF MOTIVATED CAMERA MOVEMENT.

AND WHAT IS MOTIVATED CAMERA MOVEMENT?

IT'S WHEN THE CAMERA'S MOVEMENT IS GUIDED BY A SUBJECT'S MOVEMENT, WHETHER A PERSON OR OBJECT, AND HELPS FACILITATE THE LOGICAL FLOW OF HOW THE AUDIENCE EXPERIENCES THE CINEMA BEFORE THEM. IT SOUNDS SIMPLE AND OBVIOUS, BUT IT'S ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CONCEPTS IN CINEMATOGRAPHY. FOR IT IS NOTHING MORE THAN THE VISUAL VERSION OF THE CLASSIC "THEREFORE" FUNCTION OF STORYTELLING VS. THE PROBLEMATIC USE OF "AND THEN" STORYTELLING. HECK, THERE'S A REASON THE NUMBER ONE RULE OF ACTION CINEMA IS "FOLLOW THE ACTION."

TO SEE THIS VISUALLY, THIS VIDEO ACTUALLY EXPLAINS IT QUITE WELL:

IT'S CLEAR, RIGHT?

THE WAY A CHARACTER LOOKS. THE WAY A CHARACTER MOVES. YOU WANT TO BE CONSTANTLY POINTING TO OBJECTS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN THE SPACE. IT'S ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT FEELS "SIMPLE" BUT IT IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF CINEMATIC FUNCTION THAT PEOPLE FORGET CONSTANTLY. SO OFTEN, FILMMAKERS DEFAULT TO THROWING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER AND SETTING UP SHOT / REVERSE SHOT. OR IT'S FRAMING PEOPLE IN THAT OVERT FILM-SCHOOLY WAY THAT SCREAMS "COMPOSITION!!! LOOK AT THIS IMMACULATE COMPOSITION!!!" INSTEAD OF DEVELOPING RELATIONSHIPS WITHIN THE SPACE. AND WHEN REACHING FOR CINEMATIC VERVE THE INSTINCT OF PEOPLE WANTING "MORE" RESULTS IN EDITS FULL OF QUICK, RAPID FIRE LANGUAGE AS WELL AS THE CREATION OF GREGARIOUS "LOOK AT ME" ONERS IN THE CINEMATIC PISSING CONTEST. BUT IN THAT SPOT OF FUNCTIONALITY RESTS MOTIVATED CAMERA MOMENT, WHERE MR. STEVEN SPIELBERG IS ONE OF THE GREAT MASTERS.

YOU CAN SEE IT SO CLEARLY AT WORK IN TONY ZHOU'S "SECRET ONERS" ESSAY ON SPIELBERG THAT HULK JUST HAS TO SHARE:

REMINDS YOU HOW GREAT SPIELBERG IS, DOESN'T IT?

PARTICULARLY THE NOTION OF RE-FRAMING DIFFERENT COMPOSITIONS OF SHOTS CONSTANTLY THROUGHOUT THE LONGER SHOT. IT'S SEEMS SO OBVIOUS, BUT THE SUBTLETY OF THIS HAS A HUGE EFFECT ON THE VIEWER. IT DOESN'T JUST MAKE YOU FEEL INVISIBLE, IT MAKES YOU FORGET YOU ARE WATCHING. AND TO HULK, THIS REVEALS ONE OF THE GREAT TRUTHS ABOUT CINEMATIC FUNCTION: IN ORDER TO TRULY ABSORB A VIEWER YOU MUST MAKE THEM FORGET THEY ARE WATCHING. TO BE IN IT AND ABSORBED. AND THE TRUTH IS YOU CAN DO THAT AS A VIEWER WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE YOU UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE SEEING (ESPECIALLY WHEN IT'S MEANT TO BE A MYSTERY). MEANING TRUE CINEMATIC VOYEURISM IS NOT ABOUT FEELING VOYEURISTIC, IT'S JUST 100% UNDERSTANDING THE INFORMATION AND HAVING COHERENCE IN WHAT IS GUIDING YOUR EYE.

AND AS MUCH AS IT WAS OVERLOOKED THIS YEAR, BRIDGE OF SPIES MIGHT BE HIS MASTERPIECE IN THAT REGARD. IT'S NOT JUST WITH THE LONGER MINUTE-PLUS SHOTS IN THE FILM. HULK CAN'T TELL YOU HOW MANY OF THE QUICK SHOTS FLOW TO THEIR SUBJECTS SO BEAUTIFULLY, AND HOW MUCH THE EYE IS DRAWN AND GUIDED WITH SEEMINGLY NO EFFORT. CINEMATICALLY SPEAKING, IT'S LIKE WORKING WITH A GREAT DANCE PARTNER. YOU'RE JUST TOGETHER AND IN SYNC AND NOT EVEN THINKING ABOUT THE STEPS... MEANWHILE.... WHEN HULK WATCHES INARRITU HULK FEELS LIKE HULK'S JUST WATCHING HIM DANCE AS YOU STAND THERE GAWKING.

AND THAT'S WHEN YOU REALIZE HOW ALL THIS COMES TOGETHER.

INARRITU WANTS TO MAKE THESE BEAUTIFUL AND GRACEFUL MOMENTS MUCH THE SAME AS SPIELBERG, BUT HE NOT ONLY WANTS YOU TO NOTICE IT, HE'S SO OFTEN IGNORING THE RULE OF MOTIVATED CAMERA MOVEMENT TO TRY AND ACHIEVE IT. HE IS CONSTANTLY PUTTING THE CAMERA'S WILL AT THE CENTER OF THE MOVEMENT AND OBJECTS COME IN AND OUT OF THE FRAME WILLY NILLY. WHICH IS PRECISELY WHY THE SUBJECTS AND ACTION SO OFTEN FEEL LIKE THEY "DROP OUT" BECAUSE WE ACTUALLY AREN'T EXCHANGING DANCE STEPS. WE AREN'T FOLLOWING. INSTEAD, WE'RE CONSTANTLY INTERRUPTING SOMETHING THAT IS SUPPOSED TO FLOW, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE CAMERA IS FLOWING GRACEFULLY WITHOUT US. LIKEWISE, HE'S NOT RE-FRAMING THE SHOTS WITHIN THE SHOTS, IT'S JUST ALL BEAUTIFUL OVERARCHING MOVEMENT AND COMPOSITION, BUT TO NO REAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSE. WHICH IS PRECISELY HOW WE JUST END UP FEELING LIKE WE ARE WATCHING.

AND HULK WOULD ARGUE THIS IS ACTUALLY THE BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIM AND ALFONSO CUARON AS WELL. BOTH FILMMAKERS HAVE THAT INSTINCT TO HOLD A SHOT AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, TO PUSH A SEQUENCE INTO SOMETHING GRAND. BUT IT'S NOT JUST THE KNACK FOR EDITING, YOU WILL NOTICE THE WAY CUARON ALWAYS HAS THE INSTINCT TO FOLLOW THE SUBJECT OF ACTION AND TRANSFER IT BACK AND FORTH WITH DISCRETION. SURE, IT'S A LITTLE BIT MORE OVERT THAN SPIELBERG, BUT IT'S STILL USING THE SAME RULES AND RE-FRAMING THE SCENE WITHIN SEQUENCES TO REALLY EMPHASIZE THE SUBJECTS WITHOUT GLARINGLY PUTTING "YOU" IN IT. THAT MAY SEEM SMALL, BUT THE DIFFERENCE IS EVERYTHING. FOR IT IS PRECISELY WHY THE ACTION OF GRAVITY CAN PUT YOU AT THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT FOR 90 STRAIGHT MINUTES WHILE THE ACTION OF THE REVENANT OFTEN MAKES YOU SIT BACK AND WATCH WITH DISINTEREST, DISSOCIATION, OR THE OCCASIONAL FLOURISH THAT WORKS (SAVE FOR THE FUNCTIONAL BEAR ATTACK SEQUENCE, WHERE INARRITU ACTUALLY USES A LOT OF TRADITIONAL TACTICS). IT'S WHY ALL HIS CINEMA CAN END UP LOOKING PRETTY, BUT IT CAN SOMEHOW STILL "FEEL WRONG" THE ENTIRE TIME.

... OKAY...

AT THIS POINT HULK CAN IMAGINE MANY OF YOU ARE SAYING TO YOURSELF "GOD HULK, WE GET IT - YOU DON'T LIKE INARRITU." BUT HULK SWEARS TO YOU IT'S NOT REALLY ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT HULK LIKES HIM. NOR THE FACT THAT PEOPLE ARE SLEEPING ON SPIELBERG'S CURRENT MASTERY. NOR IS THIS SOME PETULANT BEMOANING ABOUT HOW PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO GIVE AN OSCAR TO A FILM LIKE MAD MAX. IT'S NOT ABOUT THOSE MERE CONCEPTS OF "JUSTICE" AND "FAIRNESS," NOR IS IT ABOUT PEOPLE HAVING THE RIGHT TO THINK WHAT THEY THINK. BECAUSE ALL THOSE THINGS ARE INESCAPABLE AND OBVIOUS.

ULTIMATELY, IT'S ABOUT ACCEPTING THAT THIS PART OF THE CONVERSATION IS INEVITABLE, AND THEN DIVING PAST THAT AND LOOKING AT WHAT KINDS OF THINGS CREATE THESE VARIOUS REACTIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE. BECAUSE WE ALL SAW THE SAME EXACT MOVIES, RIGHT? AND HULK SWEARS IT'S GOT TO BE MORE COMPLICATED THAN "WE ALL BRING SOMETHING TO IT." THAT'S WAY TOO EASY AN ANSWER AND IT DISMISSES THE FAR MORE INTRIGUING IDEA AT THE HEART OF THIS. BECAUSE HULK IS GENUINELY INTERESTED IN THE PLACE WHERE ALL THESE THOUGHTS, FEELINGS, AND CINEMATIC INSTINCTS CONVERGE:

THAT WOULD BE...

7. THE NEXUS OF CINEMATIC FUNCTION

A NEXUS IS AN INTERSECTION. AND THE INTERSECTION OF "HOW PEOPLE INTERPRET CINEMA" IS PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING THAT HULK CARES ABOUT. BECAUSE IT LITERALLY GOVERNS EVERYTHING HULK DOES ON BOTH A PROFESSIONAL AND CRITICAL LEVEL.

IT STARTS WITH AN OBVIOUS SUPPOSITION: THAT THERE'S NOTHING SAYING ANYTHING HULK PRESENTS HERE IS ACTUALLY CORRECT. DEVIN TALKS ABOUT THIS ALL THE TIME. THIS ESSAY AMOUNTS TO LITTLE MORE THAN AN ELONGATED OPINION. HECK, PRETTY MUCH ALL OF CRITICISM IS OPINIONS. FOR MOST OF THE ACTUAL SCIENTIFIC STUDIES ON CINEMA ARE SEEMINGLY INCLUSIVE. AND MOST OF THE CINEMATIC DATA ANALYSIS OUT THERE IS TERRIBLE IN THAT IT IS HORRIFICALLY MISLEADING (OFTEN BECAUSE IT IS BAD AT ISOLATING VARIABLES AND ALL THAT STUFF THAT GOOD STATISTICAL STUDIES DO). IN FACT, IF WE'RE GOING BY AWARDS AS ONE OF THE FEW DISCERNIBLE METRICS OF CINEMATIC "WORTH" THEN OF COURSE HULK'S WRONG IN THIS COLUMN. DEAD FUCKING WRONG. THERE'S SIMPLY THE REALITIES OF WHAT PEOPLE LIKE AND RESPOND TO AND THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS THAT GO INTO THAT IN THIS "NATURAL" STATE. BUT EVEN THEN, OUR REACTIONS, OUR TASTE, OUR INTERPRETATIONS - HULK WOULD ARGUE THEY ALL COME OUT OF CORE MOMENTS OF INSTIGATION FROM WHAT A GIVEN FILM MAY BE DOING, AND EVEN IF JUST IN THIS OPINIONATED SETTING, HULK WILL ALWAYS TRY TO GET AT THE UNDERSTANDING OF THOSE CORE MOMENTS.

HULK'S PRETTY SURE HULK'S TOLD THIS ANECDOTE BEFORE, BUT HULK REMEMBERS THERE WAS A GROUP OF US ARGUING ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT PETER JACKSON'S KING KONG WAS GOOD OR BAD (GOOD GRANOLA, HULK IS REALIZING THIS WAS 11 YEARS AGO), BUT SOME JERK NAMED STEVEN SODERBERGH WAS LISTENING TO EVERYONE BLAB ON AND ON AND ON, SO AT ONE POINT HE FINALLY SPOKE UP AND CALMLY SAID SOMETHING LIKE:

"Try explaining it in a way that makes you all correct. Because whatever you think, that's what the movie really is."

IT SOUNDS SIMPLE, BUT THIS IDEA, MUCH LIKE MOTIVATED CAMERA MOVEMENT, IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT HAS A DRAMATIC EFFECT ON THE REALITY OF A CONVERSATION. IT ALLOWS YOU TO NARROW THE SCOPE AND JUST DESCRIBE WHAT WE'RE SEEING, AND FROM THERE, WE CAN GET AT THE LARGER MATTERS OF INTERPRETATION. TO WIT, PETER JACKSON'S KING KONG HAD BIG, BROAD AMBITION, SWARMS OF LACKLUSTER CGI, STREAKS OF BRILLIANT CGI, AND A FUNCTIONAL CENTRAL RELATIONSHIP WITH SEEMINGLY TANGENTIAL OTHER RELATIONSHIPS (EVEN THOUGH EVERYONE PERFORMING IN THOSE TANGENTIAL RELATIONSHIPS IS PRETTY GOOD). IT'S A WORKING DESCRIPTION THAT CAN SOMEWHAT EXPLAIN AN ENTIRE GAMUT OF REACTIONS. AND PERHAPS IT'S THE REASON THAT THE TWO LINGERING MEMORIES HULK HAS OF THAT FILM IS ONE WHERE KONG HAS JUST BROUGHT NAOMI WATTS UP TO HIS ROOST AND HE IS BREATHING HEAVILY AND STARING AWAY FROM HER (IT IS JUST THIS SUPREMELY HUMAN MOMENT) - AND THE OTHER IS WHEN THEY ARE PLAYING ON THE ICE BEFORE THE BOMBARDMENT COMES. BOTH SPEAK TO THAT STRONG CENTRAL RELATIONSHIP AS PERHAPS BEING THE FILM'S DEFINING TRAIT. BUT ALL OF THE OTHER NEGATIVE COMMENTS CAN SPEAK ACCURATELY TO THE DESCRIPTION TOO. BECAUSE IN THE END, THE FILM IS THE FILM. AND IT'S GOING TO INCLUDE SOME OF US AND IT'S NOT GOING TO INCLUDE OTHERS OF US.

BUT THE HOW AND WHY OF THE WAYS WE ARE INCLUDED IS CRITICAL TO HULK.

THAT'S WHAT ALL OF THIS IS ABOUT. BECAUSE IT CAN HELP TEACH US HOW AND WHY TO INCLUDE AUDIENCES IN THE WAY WE WANT AS WELL. IF WE WANT TO NAVIGATE THE NEXUS, WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE NEXUS AS BEST WE CAN.

AND HOPEFULLY, IT CAN MAYBE EXPLAIN WHY A MASTER LIKE SPIELBERG CAN BE PRETTY MUCH IGNORED BECAUSE IT DOESN'T "SEEM" NEW. AND YOU GO BACK TO FINCHER AND WHETHER YOU LIKE HIS APPROACH TO FILMMAKING OR NOT. THE IDEA THAT HE IS LAYERING A PARTICULAR AESTHETIC WORKS BECAUSE THERE ARE THOSE WHO ADMIRE AND IDENTIFY WITH HIS FILMS FOR THAT PARTICULAR AESTHETIC / BROODING TONE. SAME GOES FOR INARRITU. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO SIMILARLY LIKE A BEAUTIFUL AND SOULFUL VIEW OF THE WORLD AND HAVE THE SAME RELATIVE OPINIONS AS HIM. WHICH MEANS, YUP, PART OF THE NEXUS IRREVOCABLY GETS INTO THE NOTION OF IDENTITY POLITICS. WHICH GENERALLY IS A TOUGH CONVERSATION BECAUSE IT'S EASY TO BOTH ATTACK AND GET DEFENSIVE WHEN IT'S ABOUT "US." FOR INSTANCE, HULK FINDS THE ADORATION OF FIGHT CLUB AND THE ASPIRATIONS TO INARRITU'S PARTICULAR BRAND OF INTELLECTUAL ANALYSIS TO BE... WELL... RATHER "HIGH SCHOOLY," WHICH IS PROBABLY AS INSULTING AN OPINION AS ONE CAN HAVE. BUT THAT SPEAKS TO THE NEXUS. WE GROW, EVOLVE, AND REGRESS RIGHT ALONG INSIDE IT. AND PEOPLE WHO DON'T "LIKE" GENRE ARE GOING TO IDENTIFY WITH A FILMMAKER WHO DOESN'T LIKE GENRE EITHER, EVEN IF HAVING THAT OPINION ABOUT GENRE REEKS OF THE HEIGHT OF PRETENSION TO HULK (FOR IT'S NOT ABOUT WANTING TO BE SEEN AS AN ADULT - IT'S ABOUT NOT WANTING TO BE SEEN AS A KID ANYMORE).

NOW, IT COULD BE EASY TO GET LOST IN THIS SORT OF STUFF BECAUSE IT'S MEAN SPIRITED AND EMOTIONAL, BUT REMEMBER THIS STUFF ALL CAME FROM A DISCUSSION ABOUT REAL-DEAL CINEMATIC LANGUAGE. AND NO, HULK DOESN'T "WORK BACKWARD" FROM IT. THIS IS A DEDUCTIVE EXPERIENCE. IT COMES FROM WHAT IS COMMUNICATED. AND ULTIMATELY, HULK WOULD EVEN ARGUE THAT GOOD CINEMATIC FUNCTION IS WHAT ALLOWS FILMS TO "TRANSCEND" THE SHACKLES OF THEIR IDENTITY POLITICS. BECAUSE THERE'S THE CLARITY AND QUALITY OF WHAT IS COMMUNICATED OUTSIDE THE ARTIST'S IDENTITY. TO WIT, THERE'S A REASON INCEPTION FEELS LIKE A MASTERPIECE TO MANY PEOPLE AND INTERSTELLAR DOESN'T. AND IT'S NOT "WHO THE ARTIST" IS SO MUCH AS IT IS WHETHER THE ARTIST CAN EFFECTIVELY COMMAND THE CINEMATIC LANGUAGE NECESSARY FOR EXECUTING THEIR VISION OF THAT PARTICULAR FILM.

AND IF YOU DON'T THINK CINEMA IS A LANGUAGE, THEN YOU COMMUNICATE THAT VISION HAPHAZARDLY WITH BIG, OVERARCHING TONES AND SLIP READILY INTO DIDACTICISM. YOU FASHION THE EXPERIENCE OUT OF CLARIFYING OVERT INTENTION IN THE TEXT. AND WITH YOUR CINEMATIC APPROACH, YOU WILL MAKE ETHEREAL FILMS THAT "LOOK LIKE" THE THING YOU WANT TO BE YOURSELF. WHICH IN THE END, IS NOTHING MORE THAN A BASIC "GET RICH QUICK" APPROACH TO CINEMATIC COMMUNICATION.

AND THE HONEST TRUTH IS YOU WILL PROBABLY DO FINE WITH THAT.

IF YOU'RE GOOD ENOUGH AT APING THE TEXTURE, IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH SENSE OF "ARTFULNESS" AS OPPOSED TO ARTISTRY, THEN YOU MAY EVEN BE ROUSINGLY SUCCESSFUL. FOR IDENTITY POLITICS IN ANY ART FILM ARE POWERFUL. AND PEOPLE WILL GRAVITATE TOWARD THINGS THAT SEEM LIKE THE THINGS THEY WILL LIKE. HECK, YOU MIGHT EVEN WIN A BUNCH OF AWARDS. AND YES, OF COURSE THERE IS A WAY THIS IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE BECAUSE WE'RE ULTIMATELY TALKING ABOUT BOTH ART AND THE INDEFINABLE. BUT IN THE END, HULK CAN'T HELP BUT FEEL LIKE TAKING CREDIT FOR THE RELATIVE "SUCCESS" OF THIS STUFF WITH AN AUDIENCE IS NO DIFFERENT THAN CELEBRATING THE IDEA THAT THE 4TH TRANSFORMERS MOVIE MAKES A LOT OF MONEY. IT'S TRUE, BUT IT'S NOT THE POINT.

THE POINT IS CINEMA ITSELF.

THE POINT OF THIS ENTIRE CONVERSATION IS UNDERSTANDING THE LANGUAGE. BECAUSE IF THE IDENTITY POLITICS ARE UNAVOIDABLE, THEN THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS WHAT WE CAN COMMUNICATE AND TRY TO TRANSCEND AND INVOLVE UNDERNEATH THEM. TO UNDERSTAND THE WAY THEY CAN DIVIDE US. AND THEN MAYBE UNDERSTANDING THAT CINEMATIC LANGUAGE HAS TO BE THE TIE THAT BINDS US, SURROUNDS US, AND ULTIMATELY COMMUNICATES RIGHT DOWN INTO THE HEARTS AND BUTTS OF THE AUDIENCE. IT REQUIRES WE ASK OURSELVES: DO YOU WANT TO MAKE A FILM THAT SO NAKEDLY REACHES FOR AWARD AMBITION? THAT IS SO ULTIMATELY HOLLOW THAT IT ALREADY SEEMS FORGOTTEN? OR DO YOU WANT TO MAKE THE KIND OF BONKERS ACTION MOVIE THAT'S SO GOOD THEY'LL NOMINATE IT FOR BEST PICTURE? DO YOU WANT TO MAKE THE KINDS OF FUNCTIONAL FILMS THAT WILL STAND FOR AS LONG AS CINEMA WILL HAVE IT?

AND IF THAT IS THE CENTRAL MISSION THEN IT CAN NEVER BE FOR THE AWARDS. FOR THE GLORY. FOR THE DESIRE, OR FOR THE TEMPLES... IT HAS TO BE FOR CINEMA. IT HAS TO BE FOR US. IT HAS TO REACH THROUGH THE NEXUS AND MAKE US FORGET WHAT WE ALREADY LIKE, FORGET WHAT WE KNOW, AND FORGET WE ARE EVEN THERE. AND IF WE CAN DO THAT, THEN LIKE GEORGE MILLER, WE HAVE UNLOCKED CINEMA'S GREATEST CAPABILITY. AND IT LEAVES HULK WITH A SIMPLE PERSONAL QUESTION...

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT CINEMATIC LANGUAGE THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING YOU WANT?

OR DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ENOUGH TO EXPLOIT IT?

<3 HULK

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