Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010
by PopMatters Staff
by Hester Joyce and Scott Wilson
Colloquy (December 2009)

“Contemporary Western filmmaking in the mid-1990s witnessed the emergence of a distinct group of filmmakers and films that, in the popular discourse of cinematic criticism, were together coded as “difficult” or “per-verse.” These films were, as a result of the characteristics we identify be-low, situated obliquely in relation to the larger economic and artistic struc-tures of a commercially oriented “mainstream” cinema. Included in this new form of cinematic production were films from directors such as Tim Burton: Edward Scissorhands (1990); David Cronenberg: eXistenZ (1999); David Fincher: Se7en (1995); Peter Greenaway: The Baby of Maçon (1993); David Lynch: Lost Highway (1997); Quentin Tarantino: Pulp Fiction (1994) and Lars von Trier: Breaking the Waves (1996). Whilst Western cinema as a whole has a long history of exploring “difficult” or “perverse” material within the overt or covert content of narrative, plot and story, such films demonstrate a particular relationship between the content being explored and the specific formal characteristics utilised in the delivery of that content. Thus where previous examples would utilise standardised formal tech-niques as a way of both delivering and containing the difficult or objection-able material, the films instead offer instances where the material of the narrative content seems to bleed backwards, affecting the form and render-ing the very materiality of the film itself suspect and problematic.”

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