Filmmaker Magazine has posted an essay by film scholar Ray Carney (a lovely man I had the pleasure of spending time with in Boston recently) on the beauty that is Aaron Katz’s Quiet City. Aaron’s sophomore feature, which premiered last year at SXSW, is part of a just-released, two-disc DVD package I’ve mentioned before. It also includes Aaron’s first feature, the SXSW 2006 debut Dance Party, USA, and plenty of extra goodies. That includes this wonderful piece of writing by Ray Carney. From his essay:
One of the major ways mainstream film allows viewers and characters to leave the present behind is by using various forms of imaginative and rhetorical heightening to pressure moments into meaning more than they do on the surface. Quiet City, like so many of its slacker compatriots, is willfully superficial. It avoids, to the last shot, the standard studio techniques of imaginative deepening, enrichment, and enhancement. A freighted romantic glance, an evocative mood-music orchestration, a key-lighted close-up would free us (and the two main characters, Jamie and Charlie) from the claims of reality, would let us (and them) float above the here and now. While Hollywood is devoted to using visual and acoustic forms of heightening to raise the stakes everywhere it can, Katz keeps the narrative pressure and visual temperature, the dramatic tendentiousness, the personal energy, as low as possible in order to hold viewers and characters in the details of the present.