EDITOR’S NOTE: This is yet another view concerning the Chaos Cinema debate. This time it’s from writer-critic Steven Boone, who published this piece on his blog Big Media Vandalism. He warns the reader if you haven’t watched both chapters of Matthias Stork’s video essay Chaos Cinema: The Decline and Fall of Action Movies, don’t bother to read what follows.
By Steven Boone
Press Play Contributor
“This is what happens when you lose your eyesight. Your other senses try to compensate.”
Matthias Stork’s thrilling two-part video essay Chaos Cinema tells us that the state of the art in modern action filmmaking is unsound. He blames a chaotic style of covering the action that has proliferated wildly over the past decade.
His presentation has had the effect of a schoolmarm busting in on a cocaine orgy to tell the half-naked, moaning participants that what they’re engaging in isn’t exactly healthy. No shit? You’d think they’d be grateful, but the reaction from those who happen to enjoy the action movies Stork trashed has been, essentially, “Shut up, nerd! And close the door!”
But I’ll bet each of those cokeheads staggers home from the bacchanale only to lie awake in bed, wondering whether there was something to what the kid was whining about. After all, their nostrils are raw and bleeding, their mouths are dry and they have pounding headaches. What’s worse, they can barely remember all the fun they had. Just a blur of dildos and Tasers. All they know is that they have to go for some more cocaine and erotic asphyxiation just as soon as they can sit upright again.
Stork’s video is an intervention. The addict is any moviegoer who believes that what Stork calls Chaos Cinema (and which I refer to as Snatch bullshit) represents a mere stylistic preference or, even worse, an evolutionary leap in film storytelling. Or, even worse, base-level nutrition, in the manner of a ghetto child raised on Pizza Rolls and Skittles.
The backlash has been predictable but surprisingly passionate. “Styles change and cinema moves forward,” writes somebody at The Week. Scott Nye hisses: “What’s next, aim for people who turn away because of widescreen? Steadicam? Color? Sound?” Mr. Nye, I hope you can elaborate on how action sequences slapped together to convey nothing but shock and panic are drawing us closer to the Promised Land. After that, let’s hear about how the robber barons of neo-3-D are actually living up to the innovative spirit of the French New Wave. (I picture a bunch of portly Disney executives running free like those kids in Jules and Jim.)
You can read the rest of Steven’s piece here.
Steven Boone is a film critic and video essayist for Fandor and Roger Ebert’s Far Flung Correspondents. He writes a column on street life for Capital New York and blogs at Big Media Vandalism.