Saturday, January 12, 2013


Insofar as one may understand cinema to be a pictorial form of communication; i.e., a medium with a number of two-dimensional surfaces, planes, areas sliding upon one another, like locomotive compartments, in a single-minded pursuit of a destination (in the case of the locomotive: a physical location, in the case of cinema's slides or frames: an abstract notion), it isn't difficult to appreciate why this pursuit is conducted both in space and time (as all pursuits must be). The fact, therefore, of a single film moving with time or within time is integral to the fulfillment of a number of ideas in film: the notion of a narrative itself is built on the central conceit of a present, its past, its immediate future, and the accompanying changes in the universe of the film within these units of time - someone comes, someone goes, others appear out-of-nowhere, more disappear, the hinges of a door come loose, skin wrinkles, the parts of a machine rust, the song on a vinyl record is over and the third song from it now plays, birds halt chirping and the crickets appear - as such, cinema always functions in a set of recurring appearances-disappearances; that it is the one artform that can engage elements of photography (after all, a picture captures not merely someone's presence, but also the absence of the rest of the world not in it), as also, of time-keeping (the ticking of a clock is the ominous soundtrack to all the transformations in the world around us). Of course, the idea in itself may seem a bit complicated, but then great filmmakers consummate it through the simplest of touches; below, two stills from a dysfunctional family from Takashi Miike's debut film, Shinjuku Triad Society (1995) - the younger dissenting brother appears for a family prayer, and as the parents pray in the foreground (the prayer itself becomes the metaphor for time, a device for keeping time), he:

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