StinkyLulu's Niftiest Narrative Styling Trend of 2004

StinkyLulu loves stories. That's why StinkyLulu sees so many movies. But few things drain the blood from StinkyLulu's soul as thoroughly as labored, tedious or trite storytelling. That's why StinkyLulu's always on the prowl for movies that innovate the medium to its very limits to carve stories into the celluloid.

This year, two films made by filmmakers in their 30s, brought what is so derisively called "MTV-Moviemaking" to really cool places. Typically this accusation is deserved by folks like McG who bring the most style-obsessed, marketing-minded aspects of the music video genre to film. But these two filmakers -- Jonathan Caouette of Tarnation and Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights -- deploy the saturated colors and dizzying edits of music video in telling their emotionally saturated & dizzying stories.

Caouette's Tarnation and Berg's Friday Night Lights tell stories, biographical ones, that rely upon but nonetheless confound ready logics of good/bad, victory/defeat, guilty/innocent, etc. Further, the folks whose lives become the basis of the characters in these films refute even rudimentary foundations of characterization for either the filmmaker or (in Berg's case) the actors. Nonetheless, Berg & Caouette both create montages of herkyjerky character moments of intense action, attaching each cinematic moment to the other as tiles in a mosaic rather than beads on a string. The result is almost like one of those computer generated picture montages, where tiny pictures become the pixilated tiles in a larger portrait. What's astonishing to StinkyLulu is just how niftily effective it is as a narrative style of filmmaking.

Berg's and Caouette's films emerge as intellectually provocative, emotionally intense, and visually thrilling films, each telling a searing story of human struggle, a storytelling style both respectful and brutal in emotional forthrightness.


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