How to Use This Site
Blog posts will include the following basic content areas:
1. A variety of feature articles about various aspects of cinema.
2. Alternative features about cult movies, experimental films, stand-up performance films and music documentaries.
3. Reviews of current films, classic films and films that not enough people have seen.
4. Artist Overviews of major creative figures in world cinema history.
In addition there are four separate pages that delineate the basic concepts we use to discuss art cinema. Here is a quick guide to using the modes:
For most films the four principle components are writing, performance, mise en scene and editing. To help categorize our list of great directors in a way that will be instructive to understanding not only their works, but also will help define key elements of cinematic style, we are going to extrapolate what we call a “mode” (after Peter Brook’s in his Melodramatic Imagination), each of which will be rooted in one of the four principle components.
The difference between a mode and a genre is the difference between a way of being and an appearance. It is the difference between cause and effect. To speak of a mode is to give some phenomenon a name so that you are able to discuss it fruitfully and coherently. To speak of genre, on the other hand, is to demonstrate your mastery of a category of filmmaking that obeys certain rules of composition and representation to attain a specific effect aimed at a target audience.
There is something static to the concept of the genre; it gives the impression of an object that is permanently defined. To speak of a mode shifts the emphasis from the object/work to the creator of that work, and illuminates the creative process and rather than merely describing the result as if the completed work were a thing to filed away, as if it were finished once it had been named rather than imbued with nascent potential.
It is not our intention to suggest that a given filmmaker or group of filmmakers focus on one component at the expense of the other three. Rather, we group them together based on their tendency to let one of the four principle components dominate the others. The best filmmakers are the ones that develop all four into a meaningful whole, but it will always remain evident where their inspiration lies.
Also there are filmmakers for whom the present categorization is provisional for one reason or another. We call Bergman discursive because we have in mind Scenes from a Marriage rather than The Seventh Seal. We think of Akerman as performative, but one could also make a case for designating her works as meditative or visionary. Having written at some length about Andrei Tarkovsky, I would be willing to argue that he is a master of all four modes. Remember that the modes are a way to think about the works, not a way to define them.