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Maximalist (?) cinema

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Onderhond
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Maximalist (?) cinema

#1

Post by Onderhond » February 14th, 2020, 11:52 am

https://letterboxd.com/dozzyrok/list/maximalist-cinema/

"These are movies that employ my favorite design concept: Maximalism. I absolutely adore sensory overload and complexity, have it be in the narrative or the style. These movies try their hardest to assault all of your senses and never let you take a breath. Get ready. (Not all of these are movies I enjoy but most of them are)"

I ran into the above list a couple of days ago. I'm not sure about the term or the exact definition given, all I know is that it brings together a bunch of films that I like a lot, but had a hard time categorizing in the past. If anyone has interesting lists in the same vein, knows if this is a coined term or can add something useful (recommendations, whatever), please do so!

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beavis
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#2

Post by beavis » February 14th, 2020, 1:17 pm

seems like an unofficial/made up term to me, certainly looking at that list, full of pop-culture, a few cult usual suspects and a few recent ones. For if you really want an attack on the senses, some experimental cinema (like Brakhage) should be included for instance... (unless they think that kind of experimental work is minimal because it lacks narrative)

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#3

Post by Onderhond » February 14th, 2020, 1:46 pm

Well, I definitely don't think it's meant to be an exhaustive list, but I've seen it the term pop up left and right the past couple of months and I was wondering if it was something "official".

As for Brakhage, not sure. Maybe if he'd decided to add a soundtrack, because the visuals alone don't have that much impact. It's also very much on the experimental side of cinema, so it's omission could just be because it's not at all on the user's radar. Doesn't change the fact that it brings together certain quantities in a film that have otherwise been scattered across different genres and styles. It certainly would be a useful term, even if it needs some extra work/refinement.

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#4

Post by beavis » February 14th, 2020, 2:59 pm

maybe this is something you can work with https://www.filmtheory.org/aesthetics-films/

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#5

Post by OldAle1 » February 14th, 2020, 3:11 pm

beavis wrote:
February 14th, 2020, 1:17 pm
seems like an unofficial/made up term to me, certainly looking at that list, full of pop-culture, a few cult usual suspects and a few recent ones. For if you really want an attack on the senses, some experimental cinema (like Brakhage) should be included for instance... (unless they think that kind of experimental work is minimal because it lacks narrative)
The little paragraph at the top that Onderhond quotes does mention "narrative or style" and there are at least 2 shorts on the list which may or may not be narrative (not familiar with them myself). I also haven't really seen enough Brakhage - and have seen little in recent years - to comment on whether he might fit the term.

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#6

Post by Pretentious Hipster » February 14th, 2020, 3:18 pm

Resident Evil: Retribution DEFINITELY falls into this category.

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#7

Post by OldAle1 » February 14th, 2020, 3:28 pm

Interesting list and concept. I haven't seen the term maximalist either but I have used the term "over-stuffed" pretty frequently myself, usually in terms of visual style but occasionally narrative as well - and we could add sound of course as well though I think it would be harder to find features with maximal or over-stuff sound design - I don't think most filmmakers or film viewers are as interested in assaults on their ears in film as they might be when going to a concert. But some of Robert Altman's films with their overlapping dialogue might seem to apply, as well as something like Hawk's His Girl Friday - if that doesn't have a maximal use of dialogue I don't know what does. And I'm sure there are films which have something similar going on with more complex uses of music and/or sound effects but I can't think of too many apart from the guy in the next paragraph.

The first name I think of when I think in these terms is missing from that list unless I missed him - Terry Gilliam. I still remember first seeing Brazil in the cinema in 1985 - and I remember a warning that it was going to be shown extra-loud as per the director's insistence - and feeling it was a total assault on the senses, certainly as much as I had experienced up to that point at 19. And I think his next film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (curiously the list has the Zeman version of this story) is an even more perfect distillation of his cram-everything-into-the-frame-and-story aesthetic, but nearly all of his films offer a combination of fairly wild visuals, narrative complexity and just a general full-to-the-brim style.

Plenty of other examples that might be applicable -

Several of Raoul Ruiz' films - some of the later like Mistérios de Lisboa offer both visual and narrative maximalism; his earlier short Collogue de chiens while essentially very simple visually as a collection of photographs has an unquestionably maximal plot that few filmmakers would try to put forth in a 2 hour feature while Ruiz gives it to us in 22 minutes.

Beasts of the Southern Wild certainly seems to belong in the visual category.

Playtime is an obvious example, again mostly from a visual standpoint.

If Na srebrnym globie is on a list like this, then surely John Boorman's Zardoz belongs as well.

I'm not sure anything on that list is older than the 60s, and indeed when I think of this kind of cinema it's not something I think of in relation to earlier stuff so much but there are a few exceptions - Welles' Mr. Arkadin (a huge influence on Ruiz) for example and perhaps some of the Powell & Pressburger films.

But that initial paragraph in front of the list isn't really enough for me to gauge exactly what that LB user means, and I haven't seen enough of the films on his list, nor even heard of several of them, to guess whether my opinions on this subject intersect that well with the list-maker's.
Last edited by OldAle1 on February 14th, 2020, 3:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#8

Post by OldAle1 » February 14th, 2020, 3:32 pm

Pretentious Hipster wrote:
February 14th, 2020, 3:18 pm
Resident Evil: Retribution DEFINITELY falls into this category.
Yes but I'd imagine the maker of that list was excluding films that are total garbage. Oh wait no they have The External World. Well there goes that theory.

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#9

Post by Pretentious Hipster » February 14th, 2020, 4:00 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
February 14th, 2020, 3:32 pm
Pretentious Hipster wrote:
February 14th, 2020, 3:18 pm
Resident Evil: Retribution DEFINITELY falls into this category.
Yes but I'd imagine the maker of that list was excluding films that are total garbage. Oh wait no they have The External World. Well there goes that theory.
I hate the Resident Evil films but I thought this one was a masterpiece. It does exactly what I think action films should do. The thing that ruins them is their focus on plot, which is usually abysmal. In this there's maybe 4 minutes of plot. There's an introduction scene summarizing the events so far, and then one scene of someone summarizing what's the task at hand.

It also goes into such absurd territory that I can't help but enjoy it. I mean, you have USSR zombies doing wheelies on motorcycles.

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#10

Post by Onderhond » February 14th, 2020, 5:57 pm

beavis wrote:
February 14th, 2020, 2:59 pm
maybe this is something you can work with https://www.filmtheory.org/aesthetics-films/
I think that's too much of an umbrella term, as it equally relates to minimalist cinema (if I read it correctly). Terms like "ultra-stylized" have the same problem.
OldAle1 wrote:
February 14th, 2020, 3:28 pm
and we could add sound of course as well though I think it would be harder to find features with maximal or over-stuff sound design - I don't think most filmmakers or film viewers are as interested in assaults on their ears in film as they might be when going to a concert.
Well, you're right there are fewer director/films, but I don't have to look to hard to find suitable examples. There's Noé's Climax for example. Or the films of Tsukamoto/Sogo Ishii, which go for very explicit, industrial soundtracks. Aronofsky's first is another good example, of Paap's Umfeld if you want to go the Brakhage route.

I think with terms/concepts like these, there will always be discussion and grey areas, but at least it can provide a good starting points for people who like certain characteristics that are otherwise not captured in more common categories.

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#11

Post by Torgo » February 14th, 2020, 7:07 pm

Thanks for the link Onderhond, sounds interesting and at least like a good list to look for some, well, crazy films :)

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#12

Post by 3eyes » February 16th, 2020, 8:07 pm

I probably shouldn't contribute as I haven't a clue what this is about, but anyway:

Like many people on the spectrum I have a low stimulation tolerance - the only way I can watch action/martial arts flicks is to turn off the sound. (Generally not much loss as far as dialog goes.)

Although I would have been very interested to watch La batalla de Chile, I only managed Part I because it shifted scenes so fast I couldn't follow.

Vertov's Chelevek s kino-apparatom put me to sleep - due not to boredom but to overstimulation.
:run: STILL the Gaffer!

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