… A cut, camera move, slant of light, the texture of a wall, the posture of a character — all become more prominent, and afford the pensive spectator rare insight and pleasure.
This is from the Introduction to Slow Movies: Countering the Cinema of Action by Ira Jaffe (2014):
… Obviously contemporary slow movies, whether foreign or domestic, fail to meet criteria of speed and spectacle the predominantly youthful US film audience has come to expect. Yet America cannot just be “about speed, hot, nasty, bad ass speed,” as Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) in Adam McKay’s NASCAR satire Talladega Nights (2006), suggests is the case. Nor is it desirable that most movies favored by Americans boast the blockbuster dimensions cited by Manohla Dargis: “big stars, big stories, big productions, big screens … big returns … and all manner of cinematic awesomeness.”
There remains a further obstacle to the embrace of contemporary slow movies: even mature audiences prefer to avoid the understated emotional pain in this cinema. “America, as a social and political organization, is committed to a cheerful view of life,” wrote Robert Warshow. Possibly a similar commitment to optimism prevails in mass culture everywhere.
… Yet the mastery of form and acuity of feeling that distinguish works of art, even when the subject matter is painful, have an uplifting rather than depressing effect on spectators alert to form and feeling. Such is the case with Picasso’s Guernica, Munch’s The Scream and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, for instance, and to some extent Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse, Lisandro Alonso’s Liverpool and Jia Zhang-ke’s Still Life.
[line break added] Yet in such movies the viewer also confronts the frequent repression and indeterminacy of feeling, in contrast to the overtness of Guernica, The Scream and Hamlet. In other words, slow movies are hard to take not simply because they portray feelings contrary to optimism. Rather they also inhibit the expression of such feelings, just as they restrict motion, action, dialogue and glitter.
[ … ]
… not just time looms larger as action is displaced or diminished; cinematic form itself comes to the fore in a new way. A cut, camera move, slant of light, the texture of a wall, the posture of a character — all become more prominent, and afford the pensive spectator rare insight and pleasure. Hence the formal artistry of slow movies belies their indications of human incapacity, of nothing happening, of time as empty or dead.
To be continued.