Tono StanoUnidentifiable (2000)

Photography is not–as it were–my first visual ‘language’. I studied cinema for almost a decade before pursuing film making specifically.

Yet, similar to any first language–when I’m having difficulty expressing a thought in my second visual language, my tendency is to fall back on the first.

I had the opportunity to see the forthcoming Terrence Malick project Knight of Cups earlier this week.

It‘s a work by Malick–so all the things you typically associate with his style (multiple characters thoughts illustrated through stream of consciousness voice-over, so gorgeous they’re painful scenes and just a general profusion of beauty). It’s also so inexcusably vacuous, it’s vapid.

The mix of cinematography and digital cinematography is incredible. (Chivo is one of a teeny tiny group of indisputable ‘young’ masters.)

But what’s truly ground breaking about the proceedings are the way the roving camera approximates a dream. Chivo frequently fluidly transitions from one moving shot into another by trailing out of the first and then swinging into the second. By this I mean that you could say that the camera keeps moving without the actor and the motion becomes subjective, almost a POV and then it cuts to another subjective perspect that the actor then enters. It’s exceedingly well done and pulls together compellingly what would otherwise have been unwatchable.

But it’s frustrating: Chivo so frequently works with auteurs who’ve grown intractable in their approach to how and what the cinematic experience should convey (Malick) or godawful hacks who are only celebrated because of abject arrogant public masturbation sold to idiots as audacity married with technical precociousness (Iñárritu, who can kiss my whole asshole).

Sadly, Alfonso Cuarón is the closest Chiva routinely gets to a great artist and even that isn’t enough to push him to greater heights.

Really, I feel like Stano has quite a bit in common with Chivo. His work is consumately well made and presented but it lacks a conceptual clarity that it’s sorely missing.

For example: there are two image makers producing similar work–Dara Scully and Beatrix Mira. Scully is clearer in concept and execution than she is in presentation. Mira lacks Stano’s dynamic compositions but here’s seem motivated by a unifying personal obsession.

Stano’s work just looks cool as fcuk. But when you ask yourself what it’s about or what purpose it serves, the work reduces rapidly to an exercise in style over any sort of discernible content.

Ideally, the work I love most features both style and content but I’ll always taken the latter over the former. And that’s why I think ultimately, Scully and Mira are better artists.

Oh and here’s another example of how not cutting your head out of the frame is possible but still allows for anonymity and makes an infinitely better picture.

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