Slow Movies - Countering the Cinema of Action

Author(s): Ira Jaffe

film studies

"In all film there is the desire to capture the motion of life, to refuse immobility," Agnes Varda has noted. But to capture the reality of human experience, cinema must fasten on stillness and inaction as much as motion. Slow Movies investigates movies by acclaimed international directors who in the past three decades have challenged mainstream cinema's reliance on motion and action. More than other realist art cinema, slow movies by Lisandro Alonso, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Pedro Costa, Jia Zhang-ke, Abbas Kiarostami, Cristian Mungiu, Alexander Sokurov, Bela Tarr, Gus Van Sant and others radically adhere to space-times in which emotion is repressed along with motion; editing and dialogue yield to stasis and contemplation; action surrenders to emptiness if not death.


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Given the often mindless films that now rule the multiplex, where everything is constant action, motion, and violence in a constant barrage of computer-generated frenzy, Ira Jaffe's thoughtful, peaceful, transcendental book is a breath of fresh air, highlighting more contemplative, insightful films, offering a useful antidote to the nonstop kineticism of mainstream modern cinema. -- Wheeler Winston Dixon, University of Nebraska, Lincoln In a time of hypermodern acceleration in cinematic narrative, Ira Jaffe turns a penetrating eye to films that embody a transcendent and deeply probing slowness. Interpretive deliberation, emptiness of moment and observation, virtuosity of meditation, the revelation of the long take, and the patient angling of narrative gain new clarity -- even radiance -- in Jaffe's important analysis of works by Jarmusch, Van Sant, Kiarostami, Oliveira, Ceylan, Puiu, Zhang-ke, and Tarr. -- Murray Pomerance, University of Toronto Out beyond the cacophony of summer blockbusters, re-booted films, and the whirl of smart phone users, there is a collection of filmmakers quietly observing contemporary life through a sparse and economical cinema. Jaffe explores the history and aesthetics of these slow films, and how they counter the rendering of life in Hollywood. As in his earlier work, Jaffe's economical prose teases out not just a genre of slow filmmaking, but the philosophical implications of such work. He is a master of the close reading of films, in this case turning his analysis to the emotional restraint, the suspension of time, and the austerity of aesthetics in slow films. The result is a reflection on an alternative to cinema's dominant visual syntax, and how it speaks to the human condition -- Eric Patrick, Northwestern University

Ira Jaffe is Emeritus Professor, former chair and founder of the Department of Cinematic Arts at the University of New Mexico. He is author of Hollywood Hybrids: Mixing Genres in Contemporary Films (2008) and co-editor of Redirecting the Gaze; Gender, Theory and Cinema in the Third World (1999).

IntroductionDeadpan: Stranger Than Paradise, Deadman and The Second CircleStillness: Elephant and Mother and SonLong Shot: Distant and ClimatesWait Time: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and SafeDrift and Resistance: Liverpool and OssosDeath-Drive, Life-Drive: A Talking Picture, Taste of Cherry, Five Dedicated to Ozu and Still LifeRebellion's Limits: The Turin Horse, Werckmeister Harmonies and 12:08 East of BucharestNotesIndex

General Fields

  • : 9780231169790
  • : Columbia University Press
  • : Wallflower Press
  • : February 2014
  • : March 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Ira Jaffe
  • : Paperback
  • : 256