Quentin Tarantino cried the first time he watched Wong Kar-Wai's "Chunking Express," not because he was moved, but because he was amazed that he could love a film so much. Yet as Roger Ebert points out, this can be a difficult... [more]
Quentin Tarantino cried the first time he watched Wong Kar-Wai's "Chunking Express," not because he was moved, but because he was amazed that he could love a film so much. Yet as Roger Ebert points out, this can be a difficult film to love, namely because it is more about mood than plot, more about motif than motive. So too, the films of Claire Denis, Derek Jarman, and Andrei Tarkovsky capture moods and modes rather than leading to complacent resolutions or contrived forms of closure. In the works of these cineastes, gone are the ideals of montage and mise-en-scene; arrived is the celebration of the fragment, a central tenet of the amorphous Postmodernist movement.
Storytelling in the postmodern world is a slippery affair, and pinning down a postmodern narrative is a bit like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. Any attempt to garner a message or impose an interpretive structure (and often a temporal structure) will be frustrated. In other words, we are forced to accept the ride without expecting a destination.
What causes this disconnectedness? Why the insistence on thwarting narrative's drive towards closure and certainty? Perhaps part of the answer lies in the shifting political sands that have been a symptom of the widespread postmodern project of decolonization and its sister project, economic globalization. Wong Kar-Wai's disconcerting representation of colonial Hong Kong, Jarman's bleak portrayal of "The Last of England," Denis' emotionally conflicted "Chocolat," and Tarkovsky's call to national memory in "Ivan's Childhood" -- even as the Soviet empire strangled Eastern Europe -- all suggest the impossibility of tidy denouements.