Monday, August 20, 2012

Moving Pictures

I was deeply saddened last night to learn of the tragic passing of Tony Scott, a filmmaker whose work (Domino, shown above, in particular) I have long admired and championed at every opportunity. He was a termite artist in an era that seemed to have no use for such masters, so quickly are those with a true vision pushed through the machine towards more "respectable" fare. Scott seemed to actively avoid respectability, or at least traditional avenues thereto. In his 60s, he was doing the most radical work of his career, and outpacing those half his age. His ever-shifting, never-cemented aesthetic was a constant search towards expanding what we perceive the limits of narrative cinema to be, but his content was really something else altogether. Domino is aggressively alienating, rising to near-heroic status the types of characters cinema rarely even goes near, while Deja Vu is, in its own demented sort of way, a rosier version of Vertigo's foundation - falling in love with the image of a woman. It also has the wildest car chase you'll ever seen.

His final film, Unstoppable, was a much more mainstream work, but one which he lent no less of his considerable craftsmanship. By insisting on using real trains rather than CGI, you never forgot the stakes of the scenario, and knew every second that this thing could completely wipe people out. Domino was an equally hand-crafted film, a process I explained and praised in several blog posts (here, here, and here) if that's the kind of thing in which you might be interested. As I said on Twitter, Tony Scott was an innovator, adventurer, a superb craftsman, and a fearless experimental artist. I'll miss whatever he would've come up with next.

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