Jonathan Poritsky on Wednesday, May. 16th
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[CONTENT ADVISORY: there is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of someone’s rear in this supercut. Depending on how uptight your work environment is this, along with the copious shots of drug use– Hello, Aronofsky– may make this video Not Safe For Work.]
Urban Dictionary defines “supercut” thusly:
A fast-paced montage of short video clips that obsessively isolates a single element from its source, usually a word, phrase, or cliché from film and TV.
While the supercut conceptually predates the advent of the Internet (see: Christian Marclay’s 1995 short “Telephones”, Chuck Workman’s 1986 “Precious Images” and even Lev Kuleshov’s infamous experiments from the early 20th century) it has become a staple of Web culture. What was once the work of mad editors working for months or years on end is now a digital playground for the masses. Go search the web for a supercut and you’ll find it for almost any facet of cinema. Often these experiments yield little to no results, but sometimes they can show us an aspect of the cinema we didn’t know was there, even though it had always been staring us in the face.
Which brings us to the work of Kogonada. The filmmaker has released four supercuts on Vimeo and YouTube this year, each one an exploration of one aspect of a filmmaker’s ouvre, with the one deviation being a supercut of POV shots on “Breaking Bad”. Previously the artist created “Wes Anderson // FROM ABOVE” and Tarantino // FROM BELOW, each one spanning the title filmmaker’s career and pulling out shots that adhere to the title’s suggestion. What is great about both of those choices, Anderson from above and Tarantino from below, is that in each case we actually learn something about the style of the filmmaker that we may not have noticed looking at their body of work on the micro (film by film) level. Better, these stylistic nuances are specific to the directors, not arbitrary choices for discovery. Any other filmmaker profiled “from above” wouldn’t be nearly as interesting as Wes Anderson’s use of that angle.
And now we have “Sounds of Aronofsky,” a 56-second mashup of sound effects used by Darren Aronofsky in all of his films. Don’t be fooled though, this is just as much a visual exploration as an aural one. Almost all of the shots are closeups of objects that accompanied by jarring sounds. And this is the fastest paced mashup from Kogonada yet.
Similar to the visual and narrative aspects of a film, the soundtrack has to ring emotionally true with the audience. Often the sounds we hear have no basis in reality, at least not in a literal sense. Sound designers don’t crash cars or crunch bones and call it a day. A good soundtrack focuses on the intensity of what we hear, not merely the loudness. Kogonada has pinpointed the intensity of mundane sounds in Aronofsky’s work. The small, everyday sounds we would hear and ignore get a starring role in his work.
Whether or not we, as viewers, consciously notice this while watching a Darren Aronofsky film is beside the point. These aural cues influence how we experience the film, and Kogonada nailed the execution in this supercut. Is there anything more “Aronofsky” than this? There are so many edits of other works blindly hacked together for the sake of, what? Often makers of supercuts shoot from the hip, executing an experiment for the sake of it but with no real goal or endgame. Kogonada, on the other hand, has shown remarkable restraint and brings a unique academic bent to the form. The art comes from expanding our view of the works being cut. I can’t wait to see what, or who, comes next.