(re: An interesting discussion with Roberta)
Sounds like a great movie! This definately made me interested in seeing it.
I think this plot thing is a deep and complicated topic. It’s certainly a fine balance for a writer to make a story surprising and interesting, but still not too obscure. Some directors are amazing at that, which has made them very successful. Like Quentin Tarantino, or – to mention Mulholland Drive again – David Lynch. In Lynch’s case, the plots can involve truly bizarre dreamy sequences that really makes the brain work in the attempt to decipher the deeper messages. It takes great writing to do this and challenge the viewer with surprises without messing up the plot. Another good example of this is the series “24”, which shocks the viewer with new twists in every episode to the point where you can never trust anyone for being the person they appear to be. The fact that this works and not completely alienates the viewers but instead keeps them glued to the screen wanting more hints at some great writing talent.
Isn’t the problem with movie narratives really the same as with adventure games in a way? You must make it possible for the audience to see where the story is going, but you cannot present it so blatantly clear that there is no emotional reward in figuring things out. And it’s nearly impossible to fool the viewer by doing something obvious but disguising it as a clever plot twist. Personally, I’ve recently discovered the wonderful world of anime (Japanese animation) and it’s such a refreshing thing to watch it, simply because there is a tradition of different storytelling in the east that you aren’t used to living on the west hemisphere and watching mostly American and European movies. First of all, the stories are usually much more character-based, with the characters making some sort of emotional journey over the course of the movie. Also, the cultural differences introduces many things that surprises and amazes you. If you’re just going to watch one anime movie, I’d suggest Spirited Away, directed by Hayayo Miyazaki. It’s not a coincidence that this movie won an Academy Award and is the highest grossing movie of all time in Japan. The sheer imagination and beauty of it just sweeps you away into another world, where you never know what to expect. And yet you can relate to it emotionally. Japan is a long, long way ahead of us in the animation department. They have realized that it’s a medium and an artform suitable not only for the kids. You can find virtually any theme and any genre in anime form.
But of course regular movies from the east does these things well too, something that the audience in the west is slowly discovering. Just look at the success of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero, which has not only influenced western filmmakers by their visual style, but also by their storytelling. And Akira Kurosawa will forever be mentioned as one of the most important directors of all time.
So, in summary, if you are looking for something refreshing in movies, look to the east. 🙂