I Like Pretty Things and ‘American Gods’ is Gorgeous


#1

In today’s open thread, let’s talk about things that are just too beautiful to look away from.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/i-like-pretty-things-and-american-gods-is-gorgeous

#2

I really only watch Nicolas Winding Refn’s films for this reason. His plots and characters are inconsistent throughout his filmography, but even his worst film (Only God Forgives) is still absolutely gorgeous. His latest movie The Neon Demon was an incredibly polarizing experience, and I cant say that I would have put myself through it if not for the promise of the beautiful, surreal visuals.


#3

I’d say a lot of media, including games, draws me in with looks. Just looks. Everything else is a bonus.

“Why did you climb that mountain?” To see what it looked like from the top.

Games offer a huge range of visuals and non-euclidean possibilities (which have now come back into other media* via CGI). Even back in the very early days of 3D engines, the hacks to get them to work meant that they weren’t restricted to representing possible 3D spaces - Decent’s portals, even the Build engine, could make things that were not possible to make in the real world. This is very much an established genre now but even back then, any game with a map tool probably had at least a few very experimental levels that tested the limits of the engine and where things diverged from euclidean space.

I enjoyed spending a dozen or so hours in Wildlands because you can take photos of a fake Bolivia there. You can sit and watch the sun rise over the mountains. Even in the most normal, standard rendering imaginable, just imperfectly replicating real spaces, there is masses of space to look around and enjoy the scenery. And from there, games can get much weirder as they walk away from attempts at photo-realism.

*Edit: well, seen a rise in popularity thanks to CGI. Optical illusions are as old as media.


#4

This is like the second or third time in as many days that I’ve brought up Speed Racer but y’all keep making it relevant!


#5

Terrence Malick could probably save me a lot of money by just making a youtube channel so i dont have to see his shitty gorgeous movies every year


#6

American Gods and Hannibal are wonderful. When people pour a drink on TV you get a standard framed shot of people pouring a drink so you can see Character You Know Face™ pour the drink.What drink? Oh well thats a small detail that says a lot it’s very clever to keep track of!

In the Fullerverse, a character pours a drink and WE SEE IT FROM THE POV OF THE GLASS. THEN WE SHOOT A SHOT OF AN OVERSIZED REPLICA OF THE SAME GLASS AND SO CAN WE DO ULTRA HIGH DEFINITION MACRO SHOTS OF THE BUBBLES. THEN WE PLAY WEIRD AVANT GARDE JAZZ. THEN THE PERSON DRINKS THE DRINK IN SLOMO. MAYBE THE DRINK IS A DRUG. MAYBE TV IS A DRUG.

Christ I love his work so much. Every shot is visual sex.


#7

Speaking of visual sex, absolutely nobody else on TV does a sex scene like Fuller. He aired a three-way with a Wendigo on network TV in the second season of Hannibal, and it’s one of the most bizarre and erotic things you’ll ever see. American Gods seems to be going three steps further, moving into premium cable.

Someday the man needs to EP a porno. Just for the sake of art.


#8

As far as pretty things, not sure if it counts, but Garden of Words is probably one of the prettiest anime films I’ve ever watched. The art, voice overs, and aesthetics are gut wrenching. Never Let Me Go is an absolutely stunning movie (with an equally sad and moving story). Also, Broadchurch’s cinematograpy is on fuckin’ point.


#9

I wish he would come to terms with the fact that he wants to be a photographer, not a director. Seeing the Neon Demon made me mad, because it had everything going for it in theory. Beautifully shot gross fashion horror? Those are all the things I like. But everything he does so utterly lacks substance, and worse, it’s profoundly joyless. Also I’m convinced he has never met a woman in his life, because those characters? JEEZ.


#11

I am from Denmark and I routinely write in English. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#12

Oh ok my bad I (obviously) wasn’t sure if that was particularly common or not haha. Just trying to find some way to justify his really not great writing and characterization


#13

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take pictures of LA for the rest of your life, I just personally don’t think it makes for a compelling movie!


#14

I watched The Handmaiden (2016) this weekend and my god what a gorgeous movie. Every shot is beautiful and feels purposeful in some way to the plot or the emotions of the characters. Some people my find the lesbian sex scenes too gratuitous, but I thought they largely did a good job at making them necessary to the character development while still being fun to watch. Highly recommended, on Amazon Prime right now.

“shot from inside of thing” is a big part of the reason I love the cinematography of Better Call Saul. The shot from inside the coffee machine in Ep. 3 of this season was great.


#15

It’s a weird one because I didn’t love the film (although I liked it a lot more than the incredibly adolescent Only God Forgives) but I can see a perfect reading of the film as being glossy and lacking in substance as a total emulation of the superficial fashion industry. I saw it described as endless layers of surface with no real depth, which I like.


#16

I have not seen BCS, but I do like the “shots from inside things” from Breaking Bad, though the crew of Hannibal making a giant martini glass for the shots of Verger’s tear martinis was amazing. The Handmaiden is excellent, and it continues Park Chan-Wook’s sumptuous visuals from Lady Vengeance and Thirst.


#17

I’d really recommend BCS. In many ways it’s a different show than Breaking Bad - not as violent or exciting - but is beautifully shot and has great character moments. I think I might like it more than BB if we’re being honest, though I’m sure I’m in the minority there.

I’m pretty sure the only other Park Chan-Wook film I’ve seen is Oldboy, really need to correct that!


#18

Gankutsuou is one of the most gorgeous shows I’ve watched, though some scenes are overwhelming in a bad way. Reading American Gods felt like a fever dream and the show captures that feeling with the visual style so well. Everything pops, everything moves, it’s really something else to look at.


#19

I cant accept that, I love Drive just waaay too much, I think that film is stunning. As a film and not just a series of absolutely gorgeous shots. However I agree the female characters (and male characters) in Neon Demon are dreadful, a part of me thinks they are purposely so wooden, stiff and stereotypically bitchy (and just so one note) to try and point towards female competition in general is a massive problem. Not just in modelling culture but in society in general.

Just my take, I am by no means an expert


#20

I agree that I’m liking BCS more than BrBa(and I loved breakin bad). I find Saul to be a much more economically shot show? Maybe its the switch from film to digital but there is a lot of shots of nobody saying anything, but doing a lot of things (especially Mike scenes). I think the differences make it feel like the less dramatic arthouse version of BrBa. Although the differences are subtle, I really appreciate the way they are filming the show as minimalist and object oriented as it may be.


#21

All of Park-Chan’s films are gold man, I have a real soft spot for Joint Security Area, but if you’re into South Korean Cinema at all I’d seriously recommend my all time favourite film, Memories of Murder.