Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

Nine Lives: The Lack of Innovation

Reading the interview about Nine Lives, I can’t help but be totally underwhelmed by the storytelling methods of the work. Despite all of the talk of innovation, Nine Lives is merely a feature-length film split into several segments and played at arbitrary locations. It is often said that, in order to create a new theoretical standpoint in an artistic world, one must reinvent the language. That’s why Marguerite Duras directed Detruire Dit-Elle, that’s why Marcel Duchamp created Fountain and that’s why Raymond Queneau wrote Exercises in Style. These works took the formats of an established form and changed its language. Nine Lives shamelessly uses the language of its predecessors in order to tell the same old story and gets celebrated for it.

Noel Carroll has said that any new art form will spend some time copying its predecessor, but those works are often maligned. However, when it comes to new media like this, it seems like everyone is in a rush to celebrate it. Nine Lives may be an interesting stepping stone to a higher plane of art, but it is not, itself, anything special.

Specflic, on the other hand, seems to succeed by recognizing this shortcoming. By admitting that its medium is an extension of a pre-existing form, it removes all the pretensions that haunt Nine Lives. As an extension, funnily enough, it is quite innovative, taking elements from database cinema and multimedia art and making something that, again, could be the start of something big!

Sun, February 2 2014 » FC2_2014

2 Responses

  1. ladharah February 5 2014 @ 3:07 pm

    I share your sentiment- though Scott mentioned some strong influences such as Kurosawa the narrative itself – based on the clips I saw- doesn’t seem very innovative. Though in his defence, I can understand the inclination to use a “standard” narrative structure to reach a larger audience. A comedy/thriller is engaging enough to keep audiences interested to travel to the next location or to even download the film in the first place. I enjoyed the use of mobile devices in SPECFLIC as they were a bit more innovative, though their use complimented the larger installations included in the library space.

  2. Francine February 6 2014 @ 2:04 am

    I completely agree. He introduced Nine Lives as a non-linear film, based on situationalist derives, but I didn’t see how it would produce that effect at all. I love SPECFLIC’s idea that everyone is a flaneur now and they seemed like they were actually using people’s desire to escape even the most stimulating of situations by using their phone to tell their story, rather than just breaking up a standard narrative into nine parts. I believe that using our mobile devices to create a new presence, a controlled distraction from the real world, is a really innovative and interesting form of storytelling instead of the reappropriation of standard narrative devices onto a mobile screen.