The definition of what makes a film independent has been difficult to clarify with polarized opinion on whether independent status depends on finance or alternatively Andy Warhol's nihilistic perception of independent as meaning opposition to the dominant media on several fronts (Levy, 1999). The latter view includes technological medium, the undermining of corporate Hollywood institutional filmmaking, aesthetic in terms of avant garde cinematic storytelling and economic and political by exploring controversial and disenfranchised subject matters (Levy, 1999). Indeed, King highlights that the narrative of the independent film often subverts genre, thereby heightening viewer empathy with characters in contrast to the Hollywood approach, which would support the Warhol perception of independent film (King, 2005).
[...] The focus of this analysis is to critically evaluate the distinctive pleasures offered by American Independent cinema and consider whether the resultant success of the independent medium has resulted in the redundancy of the independent v Hollywood model. In undertaking this evaluation, I shall refer to Passion Fish (Sayles, 1992) and 21 Grams (Gonzalez Inarritu, 2003). BACKGROUND, HISTORY & CRITICAL OVERVIEW The overriding objective of this paper is to evaluate the distinctive pleasures offered by American Independent cinema with reference to two examples. [...]
[...] Whilst the dichotomy between the subject matter of both films and structure is obvious, the underlying foundation of both films highlights the distinctive pleasures of American independent cinema. Passion Fish utilizes the conventional storytelling approach to subvert plot and characterization, whereas 21 Grams adopts a novel cinematic approach to storytelling. However, both mediums create heart wrenching snapshots of bleak reality for many, without the happy ending. As such, the trajectory reflects real life and forces the audience to re-evaluate expectations and hypotheses depending on the subject matter of the film, which is the key distinguishing feature underlying the growing success of independent film. [...]
[...] The above analysis highlights that the central distinctive pleasure of the independent film is the subversion of genre, characterization and narrative. To this end, the independent film confounds formulaic Hollywood and focuses on providing heart warming stories often tackling complex and sensitive subject matter. The success and growth of this industry is testament to the efficacy of such a shift in filmmaking, which engages the audience and involves the audience in direct participation with an increasingly socially realistic cinematic experience. [...]
[...] The multidimensional nature of characters in independent cinemas further engages the audience by reflecting complex socio-political issues. Additionally, Paul's wife adds further depth to the complexity of relationships within the film. Paul needs a heart transplant and Christine's husband is the donor. As the pieces of the story start to come together, the narrative subverts again with a series of flash forwards, leaving open questions regarding the character motivations with scenes of Paul and Christine together planning to kill someone. [...]
[...] However, this technique is extremely effective as a narrative tool in lulling the audience into a sense of expectation, which is confounded by the unexpected twists later in the film. In contrast Grams is chaotic and begins with short scenes and whilst the snippets hint at connections between the people introduced, there is no clear indication of a correlation between the snatched 8 moments. Moreover, the scenes do not follow chronological order, directly involving the audience in deciphering the connections and forcing us to ask questions. [...]
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