Movies are more than simply storytelling. It’s often tempting to focus exclusively on the story aspect of cinematic storytelling at the expense of the telling. It’s true that popular feature length movies are almost uniformly concerned with the unfolding of a narrative, but part of the pleasure of watching often comes from the familiarity or strangeness of a world we’re being immersed in.
Sometimes this is done in beautiful, artful, and understated ways, and that’s great. What’s unfortunate is when equally beautiful and artful work is dismissed as spectacle or shallow entertainment, because the best of this kind of filmmaking exposes us to a way of seeing and experiencing cinema that’s different and interesting.
Minimalism can be powerful. So can, for lack of a better word, maximalism (I understand that this is an actual art term that I am using rather crudely here but my hope is that my meaning is understood somewhat clearly). The effect of focusing all our attention on something is no more artistically valuable than the effect of overwhelming our attention so we don’t know where to look or what to listen to.
For some reason, fast editing and incomprehensible action is pejoratively referred to as “chaos cinema,” but I am unclear on how better to capture chaos on screen. I grant that it’s often a matter of taste, like the argument over whether something is music or merely noise (I find the chaos of Transformers to be mostly noisy but am open to persuasion).
Visually overwhelming movies, in conjunction with the use of sound, serve their purpose, be it artistic, entertaining, or both. So, on that note, here are 6 spectacular movies that will make your head spin.