When we watch films we are interpreting a specific language we have all be unwittingly taught. It is a simple one, but none the less the cognitive leap that must occur to understand that times and locations can change between shots is something which must be learned. Even something as simple as showing a person getting out of bed, then in the next shot out street comes with the assumption that you will fill in the gap yourself where they got up, took a shower and a shit, got dressed and left the house. We know this because we have grown up with movies and tav shows which don’t value the shower/shit/dressing process as important with enough consistency that we can generally assume that they will not be shown, and as a consequence assume these things have occurred. Equally when time jumps around film makers usually signal this with little tricks like the shot fading into another, rather than a jump cut, or even the classic wavy lines cut from the sixties. We have learned that when we see these little cues that we are probably going to see something which occurred before the ostensible “present” of the film. What if that was all thrown away? What if a person was to walk down some stairs then in the same shot drive past in their car. What if someone could just walk out of a shootout/hostage situation because they wanted to eat at a restaurant? What if a ticking clocks hands do not move? What if? It becomes incredibly hard work. Because you have to work out that the driver of the car is the person on the stairs, and that the hostage will return dutifully when the meal is finished and that the clock…well…the clock was ticking, it all becomes something you have to think about rather more. Branded to Kill is kind of a yakuza movie. It looks like one and its about rich well dressed people who have amazing sex and say deep meaningful things – then try to kill each other within a wonky system based on honor and hierarchy. Its not a yakuza movie though, this is just sort of a framework all of the madness sits within, something to point at when you are not sure what is going on, or why. What the film does is makes you think about everything it is doing. Be it working out what means what or why something is happening or even how. Because of this though everything becomes important, you have to pay attention because you might miss one of the clues – we know the person on the stairs is in the car because they were given a ride in it earlier in the movie. As I said, its hard work, but its rewarding learning a new language – even if there are still parts that don’t make sense to you.
Branded To Kill