CineFix: Top 10 Favorite Rule Breaking Films

What makes a cinema rule? And why do they exist? And what happens when you break them?

  1. Invisible Filmmaking – Dogville
    It’s not as much breaking the 4th wall as it is demolishing all of them, but the effect is exactly the same. It’s a constant reminder to the audience that what they’re looking at ISN’T REAL.
  2. Editing Rules – Breathless
    When everyone was trying to make you forget about editing and cuts and believe that movies were real, Godard was chopping up his film and throwing them right in your face, bringing the very artifice of editing right to the forefront with the jump cut.
  3. Shooting Rules – Tokyo Story
    The most important rule of all is called the “180 degree rule” and it’s a shooting guideline for establishing a dependable screen geography. Although this kind of screen continuity pervades almost every film you could have seen in theaters for the past CENTURY, Yasujiro Ozu tossed it out the window.
  4. Colors / Visual Style – Enter the Void
    Enter the Void used lighting and camera and visual effects in a way unlike anything ever before it. The story is an out of body POV experience in more ways than one, and an absolute visual revelation in terms of how to view the world.
  5. Genre – From Dusk til Dawn
    A quick-talking Tarantino-esque crime film STARRING Tarantino and a fresh-from-TV Clooney, From Dusk til Dawn makes it just about halfway through without a single undead, before quickly pivoting into the kind of balls-out actiony-vampire-shoot-em-up that’s pure Rodriguez.
  6. The Hero / Protagonist – Psycho
    Hitchcock purposefully set out to mislead his audience and then devastate them, like an old-timey George RR Martin. He used their expectations against them, carefully cueing them to invest in Marion Crane as the hero of the film, before stabbing them in the metaphorical heart.
  7. Story Structure – Last Year in Marienbad
    Truth, fiction, time, place, logic and cause all fold in on themselves, creating an escher-like narrative structure that refuses to be linearized in any kind of story map.
  8. Having a Story at All – Jeanne Dielman, vingt-trois quai du Commerce, mille-quatre-vingt Bruxelles
    The film is honest about life in a way most others are not. It does not select the fascinating. It does not focus on the important. It does not trim the fat.
  9. Coherence / Causality – The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
    It is a bizarre storyworld where anything can happen, asking us all to interrogate our own logical assumptions, and those of of the stories we consume daily.
  10. Linguistic vs Emotional Storytelling – The Mirror
    Images speak, but not in words or symbols. They do not attempt to convey to us logic or language or concrete plot. But instead thoughts, emotions, memories in the abstract. Before processing and verbalization.


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