Contributor's Corner: Substance or Style?
During the dawn of Viddy Well, we asked each interested contributor to fill out the same questionnaire. The questions spanned from grave to goofy, but the replies were nearly always unexpected. This week we'll take a look at the following question:
Substance or Style; which prevails?
Style can be substance. This is an important thing most people forget. Having said that, shit with sprinkles on it is still shit.
This is a tricky question! For example, the movie Drive seems to be style over substance but I fucking love it! On the other hand, I couldn't stand Stranger Things because it was way too stylistic to me. I'll just say Substance because we all want to be told a great story.
It depends. I would most always say substance, but if you take a film like Spring Breakers and compare it to something like Stranger Than Paradise, I will always take Spring Breakers. Sometimes you just want to sit back, grip your dick, and get taken for a no-holds-barred blast of pretty sounds, lights, and energetic fun.
Substance hands down. I look at my favorite directors Kubrick, Tarantino, Lee, and Anderson, and I think they found a way to include both but still made substance their focal point. They all had a story they wanted to tell. Ultimately, I think that people connect to film the same way they do music. The story told allows the viewers/listeners to recall where they were when they saw a film or heard an album for the first time. The songs/script triggers all of their sensory memories. Style stands out of course. Hitchcock’s dolly zoom or De Palma’s split screen stand out, but I think what makes a film memorable is the meat & potatoes. The heart of the film. The story they're trying to tell.
Either. A bad example of all style but nothing going on is Sucker Punch. As long as you don't go below that bar, you should be fine with a style driven film. A good example of mostly style done well is any John Woo film. There's enough there that's superficially thematic, and it doesn't need to get too deep. Though it seems like he tries this frequently with faith in his films.
I'm gonna say substance here, but what do I know? I know a thing or two about baking, and I can tell you that I'll take a plainly decorated cake that tastes rich and delicious over an intricately decorated one that's dry as hell. Gimme some substance. Put that on your plate and eat it!
Obviously, the best possible scenario is a blend of both, but if I could only chose one I'd say Style. If it's interesting to look at and unique, I'd be satisfied. Take Gummo, for instance. The film doesn't inherently have much substance, but it's style and flair adds layers of substance. Jodorowsky and Kenneth Anger are similar; their style, in a lot of ways, creates the substance.
What do you think? Which do you think is better? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and, as always, remember to viddy well!