Tony Scott on the set of Déjà Vu. Photo (c) Touchstone/Everett/Rex Features
Director Tony Scott passed away yesterday and many cinephiles mourned the loss today as the news spread. Amidst the remembrances and discussions of his films, there is also the interesting talking point of how his films were (or were not, rather) received by many art-house film fans. This is, of course, a generalization and there are two pieces of writing that speak to the serious appreciation of Scott’s work. The first was not written on the occasion of his passing, but rather the triumph of the release of Déjà Vu. Christoph Huber and Mark Peranson of Cinema Scope discuss the virtues of this film, placing it in the framework of Scott’s filmography for its auteurist analysis:
Regularly dismissed by critics as an ADD action hack director, Tony Scott’s sixth collaboration with Jerry Bruckheimer has a title that can be taken as a provocation: Déjà Vu seems to invite glib puns about the recurrence of heated fast cuts and heavily filtered celluloid, of slick surfaces and pretzel plot twists wrapped around eye-popping explosions. Yes it delivers, but never mind that the director, for all his constant flash and stylishness, has long moved on from mere action work towards ambivalent psychological thrillers, employing an expressionist visual style corresponding to heightened emotions: his themes and structures cry out for old-school auteurist appreciation.
This is a position that is undertaken by The New York Times critic Manohla Dargis in her obituary for Scott, even citing the aforementioned Cinema Scope article:
A maximalist, Mr. Scott used a lot of everything in his movies: smoke, cuts, camera moves, color. This kind of stylistic, self-conscious excess could be glorious, as in his underappreciated film “Domino” (2005), about a gorgeous bounty hunter (Keira Knightley), in which the superfluity of the visuals matches that of Richard Kelly’s screenplay. A common knock against a director like Mr. Scott is that his movies are all style and no content, as if the two were really separable. Yet the excesses of Mr. Scott’s style invariably served those of his over-the-top stories
Both pieces raise interesting points to consider on an otherwise sad day, where the unarguably distinct style of Scott can be celebrated and hopefully more closely analyzed.