Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The journalism of film is documentary
April 12, 2012 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Style in The Wire (SLVimeo)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (32 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Watched this when kottke posted it. It's definitely worthy of a viewing.
posted by defenestration at 3:08 PM on April 12, 2012


Really liked that a lot.
posted by Jikido at 3:46 PM on April 12, 2012


This is great. Thanks, fearfulsymmetry.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:57 PM on April 12, 2012


My first reaction was "great, another Wire post."

After watching it was "Another great Wire post!"
posted by ooga_booga at 4:00 PM on April 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Agreed, this is very good. This struck me the most:

"One of the most refreshing things about The Wire is that you don't feel you're being condescended to. The creators trust you to be able to follow the story without having to continuously signpost and repeat important information."

This is very true. It makes the show a little unforgiving, but it also means that it really rewards repeated viewings. I ended up watching the entire series twice - first on my own, the second with a friend - and enjoyed it even more the second time. I definitely found it easier to follow some of the dialogue the second time around. Even having watched it twice, the linked video pointed out several stylistic moments I hadn't noticed at all. Maybe I should watch it again....

The best part about watching the show twice, though, was finding out that I had accidentally skipped one episode the first time through! Having thought I'd seen it all, getting to watch a new episode of The Wire felt like I had stumbled into David Simon's brain.
posted by oulipian at 4:20 PM on April 12, 2012


Huxtable Hotness.

And now: Wire Wardrobe. :)
posted by Fizz at 4:23 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


And now: Wire Wardrobe.

You may be pleasantly disappointed.
posted by oulipian at 4:28 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm on my second time around watching the series, so I thought this was great. Fascinating what goes into creating those shots. These are the things that are bouncing around in your head as you watch and most of the time you don't even know it.
posted by 27 at 4:38 PM on April 12, 2012


Thanks for posting this. I liked it a lot.
posted by humboldt32 at 5:20 PM on April 12, 2012


This is as much a class on cinematography as it is a study of The Wire. Good stuff.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:37 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just finished watching it for the first time yesterday so I'm really looking forward to digging into all the Wire posts I've been avoiding for years!
posted by knapah at 5:44 PM on April 12, 2012


Give that man a(nother) Ph.D.!
posted by rebent at 5:49 PM on April 12, 2012


One of the most refreshing things about The Wire is that you don't feel you're being condescended to. The creators trust you to be able to follow the story without having to continuously signpost and repeat important information.

This is the hallmark of good writing, in my opinion. Television and film are rife with unnecessary exposition. Let me figure it out and trust that I still remember what happened five minutes ago.
posted by desjardins at 5:51 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Time for my second viewing. I put off the first until I had watched both seasons (so far) of Treme. I can't help feeling too close to Treme to judge it at all, except that I love it and it makes me cry. The Wire in its entirety is absolutely major and just blew me away. I couldn't even speak properly for weeks thereafter. There was so much to see and think about that I need help and have been reading everything I can ever since to help me actually 'get' it. This video essay was just grand.
posted by Anitanola at 5:53 PM on April 12, 2012


I was pleased to hear that the very ham-fisted flashback in the very first episode was meddling from suits, rather than from the show itself. That flashback always felt wrong.

Also I could listen to the narrator drone on about any number of visual design related topics.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:01 PM on April 12, 2012


This is great, thanks for posting it.
posted by codacorolla at 6:32 PM on April 12, 2012


Television and film are rife with unnecessary exposition.

Unless David Milch is writing it, in which case fuck everybody you should just know what's going on without me explaining anything about this incredibly strange and nuanced world or having my densely-accented actors properly enunciate anything I have them say about it.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 6:36 PM on April 12, 2012


Unless David Milch is writing it, in which case fuck everybody you should just know what's going on without me explaining anything about this incredibly strange and nuanced world or having my densely-accented actors properly enunciate anything I have them say about it.

Do you need to dump out?
posted by curious nu at 6:44 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Went in thinking this was going to be about Marlo's kick ass t-shirts and track suits, but enjoyed it anyway!
posted by Brocktoon at 6:46 PM on April 12, 2012


I learned so much about visual composition and style in movie/cinema from this. Things we may be aware of subconsciously but hardly ever focus on while watching. A great exploration. Thank you.
posted by greenhornet at 6:53 PM on April 12, 2012


Do you need to dump out?

I just finished Luck. 7 hours of sheer confusion, 2 of sheer excellence, then cancellation because some horses fell over.

It's true what they say about The Wire ruining TV. Almost nothing is good enough any more, and it's all the worse when stuff that might come close invariably gets the axe.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 6:58 PM on April 12, 2012


I have to admit that I was pretty deep into the series before I truly understood why The Wire was called The Wire. As the viewer, you're listening in on this other world, just as the cops do on their wiretaps. This video really reinforced that idea, especially when he's talking about how the camera creeps up on people, like it's another person watching.
posted by brevator at 7:14 PM on April 12, 2012


Really fascinating and well done. Thanks so much for posting this. I feel like I learned a lot about editing and composition from that. A really enjoyable and informative piece of analysis.

The documentary and voyeuristic aspects of the camera movement and compositions was something I felt in my gut while watching the show but this really made it clear just how carefully and intentionally that feeling was constructed.
posted by Babblesort at 7:25 PM on April 12, 2012


Interesting how often the filmmakers went out of their way to play with the aspect ratio and create a simulated "widescreen" appearance through use of windows, tables, etc. in order to give a more cinematic appearance (even though Simon apparently insisted on the 4x3 aspect ratio, as it was "more like real life."

In the early days of widescreen movies, precisely the opposite was true. Filmmakers accustomed to framing shots (especially closeups) for 4x3 used walls and other obstructions in order to square up the relevant part of the image. ( The Diary of Anne Frank comes to mind as a good example.)

It's also amazing how many of the common stylistic trappings used in The Wire are both unobtrusive (i.e. not necessarily something you'd notice on first viewing) as well as seemingly conflicting (Cinema Verite shots abound, as well as dolly shots and traditional "movie-esque" shots) And yet it all "works."
posted by ShutterBun at 8:48 PM on April 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just finished Luck. 7 hours of sheer confusion, 2 of sheer excellence, then cancellation because some horses fell over.

I am the world's biggest Deadwood fan and I love Michael Mann's style, Dustin Hoffman's screen presence, and Nick Nolte's indecipherable phlegmy-gravel-throated grunting, but Luck was a terrible piece of shit, and two horses didn't just "fall over", they were euthanized because of injuries sustained directly during filming. When the whole premise of your show is "Every episode will be at least forty-seven minutes of horses being whipped around a track" then, uh, yeah, Coroner Cancelly McCancellington is knocking at the door because your show sucks.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:53 PM on April 12, 2012


(Also yeah, really looking forward to watching this when I get home. My The Wire bone is itching terribly and I think it's time for this year's marathon rewatch.)
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:56 PM on April 12, 2012


I just finished Luck. 7 hours of sheer confusion,

Yeah, I'm all for not being hand led but hours of almost nothing but old guys mumbling arcane horse racing / gambling terminology at each other was a bit much... I'm still not totally clueless as to what Dumbledore was doing...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:14 AM on April 13, 2012


I did start watching this thinking 'but The Wire has no style' but there's a lot of things I had not noticed as they smoothly slipped under the radar... I would have liked him to explore the end of season montages as they were one of the obvious things I really liked but you can't have everything.

I have to admit that I was pretty deep into the series before I truly understood why The Wire was called The Wire

Well the name has a number of meanings, read very recently that it's also about the wire, the wire fence, that separates them from us (or us from them) and how we/them find it very hard to cross and truly enter another world.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:18 AM on April 13, 2012


Perhaps I stopped at the shallow interpretation in favor of simply "enjoying the ride," but I've watched the entire series 3 1/2 times and always simply interpreted "The Wire" as being "the wiretap" that the special investigative unit was always pursuing / utilizing, as if the wire itself were a character.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:31 AM on April 13, 2012


. My The Wire bone is itching terribly and I think it's time for this year's marathon rewatch.

I was a regular reader of Metafilter long before I actually signed up, and I'm not ashamed to admit that the first time I buckled down and decided to watch "The Wire," it was due to posts/threads like this on the Blue.

Since then, watching and re-watching "The Wire" has indeed become more or less an annual event around my place as well. (with occasional spikes of interest once I got my hands on the commentary audio tracks)
posted by ShutterBun at 2:36 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would have liked him to explore the end of season montages as they were one of the obvious things I really liked

Totally agree. Also, the montages were one of the, shall we say, "filmic indulgences" the series allowed which also hearkened back to "Homicide: Life on the Street." (the "triple-take", which was also a staple of "Homicide" was, thankfully, omitted)
posted by ShutterBun at 2:39 AM on April 13, 2012


This is the hallmark of good writing, in my opinion. Television and film are rife with unnecessary exposition. Let me figure it out and trust that I still remember what happened five minutes ago.

As are bad books, such as franchise novels for tv shows and novels where a son and a co-writer take the work of the son's father about a story where spice from a desert planet plays a central role and augment it with absolute crap.
posted by juiceCake at 8:55 AM on April 13, 2012


« Older "He is a jackass... but he's talented." - Barack O...  |  The Spudgun Technology Center,... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments