On Non-Linear

It is a standing joke among friends who know me well that I enjoy films with “no plot.” This joke has been applied variously and generically to my enjoyment of films that really do have no plot (Andy Warhol’s screen tests), are non-linear (8 1/2, 2046), or for which the narrative is not the point (Gerry). I don’t particularly enjoy non-narrative film – Andy Warhol’s excepted. But I think they really mean that I enjoy non-linear narratives.

Godard once  said that ‘a film should have a beginning, a middle and an end but not necessarily in that order’. I couldn’t agree more. I think immediately of La Mala Educacion and its delicious and seamless transitions (or is it welding?) from adolescence to adulthood, both in the structure and the form. Or almost any film belonging to David Lynch, Wong Kar-Wai, and Gus Van Sant.

There is something pleasurable in the act of disrupting the conventional trajectory. What is time in cinema, anyway? We can rewind or fast-forward to any part of the film, or, even more typically, watch our favorite scenes over and over again. And each time it happens as though for the first time.