These will come in in batches of three, to foster the gallery effect of surveying comprehensively an artist's work. Three an exhibition. An exhibition a time. In an ever accumulating testament to our most subtle, delicate aesthetician.
Description: The Seating poignancy. The form-fitting landscape of surroundings and the camera frame forming around humans in the conscripted arrangement of seating, emboldened by scales, sizes, and every now and then the majestic commonality of our upholstery (furniture and otherwise).
Perhaps I should save this point for its own later exhibit, but for Hooper, our surroundings, our furnishings and the decor around us, and architecture (moldings, always moldings) are constantly emanations of the Body, vivid environments that interact and become fitted with those in it. No director pays as much attention to decor as Tobe Hooper. This attention to and use of decor is further more Minnelli mise en scene than Argento.
The poignantly seated comes perennially in slants. Slants of forms that convey pressing diagonals of engagement: Above, elegant velvet brackets a nauseous party with a false sense of upheld civilized living but in a house of uncaring business, and no furnishing is needed to conscript the embattled mother and father to a formation of bowing before their counsel.
The visual exhibition. Liken to as if in a museum (to see an image or two), which is what the internet will be... For our purposes. A spare image wall, emphasizing the sheer degree to which Hooper works on a level of the delicate, meaningful image.
Description: Another time for the similar but distinct alternatives: the cinematic metaphor (e.g. Hooper's use of architecture and decor, rich and proliferate in Hooper's films, would be visual metaphor - though perhaps more accurately, visual allegory) and the cinematic metonymy (e.g. Ozu's twin bicycles in Late Spring, representing a romantic pairing). Here, we look at the explicit transformation of human beings into the graphically similar inanimate objects around them: a mirroring, a conflating or equating, and quite literal transmutation.
Such a remarkable scene.
Description: Cinematic spatial incredibility. Grammatical rigor enough to stun. A scene that encloses in on itself. An unattending man in the background is the enclosing factor in his always-presence and shifting distance. An alternation of shifting distances: between characters literally closing distances between them, to the jumping of the camera, to the shifting of focal length. All this corralled by a structure of increased vicing of the characters into a dialectic of closeness and distance.
The first shift is caused by the mere movement of the actors within a single patient wide frame (one that establishes crystalline spatial arrangement): Craig T. Nelson leaves and JoBeth Williams takes his place. The next shift is the closing in of the camera itself. The next distance shift is the remarkable reconfiguring of the shot that faces Beatrice Straight: from a wide-angle shot to a short focal length shot, but with the idea that it is a shot evolution (both shots peek over Williams's head of hair) that pushes the idea of an incredible sense of grammar at work here.
There are five shifts of distance here, and we have covered three. The structured alternation of the type of shift - between the physical (Williams moving closer, Straight simply reaching out her arms and enclosing space within the unchanged shot) and the filmic (the camera jumps or dolly-ins) - is remarkable.
The fourth and fifth shifts occur in sublime conjunction. The fourth is prefigured by Straight reaching for Williams: she pulls her in for a hug, creating the final physical enclosing of bodies (without any cinematic assistance).
The fifth is the timed dolly-in of the camera as they embrace. Two enclosing shifts occurring simultaneously for a structural apex. What is most remarkable is the adamant inclusion-beyond-need of the unattendant party (the red shirt) in the background: the acknowledgement of the starting point of the sequence, the startling emphasis of the high display of cinematic grammatical, structural prose we have just seen.