6. Victoria (directed by Sebastian Schipper, 2015)
Creating a film with one single continuous shot is a gimmick. Hitchcock tried to fake one with Rope many moons ago by zooming into an actor’s back every time there is a cut—a laughable attempt to say the least (but I do think the film itself is underappreciated). Sokurov’s historical epic Russian Ark is probably the most revered film truly consisted of one continuous take. But that should have been the end of it. I’ll say it again: shooting a movie in one uninterrupted take is a fucking gimmick, and nothing more. Birdman needlessly pretends to do so. Ooh-la-la, big fucking deal. Technical marvels should serve some sort of aesthetic or narrative purpose. But such needless gimmick often adds little value to the film, and more often than not, becomes a distracting weakness. Victoria is a textbook example. Clocking in at two hours and twenty minutes, this quasi-thriller of a young woman’s night gone wrong could really use some heavy editing. The first 45 minutes of her meeting four dubious guys for some beer on a rooftop does not have to last all that long if we do not have to follow them on every street corner and every elevator ride. Glossing the scenes over with some Nils Frahm music does not make them any more tolerable. Due to uninterrupted shooting, the filmmakers are obligated to fill the screen with unnecessary actions and half-baked characterizations. Okay, I get it. Victoria is a failed conservatory student in a foreign city (Berlin). So she might as well go rob a bank with some dudes she just met. You think that’s incredibly stupid? Do it in one single shot so the focus will not be on all that is wrong with the film.