Bringing New Understanding to the Director’s Cut

And now, just in time for Oscar junkies, comes a new statistical mincing of the movies that may someday yield an award category of its own: best fit between a movie’s tempo and the natural rhythms of the brain.

Reporting in the journal Psychological Science, James E. Cutting of Cornell University and his colleagues described their discovery that Hollywood filmmakers, whether they know it or not, have become steadily more adroit at shaping basic movie structure to match the pulsatile, half-smooth, half-raggedy way we attend to the world around us.

This mounting synchrony between movie pace and the bouncing ball of the mind’s inner eye may help explain why today’s films manage to seize and shackle audience attention so ruthlessly and can seem more lifelike and immediate than films of the past, even when the scripts are lousier and you feel cheap and used afterward, not to mention vaguely sick from the three-quart tub of popcorn and pack of Twizzlers you ate without realizing it.


Filmmaking, News

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