I’m similarly baffled by their insistence on what I referred to last week as uncommunicatively artsy framing. I actually lost count of the number of close-ups of the rear of someone’s head as they 3/4-cheated their faces away from the camera. What idea or mood or character insight is this intended to convey? Why cut yourself off from the ability to capture the nuances of the human face unless you’ve got a damn good reason? I’m stumped.
The technique reaches its nadir during Naz’s bizarre scene with the jail’s resident kingpin, Freddy (a thoroughly wasted Michael K. Williams, naturally introduced with a series of closeups of seemingly every inanimate object in his room, beginning with — rimshot! — a wire). A prizefighter turned druglord turned unofficial lord of Rikers, he’s bribing the male guards, fucking the female ones, and intimidating everyone else into line. For some reason he’s taken an interest in Naz, and he offers him protection after a strange Luciferian monologue in which he tells the kid, “Close your eyes, give me your hand,” like he’s singing the Bangles’ “Eternal Flame,” and makes him feel a handful of veal. As he makes his offer, in the stilted language a vampire might use when demanding to be invited into someone’s home, the scene is shot from the back of Naz’s head, with Freddy completely out of focus. Maybe you can make the sophomore-year film-student argument that the latter choice conveys the man’s inscrutability to Naz. But why obscure Naz, too? Why hide his face, when it’s all we have to go on?
I reviewed last night’s The Night Of for Decider. I don’t think it’s what it’s cracked up to be.