If pressed, I would probably say that I respond more to films with a more attuned sense of setting. Part of the experience of moviegoing is tucking yourself into something–a director’s sensibility, a created world–and staying there for a while, and this tucking-in is made far more immediate if the physical setting makes a strong impression on you. In a new video essay, Now You See It swims through various setting-heavy films, ranging from ‘Citizen Kane’ to ‘About Schmidt’ to ‘The Life of Pi’ to ‘Fargo,’ and does a solid, old-fashioned analysis of the settings of those films, and why they’re important. The piece is particularly shrewd on ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ with the socioeconomic transparency of the beauty pageant at the film’s end. So what’s in a film’s setting? The viewer, for the all-too-brief span of the film.
Watch: What’s In a Film’s Setting? Plenty.