In his Bigger Little Movie Glossary, Roger Ebert defines the “Semi-Obligatory Lyrical Interlude” (or “Semi-OLI,” for short) thus: “Scene in which soft focus and slow motion are used while a would-be hit song is performed on the soundtrack and the lovers run through a pastoral setting.” He notes that the Semi-OLI first came into prominence in the late 1960s, and though it eventually fell out of favor, it soon mutated into the “Semi-Obligatory Music Video” from the 1980s forward; the Semi-OLI or Semi-OMV remained prominent in romantic movies, though usually to show a particularly successful first date, or to compress the process of a couple falling deeply in love.
The Semi-OLI became such a cliché that it seemed had finally disappeared, which is why your correspondent was horrified to see at least three examples of it at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival — and these were in (otherwise good) independent films, mind you, not insipid Katherine Heigl rom-coms or something. Is the Semi-Obligatory Lyrical Interlude making a comeback? We hope not. For this week’s video essay, we’ve smashed together over a dozen egregious examples of this device, along with a couple of parodies for the sake of levity. Check out our latest video essay after the jump. … Read More