Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two Movie Reviews

Here are a couple of movie reviews for you. This time I'm staying in the art house.

I recently saw two classic foreign films, Solaris and Wild Strawberries. Both had English subtitles.

Solaris is a Russian SciFi flick from the sixties. It was a drudging 3 hours long. Lots of time was taken up by shots which establish imagery rather than move the plot along. There are scenes of landscapes, flowers, a fish pond, and one pretty cool scene (about 5 or 6 minutes) showing the point of view of a guy driving a car through from the countryside into a Russian city. Longs scenes of going through tunnels and under concrete overpasses, with buildings in the background. I believe this was to establish "modern" Russia as a futuristic landscape.

The actual story was sort of reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Russian scientists find some sort of intelligent life force in space. It looks like a vast ocean. They establish a space station nearby to study it. As people go near the "ocean", live beings comprised of unstable neutrinos are created from their memories. These beings look like their dead wives or children or some other creepy memory. It generally causes madness or suicide.

The imagery could be described as "groovy", but falls short of "psychedelic". The plot was slow moving, and might have been depressing if you cared about the characters... which I didn't. There is a "Planet of the Apes" mind blower at the end, but probably not worth the wait to get to it. I'd give this one a "miss".

On the other hand, Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries was depressing surrealism done right. It's a stroll though the life of an elder Swedish professor who is receiving a prestegious award from a university. Because of a foreboding dream, he decides to take an all day road trip to the university instead of taking the quick flight. Taking along his daughter in law, and picking up a few hitch hikers on the way, his past and present are revealed through conversations and day dreams.

This is only the second Ingmar Bergman film I have seen, but it is clear to me that he was a genius in the art of film making. His movies are filled with angst, tension, and awesome imagery done with simple lighting and camera work. As boring as the plot may sound, it is captivating, and at times humorous.

I give this one a "see".

OK, apparently I'm illiterate. I just spent some time correcting my spelling errors and rewording this post as I'm not sure who will be reading it.

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