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Elegiya dorogi (2001)
ELEGY OF A VOYAGE - Just Say It!
A man whose face is never seen walks through the quiet corridors of a gallery. Light shines in from windows set high, dimly illuminating famous paintings as the man reflects upon the life he's lived through each painting. The paintings distort reality/memory - the man explains how in some place the light was different, in another a window is open which was 'actually' always closed and some kids are omitted. He was there, and remembers it different.
The distortion of the video medium is visualized by a wavy effect, as if the Betacam footage was shot through water. This device might have been interesting but the overall effect looks as cliched as that old trick of waving an image when crossing the dream/wake barrier. Indeed, the voyager tells of moving through realities in such a sense that brings all realities into one plain. This is surrealism.
If there is a finer point to all this, Sokurov is very unclear about it. The rhetoric of the film, as expressed by the voice-over, annoyingly reiterates the notion that 'something is there which cannot be expressed.' So why sit through the film? What can be and is expressed may not be worth your while.
The Art of a Bullet (1999)
THE ART OF A BULLET A `What The ?' Thriller
A military-traumatized man prepares to blow his brains out at his best friend's house, though plans are foiled by a home invasion of two crooks posing as cops. A lengthy, sadistic scene ends in their death, and the two friends quarrel bitterly over reporting the crime or dumping the bodies. Opting for the latter, they get into more trouble. A brutal cop investigating the crime, being a vigilante himself, decides to release the weirdo who killed the crooks. This turns out to be his last mistake.
Interesting little film, notable cinematography. Structure and intent somewhat unclear up to the end, at times even preposterous, though this sits well with the eerie, absurdist feel which runs through-out. Scenes that drag out almost hilariously, sado-masochistic powerplay and sudden emotive/dramatic breakdown also bring to mind The Absurd.
"Japon" Worth the Trip to Mexican Mountaintop Death
A traveller on a suicidal trek arrives in a remote mountain village. He takes lodging with an elderly woman on the mountaintop, with whom a bizarre relationship ensues. He is eventually unable to kill himself, but death surprisingly strikes elsewhere.
The title is ironic, i suppose, as the iconography and pace oppose the (western?) cultural imaginary of 'Japan': Suicide fails, work is inefficient, landscape is arid, tech. is primitive, speech and emotion and action are low-key and lax, almost indifferent.
Coarse, minimalistic, stunning. Cinematically reminiscent of Herzog.