- Holy motion sickness.
- Seriously, even Gravity in 3D didn’t get me. But this is about three hours of being ~6/10 ready to barf.
- So the couple sitting behind me decided it might be a good idea to, like, start getting into each other’s pants somewhere around the ninety minute mark. Which I mean like gross somebody has to sit in that seat afterwards (and god only knows what else has gone on in that particular pair of movie theatre seats). Anyway.
- The premise of the film (Russian, dir. Aleksey German, 2013) is that a group of scientists (?) from Earth (?) have traveled to another planet (which is not unlike Earth, down to how the people look and the language they speak—Russian, conveniently), which is in the middle of its own medieval dark age, for the purpose of studying (?) this alien (?) society(?). For the three hour running time (!) we follow one particular scientist, Rumata (played by Leonid Yarmolnik), who has been installed as some sort of powerful noble and is respected/feared as the son of a pagan (?) diety (?). Rumata is decidedly unhappy with his circumstances and clearly finds the society revolting, especially since intellectuals and artisans are being executed for “crimes” against humanity (?); but because of a directive from his superiors (?), he must refrain from trying to alter the future of this society, and is expressively forbidden from killing.
- Leonid Yarmolnik’s performance is fantastic; and whether he’s portraying his character’s manic trickster side or the stoic/brooding scientist, he nails it. Whenever he’s onscreen, he’s sharp. Which almost makes the film watchable.
- Because the movie is pretty hard to watch. There’s a corpse sprawled out in pretty much every shot; chunky slop covers nearly every surface, and no one has any compunction about submerging their hands in it. People are sniffing and snorting at every opportunity—smell being basically the only way to diagnose illness, it seems—and if they aren’t sniffing something, they’re spitting on it. And the difficulty extends to more than how people act. This comes close to surrealism; extras will regularly turn to the camera and smile or wave some object at the viewer, like show and tell. The camera is constantly weaving and whirling to avoid being jostled by crowds of extras, who themselves are weaving and whirling in and out of frame to avoid being jostled (hence motion sickness). Each cut is basically a non sequitur. I have no idea what the plot actually is.
- This isn’t a bad movie, really; but I don’t ever want to watch it again, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest anyone go out and see it. By the end, I guess I just saw it as an object; it was a thing that exists. It happened; that’s about it. I know I sound pretty condemnatory about the whole thing, and I realize I haven’t even tried to bring up anything wrt. semiotics; I don’t think I even want to try. It is fascinating to watch, though, even just for just the spectable of three hours of Russian arthouse cinema. The part of me that demands arthouse spectable is satisfied.
- I definitely would not have sex to it.
It’s an exercise to the viewer to determine the slop’s origin. ↩
An early scene sees two guardsmen inspecting a latrine and vigorously stirring the contents around with a long stick, for the purpose of drowning someone in it. This sounds funny, because it kind of is (but not really), but goodness if my stomach did not turn. ↩
About three minutes of action are obscured by someone clapping chicken feet in front of the lens. ↩