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Nobody loves poetry like a Russian, goes the saying. Based on legendary director Andrei Tarkovsky’s output alone that could well be true. He explored revolutionary ideas about film structure and time, and though his better-known and more highly regarded Ivan Rublev is his official attempt at an epic, this here is his real magnum opus. It may try to pass itself off as a little genre film, but it questions everything that makes us human, and is all the more haunting for the terrible ordeal that was its wasteland-bound production. Be patient with it and you will be hugely rewarded.
It’s Ron Perlman, the « Lon Chaney of the 21st Century » (sayeth Guillermo Del Toro himself!), it’s the fluorescent landscapes, Darius Khondji’s delirious wide-angle photography, the many clones of Dominic Pinon and that music. It’s the sense that here’s a totally new, unique and original world of endless possibility. It’s The City of Lost Children, the greatest live action fairy tale ever committed to film, bar none!
Surrealist but gritty. Epic yet intimate. Rich but short. Bunuel’s wonderful tale of an ascetic fanatic stranded atop a pillar in the desert and tormented by the forces of Evil (Silvia Pinal!) is everything a film should be, which, with a runtime of just under 45 minutes, is no small accomplishment. Masterpiece? Yessir!
Before Lars von Trier became the king of handheld human decadence, he was a master of black comedy, and one with a staggering – if cheeky and in-your-face – technical proficiency. You can’t get more visually convoluted than Europa: multiple layers of front and back-projection, mixing color and black and white… For all that though, it’s a dizzying labyrinth of a story, moody as hell, and anchored by phenomenal supporting turns from Eddie Constantine and Ernst-Hugo Järegård. Plus, did we already mention it was really funny?