Thursday, July 31, 2014

Movie Review: Doc of the Dead

Doc of the Dead
Directed by: Alexandre O. Philippe.
Written by: Chad Herschberger & Alexandre O. Philippe.

Zombies are everywhere right now. As popular culture icons, they pretty much disappeared in the 1990s – after decades of movies by the likes of George A. Romero, and a host of imitators, the genre seemed to have pretty much died off. But the early 2000s brought them back in a big way – first in films like Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead, and then onto the Walking Dead comics by Robert Kirkman – and the insanely popular TV show it inspired. Zombies are everywhere now – they’ve gone mainstream again. A good documentary about the phenomenon could easily be made – and some of Doc of the Dead is fascinating. But a lot of it isn’t. Perhaps a feature documentary wasn’t needed – a short would have done.

Doc of the Dead goes back to origins of the genre on film – breezing through the first 7 decades of cinema in a few minutes – from The Cabinet of Dr. Cagliari (1919) to White Zombie (1932) to I Walked with a Zombie (1943) through some sci-fi of the 1950s. Quite quickly it gets to George A. Romero and Night of the Living Dead (1968) – which pretty much invented the zombie genre as we know it today. It then walks through Romero’s films, and its many imitators, and show how zombies have gone mainstream – with books, comics, movies, TV shows, and everything else – and then showing the conventions, zombie walks and everything thing the die-hard fans of the genre have done.

Some of this is fascinating stuff. I didn’t think very much of the analysis of the movies – which basically sticks the big hits, and doesn’t tell us anything new or unique about them (Dawn of the Dead is about consumerism? Who knew?) and doesn’t even delve too deep into any of them either. I was much more interested in some of the things I didn’t know – the origins of the zombies in reality, and the possibilities of a real zombie outbreak (it may not be possible for the dead to come back to life, but perhaps an infection could create real, zombie-like people).

Unfortunately, the stuff that’s of real interest to me about the film is about a third of the movie. Another third is going over the movies and books that anyone who knows anything about zombie movies already knows all about (but hell, if you think zombies begins and ends with The Walking Dead, then by all means educate yourself). And then another third is downright embarrassing – strange re-enactments, and stuff that is just plain boring.
A good documentary about zombie culture could easily be made. But Doc of the Dead, directed by Alexandre O. Philippe – who directed the far better The People vs. George Lucas, about fans who hate the man they once adored (which was strangely fairer to Lucas than I thought it would be) – isn’t that film. It seems to be made for people who know nothing about zombie culture – and if they know nothing about zombie culture, then why the hell would they watch a documentary about zombie culture? The film quite simply isn’t good enough.

Movie Review: The Other Woman

The Other Woman
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes.
Wrtten by: Melissa K. Stack.
Starring: Cameron Diaz (Carly Whitten), Leslie Mann (Kate King), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Mark King), Kate Upton (Amber), Don Johnson (Frank), Taylor Kinney (Phil), Nicki Minaj (Lydia).

The most shocking thing about The Other Woman is that it was written by a woman. The female characters in the film are basically the most idiotic clichés that you can imagine – the type of female characters usually written by men who know nothing about women. The film turns the talented Leslie Mann into a whiny, annoying imbecile. It turns the also talented Cameron Diaz into a cold hearted, career driven bitch who finds her heart – which of course means that she will eventually find a man, because every woman must be empty without one. I`m not sure if Kate Upton is talented or not – this is the first time I’ve seen her in a movie, and while I was not overly impressed with her acting skills, it’s also clear that the movie is not really interested in those skills as much as her other assets. Women in Hollywood is still shamefully unrepresented – especially in directing and writing roles – so it makes even more sad that one of the few mainstream films this year that is written by a woman is somehow more misogynistic than most other films we`ll see this year. The damn thing is basically two or three women spending the entire movie talking to each other – but still somehow manages to fluke the Bechdel Test – because all they can take about is a man.

In the film, Diaz stars as Carly – a high powered Manhattan lawyer, whose personal life is basically a series of affairs. According to her assistant (Nicki Minaj), she doesn’t eve refer to the men by name – just a vague description of them. But Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is different – or so she thinks. She dumps everyone else to be exclusive with him. But then, when she goes to his house to surprise him, she meets Kate (Leslie Mann) – the wife Mark never mentioned. Carly has no interest in being anyone`s mistress – so she stops seeing Mark. But Kate won`t leave her alone – not to call her a bitch or a home wrecker, but because she has no else to talk to about how big an asshole Mark is. Eventually the pair figure out that Mark is seeing yet another woman – Amber (Upton) – and they enlist her as well. The basic plan – make the bastard pay.

Even if the three main female characters were insulting, one-dimensional stereotypes – The Other Woman still wouldn’t work very well. For one thing – it isn’t very funny. The film seems to try to repeat the trick that Bridesmaids pulled off – that is showing that women can be just as gross and disgusting as men can be in the movies. But the jokes in Bridesmaids – as gross as they became at times – were mainly funny. In The Other Woman, they fall flat. In Bridesmaids, we get to know and actually like the main characters as people, not just the clichés they seem to be when the movie opens. In The Other Woman, the movie has no interest in moving past those clichés. When it came out, I thought that Bridesmaids was somewhat overrated – it was good, it wasn’t that good – but a film like The Other Woman shows just how hard it was to pull a film like that off at all.

I don’t want to spend too much time criticizing the performances in the film – especially by the three women. For Diaz and Mann, their roles seem to be the cliché ridden roles that they usually avoid – or in the case of Mann, when she works with husband Judd Apatow, often turns on their head to make the seemingly whiny woman into something much deeper. Here, she’s just annoying – and that’s a function of the screenplay more than the performance. I don’t even want to dump on Upton – who plays the bubbly, dumb but lovable blonde as well as they movie allows her to. She may never be much of an actress – but I cannot tell from this movie.

In short, The Other Woman is a bad film. A really, really bad one. Not only is the film not funny, which would be bad enough, but it also left a bad taste in my mouth. Its one thing for a comedy to simply miss the mark – it happens all the time. It’s another to repackage all the clichés people complain about all the time, and wrap it up in one movie – and turn talented actresses into offensive stereotypes. Sadly, that’s what The Other Woman does.

Movie Review: Adult World

Adult World
Directed by: Scott Coffey.
Written by: Andy Cochran.
Starring: Emma Roberts (Amy), Evan Peters (Alex ), John Cusack (Rat Billings), Armando Riesco (Rubia), Shannon Woodward (Candace), Reed Birney (Todd), Catherine Lloyd Burns (Sheryl), John Cullum (Stan), Cloris Leachman (Mary Anne).

Adult World feels like they took promising screenplay and filmed the first draft, instead of allowing the writer another draft or two to refine the material – eliminate extraneous plot elements and characters, focus on what works, and make a very good, if not overly original, film. As it stands, there are some interesting ideas that run throughout Adult World, but they never really get truly developed. Rework the screenplay a little, and you have an interesting coming of age drama – about an overly idealistic young woman who is destined for greatness – at least in her own mind.  But it’s also a story of a middle aged man for whom all that idealism is dead. Had the movie simply focused a little more on these characters, and the themes they dreg up, it could have been a good movie. Instead, the film adds layer upon layer of uninteresting story, useless supporting characters, and a lackadaisical pace that never really feels urgent. There are some decent performances, but that’s really just about it.

The film stars the talented Emma Roberts as Amy – a recent university grad, who has gotten straight A’s since birth, so she feels it will not take her long for her poetry career to get going. That’s right – she went to school for poetry, so she isn’t much prepared for life outside of university. Her parents tell her that if she wants to continue to live at home, she needs to get a job. She storms out – which leaves her still needing a job as now she has to pay some rent. She sees a help wanted sign in the window of a store called Adult World – and she goes in. They sell, well, what you would expect a store called Adult World to sell. Despite having no experience, in more ways than one, they hire her anyway.

Amy meets two men, who could become love interests. There is Alex (Evan Peters), who is the manager of the Adult World, and an artist in his own right – although not one with the self-confidence (or self-delusion) that Amy does. The second is Rat Billings (John Cusack) – Amy’s poet idol, who she wants to be her mentor. When he was her age, he was doing the best work of his career. Amy figures the same should be true for her.

If Adult World gets one thing just right, it’s that for many young people just out of college, they think they are destined for greatness – to the point of delusion. We never get to read any of Amy’s poetry, so I have no idea if she’s talented or not, but she is convinced that she is a poetic great, and that she’ll be discovered, and go off and have the type of glamourous life she always dreamed of. Everything around her – her parents, her town, the porn shop she works in, is just temporary for her. She knows she’s a genius – she’s just waiting for everyone else to realize it. There is a fine line between idealism, and arrogance, and Amy has crossed that line. For much of the film, she is an unsympathetic character – one that we know has a comeuppance in her future. We still like her to a certain extent though – in part because John Cusack’s Rat Billings is even more unsympathetic. If he once had the idealism that Amy had, it has long since been washed away. He’s a drunk, his most recent poetry is being dismissed and he is a complete prick to Amy – and everyone else – even if she never realizes. He then does something so cruel it’s practically unbelievable – and then, strangely, the movie tries to make him somewhat more complicated – perhaps even nice, as if he truly does understand Amy. It rang false for me.

Still, Amy and Rat are the film’s most interesting characters. The film introduces many others, and then doesn’t have much of anything for them to do. From Amy’s parents, to her roommate, to Alex – the seemingly nice guy, who is just kind of dull, to the customers of Adult World that the film basically mocks. Worse of all is probably Rubia – a transgender character played, fairly well by Armando Riesco, who the film introduces, makes us care for, and then basically abandons. Too bad – she`s the film’s most interesting character, and they`re pretty much done with her 30 minutes in.
There are many seeds of interesting ideas in Adult World – but none of them are fully formed. The actors – particularly Roberts, Cusack and Riesco could have delivered fuller, richer characterizations had they been given a chance to. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t give them the chance. I wanted to like Adult World – and think had the screenplay gone through another draft or two and refined itself a little bit, it could have got there.

Movie Review: Le Week-End

Le Week-End
Directed by: Roger Michell.
Written by: Hanif Kureishi.
Starring: Lindsay Duncan (Meg), Jim Broadbent (Nick), Jeff Goldblum (Morgan).

The couple at the center of Le Week-End has been married for years, are approaching retirement and their so called Golden Years, and yet are pretty much miserable when the film opens – and remain so for much of the runtime of the film. It opens with the two of them on the train from London, to Paris, with Nick (Jim Broadbent) going over all the plans he made for the weekend, and Meg (Lindsay Duncan) reading a book and ignoring him. Like many “old married” couples they bicker – but unlike the old married couples who bicker in most movies, when these two bicker, they do it to hurt. He is hoping for sex on the weekend, but he doesn’t do that cause any favors by telling her that for years now her vagina has been like a “closed book”. Not wanting to be outdone, Meg confesses to Nick that she has considered leaving him.

Yet, strangely, as cruel as these two can be to each other when they are alone, they do seem to work well as a team out in public – whether its pulling off a dine and dash, arguing with a cabbie or at a dinner party thrown by an old friend of Nick’s when Nick finally confesses the depths of the pair’s financial troubles. He’s about to be forced into early retirement from his job as a philosophy professor because of one inappropriate comment too many to female and minority students (the latest was telling a woman from African if she spent as much time studying as she did on her hair, she may be able to leave her background behind). This means that Meg will not be able to retire like she wants to. They’ve blown part of their savings on their grown son – who refuses to work - and his family – and still he wants to move back home one more time.

In short, this is a movie about an older couple who have been together for decades who both love, and kind of hate each other. They’ve grown bored and complacent. He’s boring – he hopes to have time over the weekend trip to Paris where they’re going to celebrate their wedding anniversary, to discuss the tiles in their new bathroom. She sees herself as more free spirited than him – although her idea of being free spirited means spending a lot of money on fancy hotels and restaurants they cannot afford and will only serve to put them deeper in debt.

And therein laid the problem for me with the movie – it’s a rather dull and miserable experience about two rather dull and miserable people. To be sure, both Broadbent – and especially Duncan – are great in their roles, giving us a real feeling of the decades spent together, and how comforting it is to sink back into their youth – after she is particularly cruel to him one time, Nick puts on his headphones and sings along to ‘60s Bob Dylan, the ending specifically references Godard’s Band a Parte, which had been referenced throughout the film as well by director Roger Michell – who takes some of his cues for 1960s Godard. The screenplay by Hanif Kureishi, who has collaborated with Michell several times – best of all in The Mother, about an older woman having an affair with a younger man – does a good job of sketching this longtime marriage in all of its love and hatred. What the screenplay really fails to do is make us care about these characters. It’s not just that neither is all that likable – although neither is, and when the movie finally adds another major character, it’s Jeff Goldblum at his Jeff Goldblumiest, who plays an even more unlikable character. It’s that I’m not quite sure the movie gets at anything very deep in its story. Some have said that this could be the final – or at least a later – chapter in the Richard Linklater-Ethan Hawke-Julie Delphy trilogy about Jesse and Celine – but those movies are more grounded in reality, more dreamily romantic when they want to be, and much harsher and more honest in the latest chapter. In short, they’re quite simply better. Le Week-End is not in any way a bad movie – the performances are great. And I’m adding it to a growing list of movies to revisit in about 30 years because maybe I’ll appreciate it more when I am the characters age instead of being in my early 30s. But for now, I didn’t see much point in spending this much time with Nick and Meg.

Movie Review: Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge
Directed by: Declan Lowney.
Written by: Peter Baynham & Steve Coogan & Neil Gibbons & Rob Gibbons & Armando Iannuccii based on characters created by Baynhan, Coogan, Iannucci and Patrick Marber.  
Starring: Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge), Colm Meaney (Pat Farrell), Tim Key (Side Kick Simon), Karl Theobald (Greg Frampton), Nigel Lindsay (Jason Tresswell), Felicity Montagu (Lynn Benfield), Dustin Demri-Burns (Danny Sinclair), Simon Greenall (Michael), Phil Cornwell (Dave Clifton), Monica Dolan (Angela Ashbourne), Kieran Hodgson (Exec), Elizabeth Berrington (Bettie).

I’ve known that Steve Coogan has played a character named Alan Partridge ever since I first became aware of Steve Coogan – when he delivered his excellent performance in Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People back in 2002. Every American review didn’t seem to know who he was, and every British review mentioned the ever popular Alan Partridge. According to Wikipedia, Coogan has appeared as Partridge 33 times including radio shows, TV series, shorts, specials, charity appearances and pretty much everything a fictional character can appear in. The Alan Partridge phenomenon never really crossed the Atlantic however, and my knowledge of Partridge was limited to knowing the name, that Coogan played it, and that the character isn’t all that far away from Coogan`s own comic persona – that of the egomaniacal star who thinks more of himself than anyone else does. Like the big screen version of Veronica Mars, the theory behind the movie is to simply make a long version of what was on TV. I`m sure there are inside jokes to Partridge diehards in the movie that flew over my head, but I can say that the movie works on its own terms as well – for a Partridge virgin like myself, I found it easy to keep up with this movie.

Partridge, a one time TV personality, now finds himself in a mid-morning spot on a lowly, regional radio station – doing the type of radio shtick that seems to be the same no matter where you go. It may not be where he wants to be, but he seems happy enough doing it. That is until a corporate giant buys the radio station, and Partridge finds out that one of their first orders of business will be to fire one of two veteran hosts – himself or Pat Farrell (Colm Meany). Partridge has no problem selling out his friend to keep his job. But when Farrell returns to the radio station with a gun and takes over, putting himself back on air, Partridge finds himself being used by the police as the go between with Farrell – who doesn’t know about his betrayal. The whole thing becomes a media sensation – and Partridge thinks it is his ticket back to the big time.

In some ways, the movie plays like a funnier, less depressing version of Martin Scorsese`s The King of Comedy – with Rupert Pupkin's delusion being equally spread between Farrell and Partridge. But Coogan and his cohorts aren’t really interested in exploring the themes of fame and its toxic effects the same way Scorsese was. Instead, it’s basically a series of comic set pieces strung together. Luckily, those set pieces are usually funny – and the film is full of great one liners from beginning to end. Partridge isn’t precisely the normal Coogan character – for one thing, he has a different voice and mannerisms – but it’s not that far away either. Since he’s been playing the character since 1991, it fits him like a glove, and he can cruise through it without trying if he pleases. Luckily, he doesn’t. He surrounds himself with a good supporting cast, and no matter how ridiculous the plot gets, it’s still amusing.

In England, the film was a hit – both critically and commercially. In America, it’s been mainly greeted with a shrug. Alan Partridge isn’t a beloved character in North America – and probably never will be. But the film is entertaining, enjoyable and hilarious throughout just the same.

The Films of Buster Keaton: The Railrodder & Film (Both 1965)

The Railrodder (1965)
Directed by: Buster Keaton & Gerald Potterton & John Spotton.
Written by: Buster Keaton & Gerald Potterton.
Starring: Buster Keaton (The Man).

The year before Keaton’s death came The Railrodder – which was the first film since 1951 that he did any – credited or uncredited – directing work on. It is a short film – 25 minutes – and made for the National Film Board of Canada. I think it’s fair to say that Keaton and Canada are the co-stars of the film – as there is at least as much – if not more – of the beautiful Canadian wilderness as there is of Keaton in the film. The film doesn’t really reach the level of genius of Keaton’s best work – nor is it really anything all that different that he had done before. Yet, it’s worth seeing for several reasons – the most important of which is that it’s a fun little film in its own right. But also because it shows that Keaton, even at the age of 70, still had it. It’s yet another little film, that while not great, makes you realize that Keaton could have still been making great films right up until the end.

In the film, Keaton starts out in England, reading a newspaper when he sees an ad touting the majesty of Canada and encouraging people to take a tour. Keaton thinks is a grand idea, and immediately jumps into the water. We next see him walking out of the ocean at the other side – apparently walking underwater from England to Canada. The bulk of the film has Keaton on a railway speeder – by himself – going from one end of Canada to the other.

Ironically, although there are many beautiful shots of Canada throughout the movie – as Keaton passes through the Rocky Mountains and other beautiful landscapes – he doesn’t seem to much notice what’s going on around him. He sits on his speeder reading the paper, or trying to get some sleep as the beauty moves all around him. He ends up on the other end of Canada – another Ocean – and he finally gets off his speeder and marvels at the beautiful view. Then, of course, someone else takes his speeder – and Keaton starts the long, lonely trek back across the country.

No one is going to mistake The Railrodder as one of Keaton’s masterpieces. It is an amusing film from start to finish – with Keaton doing some classic sight gags, as well as renewing his love of trains – that we saw so often in his 1920s films.

Yet I also think The Railrodder deserves to be more than just a footnote on Keaton’s career – as many seem to see it. It is the last film he directed (although, officially, he didn’t receive credit) – and it is certainly in line with his best films in that it sees the world in the same way, and touches upon some of his passions. It’s also the last time we get to see Keaton in full silent comedy star mode – and we should all be greatful for a film that shows that even in the last year of his life, Keaton was able to do some great physical comedy. So no, The Railrodder is not a masterpiece – but it’s a damn fine film – and a must for Keaton buffs.

Film (1965)
Directed by: Alan Schneider.   
Written by: Samuel Beckett.
Starring: Buster Keaton (The Man).

1965’s Film – a 17 minute short film written by Samuel Becket (and who the credited director, Alan Schneider says was really the director as well) is the only film as part of this series that Buster Keaton didn’t have a hand in directing. It’s such an interesting film though, that I had to include it – if for no other reason than to have as an excuse to write about it. The film is one of the last of Keaton’s career – and it shows what a gifted physical performer he was right until the end of his life. Making his performance all the more remarkable is that until the closing minutes of the film we never see Keaton’s face. The camera remains behind him – leading some to call the film an extended chase sequence with the camera following Keaton. This is true for the first part of the movie – with Keaton edging along the street, looking nervously around, and trying to escape from whoever or whatever is following him. The camera seems to be an entity unto itself – and when it catches other – and there are three other actors in the film briefly in the opening shots – in its gaze, they are stricken with a horrible look on their face. What have they seen – or what is being done to them.

The bulk of the film however takes place in a small, rundown apartment. Keaton enters, and locks the door – still trying to keep whatever is following him out, but he’s unsuccessful. There is a dog and a cat in the room – and he tries – comically – to get them both out the door, but as soon as he gets one out, the other runs back in. There’s a picture on a wall – a drawing of a man with huge eyes – that Keaton rips up. He holds an envelope – one of those that close by wrapping string around two circles that look like eyes in the film. He’s paranoid – he doesn’t want anyone or anything looking at him. But why?

The film is a strange one, and not altogether successful. While there has been a lot of complicated critical theory written about the film – some of it quite pretentious, but then the film itself is at least somewhat pretentious – I think Keaton himself summed the movie up best saying "a man may keep away from everybody but he can't get away from himself." That is the film in a nutshell – Keaton plays a man who is trying to shut everything out, but in the end he cannot. He spends time in a rocking chair, eventually opening that envelope, to see pictures of himself at various stages of his life – eventually ripping them up. He is a man alone, trying to destroy everything about himself. But he cannot ultimately hide.

Does the movie work? Kind of. Keaton is brilliant in the film in his final silent film performance. He was old and dying, and the yet he still moves undeniably like Keaton. He holds the screen, even while his back is turned to it for almost the entire running time. By the time we finally see his face, it’s somewhat shocking. This is the Keaton we know but older, more beat up and weathered – more melancholy than we’ve ever seen him before.

The camera work is quite good. In Becket’s original screenplay he identifies the two characters as E – for Eye (the camera) and O – for Object – Keaton. The camera is in almost constant motion, moving along behind Keaton, keeping his distance, as if it’s trying to hide – not wanting Keaton to see that he is being observed.

The idea behind the movie is good, but I do wonder about the execution. Becket – who never wrote a film before or after this one – called the film an “interesting failure”. I wonder if he had continued to write for film if he would have come up with something better – perhaps a little more subtle, a little less ponderous.

The film works because of Keaton and the camerawork, and it is certainly an interesting, and somewhat ambitious film. I won’t argue with Andrew Sarris who called the title “the most pretentious in film history” – but I think there’s a lot of value in the film. It isn’t a masterpiece, and perhaps it is little more than the interesting failure that Becket described it as. But damn if it isn’t interesting.

The Best Films I Have Never Seen Before: The Seasons (1975)

The Seasons (1975)
Directed by: Artavazd Peleshian.

Renowned Armenian director Artzvazd Peleshian is said to be the inventor of a film style called “distance montage”. Unlike many of the reviews online that I have read after watching probably his most famous work The Seasons (aka Four Seasons), I am still confused with what exactly that means, despite the director himself trying to explain it several times. Watching The Seasons it is certainly clear that he was inspired in part by two Soviet montage masters – Dziga Vertov and Sergei Eisenstein – and he has also been compared to someone more his contemporary – Bruce Conner. Perhaps I’m just not smart enough to see what he means by “distance” montage, and how it differs from those other filmmakers as Peleshian has claimed. He does talk about how his films are not about single, isolated moments – but the entirety of the film itself. That no one single image has meaning unless it’s taken in context with the rest of the movie. It makes a certain amount of sense – although I certainly think you could argue the same thing about Conner.

Perhaps I need to see more of Peleshian’s work to truly grasp what he is talking about – because judging on my reaction to The Seasons, I’m clearly not getting what Peleshian is talking about. And that is because The Seasons is a movie full of beautiful, haunting imagery – and yet to me, it is these isolated moments in the film that stand out, and not the totality of the film itself – which is the exact opposite of what Peleshian is talking about.

The movie opens with a scene of a sheep herder madly clinging to one of his flock as the two of them hurtle down the rapids of a raging river. We will get many scenes like this over the half hour running time of The Seasons – the film ends with a very similar scene, bringing everything full circle once again. The images are undeniably beautiful – which explains why this is apparently the first film in which Peleshian didn’t use any archival footage in his montage, just images he shot with his cinematographer. But let me also say this – despite the beauty of the shot itself, for some reason Peleshian decides to use slow motion in the scene as well – and like most instances of people using slow motion, I don’t think it really works. It just draws out the image in a way we don’t need.

A better scene in the movie, with a similar view, is farmer running ahead and pulling down what looks to be huge haystacks down a very steep hill. You think there would be a better, safer way to do this (if one of these haystacks goes out of control, you could easily see someone getting crush to death). The images are once again beautiful, and brilliantly edited together. If Peleshian knows nothing else, he knows how to edit.

But finally, I must say that to me, I just didn’t much care for The Seasons. Yes, the images are beautiful, but to me they never came together in terms of making a larger statement – or really any statement at all. And there comes a point where beautiful images just isn’t enough – you have to have something to sink your teeth into, to challenge your mind, and The Seasons didn’t do this for me.

Even if Peleshian is not a very well-known director – that is what happens when you make shorts for your entire life – and even if I didn’t really care for The Seasons (unlike Conner, I don’t think I’m going to try to delve deeper into Peleshian’s filmography), he is undeniably an important filmmaker. His work has been said to inspire the later career of Godard (not Peleshian’s fault, folks), as well as Werner Herzog. Parts of this film even reminded me of Terrence Malick’s brilliant The Tree of Life (2011) – as both films look at the connection between man and nature. But as a film, The Seasons contains some beautiful imagery – and for me, not all that much else.