Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Fall

There are too many movies that usually skip this town so I was fortunate when Tarsem's The Fall played at Tampa Theatre. My suggestion would be to ignore most of the reviews. Apparently, knowing how to watch a film and interpret it is not a prerequisite to being a film critic. Brains are often optional. The local birdcage liner said The Fall had images and scenes for their own sake and there was little plot to follow. That's if you're an idiot, of course. The short of the story is that a stuntman is injured while making a silent film (the film takes place around 1910) (or did he attempt suicide?) and while he sits in a hospital recuperating he recalls a fantastical faerie tale to a young immigrant girl who steals medicine for him and in return he tells the story...the lines between reality and fantasy soon blur. Oh and there is a performance of the Ketjak Monkey Chant.

This second film by Tarsem (his follow up to The Cell!) plays out in the imaginary realm of a child's mind, much in the way that Pan's Labyrinth worked. This is a subtle and quieter work than The Cell, with no big name stars to distract from its phantasmagorical substance. Like a film that Derek Jarman never made or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as filmed by Sergei Parajanov (which is the first thing that came to mind when I first saw the trailer), with gorgeous art design and stage-like characterization. The plateaus and scenery (also recalling The Arabian Nights and The Cantebury Tales by Pasolini) are exquisite and warm the eyes and warm the soul with its rich colors. The costumes and the action add to the gorgeous landscapes; this film was shot on location in several different countries: Egypt, South Africa, Romania, China among others. It is haunting but satisfying. Artistic to a fault; this is what an "art film" looks like, so beautiful to look at. Film is art, it should be beautiful.

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