Mother And Son (1997), TSPDT #928, Worth A Look

Clocking in at around 70 minutes, Mother And Son takes the Tarkovsky look and feel and uses it to tell a love story between a mother and a son. The mother appears to be dying because of physical illness or an unwillingness to live as her son consoles and cares for her almost as if she were a child. The film consists of a series of short conversations and long periods where the son carries his mother around the countryside. When we reach the end of the story the son takes a walk alone and we see–largely reflected in the landscape–the affect of the impending death of his mother.

The beauty of the film is in it’s simplicity and quiet long takes. We don’t learn a lot of about them personally, but instead dwell within their last moments together and the emotions involved. It’s a nice piece of experimental filmmaking and worth a look.

Orlando (1992), Highly Recommended, TSPDT #873

Orlando (Tilda Swinton)

The film begins with the introduction of a man named Orlando who works for Queen Elizabeth. In 1600, Orlando ceases to age at the request of Elizabeth who in exchange for a sizable piece of property requires that Orlando stay just as young as he is now. In 1610, Orlando falls for a Russian woman, but is spurned and remembers the treachery of women.

Next we meet Orlando in 1650 where poetry is the center of his existence. He writes some poetry and tries to get it evaluated and published, but it goes nowhere. In 1700, Orlando turns to politics and becomes an ambassador to somewhere in the Middle East. Things end badly, but this kicks off the metamorphosis for Orlando.

Orlando As A Woman

By 1750, Orlando is now a woman. The same person, just a different sex as she puts it. This transformation begins to separate her from the property left to her by Elizabeth. They tell her she must be officially dead by now and that being a woman is just as good as being dead in terms of ownership of property. She runs into a hedge maze and emerges in 1850 where she meets a man named Shelmerdine (Billy Zane) who provides Orlando with sex. In the end, Shelmerdine leaves because Orlando doesn’t want to be tied up with his need for adventure in the name of freedom and liberty. Then we are in the World War’s and Orlando is pregnant. Orlando survives and in the modern age she decides to stop being tied to the past and start living again after 400 years.

The character of Orlando reminded me of Robert A. Heinlein’s Lazarus Long, a man who also lived for a very long time. In the process, both gain a great amount of wisdom and insight about human existence. The obvious thing is that Orlando sees the world as both a man and a woman, but there is more. When you have lived that long, most of life boils off leaving the few things that matter, like love.

This is definitely worth seeing again and I highly recommend that you see it.

Burnt By The Sun (1994), Recommended

Before I watched this movie I had only seen one film made by the Russian federation. I had seen a Czarist Russian film and plenty of Soviet films, but only one post Soviet film. This was my second and it was quite good. We meet a hero from the Russian Civil War and his family who are having a day in the Russian countryside during the late 1930’s. Then a cousin shows up and charms everyone, but there’s something that gives you the idea that this is more than just a visit. There isn’t anything to reveal after that without giving anything away.

The film is similar to Wim Wenders’ Wings Of Desire because the film can be frustrating and boring, but when the ending starts to take hold the rest of the film is suddenly pulled into it’s proper context and it all makes sense. The film is also similar to the Czechoslovakian film The Shop On Main Street because there is something that is being built in the film that acts as a barometer. When it rears it’s ugly head the film really shines.

I could have done without the fireball though.