I defy you to watch Russian Ark (Tue SBS 1130P), enjoy it and understand it. Every single critic I have read LOVE this film. Yes, it was shot in one continuous 88 minute take through the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (formerly the Winter Palace), and yes, some of the images are memorable – the costumed ball and exit out into the snow of the last 20 minutes is majestic and elegant – but understanding ? enjoyment ? My wife, were she able to speak about it, would tell you she hasn’t got over the experience of sitting through this from four years ago. If you are a keen student of Russian history then you would glean more from the tableauxs presented (without context and without explanation) as director Alexandar Sokurov criss-crosses from one glorious and tragic highlight to another. Our ‘host’ is a ghost like Marquis who is so unlikeable that one wonders whether you would be better served without him. I am tempted to sit and watch again though. Less to try and ‘understand’ as I am no better informed about Russian history now than I was then, but because I’m tempted by the glimpses of beauty that Sokurov presents.
For slightly less cerebral fare however Pirates of the Caribbean : The Curse of the Black Pearl (Sat 7 830P) follows the first PotC with a likeable rogue in Johhny Depp and wooden eye candy in Orlando Bloom and ties in nicely the third sequel in cinemas shortly. Immediately preceding this is Shark Tale (Sat 7 630P) which is Dreamwork’s “underwater” animated feature (rival Pixar did okay with Finding Nemo by contrast). Full of pop culture references, its okay without being memorable.
Other credible options are Tom Tykwer/Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Heaven (Sun SBS 930P) with the always outstanding Cate Blanchett or Errol Morris’first ever documentary (1980) Gates of Heaven (Tue SBS 10P) which follows the fortunes of the proprietors of two pet cemeteries. It is one of the keenest documentaries on human behaviour yet. After you have seen it (and I recommend you do), read Roger Ebert’s review for a “value add.”
And Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) early bird festival passes went on sale yesterday. I am locked and loaded for 13 sessions with my ‘Mini Pass’. Individual screening tickets will be available closer to festival date (July).
AND not to forget that the FA Cup Final is on this Saturday night (SBS midnight) between Chelsea and Manchester United.