Careful when following the masters

High Life
a movie by Claire Denise

In short, don’t.  If you do go to see this flick, brace yourself.   It is amazing how a filmmaker wants to refresh or out do the seminal Kubrick’s flick with not much new to offer.  This movie is painful to watch since many ideas are lifted from either Kubrick or Tarkovsky and are just a pale hick-ups of them.    

My strong negative reaction is fueled by two factors: first, in the last few months I haven't been able to shake off the memories of the ending of "2001. A Space Odyssey".   It hunts my consciousness, it knocks to be remembered, to be embraced and understood.  When I think of film moments that are important, the mega-singularity (can I say that?) shown in the ending of "2001" tops the list.  Claire Denise tries to go in the same direction at the end of her film.   In her doing it's clumsy and cheap.

Then there is a dog.  Probably "stolen" from Tarkovsky's "Nostalgia".  I understand that the poetics of "High Life" require the dogs to be "down to earth", but still, the first thing that comes to mind is the Tarkovsky's parallel.  If one goes there is should somehow be visually or emotionally addressed, countered, exposed.  I say that because the dog in Tarkovsky's church is another moment in my list of "best film moments ever".

And then there is a space ship design. Really?

Too bad so many great actors (actually the entire cast is really good) participate in a project that, if done in film school, should give a boost to a director's career, but as a work of a mature and otherwise good storyteller is boring and disappointing.

Having said all that I realized that the need to pay homage to the greatest is sometimes stronger than a filmmaker's sense of clarity and self-preservation.  Some time ago in Los Angeles I tried to reproduce a bus scene scene from "Double Life of Veronique" in which the Polish Veronique "meets" the French one.  I remember a polite smile on the face of a really accomplished filmmaker who was my mentor at that time.  He was gracious enough not to expand on his reaction.  

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