Capsules: Indochine, Andre Rublev, With a Friend Like Harry and City of Lost Children

Andre Rublev (Russian Андрей Рублёв) image, city of lost childrenSomehow I saw this film before Solaris (which I’ll be seeing some time in the next week or so) so this film about the famous Russian Icon painter has served as my introduction to Tarkovsky. It was an interesting experience. It was excellent. Well crafted and thought provoking. The sort of film you could write ten papers about in film school. To call it slow however is an understatement of the highest order. Tarkovsky apparently believed, with every fiber of his being, that anything that could be told in one minute was best served by being told in ten. Everything in this movie is paced glacially. I was joking that if someone sneezed in this movie it would take thirty minutes to tell the tale. He’s sort of like David Lean on steroids. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, it’s just something that bears mentioning.

Indochine (French) This is a grand, complex, intelligently wrought, deftly acted film. I will admit that I had some concerns with the pacing for about the first half hour (events seemed compressed), but once that period was over, the film stretched out into a brilliant piece of work. Featuring a grand love story set against a backdrop of political upheaval, Indochine is a heady, stirring drama. Deneuve is, as usual, excellent. Her character, a complicated, willful woman around whom vast, powerful forces swirl is the liable to set your mind in motion once the final credits role. I’m still not sure about my feelings toward her.

City of Lost Children (French: La Cité des Enfants Perdus) I  absolutely eat this movie up. A grimy, otherworldly setting; tough, intelligent, cute kids; weird clockwork style technology; those off- the- wall Gauthier costumes. it’d be a winner with no story whatsoever. It does have a story of course, so I’m pretty much the proverbial "pig in shit" with this particular film. I’ve seen it several times now and it’s not gotten tired at all. Much the opposite, in fact. A film this visually rich basically demands multiple viewings.

With a Friend Like Harry (French: Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien) When I sat down to watch this film, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I didn’t know a single cast member, the director or even the film’s genre. Sometimes that’s a great way to watch a movie and in this case it worked out pretty well. Part of that is because With… takes a little while to "find itself." In retrospect, the personality of Harry shines through from the beginning. He almost immediately betrays himself as both eccentric and obsessive. It’s just that with no preconceived notion of what he’s all about it’s more difficult to see how his peculiarities will manifest themselves. This goes on for a while, building character and tension all the while. Then Harry starts killing people. My own personal mystery was of course, solved at that point. The remainder of the film goes about it’s business as a thriller with gleeful enthusiasm. Excellent stuff.

Originally published in February 2003 on