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The Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam's first science fiction film since "12 Monkeys" is an inventively designed but oddly inert satire on technology, God and the future of humankind.

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Tusk

It's not surprising that Smith's characterizations and dialogue lack subtlety given the type of broad comedy that Smith has practically made his brand. But somehow,…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Mr. Bourne, meet M. Hulot

From: Jacob Sager Weinstein, London, England

If you can stomach one more e-mail on the topic of "The Bourne Ultimatum," it seems to me that there's an interesting comparison to be made to the films of Jacques Tati--especially "Playtime."

This is counter-intuitive, of course, because "Playtime" is all about long takes and calm camera work. But what it has in common with the latest "Bourne" is that it demands constant attention and effort from the viewer. Most other films use a variety of techniques to direct the viewer's eyes to specific visual information. But a minority of films--including "Playtime" and "Bourne"--throw an overwhelming amount of information on the screen, and expect the viewer to actively look for the important parts. In "Playtime" that flood comes from long takes with a non-moving (or calmly moving) camera set far back from a densely packed scene; in the two recent "Bournes," the information flood comes from lots of whip pans and fast edits shot very close up.

Although both films achieve their effects differently, they have a common result. If you're willing to run as fast as you possible can to keep up with the filmmakers, it's exhilarating. If you don't have that patience, or if you don't process visual information in quite the right way, it's exhausting.Personally, I far prefer a film that rewards constant attention to one that spoon-feeds me everything.

"Playtime" is discussed in this site's Great Movies collection.

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