Bitching Brew

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Solaris: my reaction. (Contains ass)

A few nights ago I ended up on the sofa flicking through Sky Movies. As you do. I noticed Solaris was about to start - not the original Russian version, but the Soderbergh remake. Hmmmm. The original Solaris was always high on my list of movies to see, but the high DVD price tag always put me off. I'd never had any intentions of watching the remake, fearing it would be a pale Hollywood bastardisation of a true classic. But, since the thing was about to start, I let go my pretentious inhibitions.

This 'pale remake' exceeded my expectations. Solaris is philosophical and psychological, not hokey popcorn sci-fi. It would be unfair to label it a "Hollywood" picture; it's more accurately described as a high-budget arthouse film. I don't know how it compares to the original - I won't attempt to. Yet I vaguely recall hearing the assertion that Solaris was the riposte to Kubrick's Space Odyssey: the anti-2001, if you will. I can understand that, judging by this version. 2001 was undoubtedly a brilliant film, justly famous for its cinematography; at its core, it was a metaphysical exploration of humanity through the medium of science-fiction. Yet I found it to be desperately cold: for me, it was almost purely an intellectual meditation.

Soderbergh's Solaris is a similar exploration, again through the medium of science-fiction. Like 2001, it features dazzling visuals, with a purpose beyond mere eye-candy. The film is slow and measured; at times the pace is as glacial as anything in Kubrick (or, for that matter, Kieslowski). But this film isn't cold: it weeps humanity. Though it is occupied with themes such as human identity and memory, it is also an examination of love, need and attachment. The meditation takes place at a less abstract level than 2001; Solaris' clay is the emotions, not the intellect. Love is personal, and directed at an object - though it can be studied abstractly, it cannot be properly conceived as an abstract.

Anyway, despite the late hour and the glacial pace, I found myself completely engrossed in Solaris. Perhaps this film does pale next to its predecessor, but I can only judge it on its own merits, which are considerable. I haven't revealed any plot points; come to think of it, this piece is nothing but abstract nonsense. Again. Oops.

OK, I'll conclude with something particular: George Clooney's ass. Yes, folks, we get several shots of it in this film. I'm sure many of you will enjoy - it's no surprise that I'm indifferent. However, it was somewhat disheartening to discover that a man in his forties has a better ass than my young and virile self. I was really hoping it wouldn't be so - the man is, I must concede, hot enough as it is, without scoring yet another victory over the common mortal male. I'll have to console myself with one of my few definitive merits - I have hotter eyes than many a movie star.

Endorsements on that note (and/or others) are most welcome. ;)

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