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Friday, May 30, 2008

THE SECOND CIRCLE (1990)

An early work from Aleksandr Sokurov shows him in typically severe mode, but not, as yet, quite able to bring off his highly-charged style. Instead of mesmerizing us (i.e. FATHER & SON or RUSSIAN ARK), we want to shout "hurry up" at the screen. Though made first, the film is like a postscript to MOTHER & SON, only here a young man deals with his father’s remains in a isolated snowbound village. The boy is clueless to all the rituals of death, but amusingly stubborn about small details, which adds an unexpected overlay of absurdist humor to the grim doings. Not for folks put off by experimental/poetic cinema, and not the best place to begin with Sokurov. But unlike his acclaimed mentor, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sokurov never forces his artistic bent, he just can’t help it. And this makes all the difference.

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