It’s the second and final week of the online Couched Film Festival. Hopefully you’ve stacked up on films for your living room festival pleasure, and now we’ve got another bunch of reviews, this time including two docos on two highly regarded filmmakers, plus a feature film from a contemporary legend. Finishing up this Friday, there are still hours in the day to binge up on this great array of films.
Couched online film festival screens from Thursday, July 9 to Sunday, July 19. Head to revelationfilmfest.org for more info.
FORMAN VS. FORMAN
Recounting the career of film director Miloš Forman, from his hugely traumatic childhood, his maturity as he was growing up, and his immense success in both his homeland Czechoslovakia and in Hollywood, Forman vs. Forman finds ease in painting a vivid picture of this filmmaker’s work, particularly when it includes One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus, The Fireman’s Ball, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and more.
This documents his career as he faces harsh ups and downs in his career, with each huge success seemingly followed by a box office flop. There’s a great amount of home movie footage and rare interviews, which all intimately capture Forman at his most introspective, whether it be during a high or low.
Although the powers that be seemed to not allow any footage or discussion around arguably his best film, 1999’s Man on the Moon, this doco still feels like it’s captured a uniquely industrious filmmaking career. Forman vs. Forman is a revealing recap of this great director’s career and life, that shows how he characteristically and effortlessly managed to go up against adversity.
ANDREY TARKOVSKY: A CINEMATIC PRAYER
As the title suggests, the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky seemed to view art (of his and his influencers) to be of a religious offering, as if god was working through him to create art that was also for god. He explains this throughout this doco, which goes through each of his feature films, using his own interviews, behind the scenes footage, and his own photography as this doco puts together a light, yet wordy portrait of this film artist and his career.
Andrei delivers through interviews, musings, and poetry readings his own very theistic approach to filmmaking, which sounds like a traditional way of making art. But given his voice is the only voice heard, his instructions on making art start to sound reiterative as he goes on. There’s a great wealth of what looks like new behind the scenes footage, brilliantly interspersed with the footage from the films, showing the then and now of these locations (many of which hardly look any different today), all of which is sure to be a little new delight for fans.
This in-depth and very personal film starring Willem Dafoe is more baffling than it is intriguing. A thoroughly metaphysical film about a middle aged man’s journey through his past; a bear attack, a pregnant woman, a quest through snowy mountains and sandy deserts, young dudes bullying this man when he was a boy, a fish that reincarnates – what does it all mean? Or more importantly, how does this all come together? Siberia is so obscure, that this very personal film feels impenetrable. It feels it was made for one person’s own therapy, rather than to reach across an interested audience.
Director and co-writer Abel Ferrara’s other films that delve deep into the psyches of men have been far more literal, such as the straight-forward Bad Lieutenant or his last film with Dafoe, Pasolini. Siberia is at least a great film to look at, with haunting cinematography across the various vistas and visages it’s been filmed in. But this handsome film succumbs to not only density, but even worse, boredom.