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Soderbergh’s Solaris Revisited

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Soderbergh’s Solaris Revisited

Old 07-31-03, 12:46 PM
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Soderbergh’s Solaris Revisited

I just finished watching Solaris again on DVD and thought I’d post in the hopes of generating some interest in this largely neglected movie. If you followed the main stream press, read DVD Savant’s critical review, or skimmed the comments in original movie-talk thread, no doubt you’re aware that Solaris is a remake of Andrei Tarkovsky’s science fiction epic (based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem) and heard that it’s a boring, cold, and artsy mess filled with wall to wall shots of George Clooney’s butt. Yeh, it’s a remake and I suppose it’s artsy (as if that’s a bad thing), but it is also an engaging, thought provoking movie that explores the nature of memory and questions what it means to be human---a love story wrapped in an enigma.

As much a tone-poem as a movie, Solaris plays to both the viewer’s intellect and his sub-conscious. A sense of longing, of loneliness pervades Kelvin, the psychologist dispatched to Solaris in response to a mysterious plea for help from the crew of the space station orbiting the planet, and imbues the movie with a sadness that envelopes the viewer. Told partly in flashbacks, the story unfolds in both the present and the past, uniting Kelvin’s memories with his destiny until both converge on a single moment of revelation and choice. Soderbergh colors the flashbacks with a sepia tone, giving these images a warmth that stands in contrast to the cool blue hues of the emptiness in Kelvin’s present.

Comparisons to Tarkovsky’s original and Lem’s novel are perhaps inevitable; they are also largely irrelevant. To compare the versions misses the point; Soderbergh approaches the material from a different direction--this movie stands (or falls) on its own merit.

Beautifully shot, thoughtfully paced, with subtle and believable performances, Solaris satisfies both the eyes and mind. Worth noting also is the haunting score by Cliff Martinez, which perfectly compliments Soderberg’s stunning visuals.

About the DVD…Both the video and audio are superb; the colors are rich, the sound warm and full. The extras, however, are, at best, mediocre---there’s a so-so commentary with James Cameron and Soderbergh, as well as a two forgettable featurettes.

Despite the largely negative press, I hope some of you will give this movie a chance. Sure, you may be bored to tears, but you might also discover a truly wonderful movie. And isn’t that chance worth $4 for a rental?

Last edited by audrey; 07-31-03 at 01:05 PM.
Old 08-01-03, 04:11 PM
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Good post Audrey. I feel pretty strongly about Solaris (wholistically - the novel and both films) and I thought that the new version was undermined by a pretty bad marketing campaign. While it did have some pretty positive reviews, it also had many (albeit of the mass-market variety) reviews that had more to say about Clooney's ass than the film itself. I can understand that some may be turned off by the "methodical" pacing (yes, methodical is a p.c. way of saying slow), I thought that it was perfectly paced and a beautiful film in general. I don't think that one could fault the acting - both the leads are wonderful. Although he seemed to play the same cool, self-assured role in every film, I've always been a pretty big Clooney fan. As far as acting goes, this role is easily the highlight of his career so far. The isolated setting of space works very well also. The bottom line is that this film made me "feel" and that's just what I was looking for. The disc could have been better, but the commentary is good, if a little self-congratulatory.
Old 08-01-03, 05:33 PM
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Actually, no need for me to rent it, I picked it up blind based on the reviews... Mainly too slow, boring, cold, unemotional (sounds like a Kubrick film eh?) etc... I figured it must be a pretty good film then, since a lot of folks in this day and age lack the attention span required to let a story take it's time and develop... Anyhoo... Yeah, I liked it. I'm not sure how much, but I intend to visit it again in the near future. It definitely left me thinking after the credits rolled. And that, is a good thing... I can see where it's open for multiple interpretations, I have a few myself...
Old 08-03-03, 01:12 PM
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I also liked the movie , I loved the actress who plays Clooney's wife..she is an incredibly beautiful woman who does a nice job and meshes well with George. Yes some parts are a bit boring but its definitely worth a rental if not adding the DVD to your collection.
Old 08-03-03, 09:07 PM
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Natascha McElhone

Old 08-04-03, 11:07 AM
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This is the second recent movie that critics panned that I liked. The first was God's and Generals. I have to admit that I probably would not have enjoyed them as much if I had to sit through them in a Theater ( especially God's).
Old 08-05-03, 11:35 AM
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Natascha's cheekbones (too prominent) scared me at times in this film.
Old 08-07-03, 05:36 PM
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I, for one, enjoyed the flick a great deal. In fact I rewatched a good portion of it when a friend stopped by so she could see it from the beginning. I thought the film was very subtle with it's delivery but also very thought provoking. I like the popcorn flicks like the rest of them but I also hold dear to my heart stories that 'shake the soul'. Needless to say this film did just that. I was glued to the tube from start to finish without a blink of any eye. I can't recommend this film enough.....but be warned....it is a 'thinking mans' film in the same vain as Memento, Donnie Darko.
Old 08-07-03, 05:55 PM
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I picked this up as a blind buy and recently watched it.

This film is an Art Film IMHO, and I liked it. How much I liked it remains to be seen. I need to rewatch it because it was thought provoking, and I was really tired when I watched it.

I think it is a very good film that deserves to be seen at least once.
Old 08-07-03, 06:11 PM
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What's up with those cheeks. Very scary indeed Patman.
Old 08-08-03, 01:52 PM
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I had to wonder if Natascha was starving herself when those cheeks of her emerged so prominently at odd angles from the camera. Otherwise, she's a really nice looking lady.
Old 08-09-03, 11:56 AM
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Great film!! Saw it twice in a row in two days and will be getting the DVD asap!!

This is the sort of film that leaves you "feeling" and "contemplating"...."what if". Very well done!!
Great soundtrack as well (I am planning to pick the cd as well)!!
Old 08-09-03, 06:14 PM
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I too picked this up as a blind buy since I'm a sci-fi fan and will pretty much watch anything set in space.

I actually thought the acting was great, even Clooney. I didn't see him portraying the same guy he has been in most of his movies, although I've never been annoyed by this.

This movie was thought provoking to say the least. Although I can see how it definitely isn't for everyone and I probably wouldn't recommend to most of my friends it was a movie that I will watch several times in the upcoming years and will probably get the same feeling that I got when I first watched it.
Old 08-13-03, 07:33 PM
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THis is a movie that you have to watch in one sitting, and not having people around you talking. After the movie, it's like........'whoa'.

We should open a discussion about the film's meanings because like the token black guy in "Not another Teen Movie" said, "That is whack!!".

doc
Old 08-13-03, 09:20 PM
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IIRC there was limited discussion regarding the themes in the original movie-talk thread. But if you’d like to start a new thread or continue that discussion here, please do, being mindful to use spoiler tags if appropriate. Hopefully, others will join in.

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