Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Taurus
dir : Alexander Sokurov
scr : Youri Arabov
cin : Sokurov
edi : Leda Semyonova
mus : Andre Sigle
acr : Leonid Mozgovoi, Maria Kuznetsova, Sergei Razhuk, Natalia Nikulenko
mins : 90
The final days of Lenin (Leonid Mozgovoi) as he declines into mental and physical ruin in his a countryside dacha, fussed over by relatives, servants and guards. Promising material, but in Sokurovs hands it becomes an exercise in sheer cinematic tedium, and all bar the hardiest of highbrow audiences will struggle to keep their eyelids open. If Sokurov intended to recreate the grinding dullness of old age all the more unbearable for the exiled Lenin in contrast with the heady excitement of his recent revolutionary past then he’s succeeded in spades. This could easily be conveyed in ten minutes, however, and expanding it to feature length adds zilch to our understanding. There are a couple of moments of oddball humour when a spaced-out Stalin (Sergei Razhuk like Mozgovoi, recipient of a top-notch make-up job) comes to call, but just a couple.
We might be able to overlook the countless deficiencies if there were some visual flair to keep us interested, but Sokurovs eye is at best distinctly average, no matter how much he tries to hide the fact by bathing everything in a muddy green fog. This emerges less like an intriguing stylistic device, and more like somethings gone badly wrong in the processing of the celluloid. While his marginally less sluggish Mother and Son (1998), showed signs of talent, talk of Sokurov as the new Tarkovsky now looks drastically wide of the mark. Amazingly, Taurus has attracted bits of positive feedback on the festival circuit presumably on the basis that medicine tasting this awful must be good for you. Its the kind of thing that gives arthouse movies and their admirers such a bad name.
25th August, 2001
(seen Aug-22-01, Filmhouse Edinburgh Film Festival)
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by Neil Young