Time on Our Hands

For Marker, Medvedkin—along with Eisenstein, Isaac Babel, and Dziga Vertov—represents a great, tragic generation. He is aware that, given the vast tectonic shifts that accompanied the disappearance of the Soviet Union, such men are dinosaurs. But here too, Marker takes the long, long view. "Look what happened to dinosaurs," his narrator concludes, over a picture of a child cuddling with Barney. "Kids love them."

Made for the French TV series "Cinema in Our Time," Marker's 55-minute One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich is a brilliant appreciation of the last great Soviet director, Andrei Tarkovsky—most of it shot in 1985 and 1986 while the dying, self-exiled Tarkovsky was completing work on his last film, The Sacrifice.

"It is not the past that rules us—it is images of the past”: from The Last Bolshevik.
photo: First Run/Icarus
"It is not the past that rules us—it is images of the past”: from The Last Bolshevik.


The Last Bolshevik
Directed by Chris Marker
First Run/Icarus
June 16 and 17

One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich
Directed by Chris Marker
First Run/Icarus
June 14 and 20

Directed by Ivan Reitman
Written by David Diamond, David Weissman, and Don Jakoby

No less than Jean-Luc Godard or Martin Scorsese, Marker is an original and perceptive exegete of other filmmakers. In One Day, he elaborates Tarkovsky's vitality into a seamless portrait of both the man and his oeuvre, weaving in and out of the films, juxtaposing excerpts with revelatory scenes of Tarkovsky directing The Sacrifice and intimate home movies of the bedridden filmmaker reunited with his son. Linking the first shot in Tarkovsky's debut feature, My Name Is Ivan, to the last image in The Sacrifice, Marker makes a visual argument for Tarkovsky's work as the expression of a single utterance—orchestrating the most sustained and heartfelt tribute one filmmaker has paid another.

The screenings are supplemented by a 15-minute assemblage of outtakes from The Sacrifice, much of it devoted to one of Tarkovsky's extraordinary, fluid long takes.

Ivan Reitman's F/X yuckfest Evolution should really have been named Devolution. More social phenomenon than classic comedy, Reitman's Ghostbusters—on which, along with Gremlins, Evolution is transparently modeled—was always overrated, but it's a masterpiece of rapier wit compared to this sodden mess, a mutation-invasion movie that passes Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! going south.

Thanks to a rogue asteroid, alien life forms are proliferating in Arizona. This wild-style genetic engineering, millions of years compressed into days, creates all manner of evolutionary oddities, which, given how quickly they turn vicious, allow Reitman an endless source of digitally contrived saber-toothed lizards leaping out of the bushes—boo! The world as we know it is saved by two community-college science teachers, sleepy-eyed David Duchovny and mildly wired Orlando Jones. Duchovny struggles in vain to channel Bill Murray's insouciance; Jones staggers under the weight of his jive repartee; they bond to a car radio rendition of "Play That Funky Music (White Boy)." Julianne Moore trips onto the stage and more or less lies there. Dan Aykroyd appears as a political poltergeist.

Words regularly fail these characters—as well they might. Despite the trio of credits, Evolution seems to have been made without a writer. Instead, nature takes its course: A major product placement guarantees the world will be saved when Duchovny, Jones, Moore, and their buddy Seann William Scott manage to administer a giant enema to a leathery, sky-filling blob from outer space. By the end, these scatological concerns seem entirely self-referential.

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