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If you plant your feet on the ground and imagine burrowing straight down through crust and magma and then right through the Earth’s center and out the other side—well, you’d wind up wet, most likely, as only 4 percent of the planet’s land is diametrically opposite to land. (Also: Would you come out feet first, entirely upside down?) A gorgeous meditation on these questions that have long preoccupied kids and stoners, !Vivan Las Antipodas! opens with something like a still-life of a home, a bridge, and a river in Entre Rios, Argentina. But that home and the humps of hill surrounding it are inverted in a reflection on the water, a suggestion of what’s to come. Soon, after getting to know the silent life of a pair of toll-takers at a one-lane, rarely traveled Entre Rios bridge, director Victor Kossakovsky plunges to the perfect opposite point of the globe: a sleek Shanghai highway, all sinuous curves and video-game motion, the images upside down as if we’ve just been pneumatic-tubed from one hemisphere to the other. It’s dizzying, unnerving, touched with magic: the pastoral becomes science fiction. Other antipodal pairings (Botswana’s wildlife to Hawaii’s volcanic moonscape), are less head-spinning, sometimes illustrative of the globe’s huge sameness: A Patagonian sheep farm is on the other side of the world from a Russian one. The world might be the star, but Kossakovsky’s camera is the revelation: With the easy drift of your dream-self taking flight, it soars, flips, dives, and seems to turn the globe itself. You’ll tumble with it.
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