My review of the excellent Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith is over at Flickering Myth now… also below…
A meditative and blissfully soothing piece of art cinema, Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F Percy Smith is a 55 minute tribute to the work of the pioneering microbiologist, inventor, artist and filmmaker. Released on dual format DVD and Blu-ray by the BFI, the release is essentially a Staples’s creatively selected montage of Smith’s defined and elegant films of flora and fauna. Making use of previously untested techniques of time-lapse, animation and micro-photographic elements, Smith was part artist and part scientist, constantly looking for new ways to describe the secrets of nature.
With the true commitment of a hobbyist (Smith initially developed his film techniques part-time while working as a clerk), Smith found brilliant methods of showcasing the world just beyond our senses. The film, sharing that clarity and vision, beautifully brings about the energy and passion of his work. Graceful images of insects dancing and flying about alien seeming landscapes are wonderfully sound-tracked by the composers, and help to create a powerfully relaxing effect. This alien-ness is intensified by the fact that there are no human voices at all in the film and no narrative to bring context to what the audience is witnessing. Simply put, it is life. And as alien and dreamlike as it all is, there is always the knowledge that all of this is around us all off the time. Mesmerising stuff.
Eight short films from the Secrets of Nature series, made by both F. Percy Smith and his fellow filmmaker Mary Field.
Find more information on Minute Bodies at www.minutebodies.com
My review of the fantastic Gravity is over at ExBerliner and reprinted below…
Outer space, cinema and feelings of awed humility have always experienced an intrinsic link. From Méliès’s 1902 A Trip to the Moon through Kubrick’s 2001 and Tarkovsky’s Solaris right up to Duncan Jones’ recent Moon, this connection has never been broken. The greatest picture show in the universe lies above us; post-global pollution – we just have to go to the cinema to catch it.
Following medical engineer Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) and astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) during a space shuttle exercise that goes drastically wrong, the film benefits from two Hollywood stars at the top of their game and a technical production that is truly breath-taking.
With Gravity, Cuarón takes the possibilities of cinema portrayal of space exploration to new heights. Essentially, cinema space has never been as deep or as evocative as this. It attempts to describe the indescribable, the feelings that a human has when they find themselves drifting off into an endless abyss of nothing, with nothing to motivate them except an animalistic sense of survival. It is the realisation one feels that for all our achievements and bright ideas we are but microbes in the wider scheme of things.
This might make Gravity sound depressing. It isn’t. Light years away from that. It is life-affirming in the best possible sense, bringing into sparkling 3D the fact that what we do does matter. The connections we make and the memories we hold keep us alive. Highly recommended.