Powaqqatsi

In which director Godfrey Reggio decides his real talent is portraiture. Here he embarks on a visual quest that, early on, sort of combines Sebastiao Salgado‘s social-documentary photography with Leni Riefenstahl’s celebrations of human physical achievement (in Olympia). The rest of the film settles in the cities, where vulgar SimCity apartment blocks have been clone-brushed across the landscape like so many Legos. There are a few real visual flourishes, including some lovely dissolves, but Reggio’s unadorned images feel too much like poverty tourism (these people! their labors! their noble souls!), and his cause isn’t helped enough by the Philip Glass score, which is brimming with specific cultural referents but still comes off in this jumbled context like a high-end Putumayo “world music” compilation. It’s also a good 11 minutes longer than the much superior Koyaanisqatsi, which was a bad call.

For my long review of The Qatsi Trilogy, visit FilmFreakCentral.net.

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