|Index||4 reviews in total|
This film is PURE GENIUS. It is a comedic intellectual orgasm. Do I
need to say more? No, but I will, this is a film of a one-woman show by
Tomlin- In a strict film standard, it is easy to find flaws because it's a
play and not a film- but I refuse to narrow it to such a confined
This is not about rules of film, rules of reviewing filmed plays, this is
about an experience, and as experiences go, it will bring you to heights
unknown- you don't see this as much as it sees "you."
Tomlin makes you think, she makes you laugh, and she makes you human. I've never been exposed to anything quite like it.
The only real weakness I see is in structure- there is a long section dealing with feminism that appears out of place, but it is only out of place because all the other pieces are short and your mind is accustomed to the pace of the performances proceeding it- when a section comes out of nowhere being extended, your mind interferes with an awareness that this is being carried out longer than all the others and you wonder why- so your own thoughts intrude upon it- interrupting your enjoyment. It's not that the "feminist" part is any less brilliant- but it makes you separate it from the rest- which, in my view, is a misstep and a disservice to the entirety of the performance.
But that's a small mumble compared to what you get out of it. These words-this performance is what the word "art" was first imagined to mean. It's a masterpiece- one of the great works of art in the last thirty years- this will only build in reputation- it's a thinker's paradise- a cathedral of thought and perception- as clever as Voltaire and as meaningful as Rousseau. Your search has ended.
A brief note about the title. I watched it on a DVD distributed by
Laugh.com (so it says on the DVD surface), rented from Blockbuster.com.
The title on the surface is The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in
the Universe. I know this is not the original title; that the original
title is intentionally misspelled. However, the opening credits of the
video itself list it as The Search for Signs of Inteligint Life in the
Universe. That is, the video's opening credits have the last vowel in
'intelligent' as an 'i', rather than an 'e', as IMDb has it. If this
opening sequence is original to the production, not tacked on later,
then IMDb's title is erroneous. I tried to add this variant at least as
an alternate title, but it appears I lack the privileges to do this. So
I've submitted this note. Should anybody who has the ability to make
changes see this, please investigate further & make corrections as
A bravura piece, by the way.
Actually, far from a great film in terms of technique arbitrarily
cross cutting between Lily Tomlin on stage, without costumes or sets
(and oddly, also without an audience, but with over the top sound
effects) and her playing the same characters in costumes and on sets
(some naturalistic, some stylized).
For me it was a clunky and distracting approach.
However, the writing is so great and Tomlin's performance as her different characters is so memorable, so funny and so touching, that even a damaged version of this amazing one- woman show is better than none, by a long shot.
It's easy to see what made Lily Tomlin's popular one-woman stage show a successful theatre piece. But the belated big screen version distracts attention away from her chameleon-like skill with characters (created using only her voice and body language) by cutting at random from the actress alone on stage to Tomlin, in costume, portraying the characters against some stylized backdrops. At best it's an annoying attempt to open up the play with a lot of self-conscious cinematic 'style', but the material doesn't need all the visual hype. The impression is given that the filmmakers either didn't trust the material to stand on its own merits (unlikely, since Tomlin and writer Jane Wagner were the executive producers), or couldn't trust movie audiences to sit still for the entire length of an unembellished one-woman show. Thankfully, the memorable sequence condensing twenty years of feminist history into a ten-minute triple biography emerges unscathed, highlighting the balance of insight, humor and pathos missing elsewhere in the film.
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