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An exploration of space and an architectural delight
WARNING- do not go to this film expecting some kind of "story".
Corpus Callosum is experimental director Martin Snow's latest "film". A feature length bonanza of crazy sights, outlandish color schemes, and visual puns that can be appreciated equally as an abstract comedy or a playful recapitulation of the artist's career.
From the opening reverse zoom to a series of 360-degree pans to the final line animation created by Snow (way back in 1956), Corpus Callosum plays like a cocaine fuelled cross between Brian De Palma's "Snake Eyes" and Tati's "PlayTime".
Every single image in the film is stretched, squeezed, or flipped. Even the cast are zapped by all manners of gross and subtle digitalized distortions. The actors are almost transformed into cartoon characters, at one point one guy even managing to tie another in a knot.
Space is similarly malleable. Is the camera panning, or is the image being subjected to some sort of digital pull? Are we looking up or are we looking down? Is the camera tracking forward or is the set rolling back at us? It's like being in a carnival amusement park.
And then there's the film's credits and title, which bizarrely pops up halfway into the film. Odd, and yet it fits perfectly.
After assailing the zoom in "Wavelength" and the pan and tilt in "Back and Forth", Snow here seems content to let his camera track softly through modern office spaces on the upper floor of a tall building. But this is no ordinary space. When Snow's tracking camera comes to a wall, it passes right through and keeps on tracking, sometimes leading us into a new space, sometimes taking us back to where we started. The illusion, as in "Wavelength" and "Back and Forth," is of an uninterrupted cinematic continuum of time and space, when in fact we are watching a series of individual shots, cut together and, at times, superimposed on one another, to create the effect.
The last sequence, where a couple enter a theatre and watch a scene from the film they're in, is particularly affecting. Snow seems to be saying that no matter how much we know about ourselves or our tiny world, we keep going back to repeat the same useless, silly motions over and over again (the cartoon segment was made 50 years ago, and one of the reasons the movie never seems condescending is because Snow acknowledges his own repetition).
The film is a triumph because, within the silliness and the contortions, we come out feeling like we've woken up to the looping nature of our own lives. Like we know something new about ourselves.
8/10 Pretty cool and unique.
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