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Two films I've reconsidered: Soderberg's _Solaris_ and Crowe's _Vanilla Sky_

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Jack Briggs, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Jun 3, 1999
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    Though I was initially not that impressed by the films, a number of rescreenings have provoked something of a change in my view of them. Now, with some confidence, I can say that I genuinely love one of them and I really, really like the other.

    Steven Soderbergh's Solaris, despite its generally lukewarm reception by critics and audiences, has much going for it. Though not perfect, the film, truly, is a very interesting adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's novel, free from much of the ponderousness of Tarkovsky's own 1972 adaptation. (Also, Soderbergh did not do a "remake" of the Tarkovsky effort; it is, rather, another adaptation.)

    Though one can quibble with the film's apparent setting in the near future (because, if we are talking about visiting a strange planet orbiting another star, then we cannot be talking about events in the "near" future -- it will be centuries before humanity ever travels beyond this Solar System, perhaps even thousands of years). However, if one is able to overlook that issue, there is much to like about Soderbergh's imagining of the events. George Clooney's Kelvin and Natascha McElhone's Rheya are at the heart of the story, with Kelvin viewing Solaris's replication of his dead wife as a means of undoing his own misrememberances of her. The story becomes his story in a way that it didn't in Tarkovsky's film. Too, Cliff Martinez's music lends to the atmospherics. In the end, the film is haunting.

    As for Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky, I have a confession to make: I have not seen the film upon which it is based -- Abre los Ojos -- and shares a star (Penelope Cruz). Perhaps my take on Vanilla Sky is thus flawed. But I do like the film. Tom Cruise, whether you like the man or not, does a superb job of playing an egotistical, happy-go-lucky head of a magazine publisher who meets a woman at his birthday party who also brings out in him a softer nature (Cruz's Sofia). Add to that a true femme fatale in Cameron Diaz's Julie, who takes Cruise's David Aames on, well, the "ride" of his life, and the film offers a gritty take on the world of a New York publishing exec' who seems to have the world at his command.

    One can even tell where the "fantasy" portion of the story -- the "vanilla sky" -- kicks in, on the morning when Aames is "awakened" on the street by Sofia.

    This film, like Soderbergh's, was not appreciated properly upon its initial release. But, now, it is gaining some deserved respect.

    At any rate, those are some thoughts to leave everyone with for today.
  2. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Nov 15, 2004
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    The basement of the FBI building
    I've never understood why Solaris didn't get a warmer critical reception.
  3. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

    Dec 28, 1998
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    I enjoyed Soderbergh's version of Solaris quite a bit when I first viewed it theatrically. It has been a number of years since my last viewing so my recollections are bit hazy. Generally though, I liked the overall tone of the enterprise and thought the casting worked well. As I recall the music was very atmospheric and was instrumental (heh) in setting the mood of the film.

    I've resisted seeing Vanilla Sky mostly because I am familiar with the storyline from several viewings of Alejandro Amenabar's excellent film Abre Los Ojos. As much as I have enjoyed Cameron Crowe's films over the years I tend to associate him with romance / comedic works so I suspect that part of my resistance is based on my "pigeon-holing" the director in those specific genres.

    I have no opinion of Vanilla Sky, but I definitely recommend a viewing of Abre Los Ojos. A superior thriller whose cultural differences (from my perspective) adds to the air of uncertainty.

    - Walter.
  4. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

    Nov 10, 2001
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    Real Name:
    Rex Bachmann
    Jack Briggs wrote (post #1):



    Absolutely! I had the exact same impression. "Great minds do think alike", as they say! The film grows on you each time you watch it. This was (is) one of the films I wanted to analyze closely under the rubric "What's Wrong with This Picture? S(ci-)F(i) Films That Should've Succeeded at the Box Office, but Didn't".

    Perhaps, if time permits, I can do it soon and others can join in with their own thoughts and candidates.


    An excellent score, which is integral to the outstandingness of the film. Interested parties should be aware that a European import is available of the film score from CDUniverse.com (or at least it was, the last time I looked for it).

    Welcome back! It's good to see the return of the voice of experience and reason to these forums/fora!
  5. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

    Jun 13, 2002
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    I love Solaris and have probably watched it 3 times. The problem is, I can never remember the movie! I can remember moments, but it's all hazy and vague. Maybe it deserves another viewing. Where's the Blu-ray? :)
  6. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

    Dec 28, 1998
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    Ive always liked both quite a bit.
  7. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

    Aug 20, 2000
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    I watched Soderbergh's Solaris once. I thought it was a decent enough film but, for me, it is one of those films with a low re-watch factor. I liked it much better than Tarkovsky's film though. I tried watching Tarkovsky's Solaris twice and both times I fell asleep. I highly recommend that film as a cure for insomnia. I also thought Vanilla Sky was good and picked up the DVD. I haven't watched it for some time now.

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