*** Official "SOLARIS" Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Robert Crawford, Nov 27, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "Solaris". Please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.
    All HTF member film reviews of "Solaris" should be posted to the Official Review Thread.
    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I went to check out the general reviews at Rotten Tomatoes after writing mine. I have to say that many of them said the same things I did, so I guess I wasn't crazy (or stupid [​IMG] ) after all.
    However, I do think Owen Gleiberman totally missed the point. The film is subtle about it's themes, but I kept noticing very certain lines that clearly brought forth one philosophical view on the subject matter or another. The film asks many questions in this manner, but it doesn't go back and repeat itself (which is nice).
    There are questions like how any "real" humans define themselves as real. And the metaphorical aspects between Solaris and god were very strongly played within the film.
    To find that in any way comparable to Ghost of all films is ridiculuous IMO. As I said in my review, the questions being asked here are much more akin to those asked by 2001 rather than Ghost. If you get Ghost out of this film, then you are focusing way too much on the "primary" storyline (it really isn't but on the surface it is).
    And it also means you totally skipped the end of the film. [​IMG]
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'll be checking this film out in a couple of days, but first up is Standing in the Shadows of Motown.
    Edit: The original "Solaris" is being shown on Turner Classic Movies this Friday @ 9:30 p.m. ET.
    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    There's quite an existential bent to the film. Can we trust not only our senses for what is real or not, but can we trust our feelings and affinity for another being, regardless of what makes up that persona. I'd almost akin it to some form of internet romance where the only form of communication is letters typed on a computer screen. The words and sentences embody ideas and emotions that somehow find a way to the other person's head and heart, their core of existence. But with no physical-ness to contribute to the connection, the connection is made nonetheless. Why? What sparks that euphoric feeling when that connection is made? What gives it meaning to both parties? You can't quantify it, but it exists nonetheless. Why? Who knows, but it happens. It is real? Is it only within our consciousness? At what point do we dare to venture out of our sphere of influence?
     
  5. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Better than Tarkovsky's?
    Wow, Jason, once I see the new one we are going to revisit that comment. [​IMG]
     
  6. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  7. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    A question for those who have seen Solaris.
    I'm debating whether to actually spend the time and money to see this in theater (something I don't do trivially). The advertising campaigns have done a "Jekyll and Hyde", presenting it as a romance on one network or other (such as NBC), or as "science fiction" elsewhere (such as the SciFi Network).
    Good sf can, indeed, be "existential", but, frankly, if 60% or 70% of the movie is full of earthbound flashbacks of lovers ogling each other and exchanging "sweet nothings", I'll pass.
    I know Mr. Clooney has made some disparaging remarks about the ad-campaign (to the effect that the movie won't be successfully sold on the sex/romance angle).
    How "science-fictional" is this movie? By that, I'm asking: does it give the "feel" throughout the majority of the story that we're really somewhere else (not Earth)? Does the planet Solaris actually play a part in this story as if it were a "character", as I understand is the case in the novel (which I, unfortunately, haven't had a chance to read)? Or, is it just "there" as background? In other words, how "subtle" is "subtle"?
     
  8. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    While there are flashbacks to the "romance", it is primarily because they are essential to the story. The film never plays hardline romance (in terms of music, style), though you will catch 1 scene that should strongly remind you of the main romantic scene in Out of Sight.

    But most of the time the film is playing pretty hard at SF from the 70's - that disjointed emotional feeling, not unlike Running Silent or something.

    Solaris itself is the primary backdrop and is constantly being visually referred to which helps maintain the other world experience.

    But at the same time Soderbergh is not shoving future tech in your face. Even when they build a device it is DISCUSSED with good science terms, but none of its construction nor use is actually shown.


    I would say that in the end you should find the flashbacks to be much more about the underlying SF rather than about character estblishment, though it plays it like it might be a character thing. I don't want to say more because it could spoil the film a bit for you, but give consideration to the memories, the flashback scenes, and what they mean to the present.


    SPOILERS past this point Rex


    I thought the most interesting subject breached was the idea of communication with your creater. Rheya has the speech referring to her desire to interact with Solaris since it created her, her need to understand what purpose it had in mind for her. Obviously Solaris is her god for all practical purposes.
     
  9. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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  10. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    If you are on the fence about seeing this film in the theaters, don't dawdle.

    There were exactly 5 people in the theater when I saw it at the 5 p.m. Wedneday showing. It will not do well at the box office, so it might last 1-2 weeks before getting pulled for the rest of the holiday films opening in December.
     
  11. Guy_K

    Guy_K Second Unit

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    I haven't gotten a chance to see this yet, but whether I like it or not, I applaud Hollywood's decision to take a risk and back an intelligent science fiction film.
     
  12. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    I thought it was rather good, but I'm still on the fence as to how good.
    The movie has some very good hard SF in it, but is far from a technical film. More focus is given to the philosophical content, to the point that it could be earth bound (such as on an island) and still be serviceable.
    The technical elements are presented in a very logical and useable way, to include the earthbound tech, which feels updated, but not far disconnected with current technology. I could see myself living in their environment.
    A good movie that moved briskly (I didn't feel three hours, which is a good sign). Just not sure if it's really good or not.
     
  13. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Also, Solaris is getting clobbered ($500 per screen average on opening day). It's not an easy sell, as either a philosophical movie or a science fiction movie, but the romance angle is a total failure. Too vague to be compelling and too little of the actual story to be credible.
     
  14. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    I'm still digesting the film, but my initial impression is that I wish the film had spent more time exploring its themes, or had delved deeper into the questions that it had raised. Perhaps the filmmakers felt that American audiences don't have the patience to warrant a longer film with little in the way of action. (??) Despite that criticism, I'll give the film credit for actually attempting to be a thinking piece that has the ambition to raise questions.
    I enjoyed all of the performances, but especially Natascha McElhone - who perhaps had the most difficult role in the film. The film's visual style is reminiscent of some of director Soderbergh's earlier efforts and was very effective. I really admired the film's look and I expect that Solaris will receive an Academy Award nomination for cinematography, and perhaps editing. Also worth noting is the score by Cliff Martinez which did an admirable job of setting the mood of the various scenes in the film.
    The references to 2001: A Space Odyssey were kind of fun to spot, but a little distracting. There were a number of them in the film.
    Some of the questions raised by the film were quite interesting, particularly how our perceptions and memories of others influence their identity or behavior. My favorite line in the film, which neatly summed up Kelvin's dilemma was -
    "There are no answers. Only choices."
    - Walter.
     
  15. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    From here on out, when I talk about “material”, I am not referring to the original source novel by Stanislaw Lem but the end product as it appears on this new film. And, more importantly, these are my views.
    I was hoping he too would post one of his longer essays on the film expanding on his problems with the film (hopefully, he is still working on one). But from his comments above, which amounts to no more than a 4-sentence review, he couldn’t be more succinct. [​IMG]
    ~Edwin
     
  16. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Well, God bless him. Rosenbaum just posted his longer review and he is even more unkind to Solaris than I am. He rewarded it one star (out of four), while I gave it two.
    His comments:
     
  17. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Screenwriter

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    Without being an avid sci-fi reader, I've wondered why some supposedly hardcore sci-fi genre films are labeled as such. This is the case with Solaris. The questions it poses--including how we love and feel, subjective perspective versus objective truth, and many more Patrick alluded to--are not uncommon in non-science fiction films. Other films may use the devices of dreams, identity crisis, drugs, alternate universes, and so on to pose these philosophical questions, just as Solaris uses an alien planet/power. The confrontation with the unknown is more of a confrontation with oneself's consciousness than the planet.

    While I tend to agree that many of the issues are not developed or presented enough in Solaris, it was effective enough to provoke them from me. In addition to the usual Soderbergh editing style, here he often sets up two-shots that contain only one character in each frame. Chris' actual flashbacks contain many images that have both lovers within the same shot, but his interaction with the Solaris-created Rheya mostly contains reverse shots of them alone; often using direct point of view shots to see the other, too. This directorial decision emphasizes on the image that Chris' mind percieves rather than the actually object. Like this choice, I felt most of the stylistic choices Soderbergh makes was fitting to the story.
     
  18. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Still think its “standard boilerplate”?

    Like it or not, I just call ‘em as I see ‘em.

    ~Edwin
     
  19. Travis Brashear

    Travis Brashear Screenwriter

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    Can I please, please, please have my money back? This faux-2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, I've-seen-more-stirring-and-emotional-romantic-storylines-on-"Beverly-Hills-90210" piece of freshman-film-school-grade, art-house tripe stole it from me...
     
  20. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I appreciate your additional comments, Edwin, as well as your posting of Rosenbaum's, but you've left me at an utter loss as to what to make of this film. I guess I'll have to see it after all! [​IMG]
    What perplexes me - and finally encourages me to some extent - is how your take on the film is so fundamentally opposed to Rosenbaum's, and yet unfortunately you both come to the same negative conclusion. I'm surprised that you dislike the source so much (film and book, or just one or the other?), and even more surprised that you'd describe it as "lightweight", and finally flummoxed by your statement that Soderbergh & Co. at least attempt to aim higher than the "lightweight material they have on hand" would allow. Perhaps it's hope alone that allows me to cling to such shreds as Rosenbaum's backhanded, uh, "compliment": "The story's too strong for Soderbergh to kill"!
    I guess the first, truly negative detail that set me to doubting the possibilities of Soderbergh's remake is what seems to be an impossibly brief running time. I mean, 99 minutes? I presumed, of course, that all the languid, dreamy evocations of eternal longing, the blissed-out ruminations on the nature of love and humanity, the extended reveries on past memories and persons, all folding in upon themselves, mixing and reorienting in Kelvin's mind... all this would surely be lost, I thought. The requisite measured pacing, the ability for the audience to experience and reflect, to stretch that moment of ephiphany to the point where time seems to stop and revolve about it (given vivid representation in the "weightlessness scene" in Tarkovsky's version)... none of this, I'd imagine, could be evoked in such a short film.
    But, again, responses seem to differ. You say, for example "The style and type of narrative they use to tell their story is very unfitting. By using this slow plodding process, they have literally created a different type of film", whereas Rosenbaum backhands Soderbergh once again for doing just the opposite, employing the "theoretical" advantage of "terseness", noting that Soderbergh's film is only about half as long as Tarkovsky's and much shorter than the time it would take to read Lem's brief novel, and then thumps him one last time by turning his heartfelt drama into a game: "Viewers can have a bit of fun watching him try to squeeze the essence out of Tarkovsky's meditative poetry."
    Ack!
    But, again, what am I to make of this? You criticize it for being "slow plodding", and Rosenbaum reserves his harshest sarcasm for its "terseness", even starting his review by comparing it to Monarch Notes (like "Cliff's Notes" for you young'uns). And to further cloud the waters, Jason prefers Soderbergh's version to Tarkovsky's, noting that he "really felt that extra hour in Tarkovsky's version", whereas Walter felt it should have invested more time in exploring its themes.
    OK, no more rank speculation from me! I've been waiting a long time for this film, I've seen Tarkovsky's version twice in the last month (and more times than I can count previously), and I even watched the Soderbergh/Clooney "Out of Sight" last night. I'm primed. I'm excited. My pencils are sharpened and awaiting the opportunity to praise or condemn. No more from me till then! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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