Wednesday, February 19, 2014


The collaborators behind the celebrated "Qatsi" trilogy - director Godfrey Reggio and composer Philip Glass - reunite for the much less successful new photo album "Visitors."

In one of the best concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, the L.A. Phil two summers ago performed the soundtrack to "Powaqqatsi" (my favorite of the three) while the film played in its entirety on strategically placed screens. What's missing in this picture is the constant movement that energized "Powaqqatsi" and its more celebrated predecessor, "Koyaanisqatsi," and those films' profound sense of human interconnectedness. 

Reggio aims to recapture some of that mystique, I think, in extended shots of human faces (and, unsubtly, the face of a lowland gorilla) staring into the camera. But this works even less well than a book of photographs, actually, because we mostly wonder whether they're going to give in and blink or, when they do provide a reaction, what stimulus has provoked it. Reggio bounces back and forth between these subjects and images of monolithic old buildings, abandoned amusement parks, a bayou, a dump, the Unisphere, the craters of the moon.

You may react on some level to some of the imagery, as you might with any picture book, but I found little here of intellectual interest, and while I only nodded off a few times, my friend spent more than half the runtime sound asleep (in the middle of the day). Despite Glass' always insistent music, "Visitors" is a failed experiment and a disappointment.

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