From the Chicago Reader (April 12, 2002). — J.R.
Like Yasujiro Ozu’s features with seasonal titles, Alexander Sokurov’s hallucinatory video elegies tend to be so similar, even in their running times, that they blur together in memory. Elegy of a Voyage (2001, 47 min.) — which might be more idiomatically titled Elegy for a Voyage — is a journey, a dream, a first-person narrative (visibly as well as audibly) that evokes the 19th century, and a hypnotic study in textures relating to fog, snow, and water that often entails a breakdown in the usual divisions between color and black and white (as well as fiction and documentary). It was commissioned by the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, which asked Sokurov to look at a work of art in their collection “like a night watchman in a deserted museum.” By the time Sokurov creeps into the museum to reflect on Brueghel’s The Tower of Babel and seven other paintings, he seems to have trekked across substantial portions of his native Russia as well as the Helsinki harbor. I was less captivated by Laura Waddington’s minimalist video diary Cargo (2001, 29 min.), which uses many still and slow-motion shots and similarly fragmented narration to illustrate a trip she took from Venice to the Middle East on a freighter whose exploited crew was an international assortment of men without landing papers. I haven’t seen Snowdrift, the nine-minute entry by Swedish video maker Gunvor Nelson that rounds out the program. Columbia College Ludington Bldg., Saturday, April 13, 3:00.