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Level Five

Director:  Chris Marker
Year Released:  1997
Rating:  2.5

Our most notable cinematic essayist continues his fascination with Japan and technology and memory, reviewing details of the horrific Battle of Okinawa during World War II, the human recollections of the conflict and the possibility of machines recording and remembering the history that may be too painful for human memory to store. There are your standard Marker allusions to other films (Oshima's documentaries, Preminger's Laura and Hitchcock's Vertigo) but there's also, once again, his tendency to indulge in windy meditations that break up the film's flow, particularly the segments with "Laura" (Catherine Belkhodja), a computer programmer, which threaten to drag the film to a painful halt. To his credit, though, it's almost as if Marker's alone out there (with maybe the exception of a few other experimental filmmakers, like Peggy Ahwesh) in challenging/analyzing the link between the cinema and computers/games/technology, and his pictures - even in this age of DVDs - are difficult to find. The tag "avant-garde" is overused and doesn't properly apply to many, but this man is unmistakably ahead of his time.

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