(On DVD, August 2010) Words fail to explain the sheer tedium felt while trying to watch this film. An ugly mix of black-and-blue cinematography, trashy set design and muddled plot elements, Eden Log at times feels like a deliberate attempt to antagonize as many members of the audience as possible. A mostly-silent film in which one speaking actor (Clovis Cornillac, good despite the film) navigates a run-down environment in a succession of slow and moody vignettes, it’s best watched with a far more interesting book in hand, so that you can spend your time doing something useful while the thin mush of SF elements glacially drips out during something pretending to be a plot. Never mind the misogyny, misanthropy, paranoia and lack of imagination of the script: Eden Log is a series of atmospheric set-pieces featuring one guy caked in mud. As such, at often works pretty well, especially given what feels like a dollar-store budget: The oppressive feeling of the film is powerful enough to be repulsive in general. As a narrative, though, it’s twice (maybe thrice) as long as it needs to be, and so never kindles along any kind of lasting interest. French SF movies often have the tendency to look good while not actually being any good: Eden Log is no exception, albeit it is definitely weaker than most other recent French-SF films. (It shares many problems with near-contemporary Dante 01, including a bad script co-written by SF writer Pierre Bordage) And if you’re hoping for a longer review, forget it: I don’t even want to think any longer about this movie.
(On DVD, August 2010) It’s surprising how quickly promise can turn to pretention: While the first minutes of Dante 01 promise a stylish horror/SF hybrid set on an isolated space station (one that is dedicated to hosting mentally unstable criminals, no less), this promise soon turns to nonsense as the pseudo-profound dialogue piles up and the film devolves into repetitive hocus-pocus. With acclaimed cinematographer Marc Caro directing and writing (along with French SF writer Pierre Bordage), it’s no surprise if the film often looks interesting: Despite what feels like a small budget, there are a few interesting visual ideas in the mix. Sadly, they are not founded on anything nearly as interesting in terms of story: The protagonist is sort of a mute/amnesic magical mystery box with powers that pop up whenever needed, precipitating (after many repetitive cycles) a ridiculously overlong metaphysical ending that really wants to echo 2001: A Space Odyssey without deserving it. The last two minutes are a loop of three sequences (two of them mirrored) repeated over and over again in the hope to pummel the audience in an unquestioning stupor. It’s… daring, but it doesn’t work, much like the convoluted freshman-grade hellish references that pepper the script, or the dull jabs at a corporate medical conspiracy. As far as SF/horror hybrids go, Dante 01 isn’t even as good as Supernova, let alone anything better. Its visual polish ensure that it’s not completely uninteresting, but home viewers may find themselves gravitating toward more interesting things to do while the film repeats itself tediously over 90 minutes.