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Visitors  (2014)
3 Stars
Directed by Godfrey Reggio.
2014 – 87 minutes
Not Rated (nothing objectionable).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, June 9, 2014.
A gorilla, its face framed in close-up, looks into the lens. In sped-up footage, clouds float above a high-rise building, the sun dappling the concrete. The metal globe from the New York World's Fair of 1964-65 in Flushing, Queens, still spins. Over 238,000 miles away from Earth, the moon continues to orbit as the camera travels across its cratered surface. In its first four shots, "Visitors" reveals a scope spanning no less than the universe itself, the texture and form of its stark, majestic black-and-white imagery a volumes-speaking language without words. In Godfrey Reggio's fourth feature-length collaboration with composer Philip Glass—following 1983's "Koyaanisqatsi," 1988's "Powaqqatsi," and 2002's "Naqoyqatsi"—the filmmaker continues with another non-spoken narrative built from a montage of images, less an intellectual documentary than an experiential work that survives on the unique emotion it elicits in each viewer. Comprised of 74 individual shots, each one lasting just over a minute, the picture provides exactly what we so choose to take from it.

A collection of human faces, each revealing a wave of beautifully subtle expressions, are interspersed with visual snapshots of an abandoned amusement park, fog-enshrouded marshlands, shadows cast across buildings, a landfill and birds in flight. In one mesmerizing slow-motion segment, a group of people are observed as they sit in what appears to be a stadium, reacting to the unspecified sport they are watching. What "Visitors" might lack in focal-point diversity, it makes up for with the poetic resplendence of Graham Berry's, Trish Govoni's and Tom Lowe's incisive photographic eyes. The results are entrancing, reminding of a thought-provoking media art exhibit exemplifying the antithesis of Hollywood moviemaking. The film has a rhythm all its own, but those adventurous cinephiles looking for something different will get it here, nature, humanity and man-made pursuits unmistakably breeding in a thought-provoking mélange about the phenomenon of existence.
© 2014 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman