LA Weekly March 1-7, 1985

Pick of the Week
An image from Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi.


In the space of two days, on one channel, we have the opportunity to view two of the most innovative motion pictures of the past few years. And I believe that, exactly as Koyaanisqaatsi and Diva enlightened the movie-goer, exactly as they provided him with a new avenue of seeing, they will unnerve and excite the casual television viewer. We are accustomed to watching television with one hand on the remote control – now, put the remote control down and witness:
Koyaanisqaatsi, Godfrey Reggio’s catalogue of the ills of industrial man, collected in flamboyant montages of streets, faces, machines, and landscapes. There are no words, no plot, no easy condemnations of Western culture – just the exhilarating spectacle of the United States in all its ugliness and glory, and Philip Glass’ over-arching, awe-inspiring music.

Diva, Jean-Jacques Beineix’s infuriating, amusing aria on the pleasures of style. If ever there was a film worthy of condemnation as decadent bourgeois entertainment, this is the one. It is a deliriously empty-headed thriller that, almost like Koyaanisqaatsi, relies on a complicated , gaudy series of tracking shots and odd editing rhythms for its power. With its odd blend of Ken thinking, trashy art direction and deadpan comedy, Diva is merely entertainment for the enlightened, a Baba Ram ball that’s guaranteed to rot your brain if you suck on it too long.

How will these mutant children of cinema fare on the small screen? At the very least they will reassure those of us who have given up on going out that home video is not the answer to our cinematic ills. What we need is new blood, and Reggio and Beineix are giving until it hurts. (Koyaanisqaatsi, TV 28, Fri., Mach 1, 9-10:30 p.m.; Diva, TV 28, Sat., March 2, 10 p.m.-mid.)

-Michael Auerbach

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