'Presents'

Michael Snow has been a mainstay of the avant-garde since his early film "Wavelength," with its astonishing 45-minute zoom across a mostly empty room. Sad to report, his latest --Presents (pronounce it either way) --doesn't hold up. The beginning is brilliant, as actors play a scene where the stagem moves (rather than the camera) to change from shot to shot. Eventually the camera protests and comes right into the action, bulldozing everything in sight, and amusingly demolishing our notions of movie space. Then the film goes downhill -- as Snow continues to fracture space -- by linking a wide diversity of shots into a long visual chain. The shots are uninspired, while the cuts and connections seem merely arbitrary. Worse, each change is punctuated with a sort of drumbeat. Do I detect the influence of minimalist composer Steve Reich, a friend of Snow's and a great talent, whose ideas of "gradual process" are unfortunately misplaced here? Music and movies have a lot in common, but "Presents" mis ses the sundry points it apparently wants to make.

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