Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actor: Spiritual Exercises
Director: Oliver Smolders
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Documentary
10 Films By Oliver Smolders in French with English Subtitles — 1. Adoration (1987) an annoymous film. — 2. Mort A Vignole (1998) a lonely film — 3. L'Amateur (1997) a pear shaped film — 4. La Philosophie Dans Le Boudoir (1991)... more »
Adolph Pinelad | Montreal, Quebec Canada | 05/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The works presented under the name of spiritual exercises are enigmatic explorations of the human spirit and its pathologies, its paroxysms, its delicate wonders and flaws. The filmmaker allows us to share his point of view in most of these short films, so we can evidence what it means to create cinema and to interact with the world through this medium.
Smolders portrays both the macabre and the divine, the mundane and the sublime, he explores death both as a transfiguration and as a dissolution into insignificance. The images we see follow these ideas, beautiful and horrible, but always sober in their depictions of the director's poetry.
We are offered a cinematic expression of subtlety, and through this very subtlety we are capable of experiencing poetry, or at least a window into it is provided, and it is up to us to take the time to gaze through it and assess what we find on the other side of the looking glass.
Film works such as these show how severely words can fail when it comes to the conveying of poetic messages. They evidence subject matters that when approached by the syntax of ordinary language, language itself finds itself lacking. Words do not always fail us, but there are some things beyond their grasp, things that cannot be expressed solely through them. These films reach out into this territory, calm yet unflinchingly. As we delve into Smolder's vision we can experience an understanding of that which is beyond words. But we also find here an abundance of words. A perfect mélange of discreet camera work and incisive language. We know that language fails us many times, but not here. Here, language is used to perfection as a complimentary element. It is a delight when Smolders uses words in his film. His words are worthy of standing on their own for literary achievement, but in conjugation with his beautiful on-screen images their puissance multiplies.
The films in this collection are perfect example of film used as something other than just a form of vulgar entertainment. It is also unpretentious. This is cinema as art, pure and simple, as all great art is. For the first time in a long time I found an auteur that uses cinema in a highly original form. But it all feels so familiar, it is in some senses nothing new, but at the same time you are stricken by the fascination of something truly unique. What all this paradox implies is that his work is excellent. He delves into abstraction from the concrete, which means that the forms one can evidence on screen are pure and not convoluted. This purity is charged by depth, penetrating insight into all that is human, sublime or abhorrent. In my opinion Smolders is not difficult to watch precisely do to this purity (at least none of the films presented here). Of course this will not appeal to people searching for mindless entertainment. These are films to share an experience with Olivier, to think, reflect, live a bit of poetry; an experience that gets harder and harder to come across these days:
Adoration (1987) b&w 15 min.
an anonymous film
Mort A Vignole (1998) b&w 25min.a lonely film
L'Amateur (1997) b&w 26min.a pear-shaped film
La Philosophie Dans Le Boudoir (1991) b&w 14 min.after D.A..F. de Sade
Pensees et Visions D'une tete Coupee (1991) color 26 min.a film for Antoine Wiertz
Ravissements (1991) b&w 7 min.after Saint Therese of Avila
Point de Fuite (1988) color 10 min.an educational film
L'Art D'Aimer (1985) color 15 min.a drama film in color.
Neuvaine (1984) b&w 30 min.a film to entertain chairs
Seuls (1989) b&w 12 min.children's portraits
I say nothing of the films. They speak for themselves and all attempts to refer to them would be absurd or a task not really intended for a simple review such as this. If you find this comment on the film confusing it is only because it is useless to attempt a description through our language, anything else would merely describe plots and ideas. Five out of five. Or more. Something to be seen, something to own."