SCIENCE IS FICTION: 23 FILMS BY JEAN PAINLEVE (director/writer: JEAN PAINLEVE; music: Yo La Tengo;  Runtime: 315; MPAA Rating: NR; The Criterion Collection; 2007-France-in French with English subtitles)

"Offers you all you might ask for in a nature film."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

French filmaker/scientist/inventor/surrealist JEAN PAINLEVE (1902-89) creates in this Criterion Collection 23 arty short films on nature, that are filmed so creatively on subjects ranging from marine life to astronomy that the film remains unclassifiable and even looks surreal at times. It reveals the wonder and beauty of organisms in both color and black and white films, letting us observe such things as the ordinary algae in a studious way we might not have seen it before, as well as the unique movements of sea urchins, the strange habits of the blood-sucking South American vampire bats and a close-up view on how jellyfish are born. It's sort of like watching an educational science film at school, one that's never boring and lets us freely observe nature as if it were performing its act under a microscope with the sometimes aid of trick photography. It's a highly recommended film that is both educational and entertaining, and offers you all you might ask for in a nature film. To add to your viewing pleasure, the Yo La Tengo rock group's background music on some of the films adds to the excitement. I would suggest not taking this lengthy compilation of short films in on only one sitting but stretching it out to many viewings. I think it becomes less of a strain that way.

REVIEWED ON 12/16/2012       GRADE: A

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"