Awfully strange, but it has its moments.
Generally when I see a videotape that has a come-on phrase like "A superbly sensual experience," I take a wild guess that it will be jam-packed with images of naked women. So, *Aria* is kind of a no-brainer. This movie is obviously not going to appeal to afficianados of classical music--the "videos" are generally a little too sophomoric or melodramatic; so the target audience is guys who want to see plenty of naked women. I would recommend this film to anyone who has watched the Annenberg/CPB project "French in Action" series, because the ravishingly beautiful girl who plays Mireille doffs all her clothing in a sublimely ridiculous sequence involving bodybuilders. One or two of the pieces really do work on an artistic level. The "Liebestod" piece is mournful, tragic, and very affecting; "La Virgine degli Angeli" is chillingly beautiful; and "Depuis la Jour" is downright heartbreaking. But the rest run the gamut from silly (Robert Altman's time-wasting sequence; the Buck Henry bit) to completely awful ("Die Tote Stadt" features the most terrible job of lip-synching ever--but hey, there's a naked girl!; the weightlifting sequence hardly plays any music and makes absolutely no sense--but hey, there are *two* naked girls!). The biggest travesty is the inclusion of "Nessun Dorma," possibly the most beautiful piece of music ever composed, in a video that looks like Mister Rogers' nightmares. Although it has its moments, *Aria* is basically a chance for these directors to show a lot of female flesh and justify it as art.
- Nov 2, 1998
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