The Man From Earth
THE MAN FROM EARTH - 10/10
Yes, you read that right. A perfect score. OMG even I'm shocked.
What it's about:
John invites his fellow professor friends over for a final evening at his place before he sets off on early retirement. What starts out as an innocent get-together turns into a challenge of faith vs. logic as John entertains them with the possibility that he's been alive for 14,000 years.
THE MAN FROM EARTH spins one hell of a story that many will want to believe, and yet others will refuse to accept within the characters' reality. If anything is most impressive it is David Lee Smith's unflappable calmness and frank acceptance of telling his wild and convincing tale of a history that might never have been.
Stuck in a room with well educated professors from many fields of study, each of them has their go at poking holes into his story. However much they want to believe, the audacity of such a claim keeps these rational minds from fully coming to terms with the notion of John claiming to be what he is.
It starts out innocently enough, with friendly banter and a willingness to play along with his game. First comes the question of how it would be biologically possible. Then comes hypotheses on how much a person would learn over the ages, and as the sun goes down and night sets in, the tone of conversation darkens like the night sky.
Perhaps to some this story might be too "shallow" and unconvincing simply by the notion that what is said of history and other topics are easily found by any average bloke that enjoys learning. I don't mind that so much. John's stories and the questions raised don't require an endless list of proofs and in-depth analysis of what's being talked about... the touch-and-go of numerous topics are merely the set up for the story's main theme - the whole "what if?" of it all.
If something extraordinary and unbelievable were to happen - such as witnessing a haunting with your own eyes - and it goes against everything you believe with a scientific mind, how could you refute what you've observed? Some will accept it as supernatural, and someone else who experienced the same thing will find ways to rationalize it away - either to keep themselves from leaving their comfort zone of what they believe to be logical - or any number of other reasons to maintain a sense of order.
I was entranced with every minute of THE MAN FROM EARTH. Even if I was there listening and I refused to believe, I'd want to hear more and more of his stories simply because it's so fascinating to listen to. Throwing aside the heavier philosophical questions that were brought forth, I just enjoyed sitting by the fire in a cozy little room like the rest of the group, listening to a guy talk about cool stuff. Real or not.
What I look for in a movie before anything else is if I was entertained. A movie can be full of symbolism and/or heavy-handed allegory and other Big Ideas and Mumbo-Jumbo, but if I wasn't enjoying myself while being taught a lesson or having my brain picked, poked and prodded, then 99% of the time I don't give a shit about the deeper layers underneath. I am not typically inclined to respect a movie as "art" if it fails to be watchable. That's just not my thing.
THE MAN FROM EARTH hypnotized me. I have very few complaints. I'd make mention of the score; it was a little obtrusive in places, especially the beginning. I probably could have watched the whole thing without a note of music accompanying it. The video quality was crappy, but it didn't require any breakthrough cinematography or composition, to be honest. I also didn't believe one of the characters had "a second degree black belt". I have a few other things I could pick on, but every single movie I've ever seen has had something I didn't like.
So much was done right, that even some slightly awkward execution of the dialog didn't bother me much. It was like watching a stage play that was put to film, all the way down to the actual performances themselves. It was a little rough around the edges, but practical and effective enough for my satisfaction. I felt like I was a part of the group; as if the camera was me looking around the room all the time, but I wasn't saying anything because I just wanted to be a spectator and speculate internally what everyone else was actively inquiring about.
I can't recommend this movie highly enough. Perhaps I won't be as blown away if I saw it again; I don't care. Right now, after just watching it, I'm supremely satisfied with that hour and a half of my time.