Heaven | Chicago Reader

Heaven

Diane Keaton's question-and-answer collage about where everyone wants to go after passing through the eye of a needle, consisting of interviews with all varieties of believers (from true to non), as well as old clips from Hollywood visions of paradise. Whatever else heaven is, it's a cultural black hole, an all-purpose trash compactor where the flotsam of ideas accumulates and takes on metaphoric mass. Keaton's obviously aware of this, though she doesn't provide the structure to handle the insight, and her film comes off as slack and haphazard, more tentative than fully thought out. Still, it's a fascinating study, less complacent than it first appears, and the bizarre stylization, with ritual repetitions of images and themes, creates a strange kind of Joseph Cornell resonance, part junk collector's fantasy, party kitschy archetype. Some of the laughs come cheap, and Frederick Elmes's cinematography has everyone looking like an Eraserhead refugee, but there's more epistemological grist here than immediately meets the eye.

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