Megalopolis, which screens tonight at 6:45 p.m. at the Starz FilmCenter as part of the Denver Film Festival, is, nominally, a documentary. But it’s a documentary without a specific point to make -- a documentary that revels in the details while leaving the big picture or message ambiguous and undefined. It fuses gorgeous cinematography of six of the world’s biggest megacities with slice-of-life vignettes from a selection of diverse denizens from those cites. Framing the whole thing are excerpts from an array of classic science-fiction authors – William Gibson, Philip K. Dick, George Orwell, J.G. Ballard and others – that illuminate the futuristic super-cities the film looks at.
The whole effect is somewhat dizzying, a surreal and kaleidoscopic procession of images and ideas that does an excellent job of creating a suitably complex image of these cities -- one that is both soul-crushingly bleak and glamorously exciting. That panoramic vision, coupled with the stirring, dramatic music and the mellifluous Italian narration, makes for an enchanting aesthetic experience that is somewhat tempered by the frequently dismal lives of some of the people in it. The net effect is a compelling, if somewhat melancholy, vision of the sprawling, untidy and magnificent realities of the world’s biggest cities. -- Cory Casciato