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Yakov Smirnoff
'Samsara' a study in contrasts ★★★
'Samsara' a study in contrasts ★★★

Gorgeous and a tiny bit bubble-headed, full of ancient ruins and marvelous faces and time-lapse landscapes of crazed LA freeways in action, "Samsara" takes its title from a Sanskrit word that translates, roughly, to "the ever-turning wheel of life." The wheel spins; humankind's stewardship of Earth continues to provoke debate and wonderment and gradual or rapid ruination. If there's a moral here, it is simply: Be careful. "Samsara" may not give audiences much more than an expansive nonverbal variation on the old Yakov Smirnoff catchphrase. But honestly: What a planet! They are not all the same movie, but "Koyaanisqatsi" (1983) and its...

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