There are not too many bad films in the Criterion Collection of classic dvd's, but every once in a while they really out-do themselves by bringing to light some forgotten or obscure gem from a remote corner of the world of cinema.
In the case of the new release "Science is FICTION - 23 films by Jean Painleve", that remote corner is actually underwater, as this collection of documentaries by the Frenchman Painleve takes the camera up close and personal into the murky lives of Sea Horses, Urchins, Hyas, Jellyfish, Shrimp, Octopus and other denizens of the deep.
Here is a photo of Painleve with his boxy underwater camera device. You really feel like this guy embodied Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek credo to "boldly go where no man has gone before".
It is hard to describe the unusual beauty of his work. They're like classroom educational films, but as if shot by Jean Cocteau, with moody new musical scores written especially for some of the shorts by Yo Lo Tengo.
Painleve was a scientist, but he was also an artist with a highly developed aesthetic sense. The films defy any sort of easy genre categorization, which is why they come as such a welcome antidote today.