Chicago Sun-Times - 08/15/1997
"...The understated simplicity is intertwined with a breathtaking beauty that is meditative and thrilling..."
Christopher Münch's quiet, evocative COLOR OF A BRISK AND LEAPING DAY tells the beautifully elegiac story of a young man's attempt to grab a piece of the past from a stultifyingly impersonal modern world. John Lee (Peter Alexander) has loved trains all his life, often relating the story of his Chinese grandfather's early days helping build the first railroads in America. When John discovers that the Yosemite River Valley line has closed down, he is determined to bring it back from the dead by making it the best way to travel to the national park. But he soon discovers that dreams often come at a heavy price.
Münch's film is bathed in retro black and white and features long dialogue-free scenes that make it look and feel like an old silent documentary, moving at a refreshingly slow pace as John struggles to find a ridership with Albert Robinson (the wonderful Henry Gibson) and Skeeter (played with offbeat understatement by R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe) by his side. Meanwhile, John's relationship with Nancy (Jeri Arredondo), a Native American park ranger, blossoms even as his railroad woes deepen and threaten to overwhelm him. This stunning film, featuring the powerful piano music of Erik Satie dominating the soundtrack, is marvelous in its simplicity.