Just like that other Anderson from the United States, there's not point in denying that Roy Andersson tends to make films that resemble each other, and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, his Leone d'Oro winner from the 2014 Venice Film Festival, does pretty much exactly the same things as 2000's Songs from the Second Floor and 2006's You, the Living, and it it does them in pretty much exactly the same way. Long takes of barely-moving scenes, sudden eruptions of po-faced absurdism, and the whole thing would be suicidally depressing if it the comic timing weren't flawless. Third verse, same as the first.

Or is it? Whether I'm just starting to feel diminishing returns, or whether Andersson is slowly running out of inspiration, the one clear difference between Pigeon and its two forerunners in his trilogy of modern life is that it's not as good as they are. Which is a very different thing than saying it's not good, period, and I laughed heartily, many times, throughout the film, and was then cut off cold, many times, by the mordant shifts in perspective and tone. It's virtually impossible to imagine anyone who responded to the other films not liking this one at all, or even liking this one a whole lot. But comparatively, it lacks the passionate fire they possessed in such quantity; there are many handfuls individual shots and gags I could recite in loving detail from the first two movies, but the scene from Pigeon that lives strongest in my memory does not do so because I admire it the most (though a repeating motif involving 18th Century King Karl XII of Sweden, played by Viktor Gyllenberg, imposing upon the confused patrons of a rundown portside bar in the 2010s does give me enormous pleasure as I roll it around in my head).

Still, if we free it from the tyranny of having to live up to the standards of two of the most brilliant, idiosyncratic comedies of the 2000s, Pigeon is a fine piece of work on its own merits. The crawling pace of the static long shots - which are frequently exteriors or otherwise not beholden to the "this is a shadowbox in a room" staging of the earlier films, and that gives things a nice sense of sprawl - is absolutely perfect in establishing the film's erratic humor, and telling us how to appreciate it: first you're confused, then you're repulsed, and eventually the stiff stillness becomes hilarious. Or it doesn't. This is, beyond doubt, the kind of material that appeals to a very particular audience, and I think Songs from the Second Floor is absolutely more immediately winning, but there's no doubt that this is a thoroughly enjoyable experience for folks as what like morbid humor based in the pasty-faced frigidity of both people and their actions.