"Dear Dave Calhoun,
I implore you to release yourself from your dependence on 'narrative'. Do you not realise that artistic filmmaking goes so far beyond the chains of 'narrative'. What kind of critic do you consider yourself to be if you are seemingly so limited in your field of perception and appreciation? Rather than saying - I didn't like this film because I was alienated therefore it's no good, it's difficult so BEWARE! - try to see the film on its own terms and judge it that way. This is precisely the same as saying you don't understand Japanese culture because it alien to me, so therefore approach with caution! It's clear you prefer your Art to be spelt out with a capital A, such as with 'We Need To Talk About Kevin...'
After your opening paragraph your appreciation of the film does come through, but by opening with a paragraph that essentialy warns readers of the film's supposed 'difficulty', you're doing the film a massive disservice (if such a word exists).
Rather than continually judging films by their loyalty to 'narrative' (the life raft for today's generation of film critics), why not attempt to understand the film on its own terms and its own methodology and judge it with regards to how well you think it achieved its aim relative to its actual approach, instead of the approach associated with 'narrative'.
Perhaps today's film critics should watch a film ilke 'Faust' twice before reviewing it? Sokurov's films are dense and require repeat viewing from both audience and critic - would you attempt to review a new symphony by Shostakovich after a single listening?"