47 FILMS: 22. STALKER

In our continuing series of ’47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’ we look at Andrei Tarkovsky’s slapstick comedy Stalker.

A meteorite has hit the Earth creating a Zone in which there is a Room in which your deepest wish may or may not come true. Two men – a writer and a scientist – are guided by a ‘Stalker’ through the dangers of the Zone, which may or may not exist, via a series of game like rituals which may or may not help. And it might all be inside the head of a little girl, the Stalker’s daughter, called ‘Monkey’. Or not.

Tarkovsky is probably most familiar to Western audience as the guy who made that film with George Clooney set in space, but before that he made some interesting films in Russian! Don’t let that scare you. Well, actually do. Tarkovsky didn’t give a shit. Working in Soviet Russia, his films were challenging, critical pieces of work – Ivan’s Childhood is a wonderful anti-war film, Andrei Rublev, his masterpiece, is about a fifteenth century Russian icon painter struggling with his faith and the brutality of the times (made in the USSR at the height of the Cold War remember). He actually wanted people to leave his film and when criticized by one apparatchik about being elitist told him there were only two people he wanted to please in the audience: himself and Ingmar Bergman. Take that, Proletariat Art!

Anyway, back to the Room in the Zone. Or maybe not. The whole point of the Room in the Zone is you can’t approach it directly and although it is supposed to be everything you always wanted, the ultimate McGuffin, the sad fact of the matter is perhaps we don’t really want everything we always wanted. Perhaps everything we always wanted is the last thing we want. Maybe it would be better if we just take naps in puddles and continue with the silly games which might or might not keep us safe.

Tarkovsky’s film is a darkly funny, brilliantly strange film which stupid people will find boring and other people (us, dear readers, us) will find so fascinating there’s a danger it’ll change your life. If that’s what you want.

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FULL CANNES LINE-UP INCLUDES ONLY FILMS FROM 1970S

PARIS – This morning 11 am Paris time, the full line-up for the 68th Cannes Film Festival was announced, which will break with tradition by only featuring films made in the 1970s.

Outgoing president Thierry Frémaux said that usually the film festival shows exclusively new films:

The whole raison d’être of Cannes is to promote world cinema in its current form, but recently we’ve been looking around and it’s pitiful. So we decided in order to ensure ten days of creme de la creme cinema we thought why not use films that we know are good for sure.

The full list contains The Conversation, Chinatown, Deliverance, Taxi Driver, Barry Lyndon, Aguirre Wrath of God, Dog Day Afternoon, Days of Heaven, Le Cercle Rouge, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Big Bus, Solaris and The Spy Who Loved Me.

Pierre Lescure, the new Cannes president, said that it was an exciting time for Cannes:

We’re really pleased to have such outstanding film-makers such as Stanley Kubrick and Terrence Malick included in this year’s competition. Hopefully one of the famous recluses will make a surprise appearance!

Defending the lack of women directors in the list, Lescure shrugged and blew air through his lips.

C’est la vie! It was the seventies.

Cannes will take place from the 13th to the 24th of May, 2015. 

NEW TARKOVSKY FILM DISCOVERED IN SOLARIS

MOSCOW – A previously unseen film by Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky has been discovered hidden between the frames of his 1972 masterpiece Solaris.

Mark Cousins (no relation to the humorless Irish critic Mark Cousins) spoke excitedly about the discovery. 

It seems that the film час пик is set in Moscow and involves a mismatched pair of policeman one of them from the far reaches of Eastern Russia while the other one is a fast talking ex-KGB agent. It is a marked departure for Tarkovsky whose career is cluttered with long-winded masterpieces, with car chases, fight scenes involving martial arts and a fast talking wit that is not usually associated with the director of Ivan’s Childhood.

The film was discovered during a restoration of Solaris for its Blu-Ray release when technicians were astounded to see different images every alternate frame. 

It’s odd that we should see one film and not the other all these years, because there are exactly the same number of frames per film, but everyone saw Solaris and no one saw час пик.

An additional effect of the discovery has been the fact that now Solaris – with the frames of the parasite film removed – moves along at a far smarter clip, now clocking in at only 93 minutes, as opposed to its original theatrical run time of 167 minutes. Film historians are now carefully checking Stalker and Andrei Rublev for other films and Cousins points out that it might also be the case that within the version of час пик there might even lie another hidden film ‘like a Matroyshka Doll’.

The new film час пик (Rush Hour) will be shown at a special BFI season this Summer entitled ‘Look How Clever We Are!’

STEVEN SODERBERGH’S JOB SEARCH

HOLLYWOOD – Steven Soderbergh announced that his latest film Side Effects will be his last film and he is now going to spend his time … doing what? Studio Exec decided in his glory to give some tips to the new job seeker and see if we can’t see Mr. Soderbergh gainfully employed in something that won’t unleash another Full Frontal on our cinema screens.

So here are the TOP FIVE options.

  1. DeeJay: This is a great job because we all know Steven likes music and he looks like Moby, which can’t hurt. He would also be available for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, birthday parties and (gulp) retirement parties. He could use the moniker DJ Sod and concentrate on eighties nostalgia with a playlist heavy on the Spandau. 
  2. Steeplejack: I don’t actually know what one of these is but if Steven became one it would be a good chance for me to find out. That would be like a good Side Effect!
  3. Oceanographer: He could chum up with his pal James Cameron and together they could explore the Mariana Trench. After all one of them is a self-proclaimed expert on oceans and the other made three films with the word ocean in the title.   
  4. Pornographer: Although Steven has never made a ‘porno-film’, he has worked with porno actress Sasha Grey on The Girlfriend Experience and so has an ‘in’ so to speak. And Magic Mike was also about the softer side of the sex industry. 
  5. Astronaut: This strikes me as the perfect job. With Solaris we saw how comfortable Steven was with large empty spaces and it would give him a lot of time to get some reading done.

Do you have any ideas for what Steven could do now? Please post comments or contact us via Twitter and Facebook.