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  #421  
Old 21st September 2022, 03:55 PM
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STALKER


In the near future, forbidden zones exist where paranormal activities are alleged to happen. Rumours abound that in one Zone, there is a room in which your greatest desire can come true. Three men, a Writer, a Professor, and their guide, the Stalker, set out on a dangerous journey to find the Room.

Andrei Tarkovsky’s film is a very loose adaptation of Roadside Picnic, but where the short novel had aliens visit Earth visit for a short while, Stalker never explains what actually happened. The novel explores humanity’s worth in the grander scheme of things. Stalker is more a meditation of humanity in general.

You may notice that this is a shorter review than usual from me. That’s because of what Stalker is, and its director’s approach to filmmaking. Tarkovsky came from the school of thought that cinema was an emotional exercise, and not of intellectualism (if you were ever in doubt of Tarkovsky’s Soviet background). Tarkovsky had little time for montage and plotting, as he felt they prevented the audience from truly opening their hearts and minds.

That’s not to say that Stalker is French New Wave deconstruction. The plot is simple, but it is a scaffold to allow characters to discuss religion, morality, and philosophy. Sometimes, there is no dialogue, but trancelike visuals accompanied by Eduard Artemyev’s ethereal score. It’s hard to decipher what emotion these moments are supposed to evoke, but they stir the soul nonetheless. When the Stalker rolls in the grass in the Zone, weeping, while the synth music creeps in, I don’t know how I feel. Is the Stalker relieved to be back home again? Or to be surrounded by nature? Or being close to what is possibly Heaven? Is he secretly full of joy because he is close to having his dreams come true? Is he scared that what he wants is not what he truly desires? I don’t know, but I know I was moved.

At 161 minutes, and full of long takes with little dialogue (one shot goes over four minutes), Stalker may seem like a daunting watch, but the aforementioned imagery lull you into a hypnotic state. Alexander Knyazhinsky’s camera slowly tracks in and out, that you forget that you just saw a wide shot transition to an extreme close up. And the imagery Tarkovsky produces is beautiful. It’s not just lighting, but texture.

The scenes outside the Zone are sepia tone, and convey industrial collapse. Puddles of water cover the floors in the Stalker’s home. His kitchen (bathroom) looks like a collapsed factory room, with stained walls and broken tiles. The local pub looks like a prefab held together by planks. In addition to that, the visuals have harsh sharpness to them.

It's only the scenes inside the Zone that are full of colour, and these scenes are softly lit. The colours are vivid, and the industrial grinding from outside is replaced by comforting winds, trickling winds, and rustling grass and trees. But don’t compare the Zone to paradise. Even without comparing to the sepia scenes, the water sparkles and shimmers more than it would in reality. Corpses and rusted tanks and cars litter the landscape. Remnants of the people who lived there pollute the rivers. From the outside, it is the Garden of Eden. Look closer, and it’s something from Hell. To achieve this look, Tarkovsky shot in an area that were extremely toxic, and cost him and many crew and cast’s lives.

Stalker is full of these contradictions, and makes it almost impossible to summarise. What is Stalker about? I have no idea, but it’s not important. What does the ending mean? Again, I have no idea, but it’s not important. Tarkovsky isn’t interested in telling you what is happening. He’s more interested in asking you what is happening, and hearing your answer. Why did you come to that conclusion?

For the record, I do have my own interpretation of the ending. My reading is relatively optimistic. When discussing it with my friend, he had a completely different interpretation, and it was extremely pessimistic. We discussed our readings, and came to two conclusions: that neither of us was wrong; and that it doesn’t matter.

Stalker is extraordinary, and is one of the most beautiful works of art within the genre.

NOTE: My recent rewatch was on the Criterion BluRay. It is a gorgeous restoration that cleans up the audio, and restores the colour to its true majesty. I only mention this, as I used to have the Artificial Eye release, and it is a very lacking disc. If you can, pick up the Criterion release.
Stalker had me thinking of won't I or will I enjoy it, after watching Cursed Films on Shudder and this one popped up seemed like it was and wasn't cursed film. Your review Mac has certainly put it to consideration of watching.
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  #422  
Old 21st September 2022, 04:37 PM
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The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968)

Nigel Kneale's television production lasting over 100 mins about the effects of television on society, counterculture and fears of overpopulation is really quite remarkable.

Seen here via the BFI dvd, it's a play that's pretty much come true. Although science fiction when broadcast the idea of the elite controlling the media as a bored general population laps up the listless game shows and pornography thrust upon them has definitely hit home.

Then midway through the tv producers, you can tell it's sci-fi as they are all decked out in silver garbs, realise they can all but guarantee to entertain the subservient populace by leaving people on a remote unpopulated island and having them fend for themselves whilst the rest of humanity watches their every move on tv.

Basically Nigel Kneale predicted the power of the media and the ridiculous craze that is reality tv in particular Big Brother and Love Island. Not only that, the 'Artsex' and 'foodshow' programs showcased during the first half of the film vividly reflect crazy Japanese game shows that also air nowadays.

The cast is led by Leonard Rossiter, Suzanne Neve, Tony Vogel, Brian Cox and Martin Potter and all are extremely believable. (The ever reliable Cox does a commentary on the BFI disc) Whilst the drama itself really picks up during the second half as the focus moves to what's happening on the island.

It's a play that clearly begins as smart satire but gradually descends into outright horror with a very disturbing climax which really isn't the sort of thing you'd expect to see on sixties BBC tv.

Last night it was my second watch of Year of the Sex Olympics and also the second time i've come away from it feeling like i've been gut punched.
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  #423  
Old 21st September 2022, 05:22 PM
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The Purge: Anarchy. 2014.

Three group of people are trying to survive the Purge Night while being out in the open of the city.

James DeMonaco returns as writer/director for this sequel and he delivers a lot more than just one setting. Through out the film there is certainly a good character build up, Sergeant played by Frank Grillo is out for revenge, we know his target was at a trial but never known why till near the end, that was a good way to keep things entertaining, One couple is stranded after their car konks out and a mother and daughter try to outrun a street gang that have become their intended target.

This has plenty of action, shootout and suspense, even when the group go to a flat where everyone seems against the purge yet you wonder if they are all a happy family and waiting for someone to kick off. Certainly this one is better than it's predecessor.

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  #424  
Old 21st September 2022, 07:10 PM
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The Purge: Election Year. 2016.

Charlie Roan who witnessed her family being killed on a annual Purge night 18 years earlier, is now a presidential candidate. If elected she vows to stop The Purge and becomes a target for assassination, along with her bodyguard Sergeant Leo Barnes try to survive the night.

This is set two years layer after Leo went to find the person he was looking for in Anarchy, it never really gives out how he became to the senator's security detail but he takes a pounding and able to give out one at the same time. This was a decent third part of the franchise, yeah it does have the mayhem and people going around doing what they want to do and plenty of shootouts and blood splatter. James Demonaco returns to the directors chair and is able to deliver the same fast pace as the second film.

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  #425  
Old 21st September 2022, 07:28 PM
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Easily the best of the Disney star wars films. Telling the story of how the plans for the deathstar are gotten by a band of rebel's and the lead designer daughter . The film shows that the rebel's aren't as white as white as the other films made them out to be.

It's is pretty dark and downbeat for star wars all of the main characters die, you are expecting even after the firing of the deathstar for the heroes to escape but it's not meant to be . My favourite character is K-2SO voiced by Alan Tudyk.



I've always enjoyed this even if it's not been that we'll received .

When they film was released people where left wondering how can Ripley be in it, she threw herself into a furnace.

But our questions is soon answered when we found out she was cloned to get the baby queen. But this cloning has had a side effect that Ripley is part alien now, stronger, faster than a normal human and acid for blood with a connection to the aliens .

When a smuggler ship arrives on the base Ripley is on shit goes sideways when the aliens escape and Ripley and the smugglers have to find away to escape . We have Ron pearlman who always makes things better , Brad Dourif and Winona Ryder as annoying synthetic. I always felt sorry for Ripley's baby. I do think a army of super Ripley's would of been a better choice than the aliens .

I would of loved to of seen more a super Ripley (and the baby just see how powerful it is).


Now watching

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  #426  
Old 22nd September 2022, 01:40 AM
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(Half of) THE LAST JEDI


I'm not a Star Wars fan. I like the originals fair enough. I will admit to The Empire Strikes Back being a great adventure with barely any fat to it. As close to brilliant as the series got.

My ambivalence towards the original films means that I hold no ill will towards the prequels. They're not great, but I don't think they the disasters Mr. Plinkett calls them. Terrible writing, yes, but as examples of experimental filmmaking, they are fascinating.

I enjoy a lot of the video games. Dark Forces was a staple of my childhood. Battlefront 1 & 2 (the originals) frequently ran on my PS2. The Knights of the Old Republic games were also superb.

I saw The Force Awakens long after release, and I thought it was okay. A little boring. Was falling asleep at the end. Overall, unnecessary, but inoffensive.

Now that you know that I hold no strong opinions towards the series, then hopefully you understand that I'm not being hyperbolic when I say The Last Jedi is a complete and utter disaster of storytelling. It's a film that is somehow everywhere, without actually going anywhere. The pacing is the definition of clunk. Scenes don't transition, they just happen. Rian Johnson's screenplay is smug wank, announcing it's setting up something, then not doing it. Which would be fine IF Johnson replaced the undelivered payoff with SOMETHING! It's like when somebody tries to play a trick on you by shouting, "LOOK! A BLIMP!" You turn, see no blimp, and expect a surprise when you turn back. Only there isn't.

And I'll say this too: I don't think Daisy Ridley is all that great in it. She's fine in other stuff, even The Force Awakens. But all she does in this is pant, or grit her teeth. Mark Hamill is walking circles around her. I suspect the reason is, Ridley is trying to make Johnson's script work, whereas Hamill knows it's dogshit, and hams it up. Adam Driver is okay, but at least he has some villain stuff to chew on. Laura Dern is wasted.

But the biggest miss is not focusing on John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Kelly Marie Tran. Here you have a trio of outcasts that the Resistance has no faith in, who set off of a journey to crack into the new Death Star's (or Star Destroyer or whatever the f**k) defences. It's the setup for an exciting caper that would allow our miscasts transform into true heroes.

But we can't have fun in our Star Wars film. Oh, no! That's what audiences will expect, so Johnson pulls away this thread as much as he can without ejaculating all over the editing booth. Gotta have more scenes of Ridley crying about unknown parents and force powers and kindred spirits while Hamill rolls his eyes at the tortured dialogue. The start-stop-start-stop approach pissed me off to the point that it felt like I had been watching it for four hours. I checked the timeline, and I had only watched 71 minutes.

No, I said. I'm done. And to all the critics that raved about this film, pull the other one. This is not a clever deconstruction of the series, or of the hero's journey. If you want to see something like that, I recommend the works of Jim Jarmusch (particularly Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai). This is snotty, self-congratulatory dribble for dickheads who never found a flower that smelt as good as their own farts. And worst of all, this is the only Star Wars that got me worked up. So at least Johnson got that.

Okay, fine - the set design was rather nice.
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  #427  
Old 22nd September 2022, 05:36 PM
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The World's End (2013)

Third and final film in Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's 'Cornetto trilogy' following Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007).

The film boasts an excellent cast - Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, and Pierce Brosnan - and follows five friends who return to their hometown to reattempt a pub crawl they failed twenty-three years earlier, only to discover the town is in the midst of an alien invasion.

This is genuinely excellent when it focuses on the five guys plus Freeman's sister Pike. There's a heartfelt poignancy to Pegg still clutching at his youth basically demanding his old friends come on the pub crawl when they clearly don't really want to having settled down from their youthful exuberance long ago. You can tell they feel a sense of embarrassment on Pegg's situation, never really growing up as such.

It's when the aliens are discovered that the film becomes more of an action movie and the film takes a kind of They Live turn. Although fun this is at the expense of the guys camaraderie and for me takes away from the film overall.

The World's End
has a killer nineties indie rock soundtrack taking in Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, Suede, Soup Dragons and many more classic singles from the period.

Watching The World's End made me wear my Sisters of Mercy t-shirt today so it clearly had a great influence on me last night.
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  #428  
Old 22nd September 2022, 06:15 PM
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Cyborg. 1989.

Got no idea why this popped into my head to watch but god knows why too much caffeine or not enough clouding my mind A somewhat distant future that's been ravaged by a plague and a woman heading to Atlanta as she holds the cure cos she is a cyborg enlists slinger JCVD to help her.

The Cannon guys team up with the Muscles from Brussels again for this futuristic action film and enlist director Albert Pyun to helm the directors chair, budget for this does seem low as they are using paintball guns/rifles and I bet they still hurt. Vincent Klyn plays the bad guy Fender who thisnks holding the cure info will make him a god, but with his eyes it's more like Satan and is a decent antagonist who doesn't care who he hurts or kills. As cheesey as this one is, it still keeps me quiet when Deborah Richter runs naked to the water.

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  #429  
Old 22nd September 2022, 07:02 PM
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It's said to be the worst film in the world it's bad but it's also very enjoyable if you throw logic out of the window you can Wood and his friends give all they have even if they fail more often than not, hey I wil probably be burned alive for this but it's a lot more enjoyable than citizen Kane.


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  #430  
Old 22nd September 2022, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trebor8273 View Post


It's said to be the worst film in the world it's bad but it's also very enjoyable if you throw logic out of the window you can Wood and his friends give all they have even if they fail more often than not, hey I wil probably be burned alive for this but it's a lot more enjoyable than citizen Kane.
Heard a lot about this and never seen it, yet it's one that pops up on YouTube.
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