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Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker" (Also, Recommend Me Challenging And/Or Different Sci-Fi)

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posted on Mar, 30 2012 @ 09:09 PM
I watched Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky (the guy who directed the first Solaris movie) yesterday and thought it was incredible. It's very loosely based on the book "Roadside Picnic" and in turn was the loose basis for the computer game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

It's a very slow, thoughtful movie about three men journeying into The Zone. The Zone is a place where some kind of event (possibly a meteor strike) took place and the area is now barricaded and protected by the army. There are men called stalkers who know how to get through the blockade and navigate the dangerous terrain of The Zone. Stalkers are hired by people who want to go into The Zone to find a room that is said to grant wishes.

The sci-fi elements are really minimal. Some people get angry, thinking they're going to see a sci-fi movie like Star Wars and instead see something that looks like it could happen anywhere. I think that's what makes it so effective. You're being taken on a journey through a place that looks so normal, but we're told is so different. The stalker has metal nuts he ties bandages around, then throws in order to make sure there are no dangers ahead. He is constantly fearful of The Zone, yet is enraptured by it.

The movie has basically two modes: walking and talking. There's a brief action sequence near the beginning, but that's it. The rest is experiencing The Zone through these men. This is definitely a movie that I understand if people call it "boring." But if you're patient, you're treated to two (kind of) endings that are thought provoking and mysterious.

It's a great movie if you don't need a movie to be action-packed in order to call it good. Just a bit of warning, the DVD I have is kind of frustrating. Sometimes the subtitles don't stay on the screen long enough, even if you're a quick reader. There's an English dub, but it's just laid over the Russian. If you can't stand subtitles that is nice, though, because they're not trying to sync it and are just reading the subtitles.

Now, for the second part. Stalker put me in the mood for other unconvential sci-fi. Stuff that's challenging, thoughtful or just too weird to be mainstream. I don't want the Matrix, I've seen it. I'm sure someone would've said it, so let's just get it out of the way. I've also seen Sunshine and Event Horizon. Oh, and if you could, please tell me something about the movie. I could go to IMDB or Amazon, but I prefer to know how fans would describe it. Try it avoid major spoilers.

Here's some I like:

Primer: The best time travel movie ever made and as a result the most confusing. The method of time travel is pretty unique. By the end, your nose will be bleeding just as bad as the main characters.

The Man Who Fell to Earth: Stars David Bowie and Rip Torn. Slow, hypnotic '70s art house nudity about an alien (Bowie, natch) who comes to Earth to try to save his planet. He ends up getting caught up in the trappings of human life. Warning: lots of nudity.

The Man From Earth: About a man who at his going away party starts insinuating he's 14,000 years old. A long conversation about the ramifications of that follows. Very thought provoking.

Moon: Directed by David Bowie's son. Stars Sam Rockwell and the voice of Kevin Spacey and that's it! The less you know about this one, the better. Tremendous movie though.

Videodrome: Directed by David Cronenberg, starring James Woods. Set in the near future, a shadowy group send a signal through television programs that cause powerful hallucinations. Woods gets caught in a war between the Videodrome and the New Flesh. Graphic sex, some disturbing imagery, lots of social commentary.

Scanners: Also directed by Cronenberg. A little disappointed with this one, but some people might like it. It's about a war between dangerous telepaths/telekinetics.

Blade Runner: Duh.

2001: A Space Odyssey: Duh.

A Boy and His Dog: Based off the Harlan Ellison short story. Don Johnson and his telepathic dog roam the post-apocalyptic wasteland trying to survive, until Don meets a lady who takes him to her bizarre underground society. '70s weirdness.

Brazil: High strangeness from Terry Gilliam. Whimsical bureaucracy, totalitarianism and consumerism. Features Robert DeNiro.

American Astronaut: Black-and-white, sci-fi, weird musical. A man is tasked with transporting a man from Jupiter to Venus to be their sex slave. They're pursued by the murderous, psychopathic Professor. That's the least crazy way to explain the plot. Music isn't bad. Here's a song from early in the movie

Donnie Darko: Does anyone not know what this is?

12 Monkeys: Ditto

Repo Man: Repo MAN, not Repo MEN or Repo: A Genetic Opera. This is one of the funniest, most insightful movies of all time. Directed by Alex Cox (Sid and Nancy), stars Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton. There's a Chevy Malibu out there that has alien bodies in the trunk and everybody wants it.

Akira: Classic anime movie, one of the most famous. I don't like anime much, but this one's pretty good. A young member of bike gang is kidnapped after he starts to develop special powers. Things get worse for him from there.

Attack the Block: Great indie action-comedy from the UK. Aliens are attacking the ghetto and a bunch of thug teenagers defend them. A lot of fun, not a kids movie, just a movie about kids.

District 9: Sure, it got a major release, but how many movies are there that consider how racist we'll be to aliens when the time comes.

That's all I can see in front of me, I'm sure there are others, but let's get the suggestions coming.
edit on 3/30/2012 by SaulGoodman because: (no reason given)

edit on 3/30/2012 by SaulGoodman because: (no reason given)

posted on Mar, 30 2012 @ 09:29 PM
reply to post by SaulGoodman

I have a few for you, your mileage may vary but I enjoyed them.

TRON: Legacy
The Fifth Element
Robinson Crusoe on Mars
The Brother From Another Planet
A Scanner Darkly
Castaway On The Moon

ETA Some more from my old list
Dark City
Planet 51
Sin City
Star Trek (2009)
edit on 30/3/12 by LightSpeedDriver because: ETA

edit on 30/3/12 by LightSpeedDriver because: ETA2

posted on Apr, 1 2012 @ 12:00 AM
reply to post by LightSpeedDriver

Can't believe I forgot Dark City, one of the best. Netflix is always recommending me Brother From Another Planet, so I'll probably definitely check that out along with a few I've never heard of. Thanks.

posted on Apr, 1 2012 @ 12:04 AM
I love anything Tarkovsky. Stalker probably has the best cinematography I have seen in a movie. As for other intelligent sci-fi movies I'll have to look through my collection but it looks like the majority of them have already been hit, Although A Clockwork Orange wasn't mentioned, which I can definitely see being categorized as sci-fi.
edit on 4/1/2012 by Xcalibur254 because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 1 2012 @ 02:36 AM
reply to post by Xcalibur254

I'm excited to get deeper into Tarkovsky. "The Sacrifice" sounds like a really interesting movie and of course there's "Solaris." but I want to read the book first. And you're right, the cinematography in Stalker is amazing. That little trick with the color got me every time it switched back and forth. Stalker has the kind of directing and filming where the actors are always arranged perfectly. It feels like any shot in the movie could be made into a great photograph worthy of hanging on the wall. Especially towards the end, with the three men sitting in the rain. The only other movies I've seen like that is "Picnic At Hanging Rock," which is also a great movie.

"Clockwork Orange" is great, of course. I consider it sci-fi, don't know why I didn't include it. It's a perfect example of intelligent, low-key sci-fi. I might as well go on to add "A Scanner Darkly" which is a nice movie, though it can be pretty divisive, and the movie version of "Slaughterhouse-Five." It's not the best movie, but it's the best movie they could make out of that book and it's way better than I thought possible.

Let me know if you think of any more.

posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 05:58 PM
Watched a new one last night, I still don't know how I feel about it, but I figure some people here would dig it. It's really more fantasy, than sci-fi, but whatever.

It's called Ink. There's two groups of beings that exist in other dimension: storytellers, who are warriors and cause good dreams, and incubi, who are vain and shadowy and cause bad dreams. A creature called Ink kidnaps a little girl's spirit (in the real world her body is in a coma). He plans to give her to the incubi as a sacrifice in order to become one of them. The storytellers try to get her back and also get her estranged father to her physical body.

There's a lot of cool stuff in the movie and the emotional aspect of it works well. There's some problems with the writing though. In movies, I'm okay if someone use some term and it doesn't immediately get explained. This happens a lot in Ink, but it doesn't seem to really work. And it keeps adding up. A "big moment" at the end is based around a piece of technology that never really gets explained. So, I didn't care at all about what was happening.

Anyway, it does some interesting stuff.

posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 06:50 PM
reply to post by SaulGoodman

I wish I could remember more from Ink. I remember it being a really interesting movie but not much more. I'm glad you bumped this though. I had forgotten about it. Once Community's over I'll go through my movies and see if there's anything to add.

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