Enjoy them, will you?
The Final Destination (d. David R. Ellis) - Supposedly, this is the last installment of this unfortunately successful, and unfortunately occasionally entertaining series of horror films. But what sets it apart as the last one? It's the exact same film as the previous three! A group of people, mostly young and boring, survive a ridiculous disaster with the help of the psychic abilities bestowed upon one of their number. Death, not having any of that, then begins to elaborately pick them off one by one. THE END. Again, it's no different from the other films, except that it's quite a bit worse. There is one set-up in the beginning, and call-back at the end, that might have been spooky if the rest of the movie weren't so bone stupid. Also, the special effects are terrible.
First Name: Carmen (d. Jean-Luc Godard) - Apart from the pleasant surprise of Tom Waits's "Ruby's Arms" being used extensively and effectively in the film's last third, this wearyingly opaque story about a man and a woman who may be bank-robbers, or instead may be making a movie, and who are probably, this being Godard, Marxists, but who are in any case falling out of love, is a typically, this being Godard, frustrating wank. Maruschka Detmers is lovely, and frequently nude, though, and this is not something I take lightly.
A Film With Me In It (d. Ian Fitzgibbon) - Written by lead actor Mark Doherty (I say "lead actor" as opposed to "star" because Dylan Moran gives the more memorable performance), this film is about a struggling, and failing, actor who suddenly finds himself living in an apartment where people have fatal accidents, sometimes separated by mere minutes. What does one do in such a situation? The cops won't believe a word of the truth, so you begin to act as though you were actually guilty of murder. The film is not un-funny, but its intentionally absurd premise is stretched way too far (eventually, people die of things that wouldn't actually kill them), and the allegedly hilarious, cynical pay-off is incredibly ill-advised: boring, old-hat, ruinous.
Stalker (d. Andrei Tarkovsky) - A full review of this Russian masterpiece would defeat me, so this capsule format is a life-saver. At heart -- or maybe only at the edges -- Stalker is a sober, philosophical, science-fiction riff on The Wizard of Oz: in the future, after an unspecified global calamity (given that this was made in Russia in the late 70s, I think we can assume it was nuclear in nature), a mysterious new region has opened up called the Zone, and somewhere in there is a place that grants wishes. The especially desperate hire people known as "stalkers" who can take them to this place, avoiding the dangers, and traps, the Zone creates along the way. The film tells of one stalker (Aleksandr Kaidanovsky), known as "The Stalker", who leads two men -- The Writer and The Professor -- into the Zone, and towards wish-fulfillment. Or so they claim to want.
The Wizard of Oz-ness of Stalker comes not only from the wish-fulfillment quest in a fantasy-land (which is achieved entirely without any -- okay, maybe one -- special effects, and almost entirely through the psychology of, it would seem, you, the viewer) but from the "real world" scenes being shot not in black-and-white so much as in sepia-and-white. And Tarkovsky's eye for those images is utterly astonishing. Calling a film hypnotic is such a bland thing to say, but I don't know quite how else to describe my state of mind when watching one of those sepia images, this one silent, of the Stalker lying in a shallow creek bed, as a black dog runs through the water towards him. Stalker lives almost entirely on its images -- and some execellent acting -- but what Tarkovsky accomplishes simply by photographing the Soviet Union and calling it science fiction is pretty extraordinary.