Solaris (1972)

What a unique film that stays with you.

No Fixed Plans

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, Solaris presented a completely different kind of science fiction. It doesn’t center on the battle of good vs. evil as usual sci-fi fare does. Instead it’s a psychological drama like no other I’ve seen. It is bizarre and breaks the sci-fi mold. It breaks all molds I know of.

First off there’s a lot of time spent on earth as astro-psychologist Kris Kelvin prepares to leave for the planet Solaris where the crew of this space ship are experiencing mysterious troubles. Kris visits his father’s summer house, located in an Arcadia. Here Kris has visions of his mother and some other woman, who turns out to be his dead wife Hari, An earlier scientist who was on Solaris and knows the secrets of the project comes and tries to warn Kris that there’s a lot of bizarre stuff going on so he should be cautious if…

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Favorites from Ireland

Derry Girls
Moone Boy
U2 – New Year’s Day
The Cranberries – Zombie
Celtic Women – Danny Boy
Dolan’s Pub, Irish music

Omega Man (1971)

Starring Charlton Heston, Omega Man takes place in a post-apocalypse Los Angeles. It’s 1977 and a bizarre pandemic has left the city deserted except for Dr. Robert Neville (Heston) who right before the mysterious virus took hold, he vaccinated himself with the vaccine he developed. It’s weird and cool to see L.A. so dusty and barren. Neville keeps himself sane by talking to imagined car dealers and clerks and to his bust of Cæsar.

Loneliness isn’t Neville’s biggest problem. Like a 1970s Cinderella, he must be home in his fortified flat by sundown when the zombies led by a former newscaster named Mathias come for him. These zombies were stricken with the virus and have become albino’s who can’t take the light. They want him dead and they want to destroy the art and culture he’s preserved.

Mathias’ crew nearly gets Neville, but he’s rescued by Lisa and Dutch, whom are living out in the countryside with a handful of children who’ve also escaped the virus — for the time being. Neville welcomes the community and accepts the mission of curing Lisa’s brother who’s one step away from zombiehood. He figures he can make a serum from his blood to cure the boy. Lisa accompanies Neville and her brother back to the city. Romance ensues in scenes when the zombies aren’t attacking.

Some of the action scenes weren’t all that plausible, like the way Mathias’ right hand man falls from a balcony. There’s some deus ex machina contrivances in spots, but I let myself get caught up in the novelty and Neville’s wit.

Omega Man can be over the top and the heroics and action are over the top, but it feels good to see a good guy keep his head and fight against evil. The end isn’t what I expected as recent movies would end differently. It seems studios think they must satisfy their audiences with a certain ending. Pfiffle. I’m open to what makes sense and applaud the daring. 

Ida

Set in Poland in 1962, Ida is a stunning, quiet film about an orphan who grew up in a convent is about  to take her vows. Her superior tells her she should meet her one living relative, an aunt before she takes her vows. The taciturn, obedient Ida agrees. 

Aunt Wanda turns out to be a judge whose personality is diametrically opposed to Ida’s. When Ida gets to Wanda’s apartment, Wanda’s lover leaves. Atheist Wanda smokes and drinks too much. Aunt Wanda tells Ida that her parents were Jewish and both were killed by the Germans in WWII along with Wanda’s infant son. They embark on a search through rural Poland for their graves. 

This journey changes both women, but not in predictable ways. it’s greatest strength is it’s cinematography. The black and white scenes are framed simply and elegantly. The story is minimal and the tension between aunt and niece is compelling. There were a few incidents that seemed implausible, but on the whole the film is well worth a watch.