Film Log 2010


Yes. I like movies. So do you, presumably. And we like discussing them.

So what did I see this year? Better question -- what DIDN'T I see this year. Indeed, my viewing habits have fallen into disarray. Could you please lend a recovering geek a helping hand? Suggestions are welcome -- all and anything.

The Sacrifice (1986) Per Zach's suggestion, I pushed forward to the end of Tark's illustrious career. He is undoubtedly the king of somber cinema, and the queen of "wow, I can't stop thinking of what I just saw, though it made me nod off in the beginning, and I came this close to fast-forwarding" Yes I did miss some of the early household dialogue, which I don't think was a huge mistake, cause -- BAM -- we're suddenly in the closest thing to purgatory I've felt in cinema. Not in a boredom sense, mind you, but in a complete sense of dread, and eyes-wide-open staring at human fallibility and life's zero sense of certainty about what lies beyond. That was actually affecting. If it was not for the zany mailman and his ingenious suggestion of witch sex, I would've poured some cognac myself (down my throat, I don't need a glass for a bottle, it will do). Speaking for all the guys, were you not really into Tark like never before when that scene arrived? I mean -- they levitated, come on! But, in all seriousness, what followed that was truly tragic, and I had to 360 headspin when I realized it was shot in one take! I'm not sure what exactly was going on in this film, but I think it has something to do with sacrificing material stuff for spirituality, and it might have been playing with Nietzsche's eternal return. One thing is for sure about this guy -- you must watch his films multiple times. I don't know how to rate these at all until I see them again. But chances are they are safely on my big list, and likely getting cozy in the 8's or above.

Stalker (1979) OK, it had to happen. I like Tarkovsky. But he's testing me. He's on probation. In other words, having a sense of the narrative of this film will make it SO MUCH better next time. I think it's really important that we have filmmakers who push us to confront fundamental comforts. Who would have thought that Tark would attempt to repudiate the theme of Shawshank Redemption before the fact? That said, is he toying with the supernatural toward the end, or is he just plunging in the final dagger? I did like that shot, cause I was the weird kid who used to rest his head against the school bus window, and look forward to the bumps in the road. Attractive film, too, but let's not get carried away. The sound design has the winning hand.

Updated Analysis. So, I could not stop thinking about the movie today. There is just enough ambiguity in the film that you really wonder if anything magical happened. Or was it all in the characters' minds? When you believe something, you come to expect it, and eventually that thing manifests itself. So much of the film was made up of moments like that -- nearly hallucinations. But they were never completely out of the blue. They all seemed to be self-fulfilled beliefs and fantasies. A simple practical explanation for these moments is radiation sickness or the like (meteorite flu?); this definitely lends a nice explanation for the stalker's illness. That is definitely unsettling. But even more disturbing is that notion that men are driven to accomplish things by their minds, and then will find consummation of their endeavor -- not in reality -- but in their minds and their minds only. There very well could have been wish fulfillment but we'll never know, because this film flirts with fundamental epistemology. I can't wait to see this again.

Shadows (1959). Zippy. That's how this movie is. The giddy joy of the cool cats dancing to the jazz. The quick repartee. The sped-up sequences (unintentional probably but it adds to the espirit). This early on, Cassavetes has a great sense of pacing. I love the scene where the jazz singer starts singing, and it's really boring. Then the camera moves across the room, cuts shot by shot, and we see everyone's boredom. Cassavetes has a great sense of humor, of the natural kind, the spontaneous, on-the-spot kind. If this stuff was written, it does not come across as contrived at all. Another thing I like about the movie is the scenery. We get lots of shots of 50's NYC, the streets and diners, it's the closest you can get to time travel. The scene where the 3 guys check out the public art is masterful. Leila Goldoni sure was a pretty one and very good acting. Not a bad start at all to my Cassavetes Retrospective. 7.0

Meet The Feebles (1990) This is truly one of the most disturbing movies ever made. That's not to say it isn't hilarious or even touching. In fact, sometimes it's all of these at once. Peter Jackson had a brilliant insight that the best way to portray the darkest aspects of humanity was through muppets. This is truly /b/ before its time. It is so singularly WTF and can make you feel like the little kid who's seeing something he's not prepared for. I had moments of true nausea and unease watching this. Beyond this distinctive elan the film has, it is incredibly well made. The puppet work is top-notch: they all have personality and express emotion easily. The set design and lighting are nearly psychedelic in their attention to detail. The camerawork is quick and fun. I always loved Jackson's Braindead/Dead Alive, a gem of the splatter gore genre that is both truly funny and truly inventive. Though he is very overrated for Lord of the Rings (well-made films but nothing special ultimately), there is no doubt the guy has an abnormally huge imagination. Crazy. Recommended if you want something really twisted. 8.0

Zombieland (2009) Woody Harrelson really wants a Twinkie. He hates Snowballs. Damn unreliable Hostess trucks. If you give the hot girl a Mountain Dew, make sure it's not that red shit. She won't like that. She might try to bite your dick off. But if anyone asks about your game, just make up a story about a little hookup in a FedEx truck [fyi: you can overnight engagement rings that way]. You know cowboys get a kick out of that. He might give you a ride in his Lincoln. Hey, you take after him. You're just a neurotic geek who the internet market will sympathize with. But you're a growing man: today you play World of Warcraft, tomorrow you''ll have a trunk of torture devices to make mayhem with (zombie apocalypse not necessary). This is a bildungsroman, after all. You'll get that girl with the gun. Who needs cupid when your aims are so direct? And you will find your eden, your amusement park. "Is it better to be smart or lucky?" I know! I know! Pick me! 6.0 [Props for the Metallica and Velvet Underground music, and the restraint the characters showed not destroying a complete store until they got to the Native American one. Per usual, Bill Murray saves movies. Where's that application for sainthood?]

Trouble in Paradise (1932) I was so happy to have watched this movie. I guess I must have felt the "Lubitsch touch" and I quite liked it. On my disc there were all these quotations from notable film people, Chaplin to Welles, all giving genius credit to Lubitsch for what he did. I had no idea about the guy. Peter Bogdanovich even did this introduction where he talks about how this was romantic comedy done before the production code, sexual innuendos and suggestiveness galore, even having a bed appear before the word "paradise" in the opening credits. My favorite tidbit was something that Jean Renoir said. He said that Lubitsch's films reminded him of the sophisticated Berlin of the 20s. That's astonishing to think that all the really witty classic comedies from "It Happened One Night" all the way to "Some Like It Hot" were influenced by the wit of pre-Nazi Germany. There's nothing groundbreaking in the plot or the basic themes of the film, except it does not have a Hollywood happy ending. What makes it lovely is how it mocks almost everything, how each character is trying to outsmart the other, how it leads the viewer into that trickery, so that you share in the payoffs. It can also be really romantic at times. Great line: "Marriage is a beautiful mistake which two people make together... but with you, Fran├žois, I think it would just be a mistake." 7.0

Les Enfants Du Paradise (Children of Paradise for non-frenchies) (1945). Favorably compared to Gone With The Wind, but I dunno. It's a big epic movie for sure. It's so long it takes 2 Criterion discs. I was never a huge fan of that southern love affair, so this three dudes after one vaguely attractive girl doesn't really get me in the mood either. You have a sincere artist, a womanizing actor, and poetic misanthrope. Unsurprisingly, she picks neither and goes with the Count, but she gets her comeuppance. I think it's an all right flick. There's a wonderful scene near the beginning where the mime acts out a pickpocketing to the police. One of the best witness testimonies ever. The movie has the right amount of charm, wit, wisdom, doled out in appropriate parcels and at the right time. There's a sweetness about the flick, but also a sadness. I'm just surprised about its reputation as one of the best of the best. My main criticism is that it merely tells a story I'm pretty familiar with, and it doesn't necessarily tell it in new and intriguing ways. It just does its predictable job really well. Consider it an example of Oscar baiting back in the day. I think its rep may benefit from its production circumstances, truly a courageous effort in the middle of the Nazi occupation (couldn't help but think of Inglorious Basterds in that respect). But even though I had finished a delicious Coq Au Vin crepe and glass of champagne before engaging this sprawling thing, I couldn't love it. The ending though might strike just the right note. He's being held back in the crowd, a force to strong to push back against. It seemed like a really lovely visual metaphor for fate and destiny. Indeed, the extras in the movie deserve an A+. Totally real and authentic feeling. 6.5

Hausu One of the most batshit movies ever made. Total "shotgun" approach: shoot a bunch of visual mayhem on the screen and see what sticks. That's right, equal share of: b&w beatup film stock, slow-mo, fast-mo, freeze frame, "bleeding" film, floating bodyparts, even painted skies and backdrops that move (that's right!). Fortunately, despite the jarring juxtapositions and near incoherence, this hodgepodge of tricks is nothing short of astonishing, bewildering, and sometimes transcendent. That is, of course, if you can disregard the perpetual silliness, both intentional and non, throughout this Japanese flick. That's right, a pervert's paradise. A veritable troop of schoolgirls heads out for a summer stay at the home of one girl's aunt. The aunt lives on top of a hill, in a sky painted (yes literally painted). She's got this cat that eats lizards and meows to the theme song of the movie and seems to control all the horror that soon follows, as one girl is picked off after the other, in colorful killings that recall Dario Argento but predict the likes of Sam Raimi in their quirkiness and hilarity. There are some scenes that nearly defy description -- the highly caffeinated approach of Japanese commercials (indeed, the director made his name in this field) blossoms with the free-associate mind of the Holy Modal Rounders or Residents at their most deranged. Also the soundtrack is killer, really really good mellow Japanese pop of the 70s -- soft rock fans will be happy. Like an ambitious, if unfocused, film student's total score, this scores an honest 7.
(Great piece of dialogue: the father is a film composer. the daughter asks how his trip went. He says: "It went great. Leone said my music was better than Morricone.")

House makes me think of Kill Bill. What you think of vol. 1?

Best film I saw from last decade is probably Werckmeister Harmonies. it has better film making than anything i can think of, but not fun to watch. not sure if you'd like it, and i'm kind of drawing a blank otherwise! all i can say is I rediscovered Tarantino and I love the guy.

Good call on the Kill Bill similarity. I was thinking of mentioning Tarantino in the review. One thing that makes Hausu particularly interesting is how it anticipates the post-modernism in Tarantino and similar directors. While Tarantino does it to be hip and to show his knowledge (these are nods and homages after all), Obayashi is more or less coming up with these things as he goes (a true quick thinker and improviser), as well as catering to what appears to be healthy appetite in Japanese audiences for quirkiness, parody, and four-walls-busting. To that end, it's a sublime entertainment and bonafide peculiarity to Western audiences (as most Japanese culture tends to endlessly be). In the special features of my DVD, Obayashi talks about how he was pressured to make a film similar to Jaws. If you watch the film again, you can see elements of Jaws as filtered through a kaleidoscopic hallucinated vision. Even the two girls rafting on that flood of blood somehow references it.

Anyhow, what is your favorite Tarantino? I still think Pulp Fiction was his absolute greatest.

I have not see any Bela Tarr films. He makes LONG movies, right? I will book a weekend for that.

Who didn't anticipate Tarantino (hehe)? Anywho, Kill Bill makes ample use of the fractured styles employed in House. In a lot of way it's a big budget B movie. And I thought he made good use of cute ass-kicking asian girls, just like Oba. I quite like the women in Tarantino films, he has a knack for choosing real natural women.

Favorites, well, I still need to see Kill Bill 2, but I like em all. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are two of the most quotable films ever made, though Dogs suffers a bit from a $100,000 budget. Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece, no arguments there. I'd say it's the best film of the 90s and will live on for years. Jackie Brown is great, but aside from the music doesn't feel like a Tarantino film. the dialogue and style is missing, anyone could have made it. Kill Bill is a great follow up cuz it's so energetic. Jackie Brown was pretty boring by comparison, just laid back. I seem to be in the minority but i love Death Proof. Basterds is great, probably his smartest film with all the nods to film history. some great editing too. I'd go with Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Death Proof & Jackie Brown for sure. he is the coolest. prolly gotten more young people engaged in art than every critic who ever lived (combined).

Bela Tarr has made a bunch of films, the only long one was Satantango i think. 7 hours. can't imagine ever bothering to see it, unless i find it in a dilapidated sales bin. seriously, a 7 hour art film? if i subject myself to that, i might as well sign up for concentration summer camp (builds character). Werckmeister is about 2 hours and a pretty short 2 hours it is. only has 39 shots in the whole film.

(Resevoir Dogs's budget was 12 times that, by the way)

Yes, it appears so and a terrible oversight. Think I read that on imdb forums (which is usually very reliable). anyways - film doesn't look like it was made for $100 grand anyway, must have pulled that out my ass.

Watch A Woman Under The Influence! I mean, it's even on youtube now!

Bunch of Cassavetes films are on Netflix instant viewing now. They will be watched!

Maybe it'd be most best to watch them as chronologically as possible; you can see his growth as an artist that way.

Cassavetes almost reminds me of Godard. course he is more street smart then intellectual, but neither are quite coherent as an artist or filmmaker. if you can look past the flaws, yeah there's some great stuff going on. he's definitely worth a glimpse, but doesn't hold up that well after repeated viewings. maybe his eccentric genius would be better tempered with talented craftspeople, who could make a more polished work. but then he might not have influenced people to do their own thing.

I expect (demand) a mammoth update.

Leila Goldini - what a hottie. She's like Gena Rowlands' cooler younger sister. You know, the one who drinks, smokes, and talks less but fucks more. Dayum. Also, while I enjoy these reviews I'm not sure they're stream-of-conscious enough. Could jazz them up a bit instead of this stodgy formalism.

I try, oh lord, I try. It is good to be writing about film again.

Mankind, eh? Is this your new label? Is it an homage to the pro wrestler?

Indeed it is!. Back when wrestling was the poor man's Opera, and the WWF our Wagner. Even through my Stephen Dedalus sensitivity I never grew tired of Mick Foley, who was an enigma next to those orcish brutes.

Reading these reviews does kindle a slumbering passion, though I never had the quality control that you do. Eh, I can't be buggered. This nick is temporary until I'm able to post on the old one.

Haha, classic match there. I must admit that I was a fan of the WWF in the 80s and then for a brief time during the whole Steve Austin era in the late 90s. It was definitely the soap opera for men (and quite funny!)

Glad to seeing you get into Tarkovsky! I especially like what you said about him confronting comfort zones, he definitely does put the patience, senses and intelligence all to the test on a regular basis. I'm not sure what you mean by "let's not get carried away", are you daring to insinuate that anything Tarkovsky shot was less than perfection?!?

For some reason, of all his work, I think Andrei Rublev would be your best bet. It's not as abstract or slow as The Sacrifice, there's a lot more going on in terms of narrative.

The levitation and the burning house were both amazing.

I think he is one of the most thoughtful directors, definitely a guy who was obsessively concerned with the big questions in life. I think his films "sneak up" on you in a way that I wasn't quite expecting. It's kind of deeply refined subtlety, that very slowly reveals itself. So I don't think I'm really opposed to his loose narrative -- especially in Stalker -- I think you need to have a basic grasp of what he's doing and what's going on. Once you do, what makes him films interesting is how he explores the issues in a poetic manner. Was he a big influence on Malick? I see quite a bit of similarity. Also, his films are very philosophical, much better fodder for college courses and discussion than The Matrix! I think I saw Andrei Rublev's opening back in the day, and it always stuck with me, a very romantic image. Stalker was quite attractive, and some of the panning shots over water were certainly aesthetically pleasing, but I will say he's not exactly my favorite visual style. He does capture natural beauty well, and if that's his point, then I think he succeeds. I'm just a very imaginative bugger myself, so I tend to prefer people who create surreal worlds (Fellini) or perhaps their very own (Barrett).

You saw it opening day--what are you, 70!? I'm a big Malick fan, but I don't see too much of Tarkovsky in him. His style is a lot more pristine, and approach more concrete; not quite involved in the metaphysics as Tarkovsky. That said, I suppose an argument could be made that there are formal similarities.

I found Stalker to be pretty imaginative, but I guess it ain't quite Fellini. Maybe Solaris is your best bet. Or maybe just all them. If you're interested, this is a great resource.

I'm glad you're updating dis list.

Haha, opening scene I mean. Though it would be nice to be Listology Grandpa. Solaris was the first one I saw, but I don't think I was prepared for his style at the time, so it deserves a rewatch. In fact, all of his films probably do, as I suspect they get better and better each viewing. Malick reminds me of Tark in the way he has characters roaming a beautifully lush landscape while pondering -- via voiceover -- all the great mysteries of life. He doesn't have nearly the insight though, I'd agree.

Stalker is imaginative in a very suggestive way, I found, which is a compliment. For example, when you finally get to the room, it is really striking visually, like some hallowed yet alien space, with those mounds of earth. But the brilliant thing is that it could have been merely a room for dealing with nuclear waste or something (if you follow that interpretation of the film). So, I like that Tark resists the supernatural and tries to see how far our minds will wander when presented with perfectly normal, even mundane things. Thanks for that site.

I'm glad I'm updating too. Writing about art is really fun for me. Can we expect a film log from you in the future? :-)

Ya I agree. Great to see you getting into Tarkovsky, one of the utmost brilliant directors. Regarding Stalker, I think it's safe to say that nothing really happens once they get out to the Zone (which is to say there are no "external" events, rather the characters inner state). The men walk around, philosophize, argue, and stalk apparently in non-existant danger. Nor do they ever make it to the "Room", but chicken out at the last second, or realize that they have accomplished everything they ever wanted by simply going on the journey, like a pilgrimage for some kind of spiritual truth.

The film for me has always been about the Jungian thing; that people need something to believe in, some sort of intense inner faith otherwise their lives will be meaningless. I've felt the Sacrifice to have a similar message, that modern man must get back in touch with his spiritual side, and believe in the impossible: miracles, magic, God. As absurd as these beliefs are, there is nothing more sacred and profound to the human mind (although a belief in Art could possibly contend, as it has the power to bring people together).

Likewise, the character Stalker appears dim and superstitious at first, like some silly peasant. But near the end of the film we see an enormous bookshelf in his home, implying he is actually a well read, intelligent man. Has he learned so much that he has come to realize a belief in science, or technology will never fill the space where God died? I also think there are moments and images that have no apparent meaning, but are simply meant to be dreamlike. The sand dunes for instance, is actually one of my least favorite scenes. They may represent a biblical treck across the desert, but I find them somewhat out of place and sort of silly looking.

In fact, I've often felt there are noticeable flaws in Stalker and all throughout Tarkovsky's work. Putting aside his impressive ability to bore you to tears, what about the often pretentious dialogue? There is occassional writing that borders on embarassing, and I dare say his writing skills were not as graceful as his camera work. I would certainly place him in the highest pantheon of directors, but within that tier I'd say he is likely the most flawed. Even Kurosawa, a close friend of Tarkovsky, mentioned that his work was certainly not perfect, "I love his personality and all his works. Every cut from his films is a marvelous image in itself. But the finished image is nothing more than the imperfect accomplishment of his idea. His ideas are only realized in part. And he had to make do with it."

But great cinema is great cinema, regardless. I would highly recommend watching some Kieslowski, namely The Double Life of Veronique, which is a good starter I think. A director who made profound movies that are intricately parablesque, incredibly moving and above all, watchable. I would not wholeheartedly recommend Rublev, possibly his most boring. Stalker is oddly one of his most accessible, as are Solaris and Mirror. If those interest you I would say his whole catalogue is worth checking out, but be warned it's not easy sailing. And I think in a lot of ways that his fault, not ours.

Great points. I'm inclined to agree with your interpretation of Stalker, that nothing "external" happens in the Zone. That was the real hook of the movie (in your mind after the film, if not always during it). I wonder if the religious pilgrimage aspect of their trek adds a degree of subtle humor to the film. I'm thinking of the scene where they must walk through the "dry" tunnel that is flowing with water. I think Tark was poking some fun at the idea of these mystical journeys and the degree of self-deception needed (look at these grown men, coming up with magical moments, as they go, the limits and silliness of their imagination!).

I think you're right about the Jungian thing. Tark is definitely interested in spirituality and that should be at the forefront of the analysis. But there is also room for the skeptics -- perhaps a necessary thing? -- to view his films as tragic portraits of humanity unable to break free of their minds. I dug the sand dunes scene for maybe the reason you disliked it. It seemed in keeping with Tark's subtle humor at the whole idea of this thing. It might seem out of place, but it could have served a wholly mundane purpose in this old building. It's our imagination and will to believe (or deceive) that makes it into something more than it is. It begs the question at what point do we really encounter knowledge, at what point we do we experience something transcendent? Nature can be beautiful, too, but is it really sacred? I got a sense of these questions from Tark, and I thought was quite profound.

What are your thoughts on the final scene with the apparent telekinesis? If it's really happening, is this simply a scientific fact (nothing to write home about) or a supernatural occurrence? In some ways, I guess it can only be scientific -- if it exists, then so be it. That is what bothers me about the supernatural anyway, and might be the reason why it remains ineffable and unknown.

Speaking of flaws, I think this should be said. All directors, even the greatest, have their flaws. I think it becomes a little irritating to disregard them. Flaws are interesting and worth discussing! I would be completely lying if I said that Tark did not bore me at all or test my patience. If I had to compare Tark's audience engagement with a film like Toy Story 3, then the latter must win. But if I had to compare which film I will likely see again, and which film has me thinking more about the human condition and many other things, then Tark is the man.

I don't necessarily find his dialogue that pretentious, only because his characters do raise really interesting points. I was really taken by the Stalker's defense of being weak rather than strong. One thing I'll throw out there, though: Tark has a very aesthetically pleasing vision, elegant and delicate and understated. But this superlative seems to get conflated with, or expanded into, other superlatives -- such as greater insight or truth or whatever under the sun. I think it's important to call a spade a spade and give credit where due, but not get carried away.

Hehe, yeah I actually agree that Tarkovsky's humor (and pessimism) are on full display here. That is the real question, how can man even be religious in the modern age, after logic has disproven everything he held sacred. It is an act of forgetting it seems, like when a child learns that Santa Claus isn't real, but chooses (?) to forget around Christmas time when the carols are played and the cookies laid out.

But more on Tarkovsky's pessimism, I think the movie also hints at psychological truths rather than just spiritual ones. There is a tragic moment towards the end, for instance, when Stalker returns home. While lying in bed he essentially loses his faith because it seems no one is capable of believing. In fact, it seems the Stalker's faith rests more on other people believing in God than himself. Thus it's hard to say whether the Stalker has any more faith than the other two men. I think there is spirituality in the film, but it is a very nuanced spirituality coming from a modern mind living in a technological age where God has all but been wiped out. His films seem as much about the "spiritual mindset" itself, as they are "spiritual". Which is to say it also functions as a penetrative psychological look at Humanity. And this has always been the most interesting part of Tarkovsky's narratives to me.

The ending scene I actually see as symbolic. I see it as a hopeful ending, preceded by Stalker losing his faith, this belief in the supernatural and transcendance having passed onto the next generation, born again like the pheonix. He is saying perhaps that it is so deeply engrained into humanity that it will never die. I'm certainly not intrigued by any radiation poison theories or the idea that the rumbling train somehow moved each glass in a fluid streak.

As to flaws, I wouldn't stick out my neck and say any film is objectively perfect, however I don't share the Scaruffian mindset that we can't describe films that "get it right" as being perfect. There are certain movies that get it right, in every conceivable way. The Godfather I think is the greatest movie I've ever seen. I can find nothing wrong with it. Likewise Kubrick has arguably the most flawless career of anyone, with Dr. Strangelove, 2001, ACO, and Barry Lyndon perhaps all being perfect according to any practicle definition of the word. Citizen Kane on the other hand is, as Welles rightly described, "a flawed masterpiece". Tarkovsky gave us something nobody else did, but there are hiccups along the way. And naturally the flawed nature of his work is problematic for those unwilling (or unable) to look past it.

The main problem I have with the dialogue is that it sometimes takes me out of the movie. The characters in Tarkovsky often don't act like normal beings, but rather like characters out of a post-structuralist existential novella. It's kind of annoying, and considerably more annoying when you point this out plainly in conversation and get replies like HURR DURR HE WAS AWESOME LOILZ GO WATCH TARANTINO!

Andrei Rublev is his first unqualified success with me. Lurfed it.

Just wanted to add that I went back and watched this again, and I think it is a brilliant movie. I want to call it Tarkovsky's masterpiece, but that's a little hard to say. Anyways I had so many thoughts about it and wanted to share some. First of all I think Stalker is a very contradictory, hypocritical character. Despite his hot philosophizing he constantly fails to live up to his own dogma. He practically abandons his family in the begining and I really think the only meak and mild characters are his wife and child. I'd like to think of him as the Unholy Sheppard or impure priest.

I like to think of the movie as Freudian Transcendence, as the pilgrimage might as well be a psychoanalytic one. Each man has a secret he harbours, and over the course of the trip finally brings it out to light. They're all afraid of entering the Room, since it might make their deepest darkest secrets come true, and I think they all fear that it will be something horrible. The people patrolling the Zone could also be guardians of the unconscious, blocking the path to painful realizations the characters will make.

As for the meteor, I think of it as a modern myth or futuristic fairy tale. It shows that people will never abandon their beliefs in the supernatural, what with things like UFOs, aliens, conspiracy theories. Magical thinking is still alive and kicking, just in a different form. I also can't help but think of the Zone as the Garden of Eden while watching this. The characters have been banished from the Garden, and spend their time clawing their way back. Anyways, I think there is a lot more to say about this movie than "it's spiritual."

I do appreciate your interest and passion for Tarkovsky, as its motivated me to go back and unearth some of my own ideas about him and discover new ones. Not to mention he is a draw droppingly good film maker. I say this after watching many other movies and finally returning to his work. He is simply a God, as Von Trier said.