Solaris (dir. Andrei Tarkovsky): Another example of non-verbal ponderings and metaphysical explorations transferred to film by the great Andrei. The only level at which the film is even a little transparent (translucent?) is its dissimilarity to Kubrick’s film. Solaris is the antithesis to 2001: in a vacuum, Brahms is silenced; what is most to be feared by alien life is self-confrontation; nothing is more horrifying than the materialization of human desires, rather than a robot gone awry; Kubrick strives for a phenomenology of the beyond and Tarkovsky brings us back to the most elemental and elementary objects, forms, thoughts, and feelings. There is no irony here, as there is in Kubrick’s; it’s nothing less than perfectly appropriate that man himself is his own doomed end.
Miss Marple – “A Pocketful of Rye” (dir. Charles Palmer): Agatha Christie’s series is apparently done justice by the Brits (who have a way of apparently doing justice to anything British…or maybe it’s just the accents) in this ably adapted and effectively enacted (I disgust myself) episode recalling that one Renoir film and Altman’s tribute to it. Reminds one of Chesterton’s Father Brown character: who wouldn’t trust a priest or old lady in a murder-mystery-type scenario? Many thanks to public television, who gave us this along with the pretty-much-perfect Cranford.
Hellboy (dir. Guillermo del Toro): Not as flashy or goofy as its sequel, it’s more rewarding upon repeated viewings. (Not that the sequel is anything less than great.) A surprisingly cohesive film with numerous threads running throughout in a tight and impressive braid. Del Toro’s horror past is evident, as are the seeds to what will be Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s pretty Roman Catholic (signaled early on by crucifixes), whereas its sequel is rather secular (a Santa Claus Christmas in its opening scene). A very red movie.