Monday, July 06, 2009

Follow the heft and feel quiet hang.

by Ryland Walker Knight

first stop

Tomorrow marks the start of this cycle's Tarkovsky retro at the Walter Reade. Unlike plenty of other earlier passions, his work teaches me more with each viewing, so for that reason alone (among many) I'm sorry to miss the series. But, as I trust there is always another program around some bend I cannot see yet, I'm mostly happy for my friends who will be able to fall into some of the zones of light that doyen made shine. While I've seen the first three masterpieces—Andrei Rublev, Solaris, and (my favorite) Mirror—projected, the latter trio (trilogy?) remain in my brain via bad DVDs I bought ages ago; I yearn to feel them bigger and louder. However, despite the fact that I would fight to see them all, I cannot say that I recommend too many all at once, back to back to back. Luckily, there's only seven features to contend with, which makes the mountain more of a hill. Still, it's not blueberry hill, though it's not hamburger either. No, think debris.

first stop
first pile

If I had to choose one to see during this little run, I'd pick Stalker because it's probably the best of the lot, and because it's probably the worst of the DVDs I own. I can only imagine the lulls of that grass and the echos of that sandbox work more magic at their largest. Then again, it can only be stunning, like a pin-me-down kind, to endure the passion of light near the close of Nostalgia from the fourth row of the Reade. Ditto the flames of the final offering. Go feel'm for me.



  1. This week I'm making something of a mad quasi-religious pilgrimage from Maryland to catch a couple of these, mad not just because it's a pretty long way to go but because I've never actually been to NYC before. The prospect of going from that type of overstimulation into a dark but equally unfamiliar theater to watch Andrei T. follow Andrei R. around for a few hours is both scary and attractive.

  2. Thanks for the comment, JF! What a fun time you have in store. Make sure you get around outside, too, while you're there. I still never quite figured out where to eat around the Walter Reade, but there are pretty good burgers (at NY prices) up a little bit at Shake Shack's uptown location; you can get, as expected, a good shake as well. (More info here.)

    Also, yes, when I saw Andrei Rublev projected—a sold-out show at Berkeley's PFA—it was church for me.

  3. Thanks for the tip, Ryland. I do love the taste of a good burger, as the man says.

    I'm doing Rublev tomorrow, then the documentary and Mirror on Thursday. I've seen all of them except the doc, but never on a big screen. Also I must concur that Kino's Stalker transfer is horrible. The only way I can even sit through the DVD is on my terminally ill TV, so I don't notice the pixilation and stuttering in the image as much. It's a mystery to me why Kino's R1 transfers are so bad sometimes.

  4. I actually have the All-Region Rusico discs, for whatever that's worth.

    Also, this new post by Doug Cummings is worth reading.

  5. Tarkovsky really is radically different in a theater. Rublev and Mirror weren't just more sublime for me this time around, they were sublime in new ways. I never fully realized how funny Rublev can be, and how grotesque the moments of violence are.

    Meeting Andrei Tarkovsky is pretty good. It does suffer from the pitfalls that that type of documentary filmmaking tends to suffer from, but some of the material is golden, and the last 10 minutes are so are really quite moving.

    And my burger and shake were all kinds of scrumptious and entirely worth the line.

  6. Thanks for the report, JF! Glad to know it was an all around success.