Tarkovsky Season

Adelaide’s Cinémathèque has some goodies in store this season, including three awesome Andrei Tarkovsky films in March , and a slew of SF & F films April/May.

SacrificeThe Sacrifice

Wednesday March 14 | 7:00pm 4K restoration
1986 / 149mins / Sweden/UK/Fra

Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes, his third as an ex-patriate and his last film, it is known as Tarkovsy’s homage to Ingmar Bergman, seen here in its 2017 beautiful 4K restoration. A middle aged ex actor, despairing and bitter at a changing world, tries to bargain with God when faced with an impending nuclear war. Shot by Ingmar Bergman’s longtime cinematographer Sven Nykvist, The Sacrifice contains some of the most powerful images in Tarkovsky’s monumental oeuvre. Perhaps its most transcendent moment is the penultimate scene, an epic, six-minute-long take that stands as one of the wonders of cinema. A powerful statement of humility in the face of the unknown, The Sacrifice is an exquisite parting word from one of the greatest  artists of the 20th century.


Monday March 19 | 7:00pm
1980  / 162mins / Russia

The visual aesthetics, philosophical and psychological approach of this most highly lauded film influenced an entire generation of filmmakers working in the genre of dystopic sci-fi. An expedition is led by Stalker into the Zone to find the room where you can fulfil your innermost desires.  It remains a dense, complex, often-contradictory and endlessly pliable allegory about human consciousness, the necessity for faith in an increasingly secular, rational world and the ugly, unpleasant dreams and desires that reside in the hearts of men. Screenplay written by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, loosely based on their novel Roadside Picnic (1972)

The starkness of its conception did not prevent the production traumas during its creation. Plans to shoot in Tajikistan had to be abandoned because of an earthquake. Having relocated to an abandoned hydroelectric power station in Estonia, Tarkovsky was dissatisfied with the cinematography and decided to shoot a pared-down version of the script all over again – in the same place. The price paid for this pursuit of an ideal is incalculable. Sound recordist Vladimir Sharun believes the deaths from cancer of Tarkovsky (in 1986), his wife Larissa and Anatoly Solonitsyn (who plays the Writer) were all due to contamination from a chemical plant upstream from the set.
* This is the film screening in the cinema in Atomic Blonde — in cyrillic,  “Сталкер”

MirrorThe Mirror

Wednesday March 21 | 7:00pm
1975 / 107mins / Russia

Ranked by Sight and Sound as the 12th greatest film ever made, this highly evocative, non-linear and loosely autobiographical film is said to capture the organic unfolding of memory, in this case the key events in the life of a dying poet.

The events are both highly personal such as a painful divorce as well as historical in regard to the great upheavals of 20th century Russia.  The life is represented in such a way as to attempt the erosion or even abolition of the distinction between past and present. Tarkovsky worked on the script for over a decade and the film itself is the result of almost 40 major re-edits. The influence of Fellini and Ingmar Bergman can be seen in this film.

A 4 session pass to Cinémathèque is $40/$30; you’ll probably want to see Hard to Be A God on 23 April or one of the four other sf films in the After Year Zero sessions


Istanbul through a wormhole

The surreal, digitally altered photographs of Aydın Büyüktaş defy time and space, presenting his home city of Istanbul as though viewed through a wormhole.

His images are the culmination of his reading during his childhood and adolescence in Ankara – science fiction by writers such as Isaac Asimov and HG Wells, as well as scientific and technical journals. “These books made me question the issues of wormholes, blackholes, parallel universes, gravitation and bending of space and time,” he said by email from Istanbul.
— Elle Hunt, writing on Cities in the guardian

Once Upon a Time in the North

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 4.59.29 pm

One of my delights discovered this year was the series of audiobooks narrated by Philip Pullman. One of the short stories tells how out balloonist Lee needs Iorek’s help to sort out some political shenanigans in the Arctic town of Novy Odense. Pullman has a wonderful reading voice, and these full cast recordings bring the stories to life.

The full dark materials trilogy is available, read by Pullman himself. Highly recommended.

Hawking’s Ph.D. Crashes Cambridge Site

Interest in “Properties of Expanding Universes” is at an all-time high: Stephen Hawking’s doctoral thesis of that name crashed Cambridge University’s open-access repository on the first day the document was posted online.

The Cambridge Library made several PDF files of the thesis available for download from its website, […]
By late Monday local time, the well-known theoretical physicist’s thesis had been viewed more than 60,000 times, says Stuart Roberts, deputy head of research communications at Cambridge. He added, “Other popular theses might have 100 views per month.”

— item from  file770.com


Crit Mass: Nov 1st

Just to round off the year for Critical Mass, we invite you to jot down some notes on your best new discovery for the year, so that you can spend five minutes telling us about it. What genre book, film, TV show, comic or play took your fancy this year? Come along and tell us about it!

As it’s our last meeting for the year, we’re inviting you to join us for dinner after the meeting: around 8:15 at East of Norman, a short walk from the meeting at Kappy’s.
As usual, a 7pm start Wednesday night!

Thor:Ragnarok full of Aussie/Kiwi humour

Directed by New Zealand’s Taika Waititi, [Ragnarok is] the daftest movie from the comic book studio to date, shot through with the anarchically quirky humour in Waititi’s films like What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Boy.

Filmed on the Gold Coast at Hemsworth’s request and employing plenty of locals, including indigenous people, there are a surprising number of Aussie (and Kiwi) accents and in-jokes.

All of the spaceships featured in the film are named after Holden models, including the Statesman, the Kingswood, the Torana and the Commodore.

— more details in The New Daily: http://thenewdaily.com.au/entertainment/movies/2017/10/24/thor-ragnarok/

Oct 11th Crit Mass: Margaret Cavendish’s “Description of a New World…”

Adam’s going to talk about Margaret Cavendish, utopian feminist — 7pm at Kappy’s, 22 Compton St, Adelaide. Don’t miss it! Note this is on the second Wednesday of October.


First published in 1666, written by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World is the first fictional portrayal of women and the new science. Blazing World is the first science-fiction novel known to have been written and published by a woman, and represents a pioneering female scientific utopia.

While you can download the original edition from project Gutenberg, the 2016 edition by Sara Mendelson includes additional critical material and is considered the preferred edition (available online from broadview press).


“Sara Mendelson’s edition of Blazing World is a major contribution to the ever-increasing scholarship on the works of this remarkable woman. Cavendish’s utopian romance, which also functions as a critique of the new experimental science, is becoming one of the canonical texts of the Scientific Revolution.”
— Lisa Sarasohn, Oregon State University

Provenance: the new Ann Leckie

Provenance-Leckie[…] The Imperial Radch trilogy [by Ann Leckie] impressed a lot of people, as witnessed by the array of awards and award nominations it took home. But after such a successful debut—after such a lauded debut trilogy—there is always going to be a question when the author moves on to something new. Can the next book live up to the quality of what has gone before while breaking new ground? Or will they spend their career telling different versions of the same story?

The answer, in Leckie’s case, is Provenance, which is every bit as good as her previous work and very different in theme, tone, and approach. Provenance takes place in the same universe as the Ancillary books, but outside the Radchaai sphere of influence. Hwae is a small planet-nation of limited importance to anyone except its inhabitants and near neighbours. Unlike the Radchaai, the people of Hwae have three genders (and consequently three sets of pronouns, she, he, and e) which young people choose between as one of the signs they have become adult. Hwaeans ascribe immense social and cultural importance to relics, which play a significant (and legitimating) role in their culture and politics. […]

—  “Exploring a New Corner of the Universe: Provenance by Ann Leckie” by Liz Bourke on tor.com