TO THE STARS BY HARD WAYS (CHEREZ TERNII K ZVEZDAM) 1985/2001, 118 min. Dir. Richard Viktorov. The Starship Pushkin, boldly going where no man has gone before, finds an abandoned vessel in deep space filled with the decaying bodies of humanoids. There is, however, one surviving member of the crew, a gynoid named Niya (an eye-popping performance by Yelena Metyolkina), who seeks the help of earthlings to restore her now severely polluted home planet of Dessa to its natural splendor. Richard Viktorov’s collaboration with sci-fi writer Kir Bulychyov has undeniable camp appeal, with its abundance of mod leisure-wear outfits, cosmic mercenaries and bionic women (not to mention a humanoid midget capitalist, the villain responsible for running Dessa into the ground), and it was pitched to the 1982 Soviet teen audience as skillfully as the STAR TREK film series was pitched to its American counterpart. However, this deliriously emotional movie (known to Mystery Science Theater fans in its HUMANOID WOMAN form) is also visually ravishing and, in its own unique way, deeply affecting. We will be screening Viktorov’s original version.
ZERO CITY (GOROD ZERO), 1988, 103 Min. Dir. Karen Shakhnazarov.One of the key films of the Perestroika era. A Moscow engineer named Varakin (beautifully played, in an increasingly bewildered deadpan performance, by Leonid Filatov) arrives in a small town, with instructions to change the size of a locally manufactured air conditioner part. At the company office he is welcomed by a naked secretary. Soon, he finds himself sitting down to lunch. The dessert arrives, a cake that strongly resembles his own head, baked by a chef who soon shoots himself in the head. With every new encounter, Varakin is sucked into the vortex of a new identity and a strange, new reality. With its images of a burdensome past (Soviet history is crammed into an elaborate diorama exposition thousands of feet below ground, to which Varakin is shepherded) and an indeterminate future, and with its roots in both the folk tale and more modern forms of absurdism, Shakhnazarov’s very funny and very poignantly disorienting film is a real historical touchstone.
Official Website: http://egyptiantheatre.com/archive1999/2006/RussianFantastik.htm
Added by kiracle on October 17, 2006