Capsule: A Short Film by Tony Altamirano

Tony Altamirano’s film as been an official selection at the New York City International Film Festival 2011, Beverly Hills Shorts Fest 2011, Capital City Film Fest 2011, and the San Francisco Frozen Film Fest 2011. It’s a neat little science fiction surprise with a twist. I like its point of view on the imagination’s ability to transform reality even while putting one in mortal danger.

Ikarie XB-1: 1963 Czechoslovak Science Fiction Film of a Stanislaw Lem Novel

This 1963 Czechoslovak science fiction film directed by Jindrich Polák is an adaptation of a Stanislaw Lem novel called ‘The Magellanic Cloud.’ Reflexively, one tries to find similarities between this film and Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ But I think the better place to look for influence is in Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 film, ‘Solaris,’ which was also a Lem adaptation. ‘Ikarie XB-1‘ follows the crew of a ship sent to investigate a planet orbiting Earth’s nearest star, Alpha Centauri. On the way, they encounter a derelict space ship from 1987 Earth which appears to originate from the United States and carries a load of deadly poison and nuclear weapons. Crew members begin to inexplicably fall asleep. The ship also finds a giant dark star that emits an unknown type of radiation from which the humans are mysteriously rescued. The end of the film is a stunning sequence of mental breakdown leading to fantastic and life-affirming discovery.

But the various events do not matter as much as the way the film dwells on the people within their technological surroundings. It’s the focus on the mental status of the crew as opposed to exciting episodes that makes for the strength of this film and its influence on ‘Solaris.’ The film has a calm and quiet approach, simply trying to let us feel the vast distances traveled by the crew. The sets and visual effects hover between beautiful and unconvincing. But they work and are often effective. It’s really a pretentious art film in space. If you like Eastern Bloc science fiction and Stanislaw Lem’s peculiar writing, this is a must see.

Trailer for Disney’s John Carter Film

Here’s the first official trailer for Disney’s upcoming film, ‘John Carter.’ It’s an odd way to retitle Edgar Rice Burroughs’ science fiction novel, ‘A Princess of Mars.’ But that’s what they’ve done. I don’t imagine there are too many people who will go see a movie named for someone called John Carter. But anything is possible. If you’d like to put up with some very bad writing by Mr. Burroughs, you can listen to Candlelight’s complete audio book version of the novel. I’m not sure why I recorded it at all. Burroughs turned what should have been a short story into a novel by making all of his sentences run the length of football fields.

Stopover: Animation by Neil Stubbings

I like this fast-paced and funny little cartoon about a driving emergency in outer space. The characters are expressive and silly. The ‘I have to pee urgently’ walk is hysterical. The computer animation has that nice cartoony/drawn look that always catches my eye. Neil Stubbings directed the film for LeMob Animation.  Via Neatorama.