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Stalker (no) and Ink (yes)

We attempted two unusual movies over the weekend. One was an utter failure and the other a rousing success. The first was Stalker (warning: link has spoilers), a subtitled (strike 1) 1970s (strike 2) Russian sci-fi flick which appeared from it sepia tones to have been filmed in the 1940s (strike 3) and which had not a single line of dialog for the first ten minutes (Yer out!!). The premise ("an expedition led by the Stalker to bring his two clients to a site known as the Zone, which has the supposed potential to fulfill a person's innermost desires") sounded intriguing but the execution left a lot to be desired. Plus we weren't in a subtitley mood, so after 15 minutes we called the game on account of "Meh."

The second, however, was intriguing and I highly recommend it. It's called Ink, and came out in 2009. Visually it's unusual and striking -- overexposed in parts, strange fades in and out, abrupt scene shifts back and forth in time, and events are rather subtle in that you have to be patient but also pay close attention to comprehend events. Very much like a dream, which is apt since the story is about two factions, one group that brings good dreams and another that brings nightmares. The story concerns a little girl who is kidnapped by the scrofulous raggedy-robed Ink, who intends to give her as payment to a mysterious group known as The Assembly (they're the ones that bring nightmares), in exchange for beauty, wealth and happiness.

There are also Storytellers and Pathfinders -- one of the best scenes is one in which the Pathfinder "conducts" a series of coincidences to create the situation they need. They travel by means of doors, which they open by playing rhythms on small drums. And the child who plays the little girl is extraordinary: both adorable and fierce, like a tiny Gryffindor.

There's a psychological element to the movie as well, because what's happening in the real world and the dream world interact and affect each other. I don't want to say to much more for fear of spoiling it, but it's a wonderful and thought-provoking movie. (As you might guess, it never made the mainstream theatres but played the art house and film festival circuit.)

Anyway, I highly recommend it. It's not a traditional movie where the storyline is blatantly obvious, but it's well worth the time and patience to experience it.

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