One of the most immersive and rarefied experiences in the history of cinema, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker embarks on a metaphysical journey through an enigmatic post-apocalyptic landscape. A hired guide—the “Stalker” of the title—leads a writer and a scientist into the heart of the Zone, the restricted site of a long-ago disaster, where the three men eventually zero in on the Room, a place rumored to fulfill one’s most deeply held desires. Adapting a science-fiction novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, and making what would be his final Soviet feature, Tarkovsky created a challenging and visually stunning work, his painstaking attention to material detail and sense of organic atmosphere further enriched by this vivid new digital restoration. At once a religious allegory, a reflection of contemporary political anxieties, and a meditation on film itself—among many other interpretations—Stalker envelops the viewer by opening up a multitude of possible meanings.
With his lush and sensual visuals, pitch-perfect soundtracks, and soulful romanticism, Wong Kar Wai has established himself as one of the defining auteurs of contemporary cinema.
“No one sees anything. Ever. They watch, but they don’t understand.” So observes Connie Nielsen in Olivier Assayas’s hallucinatory, globe-spanning Demonlover, a postmodern neonoir thriller and media critique in which nothing—not even the film itself—is what it appears to be.
DCP, Blu-ray, DVD
An intoxicating, time-bending experience bathed in the golden glow of oil lamps and wreathed in an opium haze, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s gorgeous period reverie traces the romantic intrigue, jealousies, and tensions swirling around a late 19th century Shanghai brothel, where the courtesans live confined to a gilded cage, ensconced in opulent splendor yet forced to work to buy back their freedom.