Shared cinematic universes were big news this year, as Warner Bros. (DC superheroes), Universal (classic monsters), and Sony (Robin Hood — no, really) all announced they were going to hitch a ride on Marvel's super-profitable bandwagon. We'd like to offer a few more suggestions.
Avengers of Angst Assemble
Deep inside the mysterious area known as the Zone from Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, the title character (Alexander Kaidanovsky) learns that the magical, wish-granting Room has been invaded. The Stalker sends a message to the distant planet in Tarkovsky's Solaris, asking Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) to return. (Alternatively, for marquee value it could be George Clooney from Steven Soderbergh's Solaris remake.) He also summons the schizophrenic Karin (Harriet Andersson) from Ingmar Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly and the weary Claudia (Monica Vitti) from Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura. Gathering outside the Room, none of them can quite work up the enthusiasm to go inside. Instead, they meander around the Zone, brooding in existential ennui. In the post-credits sequence, the Stalker's daughter (Natasha Abramova) is revealed to be inside the Room, using her mild telekinetic powers to push pebbles around and ruminate on God's silence. SC
The Heroes of Body Horror
The Lady in the Radiator from David Lynch's Eraserhead is missing! And so the big-haired Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) sets out to find her, first enlisting the help of Max Renn (James Wood) from David Cronenberg's Videodrome. Switching out the videotapes in his abdominal slot, Renn suggests they contact Brundlefly (Jeff Goldblum) from Cronenberg's The Fly, in case they need digestive enzymes vomited onto something. Also arriving is Pris (Daryl Hannah) from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, hoping the Lady can extend her four-year lifespan. They eventually find the Lady in the Radiator in Heaven, where everything is fine. SC
Hey, what if all the doppelgängers from Coherence, The Double, Enemy, The Face of Love, The Identical, The Lookalike, The Man on Her Mind, The One I Love, and whatever other doppelgänger-themed 2014 films I'm forgetting just now, of which I'm sure there are several, all came together in a single movie? Or maybe it'd be more fitting to do it in two movies that mirrored each other in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Would the whole world explode? Would some studio executive somewhere at least make twice as much money? JK
Dead Poets Society
In October, writer-director Paul Schrader disavowed his Nic Cage thriller Dying of the Light after Lionsgate overlords rejiggered the filmmaker's initial cut. Since then the jokes about Schrader not going gentle into that good night have written themselves. Admittedly, I haven't seen the film, and therefore can't make any sincere claim on what it may or may not lack, but at this point surely throwing Michael Caine's Dylan Thomas-quoting physicist from Interstellar into the mix couldn't possibly make things any worse.