Geoff Dyer

Possibly the longest movie review ever written, Geoff Dyer's Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room (Pantheon, $24) immediately becomes essential reading for all you fans of the late Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky (1932–1986), who form an obsessive group. Dyer would know, being one of their tribe; and he's particularly obsessed with the 1979 Stalker, a very slow and gnomic three-hour art movie that he has seen dozens of times—but never on video! because that would be sacrilege!—and describes as "a literal journey that is also a journey into cinematic space and—in tandem—into time." Part of the book's charm is that's it's as much about the author as it is about the auteur. Dyer keeps injecting himself in the text with digressive Pale Fire-length footnotes (he hates Top Gear, loves Burning Man, doesn't do as much acid as when he first bonded with Stalker, etc.), revealing most of his British quirks with a candor entirely absent in Stalker itself. However, let's be frank: Many cineastes find Tarkovsky to be a colossal bore, and Stalker to be a hopeless pile of pretentious hokum—only profound to those who habitually go out looking for profundity (or are stoned). But even for non-believers, Zona is highly entertaining, because Dyer is such an erudite and lively writer. (On the rise of texting: "In evolutionary terms, the index finger enjoyed a long period of dominance in the era of the rotary phone, but this action is now close to extinct … while the thumb enjoys a renaissance in the age of texting and mobiles.") He could just as easily write a book-length appreciation of, say, Project X. Which we would gladly also read. BRIAN MILLER

Fri., March 16, 7 p.m., 2012

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