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Showing posts from June, 2020

Everything will fall apart. In this world, just as in yours. Again. And again. Because of you. And because of me.

Dark  Season Three
(SPOILERS) Early reaction to the conclusion of the German time-travel saga appears overwhelmingly positive, but I’m less convinced of its merits. On the plus side, a resolution was hatched for the interminable loop. On the minus, Dark’s Season Three plot mechanics felt a little underwhelming, hasty even, just as the resolution for Jonas and Martha proved quite touching.

All the way up! We’ll make it cold like winter used to be.

Soylent Green (1973)
(SPOILERS) The final entry in Chuck Heston’s mid-career sci-fi trilogy (I’m not counting his Beneath the Planet of the Apes extended cameo). He hadn’t so much as sniffed at the genre prior to 1967, but over the space of the next half decade or so, he blazed a trail for dystopian futures. Perhaps the bleakest of these came in Soylent Green. And it’s only a couple of years away. 2022 is just around the corner.

If we don’t stop this thing soon, the whole damn planet’s in trouble.

The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)
(SPOILERS) There’s an evergreen lure to the Philadelphia Experiment’s mythos, up there with the Bermuda Triangle for “fact-based” mysteries. A movie version would doubtless benefit from a more literal and “plausible” approach, as would many of the rumoured alt-science ventures of WWII. What we got was much more basic, but the premise itself goes a long way. So much so, it helped mask the movie’s relative averageness at the time of its release – at least, for someone who lapped up the possibility that it was based on an actual event. And we should probably grateful The Philadelphia Experiment is as serviceable as it is; after all, director Stewart Raffill closed out the decade with Paul Rudd’s star-making turn in Mac and Me.

They’re a normal condition of the planet. They’re just not part of our consensus of what constitutes physical reality.

The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
(SPOILERS) Movies tackling renowned supernatural or folkloric themes are prone to satisfy no one. Most certainly not the devotees, for whom the key features are inevitably dumbed down or simplified. And more than likely not a general audience either, since despite all available concessions, attempts to convert such material into an accessible narrative still fall short. I remember seeing The Mothman Prophecies at the cinema and being unmoved by Mark Pellington’s snoozefest, the occasional atmospheric moment or two aside. Revisiting the film, I wonder if I might have given it too much credit.

That’s what’s so refreshing. Knowing that you don’t know is the first and the most essential step to knowing.

Synecdoche, New York
(2008)
(SPOILERS) I’d seen all Charlie Kaufman’s other pictures – yes, even Human Nature – and greatly enjoyed most of them – no, not Human Nature – yet had contrived to avoid Synecdoche, New York. Something about it just didn’t appeal. Perhaps it was the writer-director element, the feeling that unfiltered Kaufman might just be a little too rich. Or perhaps it was that the concept, even by his standards, seemed like a lot of hard work, the rewards for which would likely be familiar by this point. Unfortunately, I was proved largely correct. For all its virtues – a fine cast, fitfully inspired explorations of the unravelling of the mind/being and with it, greater reality and its assumed underpinnings – the film is a sombre, indulgent slog. As Jonathan Rosenbaum observed, “it seems more like an illustration of his script than a full-fledged movie, proving how much he needs a Spike Jonze or a Michel Gondry to realise his surrealistic conceits”. This is true. Kaufman …

The crags on your face. Do they hurt?

Logan’s Run (1976)
(SPOILERS) There’s a lot of nostalgia out there for Logan’s Run. Unfortunately, most of it that isn’t focussing on the pulchritudinous presence of Jenny Agutter is unjustified. Logan’s Run’s problems are two-fold. It isn’t escapist enough to be a true crowd pleaser, and it isn’t brainy enough to rank in the top end of more respected SF fare of that immediate period (Planet of the Apes, Silent Running). Plus, it’s directed by Michael Anderson. Nevertheless, Logan’s Run occupies an interesting place for science-fiction movies, as the last of an era grappling with dystopian themes before Star Wars spawned a new visual language and mythic envelope that made such pontificating seem old-hat and antiquated overnight.

I’m tired. I’m tired of the future.

Minority Report (2002)
(SPOILERS) Spielberg doesn’t really do downers. Sure, you can find them; his early attempt to make a movie in line with his peer group (Sugarland Express); the Oscar bait of Saving Private Ryan (softened by an interminable coda). And doubtless, unless he really messes with the plot, West Side Story will not be ending on a note of good cheer. And then there are the back-to-back science fiction outings that opened the century, both standing apart as rather curious fish. At first glance, Minority Report concludes very much with a prevailing sense of order restored; the bad apple in an otherwise honest system is removed, which is very much the Hollywood norm for nominally conspiracy pictures (Enemy of the State, for example). But even with that questionably affirmative conclusion, this adaptation of the 1956 Philip K Dick short story merely offers the continuation of what is unquestionably a Grade-A dystopia.