Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Five Movies You Should See NOW

I've been getting typhooned here in Japan... two in September alone that caused floods in my area and cut us off (literally) from civilization for several days when the roads leading out of town either collapsed or were covered by rockslides. Not much else to report, but I wanted to give my list of five movies you should see right now, and some reasons why...

1.) Blade Runner- I doubt there's anyone reading this particular blog that hasn't seen this film, but if you haven't, or haven't seen it in, say, the last 48 hours, by all means do so. There's a reason it's been copied, referenced, paid homage to, served as inspiration, and just plain been ripped off so many times. It's one in a million, a perfect alchemy where everything fell into place and no one who worked on it (even Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott) has ever scaled quite those heights again. It's a world unto itself, beautiful-looking and beautiful-sounding, and it reveals the ugliest and the best of what it means to be human. This is what movies were invented for.

2.) Amadeus- A pitch-perfect period drama with the best single acting performance ever (F. Murray Abraham as Salieri), it's also the single best meditation / exploration of creativity and its ups and downs ever put to film. Great sets, beautiful locations... oh, and the music's pretty good, too.

3.) The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Beyond the 8th Dimension- An homage / piss-take on every cliche in comic books and science fiction and adventure serials and the 80s, made during the 80s. It grows on you like a virus and every time you watch it there's another weird background joke that'll hurl itself in your face. Oh, and no one has ever chewed scenery as thoroughly (and joyously) as John Lithgow chews it in this film. Unapologetically clever, this film refuses to slow down for its audience, and is a whole lot of fun.

4.) Spider- One of the (criminally) lesser-known of cult director David Cronenberg's films, Spider is a brutally realistic look at the life (both exterior and interior) of a man living with mental illness, told in an unhurried and strangely beautiful way. Ralph Fiennes and Miranda Richardson anchor a stellar cast.

5.) Tideland- Now we come to Terry Gilliam's most criminally underrated and ignored film, about the imagination and resiliency of children in the face of hell. You have to meet this one head-on, and surrender to it. You'll be glad you did. The less you know, the better, so I'll say no more. Just see it.

Okay, so I liked these films and think you will, too. But you want to know the real reason you should see these films? It's because you'll likely never see anything like them again.

Blade Runner? Yeah, there's been a lot of other stuff based on / inspired by Philip K. Dick since then, but... this is big-budget SF that the director refuses to dumb down, with real solid practical effects over every beautiful square inch of it... no CGI lazinesss here. Amadeus? Sure, it's based on a play, and Hollywood loves its adaptations, but it's too highbrow, and there's too much focus on character and not enough on angst to satisfy the bean counters. Too slow, I guess. Buckaroo Banzai? Come on, an ORIGINAL SF movie? One that's not based on a comic or novel? Mwahahahahahaha. Right. Spider? You mean a film about mental illness that doesn't include action and splattering guts and / or alien conspiracy and... huh. Better get your art friends to fund it. What? They did? Yup... this film nearly bankrupted Cronenberg but he did it anyway. And Tideland? Yeah... weird childhood film... uh-huh... no, it's not like High School Musical. It's... What? No, I won't let the door hit me on the ass on the way out. Thank you.

Enjoy... and I do mean that.

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