Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Science Fiction Movies (No Space/Aliens)


A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, Queens in the 1970s and 80s, to be exact, I sat around with my buddies talking about what it would be like in the year 2000. After all, that seemed like centuries away. Thanks to The Jetsons and other futuristic shows and movies, we all thought we would have flying cars and possibly live in a colony on the moon. I'm outside everyday. It ain't exactly looking like The Fifth Element out there. I'm still sore about this, by the way, Anyhoo, at some point, we started imagining that the impossible might happen. Some kooky teacher told us that one day we would all be able to communicate with one another instantly through our computers. Of all the wacky things I heard that had to be the goofiest...oh, wait. Just scratch this whole paragraph from memory.

And this is why you should do a rough draft before you just start typing up a post. Man, I'm an ID 10 T.*

Hey there, boys and girls...yes, I'm starting over...it's time for another round of Thursday Movie Picks hosted by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves. Head on over to her site to check out the rules and regs for entering this thing and get crackin'. This week's theme is "Science Fiction Movies." Here's the catch: the movies cannot be about space or involve aliens. Fair enough. I've flipped the switch on my automated shovel, set on 'deep,' of course, and come up with these...


Rollerball
Made in 1975
Set in 2018
In this dystopian future, literally the entire world is run by large corporations in the planet's most popular sport: Rollerball. It's heavily based on roller derby, of all things, but contains elements of football, hockey, and includes guys that ride motorcycles. The point is it's an incredibly violent game in which death is not an uncommon occurrence. Jonathan E. (James Caan) is the best player of all time, but the corporation that runs things wants him to retire. He doesn't want to. Big evil corporation vs. the rebel stuff ensues. It's a fun slice of 70s sci-fi with some interesting things to say about the power amassed by corporations and our collective addiction to sports. If you decide to give this one a go, make sure you pick up this version and NOT the dreadful 2002 version.



Videodrome
Made in 1983
Set in 1983 (???)

I know, you love The Fly, Scanners, and Dead Ringers. That's all fine and dandy, but if you ask me this is David Cronenberg's masterpiece. It's about Max (James Woods), a guy that runs an obscure network that shows the most perverse stuff it can find. One day he gets a videotape...yup, a videotape, showing what looks like an actual snuff film. For the uninitiated that's a film showing someone being killed. Aside from the obvious, watching this stuff has strange effects on people. In fact, the tape itself seems to take over people. This is a movie straight from all of our nightmares about the effect of television on our very souls. It's something we've debated since the first TV found a spot in someone's living room and continue to discuss today. And the practical effects are flat out disturbing. (my full review)


Robot & Frank
Made in 2012
Set in "The Near Future"
Frank (Frank Langella) is a senile old man, to put it bluntly. When it becomes apparent, he can no longer function on his own, his adult children decide to get him a robot that will serve as his in-home care provider and companion. It will make sure he gets his meds, help out around the house, and stimulate Frank's mind in an effort to keep it sharp. Soon, Frank is as lucid as he's been for quite some time and wants desperately to go back to work. The problem is that Frank's old job wasn't like most of ours. He was a burglar. This is a very fascinating movie that touches on healthcare issues, familial responsibility to the elderly, the rapid growth of technology, and finally, the meaning of friendship. (my full review)


Check out other Thursday Movie Picks:


*ID 10 T = idiot

28 comments:

  1. Videodrome is and still my favorite David Cronenberg film. That is freaky as fuck but man, I love it. I've seen bits of the original Rollerball but not enough to form a valid opinion though I'm sure it is way better than that awful remake. Frank & Robot is a film that I still haven't seen but I hope to very soon.

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    1. Yes, someone else who has Videodrome as their fave DC! It's flat out bizarre, but in a great way.

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  2. I have yet to see Frank & Robot! Rollerball reminded me of a movie that I could have placed on my list this week - The Running Man.

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    1. There are definitely sime parallels between Rollerball and Running Man. Great call.

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  3. Videodrome sounds really interesting. I'm going to have to save that one. I've had Robot and Frank in my Netflix queue for ages and haven't gotten to it yet. I need to.

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    1. It's bonkers...perfectly bonkers. Yes, het to Robot & Frank, soon.

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  4. Ahh. Videodrome (long live the new flesh!), superb pick. My third favourite Cronenberg film, unlike yourself I prefer The Fly and The Brood which are my second and first favourite films of his.

    In soccer, it's not uncommon to see stadiums named after companies (Etihad Stadium, Emirates Stadium, Sports Direct Arena) so it seems like Rollerball has, in some way, depicted a rather accurate foretelling of business involvement with sport and its increased commercialisation

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    1. Love The Fly. Still haven't seen The Brood, though.

      Corporations slapping their name on a stadium happens in every sport. Selling naming rights is big business so Rollerball was certainly on to something.

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  5. Interesting choices. While it's nowhere near perfect Rollerball is heads and tails over that awful remake. I remember on its original release there was much hue and cry about the amount of violence in it which only helped its box office. It's been ages since I've seen Videodrome but I remember it as provocative and unsettling. Never heard of Robot & Frank but it sounds intriguing I'll be checking it up. You do manage to come up with the obscure titles, love that! One that you recommended before, Confessions of a Superhero, I'm finally going to be watching this weekend. I queued it up right away so of course it was on a wait, but its on its way at last. Let's just hope it doesn't arrive broken!! I'll let you know what I think.

    Sci-fi isn't a favored genre for me, though there are many of them that I enjoy, I do prefer this type to alien films however (even though I love the first two Alien films) So I had to cast about a bit for my choices of the week. These are the three I came up with:

    Source Code (2011)-As part of a secret military operation Colter Stevens is placed repeatedly in the body of a man during the last eight minutes of his life to find out the identity of the terrorist who blew up a commuter train and prevent them from striking again. As he goes through the calamity time and again he begins to see a way to prevent the original tragedy. A clever premise excitingly directed with a strong lead performance by Jake Gyllenhaal.

    Back to the Future III (1990)-Marty McFly and Doc Brown head out to the Old West by way of the flux capacitor where Doc finds love but also runs afoul of gang of bandits. After the scattershot BTTFII the series finds its legs again recapturing its sense of wonder and winds up with this charming and fun comic sci-fi western.

    Fahrenheit 451 (1966)-Fran├žois Truffaut’s only English language film is a terrifically chilly affair based on the Ray Bradbury classic. In the future Montag, a firemen whose job is to search for and burn books begins to question his existence. The masses, now called Cousins are under various degrees of mind control but there are still pockets of protesters who strive to keep knowledge alive. A perfectly cast film with amazing production design. Julie Christie is super in a dual role.

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    1. Happy to see BTTF III get some love, but I'll be honest. As fun and enjoyable as it is, I prefer part II. I know, I know, I'm like the only one. I'm in the same boat on The Source Code. I literally picked out the bad guy the first time they showed the scenario and sat there bored while they kept going over the same territory again and again. Had I not been right, I probably would've liked it a lot better. Fahrenheit 451 has been on my to watch list forever. Actually need to watch it one of these days. Looking forward to your thoughts on Confessions of a Superhero.

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    2. I love all three of my picks but Fahrenheit is my favorite, that's partially due to Julie Christie in the cast but it is such a unique film she's just icing on the cake. When you watch the movie there is a release of the film that contains a commentary track by Miss Christie that has some nice behind the scene details which add to the texture of the film.

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    3. I usually don't go in for commentary tracks, but you've piqued my interest.

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    4. I'm not a big one for commentaries either, they are often dry as dust, and can probably count on one hand the ones I've really liked. Those are usually by the actors involved in the films, film critics always have their own agenda and try to sound scholarly and pretentious. Julie's best story came near the conclusion and had to do with the ending, so after you've watched the film if you just go back and listen to that part that's probably all you need.

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    5. Thanks. I'll keep that in my mind.

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  6. Dell! First, let me say that robot & Frank is an excellent pick. If I were doing this...that'd certainly have been my #1. Good stuff!

    But here's where things head south.



    I haven't seen the other two. Like, not even a frame.
    (but I did see the Rollerball remake...maybe even...theatrically)

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    1. Thanks. Great to see the Robot & Frank love. And I'm sorry you spent money on the Rollerball remake.

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  7. I haven't seen any of these, though Rollerball is a title I remember at video stores growing up that just seemed so awesome. I have to get into Cronenberg someday. I've only seen A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, and The Fly, which scared the living shit out of me as a kid because I was way too young to watch it. Robot & Frank sounds awesome!

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    1. Yeah, Cronenberg is a twisted dude. Hope you get to see R&F. Love to read your thoughts on it.

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  8. Videodrome seems to get a lot of love around here I may have to check that one out someday, although I'm not a big Cronenberg fan. I haven't seen Robot & Frank yet but have heard many good things about it so I'll be sure to catch it someday.

    I'll give you a thumbs up for including Rollerball this week, wish I had thought of that one when I was making my choices.

    Mike's Cinema

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    1. Thanks a bunch. Videodrome is a trip. Definitely save it for a night when you're in the mood for something kinda out there.

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  9. I cannot wait to see Videodrome - I have the Criterion Blu-Ray sitting in my collection just waiting to be watched.

    I've heard lots of good things about Robot & Frank. It's in the Netflix queue!

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  10. Cool pick on Robot & Frank! I quite like that one, it's funny and surprisingly heartfelt.

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  11. I've actually not seen any of these but they all sound interesting.

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  12. Robot and Frank...wow, I totally forget about it.

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