Sunday, November 27, 2011
I absolutely had to watch the fantasy movies next - Why, you ask? Because this list has...Christmas movies on it. And I cannot watch Christmas movies in a season that is not Christmas. That's wrong. So I'm watching the fantasy movies - I should be a good list - besides the Christmas movies, it also has a silent movie in it (Ooooo...) and a musical. Sounds exciting, doesn't it?
I can only hope that I get through this genre pretty fast - only about a year left, and nine genres to go.
#10 - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - I love Indiana Jones - It's iconic, it's got wonderful atmosphere, it's fun and globe trotting and has great fight scenes and the best hat ever. Part of the fun of Indy though is that big chunks of it are very silly - which is fun, but does not a great movie make. It's really great entertainment, but only pretty good movie. B +. I've decided I'm going to start grading the movies in this post, to give it a more definite, determined feel. We'll see how it works out.
#9 - Rosemary's Baby (1968) - Rosemary's Baby is so slow - the whole movie is really just a woman being pregnant, which is boring - and suffers from bizarre 60's special effects like turning the whole screen red and making everything blury. Why did you do that, 60's? It does have some good imagery though - the raw meat, the wardrobe - and the premise is pretty scary. C +
#8 - The French Connection (1971) - This movie is probably more boring than Reds. Reds. I honestly don't think anything happened in this movie. I'm not even sure what it was about. I remembeer the DVD menue, but that's about it. D -
#7 - The Birds (1963) - This was probably the scariest movie of the whole set. Even though the actual bird attacks are pretty outdated and not that scary, the lead-up to them and the suspense is great. I didn't mention it in the post, but I absolutely love the scene when all the crows gather on the playground - it is one of the creepiest I've ever seen in a movie. I watched it four times. And now I always keep my eye on the birds. A -
#6 - Alien (1979)- I watched Alien way back in Science Fiction - good movie, not as scary as I thought it would be, nice special effects. A -
So the grading system doesn't work - They're all good movies, or they wouldn't be on the list, and the grades and up too close together to be interesting. Ah well, I'll think up another ranking method for the next genre.
#5 - The Silence of the Lambs (1991) - This is a great movie. It's disturbing and Amnthiny Hopkins is so, so good in it. He's really the reason it stands out - It's a very good movie on it's own, but Hannibal Lector makes it stand out.
#4 - North By Northwest (1959) - I really liked this movie - Cary Grant is great, the train motif is very nice, the crop duster scene is iconic for a reason - but it's not as mind-bogglingly amazing as the other Hitchcock movies I've seen. It's pretty wonderfully bizarre, though.
#3 - The Exorcist (1973) - Not nearly as scary as I thought it would be, which is sad. The special effects are pretty outdated and not a lot happens in it. It's boring and not scary - Not something that I look for in a movie.
#2 - Jaws (1975) - There are a lot of 70's movies on this list, aren't there? I really liked Jaws, even though the two halves are really different and the shark isn't that good. The suspense and the mood is really kept up the whole time, and the way they use the shark is really great. The "You're going to need a bigger boat" scene is really one of the best movie moments ever.
#1 - Psycho (1960) - This is a great, great movie. The acting's great, the imagery is great, the music is great. It was shocking and violent and scary when it was made, and it still is. This movie was way ahead of it's time, and people still don't make movies like it.
Friday, November 18, 2011
So Psycho is about a woman who decides to steal some money from her boss and run away to start a new life. She stops at a motel, has a conversation with the nice owner who's only a little creepy, and then gets killed. This was ground-breaking at the time: You didn't kill your star halfway through the movie in 1960 - or now, actually.
Psycho was shocking and violent and scary because it's a random murder out of nowhere in the middle of nowhere. It's a terrifying movie - I hate serial killers: They are my least favorite things. I do not like serial killer movies. And in this movie it is not even the scariest part. I accidentally ruined the end of it for myself months ago, and I seriously lost sleep over just the summary. The ending is so disturbing to me. I cannot imagine watching this movie not knowing how it ends - That would be awful.
The shower scene I had seen before, obviously, so that wasn't that bad. The other murder made me jump, though - I just comes out of nowhere - like all of the murders. I heard they had to shoot the shower scene something like 24 times. It looks really good, and it's no wonder it's such an iconic scene. The fact that it takes place in a shower is just weird and common enough to make it memorable and of course the music is great and terrifying. Bernard Herrmann wrote the music for this movie, and it's awesome - You've heard it. whether you've seen the movie or not. Fun fact - Bernard Herrmann also wrote one of the other most recognizable pieces of music in the Western world - The Twilight Zone Theme. Now you know.
So I was expecting Norman Bates to be really creepy, and he's not really. For most of the movie he isn't really creepy at all (Although he does have his moments), and I that just makes the end even worse. Anthony Perkins is really terrific - I've actually seen him in something before - In Evening Primrose, a musical about a tribe of people who live in a department store. I don't know, it was weird. But he was very good in it.
I liked the whole movie - it was creepy and unsettling and impeccably well made and I was entertained by the whole thing. The music was great, and the Alfred Hitchcock cameo was really hard to find - I had to go back and everything. It was definitely the best movie in this set.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
North By Northwest confuses me a little bit - I follow the characters and the overall plot, but I'm confused by the storyline. Cary Grant's character whose name I can't remember is suddenly being mistaken for a spy in an unnamed government agency, is blamed for the death of a man, and is forced to go on the lam - Which only rhymed by accident, by the way. I get all that. What I'm confused about is what Cary Grant is trying to do the whole movie, other than avoid being killed. I think he's trying to find the spy he's being mistaken for, but I'm just not quite sure.
I did like North By Northwest - It was a fun movie and it had a really cool, 50's spy atmosphere. Hitchcock, I've noticed, is really great at atmosphere. Cary Grant was good, of course, and Eva Marie Saint was really cool and icy and elegant. I liked the whole movie and I thought it was cool because they announced the Michigan railroad line in the train station. There was a really big train motif in this movie. I liked North By Northwest, but I wasn't quite as wowed by it as I have been by other Hitchcock movies.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
So, The Silence of the Lambs: Clarice Starling, a trainee FBI agent, is trying to catch a serial killer, Buffalo Bill. The FBI decides that the best way to do this is to send her to Hannibal Lecter, a cannibal who's already in prison, and ask him to help. And that works, which just goes to show what I know about crime investigation, because it is not the route I would have taken.
Silence of the Lambs is, justifiably, really well-known for Hannibal Lector. Even though the rest of the movie is good, Hannibal Lector is what makes it really stand out - Sort of like the end of The Usual Suspects. Hannibal Lector is a serial killer and he's always going around just knowing things about people and making hissing noises, but he's also very refined and cultured and elegant. Part of what's so creepy about him is that he's not nearly as creepy as he really should be. He's a serial killer, and they have you sort of rooting for him! That's pretty intense. Hannibal Lecter is really what you come away from this movie remembering, even above the guy making a suit out of skin.
Monday, October 10, 2011
The Birds doesn't have any music in it - just a carefully composed set of sound effects - which really helps the atmosphere, I think. It makes it seem more realistic - That's what makes most of the movie so scary, actually. Birds won't just start attacking people, but they could. And what would we do? There are all kinds of birds out there - It would be the Bird Apocalypse! That's really scary!
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
I will admit, though: I'm kind of afraid of some of these movie. Well, one: The Exorcist. I am terrified of this movie. But I'm going to struggle through it, my friends. Because this is culture. And that's important to me, and the whole point of the project, really. I'm trying to watch movies that I wouldn't normally watch. That's why I'm making myself suffer through the Sports Movies. So I'll watch it in the middle of the day, then.
The only problem is that I'll have "Thriller" stuck in my head for the next couple of weeks.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
*The American Film Institute’s Top Ten American Mysteries*
#10 - The Usual Suspects: The Usual Suspects is good for most of the movie, but the last fifteen minutes or so are what makes it great. That ending fills my heart with joy and triumph.
#9 - Dial M For Murder: I definitely liked how everything in this movie was introduced early on - the movie never once ad to explain itself - but Dial M For Murder pales in comparison to the other Hitchcock movies. It just doesn't quite have the same spark.
#8 - Blue Velvet: Blue Velvet was, to me, occasionally needlessly violent, and not really all the interesting to me, but was pretty good, I guess. I just wasn't captured by this movie: I don't think I even really want to watch it again.
#7 - North By Northwest: I watch North By Northwest in Thrillers.
#6 - The Maltese Falcon: I really liked The Maltese Falcon. It has a really great cast, what with Humphry Bogart and Peter Lorre, it's classic film noir, and it's really fun to me. Awesome movie, I liked it a lot.
#5 - The Third Man: A lot like The Usual Suspects, most of The Third Man isn't that impressive - except for the ten minutes that Orson Welles is in. Those ten minutes are some of the best ten minutes of the entire list. I cannot wait until I see Orson Welles in something else.
#4 - Laura: You know, I had totally forgotten about Laura. It was a nice movie, definitely, but it hasn't stuck with me, obviously. It had a good twist, though, and Vincent Price before he started taking roles in horror "movie," and without a mustache.
#3 - Rear Window: Rear Window was my favorite movie of the set. The mystery is fantastic and the characters are great, and you really get to know the secondary characters. The ending is very happy and peaceful and the movie is very self-contained. It's terrific.
#2 - Chinatown: Chinatown definitely stood out for me as a good movie, but it wasn't really a movie I liked. I didn't dislike it either, though. I thought that Jack Nicholson was great and I liked the way it used old film noir tropes, and I thought it had really good imagery, with the desert, and the nose-bandage. It definitely feels a lot grittier and darker than a lot of the older movies, even the Hitchcocks.
#1 - Vertigo: Vertigo is absolutely the best movie of the set. It's unsettling and disturbing, it has a twist that comes out of nowhere, but still fits with the rest of plot, and everyone in it is fantastic. One of the reasons people actually like this movie so much is that it's supposed to be really personal for Alfred Hitchcock - Apparently he was very controlling in his relationships. I thought it was fantastic, and it's really stuck with me.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I really like Rear Window - It's probably my favorite mystery so far. The actual murder is definitely the main plot, but it also has more to it. The neighbors that Jimmy Stewart are just terrifically crafted characters, even though you never see them talk, and you really care for them - but in a sort of detached, distant way, which is the point - that's how Jimmy Stewart feels about them.
The problem with having really big-name stars in movies is that I usually don't actually both to learn the name of the character, because they're so obviously that actor. I almost can't associate them with a separate character. Especially since Jimmy Stewart always plays very similar characters - Nice, but in a gruff, scary way. Well, I say always, but truth be told, I've only ever seen two Jimmy Stewart movies: This, and It's a Wonderful Life (Good movie). Two data points isn't a pattern, but so far that seems to be the general Jimmy Stewart persona. Which is cool - I really like it in this movie, and in It's a Wonderful Life. But that's why Jimmy Stewart's character is Jimmy Stewart in my head, and not Jeff.
I liked Grace Kelly a lot better in this movie than I did in Dial M for Murder. Admittedly, she didn't really have much of a character to play in that movie. This character is much better - she feels more like a person than a victim. I also liked the other female character of the movie - Stella, Jimmy Stewart’s nurse, played by Thelma Ritter, who disapproves of his spying on his neighbors. She's great. Which reminds me: Did you know that Lawrence of Arabia is the longest movie to not have a single woman in a speaking role in it? Yeah, true story. But that is not true of this movie – It is, for one thing, much shorter than Lawrence of Arabia.
Again, two data points don't make a pattern, but things are looking good for Alfred Hitchcock. Each of the Hitchcock movies I've seen have been like exquisitely crafted soufflés of cinema. I just love how much care goes into these movies and how every detail is looked at and thought of and fixed even before the movie is filmed, and how you can tell in the finished product. The Alfred Hitchcock cameo in this movie reflects that, because he’s shown winding a clock, symbolizing his control of the whole operation. Some may call Hitchcock’s insane attention to detail obsession, but I call that a healthy dose of perfectionism and I fully support it. I say micromanage on, Alfred Hitchcock. Micromanage on. Because, of course, if anyone can micromanage from beyond the grave, it’s Alfred Hitchcock.
This movie is just a wonderful example of cinema. It’s a terrific movie because it’s really an unusal story and an unusual way of making a movie. I love how self-contained it feels – At the time, it was one of the largest sets ever built on a sound stage – and I love how you experienced the same thing as the characters – You get close to the neighbors, but stay total strangers at the same time, and you doubt that that man is a murder until more evidence is offered up and it just feels very suspenseful and important. When you’re watching this movie, it is really important. This movie does exactly what it wants to do, and that makes me really happy. I love to see things that are well-done. Except in steak. I prefer that rare.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Other than those things, and the balloon salesman, there really was only one thing about this movie that I feel will stick with me. Orson Welles is in this movie. He's only in it for...maybe ten minutes, but he is a scene-stealer, I tell you. I knew that Orson Welles was supposed to be a really good actor, but I'd never seen him in anything before this, and I didn't know what he looked like. He has top billing on the Netflix instant menu, so I had figured that he was the main character. The guy who actually plays the main character, Joseph Cotten, isn't really all that impressive, and I was really confused. "Is that Orson Welles?" I said to myself. "Well he doesn't seem all that special at all." And then, probably an hour into the movie, the actual Orson Welles showed up, and the minute he started talking I knew - That is Orson Welles. He was amazing. For me, he made this a good movie. All of his lines were good and meaningful and well-delivered, and I could actually understand him, and I almost knew what the movie was about for ten minutes. It was like some crazy, life-changing acting-viewing experience.
The point is, Orson Welles is very good, and he makes this movie awesome. Without him, it's just another film noir movie with a Ferris wheel. I didn't even give a summary of this movie - that's how much Orson Welles takes up The Third Man.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Blue Velvet is about a small town youth named Jeffery Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan, by the way), which unfortunately only reminds me of the town in Footloose, who gets mixed up in amateur detective work when he finds an ear in a field and is plunged into the violent and sexual world of the criminal underworld. Isabella Rossellini is also in it. Blue Velvet reminds me a lot of A Clockwork Orange. Both of the movies are extremely violent and sexual, and both of them use music that doesn't match the actions of the movie - A Clockwork Orange uses classical, and Blue Velvet uses 50's, crooner-style music. The similarities really end there, I guess, but they're still pretty strong to me. Blue Velvet seems a lot more polished and cleaner than A Clockwork Orange does, but the sex and violence in A Clockwork Orange seems less, I don't know, gratuitous. A Clockwork Orange seems to be actually trying to say something about sex and violence, while Blue Velvet just seems to be violent. And sex-filled. It's not that I have any inherent problem with these elements being in fiction, but I feel like there should be some sort of use for them. When I compare the two movies, Blue Velvet just comes up short. It doesn't raise any moral questions, it doesn't make you think, it's not depressing in an artsy way. A Clockwork Orange does all of these things, and I think that makes it a better movie.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
I'm actually very excited about the mysteries - I haven't seen any of them, and I haven't even heard of half of them (The half that aren't Hitchcock movies). This means that I don't know the endings of any of them, so hopefully I'll be surprised by all of them. After all, the best part of a mystery is the ending.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
One my main problems with this movie is the fact that it is just so slow. I'm sure that real spaceships do move slowly, but that does not mean that I want to watch it. I swear that two thirds of this movie is just slow-moving machinery. The special effects are very good, yes, but I don't want to look at them for that long of a time period. A real spaceship probably does take twenty minutes to get from one side of the moon to the other, but in this movie we have to watch all twenty minutes of that - I'm pretty sure there's some exaggeration there, but the thing is, I'm not quite sure. It might have actually been twenty minutes. Even when we're not watching slow moving machinery it's still slow - we're watching monkeys or scientists making small talk or a business meeting or sleeping astronauts. This movie is definitely very slowly paced. So very slowly.
The movie's a Stanley Kubrick movie (Who, as you may recall, I'm still not sure if I like or not), so it's very weird. A lot of the weirdness I don't mind at all - HAL and the monkeys are fine , and even the monoliths I'm really fine with, (Except for the noise that they make - It's this horrible buzzing, squeaking noise coupled with tuneless, random moaning - Here's a video link for your reference, you'll get a good sense of it if you start about two minutes in - I swear that's the the sound they play over the loudspeakers in Hell.) but I cannot tolerate the colorful Jupiter landing thing. It happens very near the end of the movie, and it really is just colorful lights coming at you, or splotches of color on black, or the ocean in different colors - very screen-saver-esque. This is already weird and not very entertaining and dated now, but to top it off, this scene goes on for, I am not kidding, eleven minutes. Eleven minutes of this:
It's like your DVD player went to sleep and you're just watching the screen saver. Why do people like this movie? I actually know though - People like this movie because of HAL. And I don't blame them - I love HAL, HAL is amazing. HAL is really one of the most terrifying villains I have ever seen in a movie (It should be noted that I don't watch a lot of horror movies.) He's unfeeling and calm and detached and creepy as all get out - His voice is Douglas Rain, who has never done anything else, but has a cool name and is just terrific as HAL. The part where HAL kills the astronaut through the pod, and the camera sudden zooms in on the eye of HAL on the pod is just terrific. I love that part - It's probably my favorite part in the movie. Even though HAL is just a light and a voice, he's still a character, and that light can really emote.
That light shouldn't be as creepy as it really is. And even though HAL is evil, he's also scared and confused (HAL is far more emotional than any of the human characters in the movie - Which is the point. I think.) You kind of feel bad for him, especially near the end. HAL is sympathetic and terrifying. Like Peter Lorre. Unfortunately, HAL is only in about an hour of the movie - the other hour and twenty minutes is filled mostly with, yes, slow-moving machinery. Shame.
Besides HAL, though, I came out of this movie with two ideas. A.) While people talk about this movie a lot - What the monoliths are, why HAL breaks down, what the lights mean - No one ever talks about how much the space pods look like koala heads.
I don't know what other people see when they look at this, but I can only see a koala. B.) Hey!
That guy has grey eyes! That's cool! I didn't even know that people could have grey eyes...You can tell how engaged I was in this movie. I know I should like this movie - Smart people like this movie, movie people like this movie. But I'm just not that into it. I just don't enjoy watching it. I do like HAL. I do like "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (That's the music - you know: da...Da...DA...DAHDAH, dumdum dumdum dumdum...), but the thing is: I don't like this movie.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
E.T. is a Stephen Spielberg movie about a kid named Elliot who finds an abandoned alien they name E.T., which is kind of like naming a dog puppy but whatever, and befriends it. It's all very heartwarming and charming. For some reason, I really strongly associate this movie with Poltergeist, and I don't know why. I think I once saw a special about special effects that talked about both movies. Or maybe it's just because all of these early eighties movies tend to run together.
E.T. is another one of Stephen Spielberg's major blockbusters, like Jaws and Indiana Jones, but family friendly and adorable. This is actually the third Stephen Spielberg movie we've encountered so far: He directed Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List. He also was the executive producer of Back to the Future, and I don't exactly know what that actually means, but it sounds really important to me. So I'm definitely not going to contest that everything Stephen Spielberg touches turns to awesome, and he definitely should be represented on the list, but E.T.? I mean, E.T.'s alright, but...Elliot is so annoying and it's so boring. It's okay, I guess.
E.T. does have fantastic music - it's composed by the great John Williams, so that's expected (He's been nominated for 45 Oscars). I actually didn't even realize how recognizable the music was until I was watching the movie, but I totally know this music! The special effects are also very good. E.T. almost always looks really real, and the flying on the bicycles look really terrific, too. I'm really not sure how they did it! Look at that:
That's very impressive! So in those respects it's a very good movie, and I can see how people like it. I'm just not that into it really. But Drew Barrymore is really adorable.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Like that. The thing about Stanley Kubrick is that I'm not sure that I actually like him. He's weird and innovative and everything, but I'm not sure whether or not I think he's too weird. I feel about the same way about this specific movie. It was definitely very bizarre, but was it too bizarre for me, or did I like it? I'm just not sure.
A Clockwork Orange takes place in some sort of futuristic dystopian Britain where teens roam the streets causing havoc. One such teen is the main character Alex Delarge, played by Malcolm McDowell, a murder/rapist/gang leader. Alex is just going along inflicting mayhem until about roughly a third into the movie, when he's arrested. In prison he's offered the chance to go free if he participates in some sort of treatment to make him a good person. He takes it, and through a combination of drugs, movies, and this thing:
Alex developes a sort of Pavlovian reaction thing to sex and violence. He becomes violently ill any time he encouners either of them. He also becomes sick whenever he hears Beethoven's ninth symphony, which is a shame because Alew loves Beethoven. Now that Alex is released into the world, he has to deal with the torment of his former friends and enemies, now that he can't defend himself. No where in the movie does it indicate why it should be called A Clockwork Orange.
The movie covers a lot of things. Violence, the issue of choice and humanity, totalitarianism, things like that. The movie's very satirical and definitely has its steak of dark comedy, and is very, very strange and very, very disturbing. I'm pretty sure I didn't even see the real version - Just the R rated one. The music in the movie is almost always classical music (Except for "Singing in the Rain," but we're not going to talk about that ever.) which is appropriate and completely inappropriate at the same time - Classical music is supposed to be a beautiful thing, and the scenes it's played over are definitely not beautiful. It's very jarring, which is exactly what it's supposed to be. The visuals in the movie are really ugly - bright colors and patterns and things, all next to each other - I'm sure it's intentional, but that doesn't make it any less ugly. It is the seventies, I guess.
Four little notes I have about this movie. Just interesting little tidbits: 1. Do you know who is in this movie? David Prowse! He's the guy in the Darth Vader suit! This is before that ! Look at hat, that minor character went on to be the body of one of the most iconic villains in American film. He looks surprisingly nonthreatening, although he is huge.
He's the guy in the glasses. 2. I don't know why anyone would choose to wear fake eyelashes all evening. I know for a fact that your eyes start watering like crazy after just a few hours. 3. I cannot understand anyone in this movie - Everyone is British. It is frustrating. 4. Malcolm McDowell is very good in this movie - he's creepy and crazy and disturbing and everything - but he has really, really blue eyes. It's weird. It almost doesn't even look right. I mean, look at that:
I'm watching this movie and I keep getting distracted by them. Do they always look like that? Is it the lighting? Did they do something post production? How come nobody else notices? To people notice on the street? Do they look like that now? I don't know! It's strange.
A Clockwork Orange is definitely a good movie, but I'm not sure if I actually ,like it. It's just really weird. I'd have to watch it again, and I'm just not sure I want to. It's very disturbing.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Blade Runner is a Ridley Scott film, like Alien, that takes place in the now near future (2019), in an over-crowded, industrial, rainy earth, completely uninhabited by animals and nearly uninhabited by humans. It's also very Asian, for whatever reason. Blade Runner is a very early example of Cyberpunk, a genre involving dehumanization and extreme corporate control. Blade Runner is a sort of Science Fiction Dystopia/Hard Boiled Detective combo where Harrison Ford, who in my opinion obviously has not played enough Hard Boiled Detectives, is Rick Deckard, a "Blade Runner," meaning that he hunts and..."retires" rouge androids (Replicants) who are used as slaves off-planet. These replicants are so realistic that it's possible that not even they know that they're a robot (This particular point has created quite a controversy over whether or not Deckard himself is, in fact, a replicant. There's even disagreement about it within the crew - Ridley Scott says he definitely is a replicant, and Harrison Ford says he definitely isn't). After a few years these highly-realistic robots begin developing emotions and blurring the lines between human and machine and causing other similar troubles, and this simply won't do, so after four years the replicants automatically die. So there four replicants hanging around on earth, looking for a way to live longer, and Rick Deckard is searching for them. It's all very exciting.
Blade Runner is based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which I have actually read, although I don't remember it well, because it was years ago. I do remember that the book was much more cerebral than the movie is. The movie does touch on the issue of humanity - What really separates robots than humans?- which doesn't seem like it would be a practical theme, but is, and has robotic animals and all that, but is doesn't really get into it like the book does. The book is much darker the movie, and tightly themed and plotted, by I enjoyed the movie more. I can see why they changed the name - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? would be hard to fit on a marquis - but I don't know why they chose to name it Blade Runner. There is nary a blade in the entire film. There is running, at least. I guess it just sounds cool - good enough reason as any, really.
This movie is visually stunning. It looks awesome. As apposed to Alien, whose special effects were just fine, and Terminator 2, whose effects were innovative but are now outdated, Blade Runner still looks great. To me, anyway. There's a huge crazy city and umbrellas and flying cars and lots and lots of rain. It's fantastic. I could probably just look at this movie and be happy. I love the way this movie looks - it's blocky and gritty and eighties-y which is awesome. The building they use in the climax is actually an existing building in Los Angeles called the Bradbury Building, which is creepy even when it's not dilapidated and abandoned. It's pretty awesome, actually - all sorts of wrote iron and stuff. Quite a lovely building.
Blade Runner was pretty great - I really enjoyed it. I actually have to watch it again - I don't think I followed the whole thing - what, for example, is with the unicorn? For now, however I will have to move on - I'm already a couple of weeks behind, and not quite halfway through science fiction.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Ah, space. It's so big and lonely and blackish. Mysterious, even. It is the final frontier, as they say. The thing about space, though, is that you can't actually enter it, because you'll asphyxiate. That means that you're stuck on whatever sort of spaceship you're on until you've reached earth. That's of course the case in Alien, the Ridley Scott horror film, which is where most of the conflict comes from. (This is not, by the way, the movie with the big yellow thing that they use for lifting stuff. You know what I'm talking about. That's Aliens, in plural. I know, I was disappointed too. It is, however, the movie with the most famous tag line ever: In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream. I can't tel you how often I say that.) There's a big terrible alien on the ship that's going to kill everyone, but you can't just leave because the outside is, you know, space.
At the beginning of Alien, our cast is floating around in space in a commercial cargo ship when they hear a single repetitive distress call coming from an empty plant. They decide to go answer it. If there's one thing that Alien has taught me, it is that if I ever find my self in space, I should never, ever answer any distress call, ever. I suppose we can't really blame the characters for not seeing this coming though, because Alien is the first movie of it's kind. You didn't see a lot of science fiction horror movies before. Instead, future fictional characters will have to learn from their mistakes.
They answer the distress call, and what do you know, everyone on the planet's dead. So one of the guys gets an alien stuck to his face and eventually dies after it bursts out of his chest, which I imagine is very effective if you don't know what's coming. This is by this time pretty much impossible because it's such an iconic film scene, and that means it's not as scary as it would have been if it was a surprise. It's a good effect regardless, and you still get the suspense of wonder when it's coming.
This brings me to my next point. Alien is based mainly on suspense and the threat of danger rather than the actual alien, which works really well. It was not, however, as scary as I thought it would be. I don't know if it's because it's outdated, or if it's because I knew it was coming, or what, but I really was not even slightly scared by most of this movie. I was disappointed. Maybe I should have watched it on a bigger screen or something. The end did get sort of suspenseful, when she was in the shuttle, but that was about it. The alien itself looked really good, although there were a couple of shots where it was pretty obvious that it was just a guy in a costume. For the most part it was a really good alien though. The whole head/mouth system is really iconic, and I can see why. It's really disturbing and disgusting, like a good alien should be. I works best when it's in the really dim lighting and you can't really see it, and not because the effects not good. It's just scarier that way.
So my extensive Internet research tells me that I really need to see the sequel to Alien, confusingly named Aliens, with an S. It's supposed to be more of an action movie, directed by James Cameron, and is widely considered to be just as good as the original. Sigourney Weaver, who's first name I can't quite pronounce, still plays the same character, (Ripley, by the way. I don't think I mentioned it earlier. She's quite awesome.) but now she's this awesome action girl. Sounds fun, right? I'm going to watch it on my Netflix instant queue.
The only serious qualm I have with Alien is how seventies the technology looks. Their computers! They're huge! You can't even pick them up! How can people imagine commercial cargo spaceships and an entire alien life cycle and not be able to think up computers that can generate curvy letters? This computer can run a spaceship, but it can't make a proper C! I just don't find that believable.
There were actually robots in Alien, too, which I did not see coming.