Friday, May 6, 2011

Missed Movies number 6

Man you guys seem to love these Missed Movies. Well gotta give the readers what they want. 

How many of you are familiar the concept of 'Near future' sci-fi? Quick version, it's sci-fi with most of the elements we traditionally associate with sci-fi stripped out (best film in this subgenre: A Clockwork Orange). It tends to lead to smarter and darker sci-fi, which is always good. So today I'd like to bring 3 movies in this subgenre to your attention.

The Truman Show

Starting off our list with the least sci-fi of the movies (the list will get gradually more sci-fi), this one amounts to Jim Carrey's acting movie. He plays the titular Truman, an ordinary man living in a walled off dome with an island based city in the center, where he is watched night and day by a group of hidden cameras, recording his every move for a 24 hour TV show devoted to him.

That's all it is, and they stretch that premise for all it's worth to make a good movie...and it works. Jim Carrey puts in a great dramatic spin on his usual persona, the script is sharp and nuanced and it manages to be perfect paranoia fuel (and it's worth noting that this came out before the advent of reality TV). The sci-fi aspects are mostly the tech used to spy on Truman, which is never really gone into in detail. Overall, I more or less just wanted to draw this one to your attention, so it got stuck on this list. Deal with it.

Children of Men

The third best sci-fi film of the new century (behind District 9 and Moon in first and second) this one reads like an action movie with all action hero stuff left out. Sometime in the future (I forget the year) the entirety of humanity has suddenly gone sterile, leaving humanity literally aging to death. The hero, played by Clive Owen (the guy who's turning Stephen Colbert gay) has the lead as the man charged with protecting the last pregnant woman on earth from both the British government which has reverted to a semi-fascist state to protect itself from the anarchy that has struck elsewhere and from the terrorist group that would use her as a rallying symbol.

As I said, most of the action movie staples that would characterize this kind of 'one man against the world' film are gone. The hero has a very human weakness (you'll see what I mean) and when the fighting breaks out, he's generally the only guy without a gun. The action scenes themselves are daring and gorgeously shot in one, long, unbroken shot, leading to some of the most striking chase and action scenes you'll ever see. This one is fairly dark, so keep the kids out.

Strange Days

Strange Days is easily the darkest film on this list, and in any other subgenre would most likely take home the cake of being the darkest overall entry...if this subgenre didn't also include A Clockwork Orange. This one is devoted to Ralph Finnes as an ex-cop turn SQUID recordings seller. SQUID recordings let the viewer live any fantasy they want, from sex, to murder, to death. While outwardly charming, Ralph's character is slowly dying inside, pining for his ex-girlfriend and addicted to his own product, while his bodyguard (Angela Basset) watches in despair.

This one is believe it or not, written by James Cameron and directed by Katherine Bigelow and pretty much blows all of their respective other work out of the fucking water. I really can't tell you more about it than I already have without spoiling (other than the soundtrack is flat out incredible). I can say that it is NOT, repeat, NOT, for the faint of heart. One sequence is horrifying enough, both in execution and concept to physically make me feel ill. But if you think you can stand it, it's a fascinating and unique film, so give it a look if you dare. See you tomorrow for Thor.

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