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Science Fiction for the Advanced
The literature of science fiction
is vivid in imagery, rich in depth and expansive in scope.
Hollywood, however, has by and large failed to mine this prosperous
ore and instead chosen to force feed us aliens in rubber suits and
time travel flotsam. Below are three science fiction films of real
merit that slipped through the cracks, and one that may have changed
the whole game.
This film, released
in 1974, was written and directed by the underrated minor genius of
film, John Boorman who, also directed such singular films as Point
Blank, Excalibur and Deliverance. It stars Burt Renoylds as a
mankini-clad noble savage slash savior of the species figure, in a
world that is governed by simulated Gods, controlled by an immortal
and elite caste of super-humans. Some argue that this film borders
on kitch, but if you take it seriously, it's serious as a heart
attack. Best experienced rather than "watched," and if you do so
you'll be rewarded with a startling and almost telepathic communion
with a new mode of being.
Also released in
1974, this film, directed by celebrated title designer Saul Bellow,
was sadly his only feature film. A novel re-imagining of the
sci-fi/horror classic, "Them," Phase IV is told through grotesque
macroscopic photography of real, living ants. After the Earth is
irradiated by an obscure cosmic event, ants across the globe rapidly
evolve a complex hive mind and become a sentient enemy to humanity.
Two scientists sequester themselves in a technological metal
placenta in the desert to study the ants, perhaps to open up a
dialogue, perhaps to initiate a war. Things go awry in the hot sun
and the battle for humanity is begun. Ham-fisted and braying acting
by lead principle Nigel Davenport give this film a charming
Based on Paddy
Chayesvsky's novel of the same name, this film, improbably released
in 1980, follows a John Lilly type character -- played by a bizarre
William Hurt -- as he investigates the nature of the mind through
personal experiments with isolation tanks and major hallucinogens.
It's Faust on acid. The denseness of its dialogue, recited manically
but with automata-like detachment, lends the film a Hollywood
naivete both bewildering and unconsciously avant garde.
2004 brilliant mind-bender clocks in at 77 minutes, but time is a
flighty issue in this masterful first work. Time travel is the most
abused of sf conventions, but Carruth, formerly a mathematician and
an engineer, infused his film with a stunning clarity, scientific
depth, novel filmmaking and an eye for real human relationships.
Some have written the film off as being overly cerebral and an
insoluble puzzle but its full of heart, even if its buried deep
within. No expository dialogue or background, the film, like truth
itself, exists just slightly out of our reach -- sometimes we grasp
parts of it for ephemeral moments, but mostly its elusive. Many will
hate this film, or compare it to Memento and so forth, but its of a
different order for a select few.
|Movies - probably the largest choice of
Movies in the UK!