CLOUD ATLAS (2012), based on the novel by David Mitchell, tells a richly layered story with powerful themes. Several story lines intersect at different points in history and with the same actors playing different roles each defined by an impulse toward light (freedom, love, progress) and dark (repression, greed, evil). These impulses result in the same people making the same mistakes throughout history, defining the human condition. I don’t think one should look for too much clarity in the relevance of each plotline and how it all connects; it’s best enjoyed for the overall theme. Recommended.
New trailer for the Australian apocalyptic film THESE FINAL HOURS. The world will come to an end in nine hours, and a young man is headed to a massive party when he comes across a young girl trying to find her father. I heard it will be available in the U.S. in the near future. Definitely one to watch. It looks powerful.
I finally had the chance to catch ELYSIUM (2013) and thought it was top-notch sci-fi. The film tells the story of a man (Matt Damon) who lives on an overcrowded, polluted Earth. After taking a lethal dose of radiation at the factory where he works, he determines to somehow get to Elysium–an orbiting space station where the rich and powerful live in luxury.
With films like ELYSIUM and THE TRAIN, class warfare is popular in sci-fi these days. One could even argue that Romero’s LAND OF THE DEAD is about class. It’s a great theme for sci-fi, and let’s face it, these days, with rampant income inequality in the United States, it resonates. That’s what separates great sci-fi from the usual thriller with technology–big, challenging ideas. The film is actually quite subversive, describing the consequences of no worker regulations or rights, no access to decent healthcare, police brutality and so on.
The big question is whether opening the resources of Elysium to the people of Earth would really make a difference–whether Earth’s population would really be that much better off after absorbing Elysium‘s resources–or whether there would be some other lasting solution. In the film, the moral issue comes first.
The trailer for PERFECT SENSE had me fooled. The basic story is about a chef (Ewan McGregor) and an epidemiologist (Eva Green) who meet and fall in love just as a strange pandemic begins–a disease that robs people of their senses one by one over time, each loss preceded by a bout of emotion–loss, existential despair, intense rage, joy. The trailer makes the film appear to be a generic love story, and it is (some may even find it a bit sappy at times), but it’s so much more than that. It’s filled with bittersweet, heartfelt moments (and occasional montages) about how life soldiers on in the face of adversity, and how humans enjoy the world through every sense they have. The end of the world is accepted with something like grace. As an apocalyptic film, it’s one of the best out there, in my view.
I caught MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE on Netflix and thought it was a great film. The story centers on a woman named Martha who escapes from a cult and finds her sister and bother-in-law. While she refuses to talk about what happened and struggles to assimilate, flashbacks show us what it was like to live at the commune for the past two years.
The film is fascinating in its depiction of her mental struggle. You can see she still belongs to the cult in many ways, but had to flee when it crossed a line. By the end, you wonder if she’ll ever truly escape its influence. Martha is played well by Elizabeth Olsen, and John Hawkes nails the role of the cult leader who dominates every aspect of the lives of the group.
Worth watching in my opinion, check it out.
I recently found this Korean gem on Netflix: THE DOOMSDAY BOOK, told in three stories by two directors, explores signs of the apocalypse. In the first story, which is told with a touch of humor, humanity’s capacity to waste and feed part of this waste to animals it in turn eats leads to a zombie virus that overruns the world. In the second story, which is told with great pathos, a robot serving in a Buddhist temple achieves enlightenment and is hailed as the Buddha, which threatens the soul of humanity. And in the third story, which is very funny, a little girl orders a pool ball off the Internet, not knowing the site is run by an alien intelligence, which results in a very strange meteor heading toward earth to destroy all life on the surface.
Each of the stories was great. The film is a lot of fun. Highly recommended.