5 Unorthodox Sci-fi Films

5. The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)Bowie

Where to start with this film. This film is the most disjointed films I have ever seen and I fucking love it. The role David Bowie was born to play, this LSD trip of a movie will fuck you mentally but also rewards repeat viewings. Nicolas Roeg makes one of the most bizarre and amazing Sci-fi films of the seventies.

Coherence4. Coherence (2013)

Minimalist Sci-fi is a hard thing to get right without coming off as amateurish but Coherence has the perfect blend of low budget and Mentally stimulating script to keep you interested. Unlike most Sci-fi films it doesn’t become about the visuals but purely about the characters and story. Rarely is Sci-fi done this efficiently.

3. Primer (2004)Primer

Normally I hate time travel in this day and age, it feels like a story thread that can’t be properly carried over into the 21th century except for primer that is.  Instead of focusing on the wacky adventures of time travel it goes a completely different way with a focus on the logistics and repercussions of the possibility of time travel.

Upstream Colour2. Upstream Colour (2013)

Shane Carruth on this list for a second time, maybe because he can make two amazing low budget Sci-fi movies. This one being my prefered, it ditches the logistics of time travel for a more symbolic and visually stunning experience. I love every element of this film and thinks it’s engrossing from start to finish.

1. Blade Runner (1982)Blade Runner

Definitely the most famous and well received film on the list. Blade Runner takes the usual tropes of 80s Sci-fi but adds so many thematics elements on top of it and poses deep metaphorical questions to the audience. But make sure you see the final cut (to see all of it in it’s glory). It’s essential viewing for any film fan.

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Review: White God (2014)

Directed by Kornel MundruczoWhite God 2

Knowing nothing about the director, cast or hungarian cinema but then I saw the trailer for White God. Seeing something unique and original is extremely rare to see these days, so when I heard that White God won the Un Certain Regard at Cannes festival I then instantly needed to see it. This award is only given to the truly original and unique and almost exclusively foreign. So on to the actually film.

White God is a very slow film in most parts (especially the first half) which is surprising considering how surreal and exciting the trailer is. This isn’t a complaint I just expected it to be a bit more fast paced. If you are planning on watching the film I would recommend you don’t get too eager to see the main pull of the film. Visually, the film is great, with a nice mixture of static long shots to some more shaky cam to really match the feeling of being there with the dogs. It also does some very nice POV of the main dog Hagen. Which it doesn’t do constantly to remind the audience that the dog can see the obvious.

White God 3For a film that seemed funny and surreal from the synopsis, the movie is actually quite emotional and hard to watch in section especially for dog lovers. There is some humour in the film but not as much as expected. The dogs do a excellent job of you know being dogs considering that the director actually used abandoned street dogs is probably why they look so feral and sad in parts, but the real star is the main dog Hagen, who puts in the best dog performance since that dog from The Thing.

The human cast also do a excellent job in their roles especially Lili played Unknown Zsofia Psotta. Emotion is shown more through body language than the more commonly used crying, which is a breath of fresh air when watching a film with a plot like this. The film really picks in the last 30 minutes where the climax is finally reached. The very slow burned build up is quite effective, almost making me as part of the audience feel like the dog, just waiting to burst and just go.White God 4

A film that is not for everyone but will develop a cult following in years to come. If I had to compare this film to another, it would be Rubber which is also a film with a ridiculous premise but is again very slow paced. A film deservedly awarded the title of Un Certain Regard.

Rating: 8 out of 10  

5 Great Single Location Films

Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Directed By Sidney Lumet

Dog Day Afternoon
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Filmed primarily in a bank during a robbery gone wrong. Unlike Heat which has the quick action getaway chase and robberies, Dog Day Afternoon focuses on the slow building tension of the climax of the film. It’s really quite slow and is completely held up by Al Pacino’s amazing performance, aswell as Lumet’s expert direction.

Moon (2009) Directed By Duncan Jones

Moon
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Set on the moon inside a mining space station with design similar to Alien and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film is beautiful to look at with the amazingly designed decor as well as the minimalist colour. Again like Dog Day Afternoon this film is home to another great performance by the massively underrated Sam Rockwell.

Funny Games (1997) Directed By Michael Haneke

Funny Games
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Probably Haneke’s most known film is set in a summer house of a family of three and their dog. This is one of those films that really needs to have only one location as it’s purely driven by its narrative and doesn’t focus on having a nice locale for the viewer to enjoy, you know supposed to be loving the scenery unlike Moon.

Dogtooth (2009) Directed By Yorgos Lanthimos

Dogtooth
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Much like the same setting as Funny Games but a totally different film, Dogtooth focus on the inner life of a reclusive family rather than imprisoned like in Funny Games. There is a lot more accessible humour in this film compared to Funny Games, The single location, again is essential to the film.

The Bitter Tears Of Petra von Kant (1972) Directed By Rainer Werner Fassbinder

The Bitter Tears Of Petra von Kant
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The film that has mastered the single location setting more than any other film in my opinion is this one. Featuring an all female cast and only made up of a couple of scenes, Petra von Kant focus more on costume design, amazingly performances and Thought-Provoking dialogue. Fassbinder masters the single room drama with ease accompanied by simplistic but technically sound camerawork. Not only the best single location film but also one of my favourite films of all time.

A Quick Analysis of The Merchant Of Four Seasons (1971)

Directed and Written by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

As with other Fassbinder films one of the core themes of this film is the very exposed nature of one’s emotions, this set The Merchant of Four Seasonsup in numerous scenes throughout the movie. The protagonist of the film is a short, stubby, alcoholic wife beater, he really isn’t the most likeable character. He is quite easy to despise from the offset. But even in the first scene in the film we can see the lack of love (from women mainly) that Hans hasn’t received, even from his own mother who would of rather seen him dead when he came back from war. Hans is emasculated by women his whole life, his mother in the most obvious way. But also symbolically by his wife. By making her taller than him is no accident it complements one of the main themes of the film. Hans craves love from somebody, but even his wife doesn’t show him any affection. By the time you finish watching the film you almost forget his violent tendencies and when you remember you understand why. We don’t condone these acts but we actually sympathise with the attacker. Hans is a emotionally weak character.

A core theme throughout the second half of the film is depression, Hans has a heart attack and is not able to continue his work as fruit The Merchant of Four Seasons 4seller and hires somebody to do it for him. They earn more money than they did before but he has seemed more depression, once again being emasculated by not being able to provide for his family with his hands. This was the one part of his life he didn’t feel emasculated. Throughout watching the film I lost more and more sympathy for the wife, at first she was a innocent women who only wanted her husband to be there and be a father to their child, but her needs became more clear further throughout the film. These were needs not out of love for Hans to be a father and husband but for the benefit of herself this is made abundantly clear in the last scene of the film.

One character speaks the truth in the film which is Anna, Hans’ sister. She, unlike other members of the family, speaks her mind on matters involving Hans, she tells Hans and the audience who can’t really make the connection that Hans is almost like the bastard child of the family. Doesn’t have a great job in the eye of the public and lots of wealth like the other siblings. His family despises him but only a couple of months later they relish in his company when he has his own business. Anna explains this to the family as they deny it, but deep down they know it to be true.

Favourite Scene

My personal favourite scene of this film is one of the last, at the peak of depression and unpleasantness, Hans has The Merchant of Four Seasons 3decided that he will drink himself to death. Ordered by the doctor to not bring alcohol as it would be fatal to his health. Hans is certain he will die and before doing so he dedicates each shot of whiskey to his friends and family before calling them all swine. Before he takes his last drink he says this one is for the love of his life and takes it. While his wife sits there watching him slowly kill himself she can do nothing but watch. She realizes that the love of his life isn’t her. This is one last truth from Hans before he dies, regretting he didn’t pursue the women he loves. Then he dies, there is silence, nobody talks they just sit there with his then widowed wife sitting there just silently crying. She has no love left to give. This is the darkest and most depressing scene in the movie and it really left an impression on me.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Jake Gyllenhaal Retrospective: 5 Best Films

Donnie Darko (2001) Directed By Richard Kelly

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Gyllenhaal talent shows roots in this early effort (Not including Bubble Boy), playing the generic moody teenager with some flair and charisma, Gyllenhaal takes the stereotype and makes it his own. From deep meaning dialogue “Donnie: I hope that when the world comes to an end, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to.”, To more quotable dialogue “Oh, Please, Tell Me, Elizabeth, How Does One Such A Fuck?”.

Nightcrawler (2014) Directed By Dan Gilroy

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Gyllenhaal has never been creepy and more gaunt looking in any other picture than he is in this one. With a disturbing body transformation and a great performance to boot. This feels like Gyllenhaal’s Taxi Driver. Gyllenhaal perfectly measures his charm with the horrible action that Lou Bloom commits perfectly all while making it sound justified.

Jarhead (2005) Directed By Sam Mendes

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A more obvious and clear role of his mental deterioration throughout the film than nightcrawler, but this role calls for it, he is a brute of a soldier with one target in mind which sometimes isn’t even the ‘enemy’. Differently his most overt role but it doesn’t take away from his acting chops in this war film.

Brokeback Mountain (2005) Directed By Ang Lee

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The only nomination has received to date is in one of his earlier performances, with pitch perfect chemistry with Heath Ledger (Who is also incredible, Ledger’s best role in my opinion) that really shows the love and passion they have for each other. He is not an all round good character, he has his flaws and some of them harming the main romance of the film. Gyllenhaal is electric as Jack Twist.

Prisoners (2013) Directed By Denis Villeneuve

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Gyllenhaal’s best performance to date is again like Ledger’s a more subtle and reserved performance. Playing a character obviously meant for an older actor Gyllenhaal brings new life and new tensions between characters. Spending hours watching interrogation footage you can differently see the influence into his performance as well as the training from End Of Watch. Plus just look at that hair, Good Damn it’s beautiful. Also a nervous blinking problem that sprouts up from time to time really adds to the characters and immersing the audience in realism of the film.

Honorable Mentions

End Of Watch

Zodiac

Source Code

Brothers

Enemy

Some Essential Films That Have Came Out In The Last 5 Years

Mommy (2014) Directed By Xavier DolanMommy

One of the best films in recent memory is also unique in it’s own way, not through plot or camera techniques but by Aspect Ratio. The only other film I can think of which uses this technique is The Grand Budapest Hotel. The ratio is 1:1 which I have never seen in a film before. You think it will change at some point but it doesn’t, it represents the character’s emotions in some quite obvious symbolism but it’s not patronising. For young filmmakers and lovers of the craft this is essential viewing.

Under The Skin (2013) Directed By Jonathan GlazerUnder The Skin 2

This film makes a very ballsy move by having such a huge megastar (Scarlett Johansson) and have the film itself be so inaccessible to mainstream audiences, her usual fan base is used to big action movies this is the complete opposite. It’s slow and subtle with it’s plot developments. The soundtrack is incredible and it’s thought provoking study on human beings. This is an essential viewing for lovers of minimalist sci-fi.

Birdman (2014) Directed By Alejandro González Iñárritu

Birdman
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Every once and awhile there has to be a film that is self indulgent in it’s own merit. These sort of films don’t come along that often. Some of these films include: Mulholland Drive, Peeping Tom, Ed Wood, Adaption and of course Fellini’s Masterpiece 8½. Not since 8½ has such a film had an impact on me, the film is in the setting of a broadway show but is just a thinly veiled illusion for the film industry. A critic on critics, actors, modern day cinema and egos. This is essential viewing for film buffs. 

Drive 2Drive (2011) Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn

Silence has never been so effective in the last 5 years than it was in Drive. Silence is normally used to build tension which it does do in Drive but it is mainly used in simple scenes of interaction between the protagonist and Irene. It tells you all you need to know with facial expressions and figuring it out yourself. This film holds up in multiple viewings with new things you notice while watching like the Quadrant System and Real meanings of certain moments. A great film with a killer soundtrack.

Black Swan (2010) Directed By Darren Aronofsky Black Swan 2

The beauty of an art shown in another median is always interesting to see which what makes Black Swan so interesting to watch. But one of the main reasons Black Swan is essential is the camerawork not many films have utilized as well as Black Swan (Probably Blue Valentine) it perfectly matches the flow of ballet in the scenes it’s depicted and is also well used to show the mental state of a character. Aronofsky has a eye for telling stories on certain Subjects (Requiem For A Dream- Drugs, Black Swan- Ballet and The Wrestler- Wrestling) But also a subtext to that subject like mental deterioration and Age.

5 Underrated Films from the last 5 years

Super (2010) Directed By James GunnSuper

Super is hilarious comedy starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page with the writing of James Gunn (Guardians Of The Galaxy), but also a interesting jab at  superhero movies. It’s very dark and also quite graphic in it’s depiction of violence but it never goes too far and works in the context their shown in. Even though being a parody of superhero movies it has actually become my favourite. And also Kevin Bacon.

Lost River 2Lost River (2014) Directed By Ryan Gosling

I believe this film was hated by a lot of people due to the lack of story and dialogue in sections much like Only God Forgives. You can definitely see influences Gosling has taken from other directors from the more obvious Nicolas Winding Refn to the less more subtle Lynchian feel in the environment and the people in it. With amazing cinematography from Debie, amazing soundtrack and also superbly acted. This film is not for everybody but it will develop a niche audience in years to come.

Filth (2013) Directed By Jon Baird

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The protagonist is a racist, homophobic, insensitive, sociopath which the audience hates but the film manages to make you feel sad and have sympathy for him, this is extremely hard to do and has not been done better in the last 15 years. It mixes pitch black comedy to serious sad drama moments in an instant and it works and never feels forced. They don’t try to send a message to audience it just tells the story of Bruce ‘The Stallion’ Robertson. Also featuring one of the best performances of the decade by James McAvoy.

Blue Valentine 2Blue Valentine (2010) Directed By Derek Cianfrance

One of the most realistic stories ever told in cinematic history, Blue Valentine shows scene from a love story at it’s birth and it’s demise. With some of the most realistic acting put to film Blue Valentine makes you laugh, cry and think about your life and experiences so far. One of my favourite films of all time is also one of the most underrated films. Killer soundtrack, top notch acting and superbly directed Blue Valentine is the best romance film of all time and nothing has yet topped it in my opinion.

Shame (2011) Directed By Steve McQueenShame

New taboo subjects are being discussed in the film every year and one of the most effective and raw I have seen is Shame. Sexual Addiction is something that is talked about by the public but not fully understood, McQueen’s film brings to light what an addict will go through. Amazingly acted by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, this film sticks with you days after viewing it and gives you a different perspective on a subject you didn’t really know.

5 Films With Amazing Colour

The Fall (2006) Directed By Tarsem SinghThe Fall

Out of this list this film probably has the broadest use of colour in its film. Their is not one prominent colour, there are constant variants depending on the scene. The colour comes from more than just the lighting it also expands to bring in set and costume designs to convey their colour. It doesn’t rely on one aspect of portraying colour.

Suspiria (1977) Directed By Dario Argento

SuspiriaThe high point of Giallo filmmaking this film’s colour is over the top (much like the acting) to constantly give you a weird feeling in the back of your head (Green and mostly Red). One word to describe this film’s look would be nightmarish much due to the fact the colour (And soundtrack) are so creepy and amazing handheld.

Only God Forgives (2013) Directed By Nicolas Winding RefnOnly God Forgives

The foreign location really gives Refn more space and freedom to explore with his lighting which we start to really appreciate in Drive. The location provides much more imagery in its decor than America or England could provide such as some more demonic art, statues and wallpaper. But lighting is this film’s main source of amazing colour.

In The Mood For Love 2In The Mood For Love (2000) Directed By Kar Wai Wong

Backgrounds and bedrooms are the main source of colour in this film with some exceptions of course. With the men (One of the main characters) actually look quite bland, the females much to the help of oriental clothing look much more colour and exciting (Maybe the director was trying to say something through this).

Don’t Look Now (1973) Directed By Nicolas RoegDon't Look Now

This is the only film on this list that doesn’t have colour always be prominent throughout the film, but rather puts it in situations with excellent timing. Especially the colour red (The daughter’s coat was that colour) was used in scenes trying to create tension with the actually coat itself showing up again. While not being as obvious and vibrant as other films on this list it certainly presents its colour just as good maybe even better.

Overshadowed Films By Famous Directors. Part 1

The Last Temptation Of Christ (Martin Scorsese)The Last Temptation Of Christ 3

This with Raging Bull is my favourite Scorsese film. The humanistic portrayal of Jesus with all his faults and not being the perfect son of God, the fact that it’s based on The Last Temptation Of Christ book rather than the bible gives this film an edge over others because of it’s updated themes. The defining feature of this film is Willem Dafoe’s performance as Jesus Christ, it’s perfect and also quite believable. Another great feature of this film is the very unique Cinematography it’s very unconventional compared to other Scorsese works. The film is overshadowed by Goodfellas, Hugo and Taxi Driver.

The Prestige (Christopher Nolan)     

David Bowie 10This is Nolan’s best film in my opinion. Perfectly balanced characters and a runtime that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, this film is his strongest and most consistent throughout. Praised by critics but quickly forgotten by audiences because of his later works. The real surprise standout in this film is not Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale or even Andy Serkis, It’s David Bowie as Nikola Tesla who steals every scene he is involved in. The film is overshadowed by The Batman Trilogy and also Inception who seemed to captivate audiences in the long run. Hopefully when people look by on Nolan’s filmography they will notice films such as The Prestige and Memento.

Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)Inglourious_Basterds 2

Again a film that is well reviewed by critics but no where near as accessible as his other work. Mainly due to the fact of the pacing of the film and also the use of subtitles is a lot more prominent in this film. The obvious standout in this film is Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, but this also happens to be Tarantino’s most well shot film and also to a less extent his most original in style. It’s real defining feature is definitely the first scene of the film with Landa and a Farmer having a delightful conversation in french. It is overshadowed by Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill whose pop culture references and more down to earth plot and scenes help keep people interested and related to some of the characters.

The World’s End (Edgar Wright)

The World's EndOut of all of Edgar Wright’s films I believe this one benefits the most from a repeat viewing, not to see all the little hidden touches but to actual like and enjoy the film more. The humor in this film is different from all of Wright’s other works, the humor is more dry and doesn’t rely on pop culture as much. At first I thought this film was okay but not to the standard of his other work, but after a repeat viewing and you accept the different style of writing it becomes much more enjoyable, much like Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me, you have to get over your original expectations for it, to really enjoy it.  This film is really overshadowed by all of Wright’s other work such as Shaun of The Dead and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Also the soundtrack is killer to listen to inside and out of watching the film.

Shame (Steve McQueen)

Shame is a special breed of film that really changes your mind on the subject matter at hand, in this case Sex Addiction.Shame 2 Two of the best things this film does are the cinematography which is close and tight to the characters but can expand depending on emotion it’s slick and beautiful work which has really been applied to his later work. Secondly is Michael Fassbender’s Oscar Worthy Performance as Brandon, it’s astounding how much you can tell what the character is feeling through only looking at his face with no dialogue. Most mainstream audiences took notice of McQueen with his 2013 release 12 Years A Slave (Which is rather good), the subject matter is difficult and awkward but has been done before much like his first film Hunger which is about an IRA prison hunger strike, again difficult but has been done before. Shame has a subject matter not a lot of people are familiar which makes for a very intense and interesting look into that world. Hopefully audiences will look back on McQueen’s career and really give the praise that Shame deserves.

Zodiac (David Fincher)

Zodiac 2One of Fincher’s most underappreciated films is actually my favourite. Based on the true story of Serial Killer ‘The Zodiac’, we see a tense and interesting look into the world Fincher has constructed. Not as dark or controversial as his other work like Seven and Fight Club, Zodiac puts subtle into the mix with it’s display of the mystery upto and pass the end. It’s feels old school much like Chinatown with not a lot actually happening but keep audience members enthralled in it’s story. It has a hearty runtime of 157 minutes but much like other his other work never feels that long and leaves you craving more. Stuck between his stages of becoming a more accesible director (Panic Room to Benjamin Button) this leaves a lasting impression, much more than any of the work he has made in the last 5 years.

The Elephant Man (David Lynch)

Often forgotten among some of Lynch’s other classics such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet, The Elephant Man leaves The Elephant Manmore of an emotional after thought than one of weirdness and confusion. Much like The straight story the film has heart rather than brains, there is no symbolic plot to make the viewer think. It’s just a true story about a disfigured man who has to try to live in Victorian England.  Again much like Shame there are two standouts. The stark black and white cinematography which really is really justified in the setting of the film, I couldn’t see ever wanting to watch this film in colour. Secondly John Hurt’s performance as John Merrick, it’s extraordinary simplistic yet has such depth below it. He manages to create a lingering sadness for the character from start to finish without it seeming like he is pandering to the audience. The elephant man is a true classic often forgotten that Lynch actually directed it.