Currently browsing the "Science Fiction/Fantasy" category.

Quickie Reviews: Glitch in the Matrix, Bliss

There is a lot of talk these days in the scientific world about the scary possibility that we are all living in a computer simulation and aren’t actually real. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. But I’m not the only one thinking about it. Documentary filmmaker Rodney Ascher’s new film Glitch in the Matrix takes on the question using avatar clad interviewees alongside a famous speech by science fiction author extraordinaire Philip K Dick. Director Mike Cahill fictionalizes the question in his sci-fi flick Bliss. Neither of them really answers the existential question. But Glitch in the Matrix is at least somewhat entertaining. Bliss, not so much.

Review: The Map of Tiny Perfect Things

There’s certainly no shortage of movies featuring a time loop or “temporal anomaly.” There’s Groundhog Day, of course, as well as 12 Dates of Christmas, Before I Fall, Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day, to name but a few. So it’s really no wonder that I felt a certain sense of déjà vu watching The Map of Tiny Perfect Things.

Review: Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 is the first movie released mid-pandemic for which I was sorely tempted to mask up and venture into a theater. Really glad I didn’t. Lasso of truth: WW84 is okay, but falls far short of its predecessor and is, most definitely, not worth risking your life for. It’s simply too long and meandering in plot to fully satisfy all but those desperately hungry for a superhero movie. I thought I was. Now I’m not so sure! I didn’t dislike WW84; but I was disappointed.

Girl Power – in front of and behind the camera – can only take you so far. Pieces of the story are good. They just don’t hang together all that well. The movie is too heavy on the messaging (Don’t lie. Greed is bad. Most people want to be good. Be careful what you wish for. Truth is all there is.) and too light on the superheroics. I’m all for Diana Prince living a double life, but aren’t we here mostly to see Wonder Woman doing her thing? Wonder Woman 1984 needed more Wonder Woman!

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 1

What are you streaming this week? When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I started a list on my Facebook page, posting a film I love every day. That list has grown, and is still growing, edging up past 150 films. It is getting a little harder to choose a new film. But I’ve remembered a lot of great movies that I’ve watched over the years and they span all genres and eras. And sometimes one film will remind me of another or an actor that I’d forgotten. I’ve stayed away from the last decade because there are a million “best of” lists that included them. These are films that have stayed with me. Some are obscure, and some no doubt skew to my more “arty” taste. But I am sure you’ll find something to watch that will fill that pandemic hole.  I’ll be posting them in batches of 7 each week, until I have nothing more to say. That could take a while.

 

Quickie Review: Synchronic

Synchronic is the type of film (a horror sci-fi drama) that I would have likely skipped if not for the appeal of its two stars Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan. I’d never heard of the filmmaking team of “Moorhead & Benson” (aka Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead) who apparently made a name for themselves with films described as “quietly mythic.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, until now. Synchronic certainly fits that bill. And, to my surprise, I rather liked it – especially the second half, which is dominated by Mackie’s performance. He plays Steve, a terminally-ill paramedic who takes a mysterious hallucinogenic drug in the hopes it will help him find/rescue the missing daughter of his partner and longtime best friend Dennis (Dornan). It’s a high-concept mindbender shot with a total independent film vibe, brimming with atmosphere.

Review: Bill & Ted Face the Music

Talk about raising the stakes! In 1989, Bill & Ted – informed by a visitor from the future that they were destined for musical greatness – went on a most Excellent Adventure through time, to save themselves from a failing grade in high school history. In 1991, those same metalhead slackers went on a Bogus Journey involving The Grim Reaper, robotic duplicates, and a Battle of the Bands. Now – 25 years later – Bill S. Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan (Keanu Reeves), aka “Wyld Stallyns,” must write the song that will save the entire universe – in the next 75 minutes! Fortunately, they still have access to their time-travel phone booth, and they have kids old enough to help: Bill’s daughter Thea (Samara Weaving) and Ted’s daughter Billie (Brigitte Lundy-Paine). And let’s just say – the apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Quickie Review: Burning Ghost (Vif-argent)

When we meet Juste (Thimotée Robart) he’s wandering on the train tracks somewhere in Paris, confused. He stops at a small house and the man there recognizes what is happening and tells him where he needs to go for help. Then flash forward 10 years and Juste is still wandering about Paris, only he’s not confused any longer. And it slowly becomes clear that he sees dead people, and he’s got a job helping them cross over by sharing a strong memory from their lives with him. And that’s pretty much all he does. That is until a young woman named Agathe (Judith Chemla) starts following him one day. And when he confronts her, it seems they had a brief, and for her memorable, connection back before he left the normal world. And so begins their otherworldly love affair.

Review: Sputnik

Russia, 1983. The Cold War is still raging. Two men are orbiting earth in a spacecraft, preparing for their reentry when there is an incident. And when they crash land in Kazakhstan, the commander is found dead and the flight engineer in a coma. When he awakens, he has no memory of the accident or what happened up there in space. Hoping to get to the bottom of it, secretive Colonel Semiradov (Fedor Bondarchuk) lures psychologist Tatiana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina) who is known for her unconventional methods to a remote, high security facility where the cosmonaut Konstantin Veshnyakov (Pyotr Fyodorov) is being held. It doesn’t take long for her to find out that there is an alien living inside him, and her quest becomes trying to find a way to get it out without harming the host. Director Egor Abramenko is upfront about his love of space horror flicks. “Alien was always in the DNA of Sputnik.” But it’s no rip-off. It has its own satisfying trajectory.

Review: The Old Guard

In the mood for a superhero action movie? Historical fiction? A supernatural flick? A war drama? Sci-fi/fantasy? A message movie? A hint of romance? A high-octane, double-dose of girl power? The Old Guard is all of the above. It stars Charlize Theron as Andy (aka Andromache of Scythia), the leader of a small army of immortal, centuries-old mercenaries who land in the present-day crosshairs of an ex-CIA operative and a cartoonishly evil big pharma CEO motivated by profits.

Review: Underwater

The most shocking thing to me about Underwater is that some critics are actually calling it entertaining and fast-moving. That may be true for the first half-hour of the 95-minute subterranean Alien-ripoff. But after that… it sinks into a murky morass devoid of any real plot, character development or geographic orientation. The film opens with electrical engineer Norah (Kristen Stewart, Charlie’s Angels, Twilight) brushing her teeth in the communal bathroom of an underwater laboratory and waxing poetic via voiceover about her angsty, cynical existence. Then something rocks the lab. It appears to be an earthquake (but we never find out for sure). Whatever the cause, it forces Norah to run for safety as water starts to infiltrate the lab, compromising the infrastructure. If there’s one thing you’ll learn off the bat, it’s that skimpy underwear may seem like a poor choice during an earthquake, but it comes in handy if you need to slip into a bulky pressurized suit to trek across the ocean floor.