Recent Movies

Starfish: I absolutely loved this. I watched it three times in short order. It starts with a funeral, and our lead goes to spend the night in her dead friend's house. But things start "unravelling" before that. She wakes up and she's missed the apocalypse: some kind of Lovecraftian Singularity Rapture leaving her all alone. Mostly it's about her dealing with her grief over her friend's death and her own bad life choices, but also, her friend left some breadcrumbs: a series of mixtapes that can save the world, because they have some kind of anti-Cthonic Videodrome signal embedded in them.

There are so many amazing details in this movie: it's a movie you have to watch and listen to. If your phone is in your hand, you're going to miss it all. It is nearly without dialog, and the score is almost a character. There are little things like, when the cassettes are playing the signal, the spindles are moving in opposite directions.

At one point the movie turns into an anime which is basically Miyazaki's Cloverfield. And it's so weirdly anachronistic and whyyy? I can't tell when it's set. There's no tech visible in the movie that post-dates 1985 or so: rotary phones, cassettes, walkie-talkies. No cell phones in evidence, though someone does once say "I didn't recognize this number", so caller ID was what, 1996? A calendar shows that it is Friday, Dec 31, which means 2010, 2004, 1999 or 1993, but old ticket stubs show the year 2014! I may have thought too hard about this part, but this is not a movie where details like that were left to chance.

Fast Color: This was really good. It feels like Logan meets Midnight Special (which I still think of as "that M83 movie"). The world's gone to hell and three generations of black women are being hunted for having cosmic mutant-powers.

Near future movies seem to be settling in on a particular look for our impending climate apocalypse, that Logan really exemplified, and this does as well -- in the 80s it was underground bunkers, sandstorms, New Rocks with fishnets. Now it's just hoodies and a shitty, picked over New Mexico convenience store that has run out of its $50 jugs of water. This apocalypse sucks.

Booksmart: Two overachieving high school seniors (who are inexplicably and unbelievably not outcasts) lose their damn minds when they realize that all of their slacker classmates also got into good schools, so they decide to "party". Slapstick ensues. It's funny and dumb. There's an animated sequence in the middle that has to be a nod to Better Off Dead.

Darkness Visible: British-born Indian guy goes to India for the first time to figure out why his mom up and left the country in the middle of the night just to go jump in front of a car. Stranger in a Strange Land And Nobody Believes Him Except For One Good Cop, yadda yadda. It's a bit formulaic but it holds up. It reminds me a bit of Deep Red, I think (or possibly I'm mixing that up with some other Argento or Bava movie).

No Alternative: A period piece set in the distant past of 1994 where a bunch of teenagers get their grunge on while trying to find reasons not to kill themselves, with limited success. The shadow of Cobain hangs heavy over this one. It is dark, but good.

Harmony: This movie is set in the Chicago part of Australia that played New York in The Matrix. The soundtrack is good. It's about a sad goth girl who's some kind of sin-eater who can absorb and take away other people's misery and sadness, but it hurts her and makes her run with black goo, none of which is great for socializing. It's overwrought and melodramatic and kind of like the opposite of The Crow: she's some sort of elemental of forgiveness instead of vengeance. And of course some creeps want to weaponize her. Anyway, it's fun. There was some definite sequel-bait at the end.

Captive State: The aliens show up to strip-mine the planet, and humanity just surrenders and lets them do it. A tiny insurgency are hunted by their fellow humans and make basically no difference at all. I feel like this is a metaphor for something. Anyway, it's not bad, though not terribly memorable.

High Life: Literally the only sound in the first 20 minutes of this movie was a baby shrieking. I couldn't take it. I fast forwarded a bit and never quite got what the plot was, except that they are prisoners on a generation ship, it gets rapey and most of them are murdered. And the physics was wonky. Normally I don't even bother writing reviews of movies I despised, but this terrible film did raise one question for me that I was not immediately able to find an answer to by googling, so maybe you can help: at 1G acceleration, what would the stars look like, and when? How many years until you see gravity's rainbow?

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13 Responses:

  1. 1G gets you close to c in about a year of ship time.

  2. Rich says:

    Oh god High Life was absolutely terrible and doesn't deserve thinking too hard about. Who the hell thought the dogs scene was a good idea?

  3. eerie quark doll says:

    even at .2c you'd start seeing decent light bending, depending on the star backdrop (which would take a little under 71 days at constant 1G.) (and rainbow gravity is a still poorly formed idea - so incalculable, even if actual.)

  4. k3ninho says:

    (Logan for everything it did right, didn't have its autonomous cargo units talking amongst themselves -- v2v mesh networks -- or ultramiling in wind-efficient trains, which is either with radars and microsecond response times or v2v mesh networks, so the horse rescue scene failed in connecting the conclusion.)

    You didn't ask,

  5. MC says:

    I just realized where Pynchon's book got its title. Super bonus points: I am a tenured English professor.

    • JM says:

      I think the Pynchon book's title refers to the parabolic motion of the rockets, not to visual distortion from close to light speed travel...

      • Thomas Lord says:

        > "... Pynchon book's title refers to the parabolic motion of the rockets, ..."

        People say that but rainbows aren't parabolic and Pynchon seems to be a stickler for detail.....

        Perhaps it is something like examining a society through the literary prism of the V-1 element of the story.

      • MC says:

        I just realized I should probably just read this book and quit making stupid comments in forums.

        • P says:

          I think it's very over-rated. Most of its elements are about stuff we don't care much about anymore (WWII, pavlov and other psy experiment, mass mind control, secret societies controlling the world, rockets and related imagery, etc.)

          It feels very dated.

          • Malcolm says:

            Scuse me, stuff you don't care about. That Phoebus cartel bit is a hoot.

            I just read me some Huysmans, "feels very dated", but sooo good.

  6. just b says:

    wonderful. i wish i had a movie buddy with taste like yours.

    PS-what is up with OATS (Blomkamp)? they make gorgeous shirts, randomly hold fundraisers for no specific project, and... RoboCop reboot? shrug. #zygote

  7. Jeff Atwood says:

    Oh my God you tricked me into watching Starfish. This is all about your love of mixtapes, isn't it? ISN'T IT?

    So it's a shoegazing, introspective, mixtape-based end of the world story where we're not .. quite .. sure if the world actually ended or if some 20-something girl cheated on her boyfriend.

    I want my two hours back!