Neil's Noodlemaps

Movies

Some films I've liked (or at least watched) over the years, in no particular order.

(Probably best to assume there will be some spoiler alerts…)

Children of Men

Just so well done. So much detail.

I wrote this in January 2016 about it:

A bit exaggerated, but not entirely unimaginable picture of the not-so-distant future, if the present took a darker path. In the midst of a massive global crisis, the world turns insular and closes its borders. England has become a fascist state, with anyone foreign treated as subhuman and deported. Underground groups fight against the system, but also amongst themselves. Bexhill is a squalid refugee camp policed by gun toting thugs (e.g. if EDL ran the UKBA). People in dire circumstances put their faith in uncertain ships to take them to a better place.

Children of Men. Great film. Hopefully not too prescient. The premise for the global crisis is far fetched (although, extrapolate the current Zika virus out a bit…) but swap that idea out for some other vehicle of global instability (climate change anyone?), and you can watch Children of Men as a cautionary tale. To not just sit idly by and let the pernicious shit-stirring of the media get a toe hold in the nation's consciousness. You can laugh at the Daily Mail all day, but people actually read and believe that bullshit, and it's one of the most widely circulated propaganda devices in the UK. Disseminate information at every possibility to inform and debunk. Stick up for what's right, and never lose hope in humanity.

Also this article said it better in December 2019: Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men Is a Dystopian Masterpiece

Knives Out

About 2 hours long, but you wouldn't notice - just non-stop enjoyment. A modern spin on the murder mystery genre. Great ensemble performance, Daniel Craig remarkably enjoyable as a Southern US sleuth.

Brick

A kind of Shakespeare-cum-neo-noir-cum-high-school-drama. Rian Johnson's first film. A long time since I watched it, must rewatch after seeing Knives Out (Johnson's latest), I remember loving it at the time.

Garden of Words

A short and interesting anime about two strangers who meet in a park and forge a connection despite many barriers. They have a profound effect on each others' lives as they get to know each other.

Gentle and philosophical on life. It looks gorgeous, with some beautiful backdrop illustration. Makes you think about the nature of human connection.

Tron Legacy

I love the first Tron. I think Tron Legacy is a great film too. It didn't get great reviews, but, bleh.

I love the visual style. (Basically lots of neon piping and computer grids). The Daft Punk soundtrack is spot on. I think the direction and acting is pretty good for what it needs to be, too. Jeff Bridges.

The plot doesn't blow your mind. Good versus bad in the Grid, a bit of father son bonding… genocide. (That part is pretty heavy and also… not explored at all). There's a tiny bit of philosophising about the pursuit of perfection, and can machines understanding the need for flaws? Very very tiny bit.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given it's target market is probably 14 year old boys, the female characters are pretty weak. The scene with the four women preparing Sam for the games is just embarrassing. Jem is good looking, jealous, and untrustworthy. Quorra is cool but kind of a manic pixie cyber girl.

But on the whole the characters are generally fun, the action is good, it pulls you along at a good pace. It's a blast.

It also has some reasonably realistic Unix command-line action, extra marks for that.

Miller's Crossing

Tron

Children of Men

Pan's Labyrinth

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The Matrix

Mad Max: Fury Road

Back to the Future

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Gattaca

Her

You Were Never Really Here

Brutal film. A bit of a modern day Taxi Driver. Someone losing it in a bad world.

Joaquim Phoenix is superb.

It's amazingly directed. Really minimal but effective. The soundtrack by Jonny Greenwood is perfect for the film.

The plot is very grim. Maybe also a bit far fetched. But based on a book by Jonathon Ames. The film is impressive in the amount of stuff that it leaves out. It alludes to a lot of stuff that is probably much more fleshed out in the book.

Blade Runner

A flawed classic. I've watched this a few times. Most recently I watched the final cut. Undeniably a classic but with some big problems.

It's a stylish film and was probably pretty stunning in 1982. The dystopian sci-fi future is fantastically done, the set design and lighting is perfect, and the dark crowded streets really set the scene. I'm not sure if Blade Runner was one of the first films to start this idea of dystopian futures being predominantly Asian, but it feels a bit off-key now. Maybe it was less of a cliche at the time.

There's some good performances, Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty is weird and wonderful. It feels a bit eighties at times, mostly in costume, but hey fashion comes and goes, right.

The huge problem for me is the scene between Deckard and Rachael that feels very strongly like rape. I felt uncomfortable watching that scene. I've read a few opinions on it online afterwards, and there's plenty of debate about it. The main disagreements seem to be around either - is it rape if it's a replicant, or actually she wants it, but she just doesn't know her own emotions, and Deckard knows them better. The first is horrible, the second is very dangerous. Maybe there's some more subtlety to the second view given that she is a replicant. But that could have been explored without sexual violence. And I don't think the film was even trying to present it this way as a means to get you thinking - it just feels like some men in film 40 years ago might have thought it was a perfectly normal interaction in the bedroom.

While it's a piece of film history, I don't think I'd call it a top ten favourite, even without this scene. But with it in, I honestly couldn't recommend it to others, or at least only with a caveat. Maybe I need to think about why that is, given that there's lots of gruesome violence and murder, and that doesn't bother me the same.

Adam Curtis stuff

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