iReview (four time-roaming greats)
“Always in motion [pictures] is the future” – Wise words from Master Yoda
As Apple recently ‘excitedly’ (reminder: look up meaning of ‘excitedly’) unveiled their latest gismos set to reportedly revolutionise our lives, iCast my mind back to other portrayals of how we might live in the future.
In the history of modern popular culture and filmmaking many have tried to portray, or more often entertain, a foretold picture of the future. These come in many forms and styles, George Orwell’s 1984 expressed fears of a totalitarian future state, these French futuristic postcards from the early 20th century and who can forget Busted’s song Year 3000 in which we lived under water etc. etc. but I’ll discuss those down the pub with you one time, now we have the pleasure of looking over the entirely differing, future-telling films that are 2001: A Space Odyssey, Back to the Future, Wall-E and Her. All highly respectable and entertaining films in their own right, and all of which use their presentations of the future to illustrate their wider, more important themes. Or in Kubrick’s case, to brag just about how good and clever he is. Well done Mr Kubrick.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Where to start. This is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest films ever made by fans and critics alike and lives on through seemingly never-ending parodies and homages (notably of The Dawn of Man scene and HAL 9000) in films and TV programs – see Deep Space Homer and Love and Rocket…The Simpsons and Futurama episodes respectively.
Though I did not like it, it is easy to understand that it is a visually brilliant piece of audio-visual material, with brilliant, groundbreaking filmography and a soundtrack of galactic proportions. To be very generalising, the film follows various attempts to identify the meaning behind a black monolith. Its first appearance is in the scene entitled The Dawn of Man that sees apes fighting over a waterhole, then fast-forward a few millennia and it is being discovered on the moon’s surface. Fast-forward another 18 months and a crew is on its way to Jupiter to work out the Monolith’s origin and purpose, only to be hindered by the ship’s questionably evil and totally terrifying computer system, HAL 9000.
Now. It would be completely futile for me to attempt to explain the film as it seems deliberately cryptic and warrants a whole blog post in itself. I wanted to like it but to me the film’s only redeeming quality is that it is a visually stunning spectacle. As one ‘fan’ put it: “it’s just the outcome of a pretentious director’s masturbation session. And by that I mean it is self-aggrandizing. It is over-laden with style that is meant to impress and make the audience think how brilliant this “Stanley Kubrick” person is. […] That music sets you up for something big and amazing and you get over 2 hours of someone jerking off to their own intellect.” I personally completely understand this point of view as ludicrous as it sounds. The film seems to move at a cosmic place and is rich in essence of Kubrick’s eccentric character and (justified) arrogance. A film that would not have had a remotely similar effect with any other director. And for these reasons exactly, the film is a must-see.
IMDB Rating – 7/10
Back to the Future Part II
I’d never seen any of the Back to the Future trilogy so this was a good excuse to get started on what are often deemed people’s favourite films. iMust say I was very pleasantly surprised by them and I imagine had I seen them earlier in life they could be considered among my favourites as it is a very teenage-pleasing film, obviously. Unlike the other films I’ve talked about, this is explicitly about the timeline of the film with no higher meaning, and that is what makes it so fun and easy to watch.
We may only have 12 months to go until the October 2015 in Back…Part II is proved right or wrong (fingers crossed for the release of iHoverboards and Jaws 19) but that’s what the beauty of this film was – predicting how ridiculous and exciting the future could be.
If a film was released now set in 2044 with a super cool dude that gets the attractive girls, swears, knocks people out and is stupidly good at guitar – not only would I think ‘wow they finally made my biopic’, but I would rush straight to the cinema to see it. That is the biggest compliment I can pay this film.
IMDB Rating – 7/10
Wall-E is very Disney/Pixar. It is genuinely funny to people of all ages, heart-warming and modest. Set in 2805 (read The Pixar Theory – all Pixar’s characters live in the same universe…it’s farfetched but interesting), Wall-E uses the future initially as a pretence for a robot (the charming Wall-E) falling in love with another (Eva). Though the film escalates to show our desolate Earth ruined by humans, it remains firmly grounded throughout. The first half-hour flashes by despite a complete lack of dialogue or monologue, preferring to echo the silent pathos of Charlie Chaplin and physical humour of E.T
Amidst the warning to us about our carbon footprint and general waste and the importance of carpe diem, the quintessential love story and the charm and humour that goes with it is not lost. A fantastic film, whether viewed alone (don’t judge me) or with friends and family.
IMDB Rating – 8/10
Probably my favourite of the four films, and credibly winning the Original Screenplay Oscar in 2014, Her is romantic, disturbing, creepy and meticulously filmed. Oscar-nominated Joaquin Phoenix, doing his best but not quite managing to avoid looking like a hipster Gary Oldman, portrays your run-of-the-mill vulnerable-to-falling-in-love-with-an-OS guy and does so entirely convincingly as Theodore. Scarlett Johansson still manages to perform brilliantly despite not gracing the film with her image, as she plays the voice of Theodore’s operating system, Samantha. Small roles from Olivia Wilde and Amy Adams do not go amiss either, as we are further plunged into this idyllic future where everyone and everything that features looks like it’s been plunged into a pool of Bradley Cooper’s genes.
In Her, we see a future more relatable than the other films (unsurprisingly as it is the most recent) what with the similarities of talking to and being assisted by Siri on your iPhone (if anyone actually uses that) being a step, albeit a large one, away from Theodore’s manipulative, invasive OS. Whether you interpret this future as an illustration of the increasingly pervasive technologies in our life, or rather another platform for another romance, the film is captivating and emotionally gripping (at times). The award-winning screenplay is complimented by great performances from Phoenix and Johansson and once more, is a must watch. Not to be confused with the lovable Apple Watch…
IMDB Rating – 8/10
Let’s not get carried away though, who remembers i-Robot, The Purge and 2012? And they’re all relatively recent. Just…no.