Looking Back on Sci Fi September* (part the first)

October 4, 2010

I’ve just said goodbye to my dear friend Roshni who visited me for the whole glorious month of September.  We undertook to have a sci fi movie festival while she was visiting and enjoyed it quite thoroughly indeed.  Here’s the list in order of appearance:

Sunshine

Its possible I’ve said all I need to say about this movie here.  But actually I simply can’t emphasize enough how much I love it, how much I quote from it in my head, how much I want to run its sound track over moments in an average day … etc.

I was joking with my sister that when Roshni arrived we’d let her set down her bags, visit the bathroom and then frog march her to the sofa to begin watching this … and she deadpanned back to me, “yes, and …”  In the end that was pretty much what we did with the minor deviation of making dinner and a pie first.  So this was the kick off to Sci Fi September right here.

Alien

This is such a classic that it suffers from Lord of the Rings syndrome.  That is … if you watch it after you’ve already seen enough sci fi movies it feels really hackneyed which is terribly unfair because Alien did it first.

That said, its still very scary especially when watched alone at night (as I first did).  Its a good mystery, suspenseful until you want to scream and even a bit funny.

Ripley is pretty bad ass even before she straps on a flame throwing machine gun and takes on an alien in its lair.

Still its just a tiny touch dated at this point … smoking in space?  Seriously?

Aliens

Did I say Ripley was bad ass in Alien?  I’m sorry.  In this movie she is so bad ass she breaks the scale.  And all in a completely believable way.  Hooray for a character development arc!  Full Disclosure: I love this film.  We watched the special edition which has about 45 minutes of extra footage showing Ripley’s (sortof) readjustment to life and what’s going on with the colony before the Aliens get there and its incredibly suspenseful.  You don’t even see an alien (baring one dream sequence) until minute 56. In my memory this is an action movie just as much as the Terminator but on this watching it feels much more like suspense … at least in the extended edition.

This is another one of those movies so seminal it seems familiar but in this case its so well done you never feel like you’ve seen it all before.  I hadn’t realized what a precedent it was setting until I went back and re-read Ebert’s review written in 1986 in which he describes it as astonishingly scary and says “when I walked out of the theater, there were knots in my stomach from the film’s roller-coaster ride of violence.”  Now it just seems par for the course but then this level of action violence had a seasoned movie reviewer talking about losing his lunch.  Oh here’s another interesting historical tidbit: Fast forward to 1997 and Ebert’s review of Aliens Resurrection (don’t see it, its un-watchabley bad) he comments that “Weaver remains the only woman who can open an action picture.”  It would still be 4 years before Lara Croft Tomb Raider kicked off Angelina Jolie’s action stardom.  So … thanks Ellen Ripley.  We’ve come a long way, baby.

Obviously that’s not all we watched … but that’s all I can write about for now.  More to follow soon.

*AKA the Best September Ever

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