Tuesday, April 05, 2016

100 Must-See Films! -- Dystopia

 “For young people, dystopia isn’t a future to be averted; it’s a version of what’s already happening in the world they inhabit…

…The adult dystopia extrapolates from aspects of the present to show readers how terrible things will become if our deplorable behavior continues unchecked. The more utterly the protagonist is crushed, the more urgent and forceful the message. Because authors of children’s fiction are “reluctant to depict the extinction of hope within their stories,” writes British academic Kay Sambell, they equivocate when it comes to delivering a moral. Yes, our errors and delusions may lead to catastrophe, but if—as usually happens in dystopian novels for children—a new, better way of life can be assembled from the ruins, would the apocalypse really be such a bad thing?”
Laura Miller, The New Yorker

12. I Am Legend (2007,USA)
Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan

Someone said, “Oh my god, you have to see I Am Legend!”

I hadn’t heard of it but I take recommendations to heart. I asked no questions. I just went to the theater and watched it without any expectations at all and was blown away. I didn’t realize until later that part of the reason I was so utterly absorbed in and fascinated by the film was because I had never seen a trailer nor was I aware that it was connected by tradition to certain historic films of note. I literally watched the movie as the director intended it to be watched, entirely free of spoilers. All of the clues and hints in the film were allowed to function properly.

I now realize that almost every movie trailer you watch literally spoils the film for you. Since then I have tried extra hard to avoid spoils – which means I avoid even the slightest hints at plot; a standard which most people fall well short of, thinking that only very specific plot explanations; the turning points, do any harm. I try to stay away from plot altogether and I turn off trailers the moment I decide I want to watch the given film.

I will tell you that I Am Legend is full of suspense and emotion with a very responsible measure of well-crafted action. It has a huge epic feel and Will Smith’s acting was brilliant and he won a bucket of awards for it.

If you happen not to know anything about this film, for goodness sake, go watch it. Either way, you’re in for a treat.

Writers: Richard Matheson [novel], Mark Protosevich (The Cell), Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind)
Director: Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Budget: $150,000,000
IMDB rating: 7.2

13. Metropolis (1927, Germany)
Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich

It’s been over ninety years since Fritz Lang and wife Thea von Harbou began constructing this captivating and dire warning of a future society melting down from overpopulation, machine dependence and deadly polarization of classes. It’s historically intriguing, deeply poetic and rather clearly allegorical with plenty of consideration to eye candy and entertainment.

A young naïve member of the ruling class finds himself in the bowels of the city and discovers its harrowing substructure in a manner – in my mind – hauntingly similar to the Eloi-Morlock paradigm of Orwell’s hugely prescient and relevant novel The Time Machine, published thirty-two years earlier. It is also hauntingly similar to a little civilization I know well which has perilously devolved for another ninety years while blissfully ignoring said warnings.

In my interpretation, a lot of naïve criticism concerning illucidity has stemmed from misunderstandings of the severely truncated versions viewed prior to 2002. Kino International has since obtained much discovered footage and released new versions (the second in 2010) which are hugely restored and expanded. I believe prior versions were not consciously edited (as was often thought) but were actually patchwork reconstructions in the complete absence of the original film (which shall probably never surface).

Make sure you access a recent Kino version or else the plot and characters will basically make no sense to you!

Award-winning critic and film historian Kim Newman calls it “Visionary, apocalyptic, gothic, erotic, strange and epic.”  < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT7qGzRUCKw >

Writer: Thea von Harbou (M)
Director: Fritz Lang (M)
Budget: 5,000,000 reichsmarks
IMDB rating: 8.2

Welcome to the real world...

14. The Matrix Trilogy (1999-2003, USA, Australia)
Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Lawrence Fishburne

I firmly propose that this is the most significant work of wisdom ever captured in a film enterprise. Though the plot reads like sci-fi fantasy of the highest order, I say that this story’s premise is, by all meaningful accounting, true. I suggest that all the manifestations of illusion which are artfully exposed here, reveal the reality of our living circumstances and that only the precise material source of the system of illusions is a cloaked metaphor, that only this core premise designates the movie science fiction and not documentary.

I feel confident I could take this vast script and re-use it word for word, or with perhaps a few metaphorical translations, and create a story which is perfectly contemporary and revelatory, with any small hitches owing to the following circumstance which I speculate confidently: that this stunning expose is not the masterwork of any single mind but of much collaboration of sources beyond the credited creators Andy and Lana Wachowski. By some degree of chance an imperfect but near-perfect tale is told of the bona fide matrix in which we exist; the weave of illusions at the root of  literally all of humankind’s problems and the root of its increasingly relevant mortality.

Its secondary expression of genre, action, is presented here in groundbreaking form (much copied since then) and with increasing gratuity through the progression of sequels. Thus I suggest there is something here – much actually – for everyone. Had I presented these one hundred films in count-down order, The Matrix would be… the one.

Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.

Writers/Directors: the Wachowski Brothers (V for Vendetta)
Budget: $323,000,000 3-film total
IMDB rating: 8.7 (The Matrix)

Short List:
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981, Australia) Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston
Elysium (2013, USA) Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga


i b arora said...

you have inspired me to see these movies

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

I love The Matrix, but not the follow ups and I Am Legend was brilliant, except then end which was illogical. I still haven't seen Metropolis - I keep meaning to rectify that.
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

Natasha -- if it was up to me I'd have combined Matrix 2 and 3, kept all the brain candy and cut out 90% of the action! Then we could have had two great movies! I wanted to put only the original Matrix in this list but there are a few critical insights in 2 and 3 which are required! Oh well...

i b arora -- I'm glad to hear that!

Stephen Tremp said...

I really liked I am Legend. Kind of a Castaway or The Martian film with a sole actor carrying much of the film.

I’m exploring different types of dreams and their meanings.

Stephen Tremp’s Breakthrough Blogs

Anonymous said...

I am Legend is seriously underrated. When I encourage people to see it they're always surprised how good it is.

Durba Dhyani said...

I didn't know that dystopia could be a movie genre! Seen The Matrix trilogy...now putting the others on a Must Watch list.


THE KATY said...

Awesome theme for the challenge! I love movies and Dystopian movies are some of my favorite.

abetterjulie said...

I completely agree with trailers being spoilers. Drives me crazy! Do you think of The Matrix as also being cyperpunk or firmly dystopian? Now, I understand why I didn't understand Metropolis when I saw it! Glad it wasn't just me. @abetterjulie from www.persephoneknits.blogspot.com

Fantasy Writer Guy said...

I say "dystopia" here only as a common thread to draw a handful of my "100 movies" together into a group in order to satisfy the A-Z format. I think that sci-fi and action are the "official" genres but so what? Genre labelling satisfies databases and commercial shelves. If someone likes steampunky things and likes that label and likes The Matrix for compatible reasons then by all means use the label if it helps you in some way! Personally I can dig it! All language is slippery and all labels can be potentially useful and potentially distracting.