“Into the Night” is a film that I recommend for a somewhat narrow range of reasons. Although it is referred to as a comedy, action, thriller, it barely qualifies in each of those categories. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot that is funny about the movie, and there is some action and tension along the way, and what could be more thrilling than seeing Michelle Pfeiffer at the peak of her beauty and charm? The real reason to see this movie however is the tour of Southern California culture from the 1980s that you get along the way. It is a very loose film with some nice sequences and dialogue but as a film it seems to lurch forward and wander around the story at times, but oh what interesting times.
In the world of Science Fiction, most readers of novels, viewers of television and movies will always remember a strong ending to a story. The “Twilight Zone” was famous for the twist sucker punch finale of most of the episodes. In the popular culture, when an image or a quote becomes a meme understood by all, it is clear that the work has tapped into something important to the times, politics or people. Charlton Heston is the star of many a movie meme. Moses standing at the Red Sea parting the waves, Ben Hur, either chained to the oars of the Roman Battle cruiser or with rein in hand on a Chariot. His most famous image however is as a dismayed misanthrope pounding sand on a beach in front of the ruins of one of the most recognizable symbols in the world at the end of “Planet of the Apes”. Heston has at least one other great moment of Science Fiction history in his vita, the denouncement at the end of the movie “Soylent Green”. It is another moment parodied and understood by masses of people, most of whom have never seen the movie. I don’t want his refrain to be the only thing people know about the film so this week “Soylent Green” is the movie I want everyone to see.
Similar to their previous collaborations with director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”), “The World’s End” features Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as friends coming to the realization that they’re surrounded by hostile forces. This time out it’s robots, who have taken over the town where they and their friends went to school together.
“The World’s End” feels a bit scattershot at times, but fans will consider it part of its “charm”. It’s a film that has a bit of bittersweet nostalgia for misspent youth, a bit of railing against the conformity of the world, and plenty of sequences where middle aged men kick robotic ass.
Kids of my generation all had the same heroes, astronauts. We watched the launches and splash downs on television both at home and at school. Everyone knew who John Glenn was and the Moon landing in July of 1969 seemed like the greatest day in history. A lot of kids followed test pilots and experimental aircraft like they were ball players with statistics. By the time the Vietnam War was finally run out, and Watergate had drained us of much of the respect we had for our government, the space program had shriveled in size and Skylab had tumbled back to Earth. Astronauts had become at best technicians in the sky and often faceless. In 1979, Tom Wolfe published “The Right Stuff” which reminded us all of what it took to be an American Hero in the Space Race. The rights to the book were snapped up and plans for the movie began. Four years later emerged a film that would be called by many one of the finest films of the decade. It is not a forgotten film, but in many ways it is a neglected film. Readers on a site like this might know the movie intimately, but casual movie audiences are often unfamiliar with movies that lack a cult following or came out before they were born. Let’s see if we can work on that.
To a large degree this could properly go into the category, “Movies That I Want Everyone to Hear”, because much of the joy in this film derives from the fantastic soundtrack and fresh delivery of the titular band that is the focus of this movie. All the way back to the 1930s, kids were getting together musical acts and putting on a show as the plot of a movie. “The Commitments “shares a lot in common with Mickey and Judy, as long as you ignore the sex, poverty, drug use and the 145 times in 113 minutes that the F-bomb gets dropped.
A motley crew composed of a drug dealer, a geeky virgin, a stripper and a homeless runaway team up to smuggle an enormous shipment of marijuana across the Mexican border, posing as a family. As you can imagine, they wind up being more than a little dysfunctional as a unit. Comedy ensues as they try to evade angry drug dealers, get past border guards, elude the DEA, and of course, deal with each other.
“District 9” director Neill Blomkamp returns with another offering about class warfare and societal segregation, “Elysium”. Only this time, his film is not quite as subtle in its themes, nor as interesting a story.