Last and First Men (2020)
Written by Jóhann Jóhannsson & José Enrique Macián
Directed by Jóhann Jóhannsson
In 2016, I went to the theater to see Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. One of the things that stuck with me when the end credits rolled was the haunting score by Jóhann Jóhannsson. Since his first solo album in 2002, the Icelandic composer had already established himself blending traditional orchestra, electronic instruments, and choral elements. Last and First Men would be his only directorial effort. It premiered in early 2020 at the Berlin Film Festival, but Jóhannsson had died in 2018. Toxicology reports showed a lethal combination of cocaine and flu medication in his system. Jóhannsson was only 48 years old.
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Space Station 76 (2014)
Written by Jack Plotnick, Jennifer Elise Cox, Sam Pancake, Kali Rocha, and Mike Stoyanov
Directed by Jack Plotnick
Space Station 76 is as much about its aesthetic as it is any plot or character arcs. Now, that can be an incredibly frustrating thing if you aren’t into the aesthetic. I completely understand if someone was turned off by this film because they just don’t care for the look and tone. I thought many parts of the movie were a little too self-indulgent and leaned into some weak improv. Overall, I think it is an interesting little oddity, clearly made by people who have a vision of what they wanted to do, and they did it.
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Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
Written by Julie Brown, Charlie Coffey, and Terrence E. McNally
Directed by Terrence E. McNally
When I was a kid, this film, in its edited for television version, seemed to play often on one of the local channels, which pretty much bought and played anything they could find to fill airtime. My memories are incredibly spotty, and I remember images of the furry aliens and their transformation into resembling people. I haven’t revisited it since those years, now; as an adult, I figured it could be a part of this series, and I was interested to see what I would get from it now. With 1980s nostalgia being at its peak in the last few years, you would think a movie like this would get more attention, but it still remains a very obscure picture, or at least not brought up in discussion in the internet corners I frequent.
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Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Written by Ed Naha, Tom Schulman, Stuart Gordon, and Brian Yuzna
Directed by Joe Johnston
There are some movies from my childhood where I wonder if they were as big a deal to the rest of the world as they seemed to me at the time. So often, a lot of movies turn out to be a thing your family owned a copy of, so you watched and rewatched it. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was actually as big as I remember it as. Its box office returns are the equivalent of $457 million in today’s money. Pretty good for a movie that cost only $18 million to make. It was the directorial debut of Lucasfilm special effects artist Joe Johnston, and it was at the height of Rick Moranis’s career.
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Written by David Diamond, David Weissman, and Don Jakoby
Directed by Ivan Reitman
Ivan Reitman is responsible for many financially successful 1970s/80s comedies. He produced Animal House and directed Meatballs. This lead to pictures like Stripes, Ghostbusters, Twins, and more. As a kid, my feelings about Reitman’s movies were pretty much limited to Ghostbusters and Kindergarten Cop, and we watched them a lot. As an adult, I find his work to not hold up very well; Ghostbusters has been the only one I’ve enjoyed revisiting. I think the style of comedy Reitman made during those decades doesn’t work anymore, and it’s pretty evident with this film.
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Attack the Block (2011)
Written & Directed by Joe Cornish
In the wake of Edgar Wright’s success with Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, there was suddenly a demand for smart takes on genre movies, and it seemed like the British were very talented at writing these stories. Joe Cornish was a comedian who co-hosted the popular Adam and Joe Show, a skit comedy series that ran on Channel 4 for five years. He went on to do a radio show with his writing partner Adam Buxton and that ended when production on Attack the Block began. After being mugged by youths from a housing project, Cornish started to wonder how these very tough kids would handle an alien invasion in their neighborhood, and the story was born.
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Written & Directed by Nacho Vigalondo
You might think you know where this movie is going, but it will surprise you in the third act and venture into a wild new direction. I have loved Nacho Vigalondo’s work since I first saw Timecrimes so many years ago. I had circled Colossal hesitantly for the last few years because reviews were so mixed. The concept was intriguing, but I could also see how it could possibly fall flat. I think the trailer and descriptions did an excellent job of hiding what the picture was actually about, and that’s what made that third act twist so satisfying and suddenly injected the movie with life.
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Galaxy Quest (1999)
Written by David Howard & Robert Gordon
Directed by Dean Parisot
Tim Allen is a real bastard. He’s leaned into his conservatism and allowed his current sitcom and his social media presence to promote people like Trump and some pretty rotten ideologies to go along with that. It doesn’t surprise me, to be honest. His first tv-series Home Improvement, always had a weird regressive feel to it, in my opinion. I watched it growing up, but I can’t ever say I enjoyed it; it was just sort of on because the television was always on. In the late 1990s to mid-2000s, Allen dominated the quasi-family friendly movie shlock business, likely due in part but not exclusively to his role as Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, a part I suspect that has kept him wealthy ever since. Despite Galaxy Quest having a strong fan base, I just sort of lumped it in with The Santa Clause or Jungle 2 Jungle as something not worth watching. But then I did.
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Written & Directed by Brandon Cronenberg
Possessor is the film Christopher Nolan wishes he could make. It’s a cooly stoic film centered around an incredibly creative concept that delivers on real human emotion. But Possessor goes places Nolan just creatively cannot; he is too conservative in his ideology, a constant desire to frame things in stark objectivist Black & White. Writer-director Brandon Cronenberg knows it is more complicated than that, and, especially when dealing with monolithic tech corporations, you are entering a transcendental world where morality has been so blurred it’s not even recognizable any longer.
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Written by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett
Directed by Ridley Scott
It can be hard to see the original Alien movie separate from the bloated franchise it has become in the ensuing four decades. The last entry into the series, Alien: Covenant, is so different that it might as well be set in a brand-new universe and considered a reboot of the entire premise. Before viewing the original Alien, it is recommended that you try and purge all thoughts of what came later and approach the picture as a singular one-and-done experience. By not watching the movie as part of an ongoing series, which at the time it was made, no sequel plans were in the works, it heightens the horror of the overall story.
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