Black Hollow Cage (2017)
Written & Directed by Sadrac González-Perellón
Ambiguity in media is often the point of frustration for many audience members. I can remember in college where classes read texts that left all the answers up in the air encountering students who would get red-faced with anger over the lack of finality. I was always the opposite; I cherished stories that left me hanging; they would linger in my mind for a long time. These texts were worth going back to and analyzing deeper. This comes down to two different ways of looking at life. Some people get very upset if they feel they don’t have a handle on the way the universe works and seeing it not correspond to their values. Other people accept the mystery of the void and keep going, knowing there will be blank spots and bumps in the road, that a lack of meaning is inevitable. I fall into the latter camp and so too does this film.
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Dark Season 2 (Netflix)
Written by Jantje Friese, Daphne Ferraro, Ronny Schalk, Marc O. Seng, & Martin Behnke
Directed by Baran bo Odar
You know how when a serialized show in American starts a new season and they sort of ease the audience back into the story, maybe using new characters to reintroduce the cast? Yeah, Dark just says, “Where did we leave off last time? Yes? Let’s go” This show does not let up for these eight episodes, and it is all the better for that. By the time you reach the prophesied final moments of Winden, your brain will have been stretched and tied into a knot. Yet, the showrunners throw a curveball that sends your mind hurtling into questions about what the third season could possibly be. This is science fiction on a human relationship level done oh so right!
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Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Written by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth
Directed by Doug Liman
Groundhog Day didn’t invent the “living the same day over and over” trope, but it sure made the thing popular and part of the larger cultural conversation. Edge of Tomorrow takes this idea and overlays it onto a science fiction action film playing the concept for thrills over laughs, though it does have moments of humor. Tom Cruise stars as Major William Cage who is involved in the global effort to push back an alien invasion. Cage is part of media relations and uses his position to avoid combat on the front until the general overseeing the upcoming assault has him shipped off to fight alongside a unit. Cage gets dropped into the D-Day style assault on the northern French coast and is blasted with an unknown energy source before dying. He immediately wakes up 24 hours earlier and lives through the same day, again and again, eventually meeting war hero Rita Vrataski, who knows Cage’s condition all too well.
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Black Mirror Season 5 (Netflix)
Created by Charlie Brooker
Written by Charlie Brooker
Directed by Owen Harris
We live in an era where the boundaries between sexuality and gender are blurring more and more, allowing people to explore their identities in ways never before possible. Technology also offers opportunities to rewrite and redesign yourself via the anonymity of the internet. Once users could change their identities through text-based interfaces but now the digital mapping of faces you can apply overlays over your visage that transform you into a different gender, a different species, or an entire fantastical being. Where Black Mirror will typically travel to the dark side of how humans interact with technology, Striking Vipers is a spiritual successor to San Junipero, one of the more hopeful entries into the series.
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April and the Extraordinary World (2013)
Written by Franck Ekinci & Benjamin Legrand
Directed by Christian Desmares & Franck Ekinci
April Franklin is a woman living in a world where history took a markedly different turn than our own. During the reign of Napoleon III, a scientist is charged with creating animal-soldier hybrids. He creates two hyperintelligent beings that escape and soon after the world’s greatest scientists and engineers begin disappearing. This impediment to progress leads to a mid-20th century where energy is still based primarily in coal and steam power. April’s parents and grandfather vanished years ago during a government crackdown, and she has been fending for herself alongside her genetically altered cat friend Darwin. The two uncover a plot to destroy humanity and the secret solution for the ultimate formula, a serum that would make all life impervious to harm.
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The OA Season 2 (Netflix)
Written by Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij, Damien Ober, Nicki Paluga, Dominic Orlando, Henry Bean, and Claire Kiechel
Directed by Zal Batmanglij, Andrew Haigh, and Anna Rose Holmer
Private Karim Washington is visited at his houseboat by a distraught Vietnamese grandmother. She hands him a photo of her granddaughter Michelle and explains that she is missing. Washington begins searching San Francisco and following leads about a mysterious game that teens are playing and which Michelle was involved with. The threads of this investigation lead our detective to Nina Azarova, a wealthy Russian expatriate with ties to a secretive tech developer. Meanwhile, Prarie, the young woman with a fantastic story from season one finds herself transported to this new dimension and placed in the body of Nina, herself having lived out an entirely different set of circumstances. Prairie is immediately confronted with familiar faces who also found their way across the multiverse to this reality. More is revealed about the nature of Prarie’s powers and the structure of these webs of reality leading her towards another brush with death and a whole new world opening up.
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High Life (2018)
Written by Claire Denis & Jean-Pol Fargeau
Directed by Claire Denis
Monte lives aboard a spaceship, raising a baby girl by himself. How he got here is told in a series of flashbacks that reveal Monte was one of a crew of convicts, taking a deal to participate in a mission to gather data from around a black hole for alternative energy. The secondary purpose is to produce a child via artificial insemination to study the effects of conception and development in space. As the crew gets further from Earth and the realization of their fate sets in they begin to lose their minds and lash out at each other. As we can see from the framing device, Monte will be one of only two who makes it, but what lies ahead for him and this child.
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