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Posts Tagged ‘Twelve Monkeys’

Mixtape Movies Image 2Inspired by the idea of cover songs, I have gone a little from my own brief of movies that fit together concentrating more on memorable remakes, but like a true mixtape they still sort of fit. I have excluded films where I haven’t seen both versions so Tony Scott Man On Fire (2004) misses out as I haven’t seen Elie Chouraqui’s 1987 Original, the same goes for The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941) as I haven’t seen Roy Del Ruth’s 1931Original. I also excluded directors remaking their own movies so no Heat (Michael Mann, 1995), The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956) or The Ten Commandments(Cecil B. DeMille 1923) all miss out. What we get is six very different movies across at least five genres:Mixtape Movies - Cover Songs

Airplane! (Jim Abrams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker, 1980) an interesting inclusion on the mixtape; the original Zero Hour (Hall Bartlett, 1957) has basically the same plot (and even some of the same dialogue) but is a straight disaster movie, the remake is comedy classic thanks to perfect deadpan delivery and some great sight-gags.

A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1964) the original samurai movie Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 1961) is a true classic, not only is it A Fistful of Dollars its equal, but it also turned Clint Eastwood from a TV actor into a moviestar. Despite settling a plagiarism suit with Akira Kurosawa, MGM/United Artists have never actually acknowledged that Dollars is a remake of Yojimbo.

Twelve Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995): Strickly speaking Terry Gilliam’s Sci-Fi classic is inspired by rather than a remake of La Jetée (La Jet?e, Chris Baker, 1962) but I will take any excuse to recommend both movies. For those who don’t know, La Jetée is made up of a series of stills accompanied by a haunting voiceover.

Ocean’s Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001): Ocean’s Eleven (Lewis Milestone, 1960) is a classic 60’s Rat Pack caper movie, except there is a problem, it isn’t very good. Not only is Soderbergh’s remake a lot funnier and a lot more fun than the original but it has a cast including: George Clooney. Brad Pitt. Matt Damon, Casey Affleck, Andy Garcia and Elliott Gould.

The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982): Question: Was the 2011 movie The Thing a remake or a sequel, Answer, who cares it was rubbish! The original, The Thing From Another World (Christian Nyby, 1951) is well worth a look if you havent seen it, but the 1982 John Carpenter version is a classic.

Wild Card, the wild card is King Kong (Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933). Forget the numerous sequels and the 1976 and 2005 remakes (directed by John Guillermin and Peter Jackson respectively) and go for the classic stop motion original starring Fay Wray.

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Catching up on an old episode of The Matineecast got me thinking about movies set in dystopian futures. Ryan referred to dystopias that are not that far in the future, and via the movie Pleasantville (1998) he and his guest Sasha James Talked about how a nostalgic view of America in the 1950’s could be a dystopia for people from the present day. My first thought was that we could now be living in what would be the dystopian future that people in the 50’s feared. With dwindling natural recourses, and rising costs, losses of civil liberties and an over reliance on technology coupled with the threat of war and terrorism, we are probably closer to dystopia than utopia. With this in mind I have avoided movies set in an unrecognisable world to concentrate on dystopias that are not that different to the real world.

Movies like Gattaca (1997), V for Vendetta (2005) and In Time (2011) exist in a society that has adopted practices that oppress the masses and it is through rebellion that people are able to find a better life. There are other films like1984 (1984), Brazil (1985) and Code 46 (2003) that revel in their desperation and futility by pulling rug from under the hero, and the audience with it. Fahrenheit 451 (1966) and Children of Men (2006) find a happy balance where the despair is tempered by a glimmer of hope. The brilliance of Fahrenheit 451 the way we see a character comes to distrust what he has been taught to believe in and chooses to fight the system from within. We see a similar idea explored in the interesting if a little overrated Equilibrium (2002), set in a society where emotions are outlawed it also explores what it is to be human. Both these ideas are explored in the underrated and misunderstood RoboCop (1987). In there own way the characters in Rollerball (1975) and Death Race 2000 (1975). This is very different from District 13 (2004) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) whose protagonists are and remain outsiders. An interesting case is The Handmaid’s Tale (1990) whose main protagonists desire is only to escape the system but her desires bring her into the sphere of those who are trying to change things.

When you mention Mad Max many people think of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, in some ways the best film in the trilogy, but the original low budget Mad Max is actually equally as good in its own way. Set in a near future world were society is crumbling and law & order has begun to break down people will do what it takes to keep moving to stay on the road. It was relevant in its day but it has found new relevance in recent years. If we think about the glue that holds society together, it is not fear of prosecution, but a moral belief of right and wrong, if you take that bond away the world as we know it will crumble. We see the early days of this in Mad Max, and the subtlety with which this idea is displayed within a violent revenge thriller is why it is possibly the best dystopian movie. This breakdown of society is in the background of neo-noir Trouble in Mind (1985) and retro-future comic book inspired Streets of Fire (1984) but lacks the despair of Mad Max. The other movie that perfectly depicts society at a tipping point is Strange Days (1995). Made in the mid 90’s with LA’s troubles fresh in the memory and set just five years in the future, now more than a decade in the past, some would argue the world is a worse place now than what was depicted. Given the reality TV obsession of the last dozen years and current distrust of media and governments, The Running Man (1987) now seems strangely prophetic. Battle Royale covers some of the same ground but is all the more shocking in the way it casts children against society.

It is human nature to try and change and shape society, but some movies have taken this to an extreme. By travelling back in time from a dystopian future to change the present and reshape the future, their present. This is handled in different ways in different movies, the hero of Twelve Monkeys (1995) is haunted by memories of his own death and with it his failure to save the future. Millennium (1989) takes a different point of view as the characters from the future battle to hide the existence in the present through fear that it will change and potentially destroy the future with the effects of the paradox of time travel. While Millennium is afraid of the effects of paradox, The Terminator (1984) exists within a paradox. It is only within an effort to kill the hero who can save the world that he is conceived. The one thing all these movies have in common is the way they only give us glimpses of the dystopian future, a future created in the present.

One thing that is clear, there are as many differences as there are similarities within the genre, but the movies that are the best and that age the best are the ones that have a deeper relevance. This can be an overt plot, a subtle subtext or just a theme that anchors the story in reality.

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I’m not sure the 90’s is the best decade for movies but it is certainly consistent! Without any padding to make up the numbers every year of the decade has at least five great films to be in contention.

1990: Nikita, Wild at Heart, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Miller’s Crossing, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

1991: Point Break, The Silence of the Lambs, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cape Fear, Delicatessen

1992: Reservoir Dogs, Unforgiven, Batman Returns, Army of Darkness, Hard Boiled 

1993: Army of Darkness, Three Colours: Blue, Schindler’s List, Dazed and Confused, True Romance

1994: Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, Leon, Three Colours: Red, Ed Wood

1995: Heat, Se7en, Twelve Monkeys, Before Sunrise, The City of Lost Children

1996: Bound, Crash, The English Patient, Pusher, Romeo + Juliet

1997: L.A. Confidential, Jackie Brown, The Ice Storm (forget Wushu and gay cowboys, this is Ang Lee‘s best film), Cube, The Fifth Element

1998: Saving Private Ryan, Run Lola Run, Blade, The Big Lebowski, American History X

1999: Fight Club, The Matrix, Go, Eyes Wide Shut, The Straight Story

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