Sunday, July 26, 2009

Torront Picks 7/26/09

Well its that time of the week again, and that means its time for 5 move movies i think everyone should give a look to, even if it is only once... so with out any farther delay, lets get into it....

The Iron Giant: If you haven't seen, or atleast heard about this sometimes overlooked masterwork of American animation, then more then likely you've been living under a rock for the last 10 years. The Iron Giant is set in the 1950s and tells the story of a young boy that finds a giant alien robot thats crash landed in the woods near his home, the robot can't remember why he's there, or who he is, and when asked where he's from, he just points to the sky. As the film goes on, the young boy befriends a local junkyard owner who spends alot of his time making sculptures out of used car parts, he also agrees to house the robot, because he's the only one with a location big enough for him. As the film continues the boy teaches the robot about humanity, and the ins and outs of being human, teaching him about everything from compassion to superman. At one point in the film, after saying to the robot, "You can be anything you choose to be.." the robot dons as big of a cape as he can find and says "I am superman..." reveals that he has booster rockets in his feet and flies around mimicking the character. As the film continues you start to see all of the other things the robot can do, accidentally deploying a gun and firing on some animals, the boy yells at him and says "we do not kill!", which the robot, repeats many times from that point on in the film. By the end, the US Military has gotten word of the Iron Giant and comes looking for it, to decide if they are to destroy it, or take it in to study and learn from its weapons, this triggers a reaction in the robot where it at one point bares all its weapons after the military aims its tanks at it. From there, you see a series of misunderstandings, where the military won't listen to the people who are telling them the robot is harmless. This film is a perfectly done allegory for the cold war. Its set in post World War 2 America, where they lived in constant fear of communists, and would witch hunt them whenever possible, it draws so many lines that are similar, and it does it so beautifully that you don't realize its doing it. Its just a brilliant brilliant film.

Pleasantville: This is one of those movies that you forget about, but you find it on tv years later and sit down and watch out of joy of remembering it was made. Its the story of two teenage siblings, the sister, popular and adored by all, and her brother, kind of a loner that keeps to himself, and spends alot of his time watching television, one night, when they argue over what to watch on television, the sister wanting to watch a concert with her boyfriend, and the brother wanting to watch a marathon of his favorite classic television series, Pleasantville, this leads to a fight between the two, which breaks the remote to the television, which for some reason can't be turned on manually. With out a call, a television repairman shows up, and after asking the boy a series of questions about the series Pleasantville, hands him a futuristic looking remote, after more arguing by the siblings, the remote sends them INTO the television, where after realizing they have no means of escape, they must pretend they are the children on the series, and go about what would be their daily lives, in black and white like an old television series. Their presence changes the lives of the town drastically almost from the start, in both good and bad ways, and with this, the black and white look of the town starts to change as things, and people start to appear in color. This leads to a downward spiral where anyone that is "colored" is harassed, threatened and degraded publicly, and any object thats colored, mostly books, are burned or destroyed, as the town just falls into complete social anarchy, as they are slowly exposed to the joys of life outside of their small bubble in which they live in, and in the end, their lives are all changed as they are opened up to the world outside of their own. The film is a great in the fact its ment to be a metaphor for how life changed from the inception of television to the time when the film was made, how the world changed from simple black and white beliefs, to brilliant bright colors that change the way we look and think about the world around us.

Duel: This film is one of those important movies that only film buffs seem to speak of, its an obscure 1971 made for television movie, back in the days when television movies were considered a viable and respected form of movie making, unlike today, where its seen as a joke of a medium. Its important for afew reasons, but the two key ones are, first, its an early Dennis Weaver film, Weaver being one of the key television and film actors through out the 1970s and early 1980s, and secondly, and more importantly most would assume, this is the first film ever directed by Steven Spielberg, who as you all know, has gone on to be one of the most iconic directors in film history. Its the story of what many would see as, the ultimate road rage moment, a man just driving along in his car on a long stretch of California desert highway, he encounters a dirty looking old tanker truck thats driving very slow and letting out a really large amount of diesel smelling smoke. The man passes the truck to get away from the smell, only to be passed by the truck who gets back infront of him and returns to driving as he was before, the man passes the truck again, and is again passed by the truck, this time letting out a loud blast from its airhorn as it does it. The film follows the two vehicles as they degrade from a simple case of hurt driver's pride, into a deadly game of cat and mouse playing out on the mostly abandoned california highway roads. Its just a brilliant film, and historically important, and one i think anyone who's ever claimed they love films should watch atleast once if you haven't already.

The Cube: This is another of those important made for television movies, this one is a 1969 experiment in live action film making by the great Jim Henson, its important because this is an attempt at live action, which Henson is not really known for. This film is noted as well for the fact in subject matter, its alot darker then you would expect from Henson. The film is the story of a man trapped inside a large white cube, in which many people enter through hidden doors, say thigns to him and advise him that he has to find his own door out. which he doesn't understand. The film, though short, is great in the fact it literally brings you into this man's mind, you don't know who he is, or why he's there, or whats really going on, but, you find yourself as confused an angry and frustrated as he is, as the film messes with your sense of vision, understanding, and conception of reality itself. Henson himself appearing as a Professor who breaks the forth wall (speaking to the viewers or telling the cast they're on television) by telling the man he's on television, and that its all a play made for television, when asked how thats possible, Henson's professor claims "well then your only other option is that you are insane and hallucinating.". There are alot of parallels between this film and a story called "The Squirrel Cage" which has a story thats very similar and follows a story thats almost exactly like The Cube. This film also would inspire the film series "The Cube" which would span Three films from 1997 to 2004. As an added bonus, I've included another of Henson's live action short films, 1965's "The Time Piece", which is another favorite of mine.

Pufnstuf: Now its not a big surprise that I am a huge fan of the work of Sid and Marty Krofft, often speaking of their work in a joyful and iconic view, and looking back at their film based on their most iconic character H. R Pufnstuf is no different. The film continues where the television series of the same name leaves off, continuing the story of Jimmy and his talking magic flute Freddy and their friends on Living Island, as they try to keep Freddy from being stolen by the island's evil witch Witchiepoo, who never really explains why she wants the flute, but, to be honest most villains in the 1960s were vague about that sort of thing. The film isn't anything of any real serious award winning caliber, but then it was never ment to be, it was ment to be late 1960s camp film fun, and thats what it is through out. Its a film of bright colors, cheap looking sets and costumes, and cheesy children friendly as you would expect for the time, but that doesn't hold anything against this film, see, to understand this film, you need to understand the phenomenon that is the Krofft brothers, and more so, H. R Pufnstuf. and really, all you need to understand is fun, camp, unadulterated, low budget fun, no one cares that the creatures and sets are made of foam rubber and look really cheap, or that the stories hardly make any sense or serve as a means to get to a joke of some kind, but again, you don't care because its just so fun. So just turn off your brain and enjoy some late 1960s fun, and leave logic out of it, because, well, lets face it, its good to laugh now and then.

Well tahts it for this week... I hope you all enjoy...




  1. Hi there, BC!
    All these movies are new stuff to me. Thanks again for the recommendations, friend:)

  2. Duel is an extraordinary movie. Thanks, BC!