Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zzyzx #atozchallenge

Zzyzx (film)
Zzyzx (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         The small budget film Zzyzx (2006) was later retitled Burned perhaps so that it would not be confused with the similarly named Zyzzyx Road movie that came out about the same time.  I have not seen the latter film but I have seen the former and thought it was a quite good suspense thriller.  Partly due to the drug induced state of the characters, the strange story line, and the desert setting, Zzyzx is very dreamlike.

         Strangely enough though the official title on IMDb is Burned, it's listed on Netflix as Zzyzx.  It's all very confusing, but the movie itself is confusing to some.  And since dreams are confusing...well go figure.  If you do watch this film be sure to stay until the end.  There's a pretty nifty conclusion.

          And speaking of conclusions, this is the last A to Z post for April.  Hope you enjoyed my movie choices and I'd love to hear from you if you watch any of them.  I want to know what your thoughts are about the films.  

         Have you seen Zzyzx (Burned)?    Do you think desert settings in film often seem dreamlike?   Are you ready for summer?

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yellow Submarine #atozchallenge

Yellow Submarine
Yellow Submarine (Photo credit: Sahara León)

            Yellow Submarine (1968) is an animated film inspired by the music of the Beatles and particularly the song "Yellow Submarine".    The fact that this film is a cartoon gives it a dreamlike aura.   The psychedelic LSD-like trip appearance of the film provides an added dimension of a dream type experience.  In all, the film is a fun romp that can be enjoyed on many levels which makes it family affair that will amuse adults and tickle the kids.

           The main star in this film is the music.  Popular Beatles songs are mixed with wonderful orchestral numbers by composer George Martin.   The soundtrack is a delight.   The animation is fun and visually appealing.  The story is nonsensical and imaginative.   If you like the music of the Beatles and enjoy animated films then you can't go too wrong spending ninety minutes with Yellow Submarine.

         Have you seen Yellow Submarine?     Do you enjoy films that are based on songs?    Does psychedelia in movies appeal to you?

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Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Week-end #atozchallenge

Weekend (1967 film)
Weekend (1967 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

      I'm going to take liberties the letter "X" for a film that could have easily been called "X".   French director Jean-Luc Godard's Week-end (1967) is a visionary surrealistic film steeped in revolutionary propaganda and leftist ideas.  This is another journey film in which the journey is so vague and incoherent that it may be off-putting to many.  I wouldn't recommend it to anyone other than serious students of film art or extremist fans of surrealistic dreamlike filmmaking.  

         I found it to be a rather unique viewing experience.  It's highly regarded by many cinephiles.  There are many political ideologies expressed as well as literary and film references.  The film is the sort of thing you'd expect to be of most interest  in liberal thinking university circles.

         This is among the most dreamlike films I've seen because of it's very loose storyline--almost a mere suggestion that there is a story without any real plot.  The characters go from one peculiar scene to the next with many making no sense.   The film is in French with subtitles and since there is a lot of talking about complex topics, following the dialogue can be rather tedious.  The main feature is in the visuals that are presented.   They might end up influencing your dreams after you've seen them.

          Have you seen Week-end?    Are you a fan of the New Wave movement of film making from the 1960's?    Do you enjoy watching films that are primarily visual in nature?

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Waking Life #atozchallenge

Cover of "Waking Life"
Cover of Waking Life

            Waking Life (2001) is another must see dream film.  This film adheres most closely to dream time and unraveling of events than any film I've see.  There is not much of a coherent story, but rather a connected series of dreams.  The dreams in some cases make reference to earlier dreams in the film while others refer to actual waking life.  This is another one of those films where what is dream and what is real is not always evident.   Ironically the film would probably have been more appropriately named "Dream Life" since most, or maybe all of the film occurs in dreams.

            Much of the dialogue in Waking Life concerns matters of philosophy and dream theory which makes this film a rather thought-provoking intellectual experience. The film is animated but through a process where actual actors were filmed first and then the entire film was made cartoonish.  It's an interesting effect that you may have seen in commercials and other short films.

           You can find a more in depth analysis of Waking Life on this blog in a previous post.

           Have you seen Waking Life?   Do you enjoy animated films?    Are you interested in seeing films that mostly consist of dialog on matters of philosophy and other intellectual issues?

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Vanilla Sky #atozchallenge

Film poster for Vanilla Sky. Copyright 2006, ©...
Film poster for Vanilla Sky. Copyright 2006, © Paramount Pictures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

           I was blown away when I saw the 1997 Spanish film Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes).  It was so surrealistic with an intriguing mind-bending story.  I told my wife that I hoped they would remake an English version.  I suggested that Tom Cruise would be the ideal actor to pick for the lead role.  When I heard that this was going to come to pass just as I had wished for I was thrilled.

          That remake is Vanilla Sky (2001) and I think it delivers fairly well though is not quite as good as the Spanish version.  This version switches a few things up from the original but the story is handled nicely.  The story is about a vain pretty boy who has everything but becomes involved in a tragic accident that turns his world upside down.   There are elements of alternate realities and lucid dreaming that might make the movie a bit confusing for some.  For me the movie was better in subsequent viewings.

           It's a crazy futuristic science-fiction trip, but more heavy on romance than techie geekiness.   I find it to be an interesting excursion.

            Have you seen Vanilla Sky?   Do you enjoy science fiction mind trip films?    What foreign films have you seen that were remade into English versions that were superior to the original? 

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning #atozchallenge

Official Poster (Wikipedia)

           My wife and I are both fans of the films of Jean-Claude Van Damme.   We especially enjoyed the "Universal Soldier" series.  Though they don't receive the highest critical accolades, for me they're all a lot of science fiction action fun.

           Of the films in this series, the last one, Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012) is probably my favorite as far as depth and intensity of theme.  This film is also the most dream-like.  In this film the cyborg soldiers begin to look within themselves and question what they are doing.  Issues regarding age and religion are explored.

           It's still an action film with violent physical combat, but there is more exploration into philosophy and the things that drive us from a psychological standpoint.  I found it to be a very different Van Damme film in keeping with the fact that he is aging in real life as an actor.

        Have you seen Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning?   How about the other "Universal Soldier" films?  Do you see Van Damme as a superficial screen actor or do you like his work?   

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Twelve Monkeys #atozchallenge

12 Monkeys
12 Monkeys (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         Twelve Monkeys (1995) is a dystopian science-fiction film by Terry Gilliam.  In this film Bruce Willis plays James Cole, a convicted criminal who in order to gain pardon is sent back in time to find the source of a virus which has devastated the world and bring back a sample so that a cure can be developed.  Throughout his life Cole has been tormented by a mysterious dream.   He discovers the meaning of the dream when he travels back in time.

         Brad Pitt was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for his role in this film.  The film was nominated for a number of other awards and is highly regarded by critics.  Twelve Monkeys is an outstanding science fiction thriller and well worth viewing by anyone who appreciates this genre.

        Have you seen Twelve Monkeys?    Do you enjoy dystopian films that are more entrenched in the drama and action than the intricacies of the science?     Have you ever been visited by recurring dreams that you can't understand why you dream them?

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Science of Sleep #atozchallenge

Cover of "The Science of Sleep"
Cover of The Science of Sleep

         As the name implies The Science of Sleep (2006) is about the dreaming activity during sleep time.  This is a French film that is in French, Spanish, and English with subtitles so that will be an immediate turn-off to some.   The film is a very quirky surrealistic romp that can be classified as a romantic comedy, but it is so offbeat that fans of that genre might also be taken aback.  The bottom line is that if you enjoy weird movies that explore the phenomena of dreaming this might be something you might enjoy.

        The film uses animation and live action.   There are sequences that occur on very cheap homemade looking sets in order to create the effect of a child-like television show--think Pee Wee's Playhouse.  The storyline weaves back and forth in and out of reality and dreams so that at some points we don't know what is real and what is dream.

        For the most part the film has received good reviews and has a relatively high rating on internet film sites.  I've included a music video that includes scenes from the film to give an idea of what to expect.


          Have you seen The Science of Sleep?    Do you enjoy a multi-lingual film?   What is your favorite theory that explains the origins of dreams?  

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Repulsion & Roma #atozchallenge

Cover of "Repulsion- (The Criterion Colle...
Cover via Amazon

           I'm going to start the week off with another two fer.   With these two films in the running I couldn't  pick just one.

         Repulsion (1965) is a psychological horror film by director Roman Polanski.  Catherine Deneuve plays a psychologically unbalanced young woman who is left alone while her sister goes on vacation.  The film explores the mental deterioration and unravelling of the woman as she becomes delusional and hallucinatory.   There are some very subtle dreamlike effects.  The film is in black and white and has minimal dialogue.

        The horror and violence is not graphic and there is much that is merely insinuated, but the film has several good shock moments that may take you by surprise.   The ending is among my favorites in film.  It's simple with a subtlety like the film itself presents.

Cover of "Fellini's Roma"
Cover of Fellini's Roma

          For me Fellini's Roma (1972) is one of the ultimate dreamlike films.   Though there is a sort of a story or series of connected stories based on the life of Federico Fellini, the memoir aspect is used more to illustrate the story of the history the origins of Rome and the spirit of twentieth century Rome.  The film is an affectionate travelogue of sorts albeit a very unorthodox one.  In Roma the movie, the city is seen through the eyes of memory and the analysis of what the city has become, where it may be going, and what it might remain for many years to come.

         The often bizarre images of the film are likely to stay with the viewer for a very long time.  Some segments seem as though they are actual recreations of dreams.   Whatever the case this is one of the most magical, often funny, always thought-provoking films that I have seen.  For those who can deal with subtitles I highly recommend Roma, though due to the visual experience I think the film can be enjoyed without paying attention to the subtitles.

           Have you seen Repulsion or Roma?   Do you enjoy non-graphic mind-bending horror films?    Do you enjoy travelogue films?

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