Skip

Westerns, Noirs, and Sci-Fi, Oh My!
September 8, 2006 12:07 PM   Subscribe


 
Ten Favorite Offbeat Musicals
posted by matteo at 12:13 PM on September 8, 2006


Johnny Guitar is one of my favorite films of all time, "What's eatin' the fancy man?"
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:14 PM on September 8, 2006


Ten Neglected SF Movies
posted by matteo at 12:15 PM on September 8, 2006


What, no Shane? That is one eccentric western, my friends. Roger Ebert tries to define its oddness here.

And no Logan's Run? If that's not an underrated/neglected Science Fiction film, then I'm a runner headed for Sanctuary! Hey-oh!
posted by billysumday at 12:22 PM on September 8, 2006


It's neglected for it's sheer awfulness. La Jetee -- now there's neglected!
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:27 PM on September 8, 2006


That Zardoz?
posted by Iridic at 12:36 PM on September 8, 2006


I was kinda expecting El Topo and maybe The Left-Handed Gun on the Western list.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:38 PM on September 8, 2006


The Nutty Professor? Sci-Fi?
W
T
F
?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:52 PM on September 8, 2006


Some good stuff here, but Metropolis is considered neglected? Even though it's always on the top 100 of all time lists.

And AI??? Don't get me started on that one.
posted by destro at 12:53 PM on September 8, 2006


Your favorite neglected sci-fi film sucks.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:57 PM on September 8, 2006


Uh... no Dark City?
In either SF or Noir!
posted by hal9k at 1:01 PM on September 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Harrison Bergeron

Screamers

... they think I'm slow because I'm Canadian, eh?...
posted by porpoise at 1:11 PM on September 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


I like the Overlooked Noirs page, although the page design is pretty craptacular. Also, some of the films listed, including "The Narrow Margin," "Force of Evil," and "Scarlet Street," are hardly "overlooked," but are widely considered masterpieces and templates of the genre. I like his "SBA" ("should be available" on DVD) list. Not holding my breath that they'll make it onto DVD anytime soon, alas.
posted by blucevalo at 1:12 PM on September 8, 2006


No The Quiet Earth?
posted by Ironmouth at 1:13 PM on September 8, 2006


Silent Running has stuck with me for years. Dark City++
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:15 PM on September 8, 2006


I like the neglected SF list. I gotta second Dark City, The Quiet Earth and Silent Running. But Nemesis is easily the best cyberpunk genre movie I’ve ever seen. The stilted acting only adds to that. (ok, so the last 1/4 of the movie is beyond Adam West Batman campy, still...) Up there with Ghost in the Shell.
There’s a lot to like in A.I. too. It gets blown, but there are bits.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:33 PM on September 8, 2006


Jason X and Beastmaster II: Through the Portal of Time deserve special mention, particularly if you're high.

Oh, and Akira.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:41 PM on September 8, 2006


Seconding Logan's Run. And Silent Running... And Jason X (/hangs head in shame).

But I gotta throw down with Outland; the movie that showed us that space would be dirty and scary, paving the way for movies like Aliens. (It's weird, I feel like I just posted this...)

Other honorable mentions should go to Buckaroo Banzai, Death Machine, hell even Pitch Black.

But since they think that old movies are better than new movies, I give you the quintessential overlooked sci-fi film:

Voyage de la lune
.
posted by quin at 1:55 PM on September 8, 2006


Let's not forget the dazzling looking, satisfyingly silly Green Slime.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:58 PM on September 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh, and how can I have forgotton Hardware? Or Hell Comes to Frogtown?

Classics.
posted by quin at 1:59 PM on September 8, 2006


The day the Earth Stood Still?
posted by SBMike at 2:03 PM on September 8, 2006


I actually like Hardware quite a lot, but it may be connected to finding Stacey Travis hot in it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:10 PM on September 8, 2006


A.I. hasn't been neglected nearly enough.
posted by justkevin at 2:11 PM on September 8, 2006


Outland; the movie that showed us that space would be dirty and scary

Didn't Alien do that two years earlier?

Hell Comes to Frogtown is distinctly inferior to They Live.

And no love for Barbarella or Saturn 3? Thems is actually not bad.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:22 PM on September 8, 2006


Hardware - at the very least for Lemmy. Plus Gwar and Ministry. And creepy net-addicted sex troll voyeurs.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:48 PM on September 8, 2006


Didn't Alien do that two years earlier?

I always found the first Alien film to be more claustrophobic than dirty: the Nostromo was pretty clean and organized until the chaos started, but I concede your point.

On this subject Event Horizon also fits the bill.

Hell Comes to Frogtown is distinctly inferior to They Live.


No argument. But if I don't know that I would consider They Live an unappreciated film. They still make references to it today in modern culture. Rightly so, it's an inspired film.
posted by quin at 2:53 PM on September 8, 2006


I'm glad at least one other person out there liked, no loved, AI. I thought it was amazing.
posted by cell divide at 2:54 PM on September 8, 2006


Yay Zardoz!

But I'd have put Repo Man on that list, I think. Even though it could be debated as not sci-fi.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:12 PM on September 8, 2006


Excellent Post. Rosenbaum is one of my all time favorites. He's got a weekly column in the Chicago Reader.
posted by mike_bling at 4:25 PM on September 8, 2006


The Falls
posted by Grangousier at 4:56 PM on September 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


A.I. was a fair enough film; overhyped, yes, but what shines through is Kubrick's pre-pre-production consideration and planning out.

Right up to the point of the friendly smiling aliens. That's pure Spielbergian schlock. Love him or hate him for his other work, but you have to admit he destroyed a touching pathos-laden storyline for the sake of a signature "insert-standard-alien-sequence-here" ending.

The film would have twice as good if it had just finished with a long, lingering, fading shot of the underwater tomb...

Also nthing the lack of "Dark City", "Silent Running", and yes, even "Pitch Black". (Though, if you're going to include that last, how about "Soldier" instead?). And, if the list can include "Je t’aime, je t’aime", why not "Luna e l'altra"?

"Shane" isn't on the western list? Maybe not 'eccentric' exactly, but certainly a multi-layered and slightly askew western.
posted by Pinback at 5:24 PM on September 8, 2006


Rosenbaum had me at this:

For Damon Knight’s criticism, see his superb though sadly long out-of-print collection In Search of Wonder

If you care at all about classic sf, go seek out that book. It taught me how good literary criticism could be when school was doing its best to make me hate the whole idea.

Wow, The 10th Victim! Haven't thought of that in years.

Nice to see Tarkovsky get his props, but the moment was tarnished by going on to see A.I. held up as a masterpiece. Ah well, no accounting for taste.
posted by languagehat at 5:37 PM on September 8, 2006


Right up to the point of the friendly smiling aliens. That's pure Spielbergian schlock. Love him or hate him for his other work, but you have to admit he destroyed a touching pathos-laden storyline for the sake of a signature "insert-standard-alien-sequence-here" ending.

I used to think they were aliens, too. But they're not. They're the future logical extension of mecha. Think about this again: the ending is actually very very dark. And the segment that happens in the far future is necessary, because David is incredibly long-lived, so it is the only way to show the end of his life.

One of my favorite articles on the movie is "The Sad Meaning of AI". It's quite good, and shows how a lot of the seeming goofy happiness is actually quite sad.

Here's a specific thought that the article made me think of: how does the movie end? With Teddy, plopping down sadly. That is, it points out how David, in his quest to be loved, even if only for a day, has forgotten someone who has been with him his entire life. Teddy is left out, thrown away by David, just as David has been thrown away by all the humans in his life. AI almost seems to be saying that the quintessentially human act is to be selfish and cruel. Doesn't get much darker than that...

There is definite Spielbergian schlock in there, but if you think about a bit longer, it's really a Kubrick movie through and through. A worthy successor to 2001, I think.
posted by jiawen at 6:25 PM on September 8, 2006


I went looking for Sam Fuller's Pickup on South Street on his neglected noir list and was delighted to find it. If you don't know that one, rent it soon. It's a lean, tight, nearly perfect noir thriller with a wonderful Oscar-nominated supporting performance by Thelma Ritter (Jimmy Stewart's gossipy nurse in Rear Window). It feels slightly dated, sure, but what 1953 film doesn't? For some reason every reviewer feels obligated to call out the Communist angle, as if it needs some sort of apology, but the whole thing hangs together beautifully, is shot beautifully and has an edgy smartness to it that is rare in 1950s films. If you don't know Sam Fuller's work, it's a great introduction.

Thanks for this one, jonp72.
posted by mediareport at 6:48 PM on September 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh, and Zardoz is an amazing, long-winded, astonishing and exasperating mess. Definitely worthy of inclusion on a neglected scifi film list.
posted by mediareport at 6:50 PM on September 8, 2006


No The Beguiled, aka the best movie Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel ever made?!?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:12 PM on September 8, 2006


Thank you, jiawen, for that link.
posted by oflinkey at 7:23 PM on September 8, 2006


Right up to the point of the friendly smiling aliens. That's pure Spielbergian schlock. Love him or hate him for his other . Watch a little closer next time. Thwork, but you have to admit he destroyed a touching pathos-laden storyline for the sake of a signature "insert-standard-alien-sequence-here" ending.

Nope - that's all Kubrick from pre-Spiellberg development. And they're not aliens, they're future robots/mecha.

I have a sneaking suspicion that those people who like AI are the kind of people who would find ET too schmaltzy and Eyes Wide Shut too tedious, though they'd probably have some respect for the construction of each. I have no evidence for this suspicion, however.

On preview: thanks, also Jiawen.
posted by Sparx at 7:43 PM on September 8, 2006


I've seen every movie on the western's list. Some of them were good.
posted by I Foody at 7:43 PM on September 8, 2006


Aww crap. I just remember one more, Seriously, Demolition Man should be in there, just for how precognitive it was.

And it gave us the term MDK. which was turned into a great game. I mean honestly, a phenomenal game based on a term in a movie which it has nothing to do with? That has 'unappreciated' written all over it.
posted by quin at 10:35 PM on September 8, 2006


I have a sneaking suspicion that those people who like AI are the kind of people who would find ET too schmaltzy and Eyes Wide Shut too tedious

I love all those movies.
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:14 AM on September 9, 2006


Last Night.
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 7:44 AM on September 9, 2006


sorry.
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 7:46 AM on September 9, 2006


MDK (While we're on the subject of overlooked Science Fiction...)
posted by Grangousier at 8:05 AM on September 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


The only list of neglected films Zardoz belongs on is a list of films that didn't get MST3K treatment but should have.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:20 AM on September 9, 2006


Magma never made a movie, though.
posted by kenko at 10:14 AM on September 9, 2006


I have a sneaking suspicion that those people who like AI are the kind of people who would find ET too schmaltzy

Really? I thought that AI was at least as schmaltzy and grossly, overtly manipulative as ET.

I mean, it's the movie where someone weebles to the fake kid she's abandoning in the woods, "I'm sorry *weeble* I never told you *weeble cry* about the world *weeble weeble weeble*". And the whole Flesh Fair scene is completely over the top OMG LOOK AT THE BAD PEOPLE, just like the evil scientists with guns/flashlights.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:31 AM on September 9, 2006


*joins the small huddle of AI lovers*

I've not quite analyzed Zardoz when I've seen it, but it has some captivating quality. But I can totally see why people hate it, and why most hate it on principle before they've even seen it.
posted by Phantomx at 12:33 PM on September 9, 2006


I just saw Pickup on South Street last night on the advice of this post. A really good movie, although all the woman-smacking was off-putting. Thelma Ritter was phenomenal--a truly great performance.
posted by Iridic at 12:48 PM on September 9, 2006


Oflinkey and sparx, you're welcome. :)
posted by jiawen at 4:53 PM on September 9, 2006


I mean, it's the movie where someone weebles to the fake kid she's abandoning in the woods, "I'm sorry *weeble* I never told you *weeble cry* about the world *weeble weeble weeble*". And the whole Flesh Fair scene is completely over the top OMG LOOK AT THE BAD PEOPLE, just like the evil scientists with guns/flashlights.

Getting abandoned in the woods is a fairly common fairytale trope - the interest lies in the fact that this woman volitionally bonded the AI to her and only then abandoned it. It would be like Elliot befriending ET and then calling in the FBI himself. It's what's going on in the subtext and backstory that makes AI less mawkish. The number of people who misinterpret the implications of the ending indicates many folks are expecting typical Spielbergian shmaltz and, finding something resembling it, fail to notice the darker undercurrents. All in my humble opinion, natch.

The flesh fair, well, ok, I'll give you that - not the most subtle. But there had to be some nastiness or it just would have been David And Teddy's Excellent Walk in the Park. They weren't the villians of the piece, per se, merely a sideshow attraction on the way. Sometimes evil is merely banal.

/ends AI defensiveness rant
posted by Sparx at 7:17 PM on September 9, 2006


It would be like Elliot befriending ET and then calling in the FBI himself.

That doesn't make the line any less horrifically awful. Dialogue that bad is criminally punishable on more civilized planets.

The dark undercurrents don't make sense to me. David doesn't and can't give a shit whether Teddy loves him, or at least loyally serves him, or not. Teddy could love him with the heat of a thousand suns and it wouldn't make the slightest difference to David, because David isn't programmed that way. All that David "wants" is for Mommy (and Daddy?) to be, or at least seem, happy with David.

This would be tragic if David were alive and could somehow choose to see Teddy's love and respond, of it it were fear or something like that that were keeping him from doing so. But David isn't alive, even when the movie decides that I have to be emotionally manipulated into thinking he is because he's got big, sad eyes; David is a device. He's a goal-driven Eliza engine and whatever happens to him is no more tragic than what happens to a rock, to a Sim, or to that lamp in the Ikea commercial.

I do like Jude Law's character in it, though. He gives a convincing portrayal of a fundamentally not-quite-sentient robot with real cognitive limits.

You're welcome to like it, though. I myself quite like Deep Blue Sea and Saturn 3.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:54 PM on September 9, 2006


I have a sneaking suspicion that those people who like AI are the kind of people who would find ET too schmaltzy and Eyes Wide Shut too tedious

I found ET too schmaltzy and Eyes Wide Shut too tedious but still thought AI was crap too.

I also wondered what Metropolis was doing on the list, it's always being dug up to be digitised or rescored or whatever. Tends to make me think he wanted some old SF films on the list but didn't really know many. And Zardoz was shit.
posted by biffa at 6:08 AM on September 10, 2006


I found ET too schmaltzy and Eyes Wide Shut too tedious but still thought AI was crap too.

Me too. (Although if I were forced to watch one of those over again, I'd take AI in a second—it has enough striking imagery in amongst the crap to keep me from killing myself.)
posted by languagehat at 6:19 AM on September 10, 2006


I knew the sci-fi list was going to get the most commentary when I posted it here. You can tell that Rosenbaum is a big fan of musicals, noirs, and westerns who shares a lot of tastes that other enthusiasts of those genres would share, but he is not as big fan of the fanboy canon of sci-fi films as he is of the occasional auteurs who have dabbled in that genre (Lang, Resnais, Tarkovsky etc.).

As for my two cents, I think the biggest omission on the neglected sci-fi list is John Frankenheimer's Seconds. Possibly even more paranoid than the Manchurian Candidate, but it also features what might be the best performance of Rock Hudson's career.

I think Rosenbaum loves AI (he put it on his list of the top 100 films of all time), because he likes the uneasy fusion between Kubrick and Spielberg's respective directorial visions, but that this is also the reason why a lot of people react as violently to the film as they do. I don't value AI nearly as high as Rosenbaum does, but I think he's on to something when he implies that the film will probably reevaluated much more highly in the future.
posted by jonp72 at 11:31 AM on September 10, 2006


great reading thanks
posted by Smedleyman at 5:16 PM on September 11, 2006


« Older Open Source Physics   |   "There are 12,000 of us ...... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post