Weekend Cinema Listomania (Special What Planet Are You From? Edition)

on April 30, 2010 by Steve Simels
The Fugitive Kind.jpg

Video Event of the Week: Might we be talking, perchance, about the Criterion Collection's DVD version of Sidney Lumet's 1960 Tennessee Williams adaptation The Fugitive Kind, starring Marlon Brando in the coolest snakeskin jacket in movie history? Could Sony's Blu-ray and DVD versions of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the latest ill-fated near masterpiece from director Terry Gilliam, get the nod? Or against the decent opinion of mankind, might Universal's various disc editions of It's Complicated, a waste of Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin's time and talent from reliably disappointing writer/director Nancy Meyers, conceivably be The One?

All worthy, except for that last of course, but since I didn't have a chance to watch any of the above, and because I thought we might as well finish out the week the way we spent most of it -- obsessing in some way about Fritz Lang's Metropolis (and yes, I saw the restored version yesterday -- review to follow ASAP) -- I figured we could forego The Event for a second week and go directly to The Listomania instead. I'm sure you'll forgive me, and word of honor, The Event will be back next week, as insouciant and spunky as ever. (Hint: it will either involve The Ramones or a nuclear reptile.)

That said, and because things will doubtless be a little slow around here for a few days, here's a fun and obviously relevant project for us all:

Best or Worst Sci-Fi Art Direction (Big or Small Screen)!!!...

And my totally top of my head Top Five is:

5. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

Dramatically, still a bit of a muddle (for me, anyway) but the look of it? As somebody -- Pauline Kael, maybe -- observed at the time, getting such a fully realized vision of the future onto the screen is a remarkable accomplishment.

4. Aelita, Queen of Mars (Yakov Protazanov, 1924)

Gorgeously nuts early Soviet sci-fi, with fantastic Constructivist sets that provided a few pointers to both Lang and the creators of the first Flash Gordon serial.

3. Creation of the Humanoids (Wesley E. Barry, 1962)

creation of the humanoids.jpg

Andy Warhol's favorite film, or so he said. I've written about this one before, and it remains one of the most visionary sci-fi flicks ever made on a budget that wouldn't cover James Cameron's brunch tab for a day.

2. Beyond the Time Barrier (Edgar G. Ulmer, 1960)


Leave it to Ulmer, the screen's greatest B-movie stylist, to shoot a convincing vision of the far future in a breathless two weeks on the Dallas site of the 1959 Texas State Fair. (Ulmer actually worked on Metropolis, BTW). Honorable mention: Jean-Luc Godard, who shot contemporary Paris in 1965 and passed it off as a city of the future in Alphaville.

And the Numero Uno in-the-future-we-will-all-be-art-directors film of them all simply has to be...

1. Robot Monster (Phil Tucker, 1953)

The titular creature is a guy in a gorilla suit wearing a space helmet. He communicates with a galaxy far far away by using a Hallicrafters shortwave radio on a formica table. Plus -- and bite me, James Cameron -- it's in 3D! Sorry -- it just doesn't get any better than this.

Alrighty, then -- what would your choices be?



Tags: Marlon Brando, Edgar G. Ulmer, The Ramones

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