Thursday, 28 April 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 119: Saturday April 30

Sci-Fi London @BFI IMAX all-nighter: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968); Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977); Outland (Hyams, 1981) and Brainstorm (Trumbull, 1983)
BFI IMAX 11.30pm
 
Okay this all-nighter starts Friday but it mostly take place on Saturday and is a superb addition to the Sci-Fi London season. The bonus is that singer, songwriter and model VV Brown will be introducing the night with her long-time creative collaborator filmmaker and comic book creator David Allain.

The first two films in particular will be some sort of experience in the IMAX theatre and a terrific evening is guaranteed. Free tea and coffee will be served between each film and there will be an array of competitions and spot prizes throughout the night.

For those interested in Brown and Allain's work this free event is taking place on Saturday:

City Of Abacus (The Blue Room, BFI Southbank) – Sat 30 April, 12.30pm.

A panel discussion with four of the creators of the serialised graphic novel City Of
Abacus including writers V.V. Brown and David Allain and artists Lee O’Connor
and John Spelling, looking at the intriguing mix of dystopian SF and fantasy that
the comic presents, and presenting never before seen artwork. Followed by City
of Abacus signing. For more information about this free event see the link here.

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Here are the Chicago Reader reviews for each film

2001: A Space Odyssey:

Seeing this 1968 masterpiece in 70-millimeter, digitally restored and with remastered sound, provides an ideal opportunity to rediscover this mind-blowing myth of origin as it was meant to be seen and heard, an experience no video setup, no matter how elaborate, could ever begin to approach. The film remains threatening to contemporary studiothink in many important ways: Its special effects are used so seamlessly as part of an overall artistic strategy that, as critic Annette Michelson has pointed out, they don't even register as such. Dialogue plays a minimal role, yet the plot encompasses the history of mankind (a province of SF visionary Olaf Stapledon, who inspired Kubrick's cowriter, Arthur C. Clarke). And, like its flagrantly underrated companion piece, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, it meditates at length on the complex relationship between humanity and technology—not only the human qualities that we ascribe to machines but also the programming we knowingly or unknowingly submit to. The film's projections of the cold war and antiquated product placements may look quaint now, but the poetry is as hard-edged and full of wonder as ever. 139 min.



For better or worse, one of Steven Spielberg's best films (1977), and perhaps still the best expression of his benign, dreamy-eyed vision. Humanity's first contact with alien beings proves to be a cause for celebration and a form of showbiz razzle-dazzle that resembles a slowly descending chandelier in a movie palace. The events leading up to this epiphany are a mainly well-orchestrated buildup through which several diverse individuals—Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut, Melinda Dillon—are drawn to the site where this spectacle takes place. Very close in overall spirit and nostalgic winsomeness to the fiction of Ray Bradbury, with beautiful cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond that deservedly won an Oscar. This is dopey Hollywood mysticism all right, but thanks to considerable craft and showmanship, it packs an undeniable punch. With Teri Garr, Cary Guffey, and Bob Balaban.



High Noon in outer space with some derivative SF gimcrackery pasted to it. Sean Connery is the federal marshal who must defend his town (here, a mining camp on a moon of Jupiter) by himself when the cowardly citizens desert him. Frances Sternhagen, spitting Eve Arden wisecracks, takes the Thomas Mitchell role as the alcoholic doctor. I didn't much like it the first time around, and the failure of director-writer Peter Hyams to put any weight whatever behind the moral issues (crude as they are) makes this merely violent nonsense. The production design, resourceful if not original, is by Philip Harrison; the flashy cinematography is the work of Stephen Goldblatt, who likes to put his lights on the floor. With Peter Boyle and Kika Markham.




Douglas Trumbull's stab at science fiction for adults (1983, 106 min.) turns out to be an unconscious remake of Roger Corman's classic cheapie X—The Man With the X-Ray Eyes, though refitted with a sappy, spiritual ending. A group of research scientists construct a machine capable of recording and playing back every human sensory stimulus; as in the Corman film, the device becomes a metaphor for the privileged vision of the movies. Though the film finally succumbs to a trite and uncertainly constructed thriller plot (military nasties are trying to turn the project to their own evil ends), Trumbull deserves credit for trying to tie his special-effects extravaganza to some moderately complex character relationships. With Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher, and Cliff Robertson.

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