Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Congress

This French, Israeli & Polish film has been released in Europe and there is a tentative deal to release it in video on demand or direct download here in the US, so it hasn't tested well.
Loosely based on Stanislaw Lem's The Futurological Congress (1971) where the main character has been dosed with powerful hallucinogens put in the water by the government and he trips his brains out in the sewers underneath the Hotel where the "Congress" or better translated as "Meeting" of Futurists is taking place.

In this film, Robin Wright plays herself as an aging, difficult actor to work with who is offered one last gig - to be scanned into a computer and be used to make films for all time while she retires and collects the checks. As this is to be the future of film she doesn't really have a choice, and she has a daughter and a special needs son to take care of - so she needs the money. Harvey Keitel plays her agent, Danny Houston the sleazy "Miramount" Studio exec, Paul Giamatti as her son's doctor and Jon Hamm as her friend in the "animated world". Oh yes, this starts out as a live action film then a sniff of a magic elixir and she's transported to a 1930's style retro animation world (with more than a touch of Ralph Bakshi thrown in). Here there is craziness galore, more drugs (in the tap water), a trip to the sewer? maybe under the hotel, a flight through a more sensible part of the animated world, a return to live action, then a happy ending - of sorts.

Frankly I don't know who would like this, but sounds interesting enough to me if it ever sees an American release. It's done by Ari Folman, whose previous Waltz with Bashir is an acquired taste. This story is a science fiction hybrid where the Media Producers have taken over the world as all media becomes more invasive, more hallucinatory - taking over everyone's complete lives - with only a handful of "live" people living outside the animated world (in Zeppelins no less). The underlying story of Robin searching for her children in this crazy place is what the thin plot is hung upon, but rushing the ending to resolve it only adds to the confusion (or is the viewer supposed to be confused?)

Here's a link to the web site and there's a link for the trailer on it as well for the curious.  

Back when I was looking around on the web for images to paint for the Zira painting, I ran across a cool website, which is devoted to the Planet of the Apes franchise.  It has stuff on it mostly concerning the first set of Planet of the Apes feature films, starting with the original 1968 release.  But it also had a few additions to the newer apes films.  At any rate, the blogger of the site also had some magazines from the old Planet of the Apes comic books, which I thought was interesting to look at, so I thought I'd post a link here for those interested.  There are also some movie scripts on there if that interest you.   If you're an Apes fan it's a pretty cool site.  

I ran across this article from Rolling Stone magazine on the Top 20 Sci-Fi films of the 21st Century.   In all honesty, I think about half of them are duds, made poorly, and I certainly wouldn't recommend them.  I was surprised that they didn't even mention: Pacific Rim, John Carter, Avatar, The Road, Artificial Intelligence, Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Thing (sequel), Vanilla Sky, A Scanner Darkly, Limitless, The Hunger Games franchise, or the Star Trek films.  I could probably think of some other films I would have rather seen on the list.  One of the things I thought about after reading over their list and about the SF medium in films is how much an impact Stanley Kubrick had on me with his 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I don't think anyone will come close to that film.


At 9:23 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

That top 20 list was an interesting spread. Quite a few good films on there. And yeah some duds too, "Reign of Fire" ? Really?

A lot of these fell onto John Muir's list that he did last year, it was top 10, but it was interesting.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Yeah, Roman, I think I felt the same way about half of them too. I thought Reign of Fire was okay for a one time watch, sort of world building, but I tend to gauge how much I enjoy a film on whether or not I'd want to own a personal copy (not that I have all my favorite films on DVD). But if I were to find a copy cheap somewhere, would I buy it?

I didn't care for Sunshine, Cloverfield, Attack The Block, Monsters, and a few others. I may have been spoiled by Alien, 2001, and a few others. Still I'm game... :)


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