Alice 1966The 1966 British adaptation of Alice in Wonderland is interesting for being a very straight Victorian looking portrayal of the story, without any of the visual style made popular by the Tenniel illustrations. Conversely, it follows the original text extremely closely. Soundtrack by Ravi Shankar.
ZachZach Weindel is a hot air balloonist that experiments with a cloud hopper: the balloon world's version of ultralight aircraft. There's no basket, the ballonist simply clips in to cables from the balloon, and floats away...
I tagged along on one of his flights to try to photograph some of the behind-the-scenes work involved in ballooning.
Chronicles"Trinadtsatyy Apostol", AKA "The Thirteenth Apostle" is a 1988 Russian film adaptation of Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles". It takes a small number of the original stories, modifies them slightly and rearranges them along with some new material to turn it into a more traditional overall narrative. Even though it loses some of the unique aspects of the original collection, I do think it is very effective, and possibly the best Bradbury film adaptation that I have yet seen. (The acting is extremely inconsistant. There are some very well done scenes, and some cringeworthy scenes.)
The plot primarily consists of the stories: "And the Moon Be Still as Bright", and "The Settlers", except the surviving crew members then go through the ordeal of "The Third Expedition". Unlike the original there is a survivor, who returns to Earth. This allows for the movie to start with his interrogation in a mental hospital, with flashbacks to the above sequences.
"The Martian" story is also included, but on Earth, as a martian has accompanied the survivor of the "Third Expedition" back home. Also, "Rocket Summer" is included, as a story told by one of the martians disguised as the father of one of the crew (played by Donatas Banionis, of Solaris fame).
Insane FilmsAfter getting the objective greatest films ever list out of the way, we can get to some of my personal favorites. Here's my personal favorite Most Insane Underground / Cult Films. There are some obvious tradeoffs in choosing a film for this list of course - there are some extremely insane films that didn't make it (ie: Dandy Dust) because they don't quite stun the viewer overall. Really good really insane films...
Tetsuo - the classic insane underground film, against which all others must be compared. The first few times through, it's like a PKD novel: a white-knuckle ride just trying to keep track of the basic plot. A few more viewings and you realize it's an art film filled with references to Brakhage and the German Expressionists. (And on a more personal note: the film that made me want to make films myself, and still one of my top influences.) Previously
Pinocchio 964 - Tetsuo spawned lots of imitators, but more directly, there have been two filmmakers who worked on Tetsuo in some capacity before going off and directing on their own. This is the first such spawn - thematically almost a remake, but so drastically different in every detail & aesthetic, that it easily stands on its own. (Also drags in some major influences from Polish director Zulawski, which happily led me to my favorite movie of all time: On The Silver Globe.) Previously
Id - the other filmmaker to be spawned by the chaos of Tetsuo, Kei Fujiwara did costume design, camera work, and acted as the salaryman's girlfriend in Tetsuo before going off on her own. Her first movie was pretty crazy, but not quite to my taste. Her second film though, was an absolute masterpiece of unreasonable filmmaking. Manically surreal, no other film fuses absurdism with violence and pain to such a degree. Fujiwara also acts, and her character is covered in blood, crawling around on all fours and barking at the other characters by the end. I like to think that she directed while in character. It's hard to imagine how this film could come to be otherwise. The most idealistically & stubbornly underground Japanese director of the past few decades, Fujiwara has returned to her pre-Tetsuo roots of the theatre. I can't even imagine what the live version of this stuff would be like.
Visitor To A Museum - this is a stunning movie, not just for the crazyness of the plot, but for the influences it mixes, and its context within world cinema. Lopushansky was Tarkovsky's protege (he worked as a production assistant on Stalker), and everything he's done since bears that mark. But Visitor also mixes in healthy doses of... Jodorowsky. Specifically, El Topo. He used hundreds of patients from a mental hospital to shoot this post-apocalyptic surrealistically religious epic. Previously
El Topo - the old unassailable classic of the genre, and it does indeed deserve its reputation. Enough said. (Also: if you like Jodorowsky, his cameraman Rafael Corkidi also directed a bunch of amazing surrealist films.)
Spirits of The Air, Gremlins of the Clouds - also my pick for the most underrated film in underground cinema. This should have a huge cult following, but doesn't. Imagine an artsy Road Warrior, minus the cars and violence. Or a subtle Six String Samurai that isn't trying to be funny. And gorgeous, on top of everything else. My favorite Australian film. Previously
Car Cemetery - I still haven't gotten around to going through Fernando Arrabal's filmography, so it's odd that I stumbled across one of his most obscure productions and fell in love with it. Crazy post-apocalyptic theatric retelling of the old Christ thing. Imagine a group of survivors in a real post-apocalyptic world, staging a production of Godspell without realizing it was based on an actual religion. Previously
Cafe Flesh - the pinnacle of post-nuclear-holocaust pornography. Nothing else in the genre comes close.
Forbidden Zone - a masterpiece of new-wave dada.
Jubilee - England's greatest punk film. (And I mean that in terms of directing style and overall vision, not just in superficial plot elements, as in Repo Man.) Previously
Burst City - and Japan's greatest punk film, which inadvertently led to Japanese Cyberpunk by way of Death Powder... "This is not an explosive movie; it's a movie explosion."
Wax: The Discovery of Television Among The Bees - one of the very few movies that I consider to be a genuine work of "outsider art". Mesopotamian Bees indeed.
Stereo - Cronenberg's surreal masterpiece before he went mainstream with Shivers. (Yeah, alright, Videodrome was brilliant too. La la la.)
Nineteen FilmsThis is an attempt at an objective list of the greatest films ever made. Obviously my opinion can't be entirely objective, but this list does not include either my favorite movie, or the film that made me want to make movies myself, plus lots of others that would make my personal "favorite films" list. (My favorite Fellini film is Satyricon, not Cabiria.) So... at least somewhat objective.
(One note: this does not include any animation. Because the medium is so completely different, animation has to have a seperate list.)
I started out trying to make a Top Ten list, but once I had a list of films that I thought had a claim to be near the top, I decided against whittling it down to an arbitrary "ten". So here's the Top Nineteen Films Ever Made:
- The Passion of Joan of Arc
- The Night of Counting The Years
- The Cranes Are Flying
- Yellow Earth
- Come And See
- The Battle of Algiers
- Der Golem
- Apocalypse Now
- Nights of Cabiria
- Pandora's Box
- Holy Mountain
- The Hustler
- Modern Times
is a science fiction novel by Stephan Wul, written in 1957. In 1974 is was adapted as the animated film
Oms en Serie
Oms en SerieOms en Série is a science fiction novel by Stephan Wul, written in 1957. In 1974 is was adapted to the animated film Fantastic Planet by director Rene Laloux. The film maintains the feel of the original story, while changing much of the core plot, and adding many details.
The film Traags look somewhat similar to those described by Wul, though a bit more human, and much bigger."She was a small and pretty Traag girl, with big red eyes, a narrow nasal slit, a mobile mouth and, on either side of her smooth skull, two eardrums so fine they appeared translucent. [...] At only three metres tall, she was slight for a seven year old."
One detail where the film follows the book almost exactly is in the Traag learning device. Some of the lectures that Terr overhears in the film are taken very closely from the book."The four continents retouched by the Traags have a triangular equilateral shape and are of equal size. Two are situated at the same distance from each other in hemisphere A, the other two at equal distance from each other in hemisphere B. Their tips point towards the poles, while their bases face the equator."
The tribes of wild Oms in the park are also the same in both: The Big Tree Gang and The Red Bush Gang (ruled by The Old Woman). Also, the importance of Terr's ability to read is the same: initially proving his worth to the wild Oms, and in knowing about the upcoming deomization of the park.
The scene where the Oms are first leaving the park, and get in a fight with two Traags is exactly the same."Vermin! The Councillors should get it all cleaned up. Having Oms at home is not a bad thing: it's entertaining. But all those wild Oms: they pillage, they're dirty and they breed at a tremendous rate. Besides these animals are unhappy in the wild, full of lice and skin diseases!"
A very interesting feature of the story is the difference in time scale between the Traags and Oms. This is important in the film, but discussed even more extensively in the book. In the film, the Traags decide to deomize, and the Oms can do nothing but flee until the reach the planet's moon. In the book, there is much more to the conflict, and it is in the Traag's reactions to Om strategy where the time scale differences become most important.
The flight from the park and the creation of a secret underground Om city in the ruins of old Traag ruins is the same in both, including the fact that the main purpose of the city is a giant workshop to create ships to escape in. However, in the original, the ships are ocean-going, not spaceships. A bigger difference however, is that the launching of the Om escape ships happens in the last five minutes of the movie, but exactly halfway through the novel. The journey on the ships, and the colonization of the wild continent they land on, are both major parts of the book, and entirely missing from the film.
Both the film and book give extensive descriptions of the strange flora & fauna of the planet, but they are completely different in detail. The most important creatures we encounter in the book are prongs, whose floating eggs make any voyage by ship extremely dangerous. (A newly hatched prong can sink even the largest ship by accidently rolling over onto it.)"As it surfaced, the ship rammed another sphere. Strips of membranes were floating like wet linen on the gangway's cover. But the ship managed to sail into the open waters and was heading for another shoal of eggs looming in the distance."
The debates by Traag politicians and scientists on the subject of Oms is much more detailed in the book, as the conflict is also much more complex. (The Traag scientist who first perceives that Oms could be a real threat is publicly discredited, and only later proven correct.)
The most significant feature of the film that isn't in the book is Traag meditation & the moon. The most significant feature of the book that is dropped in the film is the entire second half of the book (regrouping after the escape flight and fighting back).
Some other minor scenes that are not from the book are the Tiva & Terr makeup scene, delinquent Traag children making Oms fight, the Om mating ritual, and clothing snails.
There is a fight in which Oms defeat a huge creature in both, but all the details are completely different.
The film and book do end on a similar note of reconciliation between the Traags and Oms."'Traags,' he said, 'and you, little Oms, I have signed! Your Aedile's work is over. The details will be ratified by the Councils. Our two races are united for the better or the worse!'"