Tag Archives: Science Fiction

#226 – Hawk Savage: Renewed

(2014, US, 102 min) Dir Hal Hanry. Cast Leo Young, Demi Moore, Jeff Goldblum.

Here’s the story – the original Hawk Savage, about a daytime TV personality who dressed up as a big bird and transcended time and space to fight injustice in the evenings, was released in cinemas in the fall of ’84. Less than nobody went to see it. Had it been released ten years prior that, more likely than not, would have been that but over the following ten years it gained a steadily accumulating army of cult fans on VHS. This was good news for director Hal Hanry and lead actor Leo Young – neither of them having had much of a career since Hawk Savage – as it meant that their future on the science fiction convention circuit seemed assured. Then the internet happened. In 2006 a young fan called Jan Lawrence made a trailer for Hawk Savage: Renewed (as was promised, in the style of James Bond films of old, at the end of the original HS). Emboldened by the media interest in this trailer Hanry began an eight year tour of every studio he could get in the door of whilst keeping the internet public up to date with regular assurances of deals and rumours of deals and news of imagined deals. A Kickstarter fund was launched and it’s target exceeded. Fox got on the phone and their budget was doubled. The internet patted itself on the back. The real Hawk Savage: Renewed was released in the fall of ’14 and yet again less than nobody went to see it. What had originally been a film that was fleet of touch was now weighed down by callbacks to the original that rendered the proceedings impenetrable to neophytes. It didn’t help that the stars of the original like Demi Moore and Jeff Goldblum looked much less that pleased to be returning. Not Leo Young though – he was having a ball. Avoid unless you’re a die-hard fan and even them think twice about it.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#198 – Plastic Song (Peullaseutig Song)

(2008, SKor, 131 min) Dir Kim Chang-wan. Cast Shin Ha-kyun, Kim Ok-bin, Kim Roi-ha.

South Korea, the near future. Lonely office worker Joon, disheartened by a life of unrequited heartbreak, orders himself something from the cutting edge of technological advance – a seemingly sentient plastic sex doll that is called a Song. Once released from her coffin-sized packaging she is initially all that he could have hoped for – pretty, meek and sexually insatiable – but after a while he finds himself overcome with conflicting emotions towards her, the chief one being love though complicated by guilt. As you might expect from South Korean cinema Plastic Song juggles genres, morphing from the lighthearted comedy of the opening to a dramatic second act before going out in the world with Joon as he advocates politically for the recognition of the Songs. Not only that but it then becomes an action film as he in co-opted by pro-Song revolutionaries and then it finally ends with a blend of sci-fi dystopia and romance as Joon finds peace and mutual love with an upgraded Song in a shack in the hills of a depopulated post-apocalypse Korea where she lives on forever after Joon grows old and dies. If you can withstand the genre whiplash there’s much to enjoy in this buffet of a film with Kim Ok-bin managing to imbue her Song with an array of emotion despite being limited to a mere half-dozen expression settings.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#194 – Blue Octagon, The (Octogone Bleu, L’)

(2010, Can, 110 min) Dir Yorgos Solberg. Cast Felicity Bananier, Alain Nori, Reynoldson Caves.

French Canadian wig-out cult flick with rising star Felicity Bananier as Eva, a student who uncovers what she believes to be a vast conspiracy to keep humanity subjugated. This is part one of the three parts of this very rigidly compartmentalised film – an effective, paranoid thriller where her every footfall is shadowed by another and the whose location of Montreal University is fantastically used for maximum eeriness, despite the film being shot during the summer months. The second part details her post-abduction interrogation at the hands of the secretive Blue Octagon in a fantastic set of neon and perspex where she is set at by her interrogator (the supernaturally still, seven-foot tall Caves). This is where the films descent into real strangeness begins with long wordless stretches of her psychological breakdown realised as a constant bombardment of flying coloured shapes that will no doubt have a similarly hypnotic effect on the viewer as it does on Eva. The less revealed here of the actually insane wordless psychedelic final act the better. To be seen on the big screen or, failing that, at a distance of about three inches from a huge television.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#160 – Kuyruk, Bir (Tail, A)

(2011, Tur, 99 min) Dir Ahmet Şen. Cast Nuri Kesal, Yılmaz Erdoğan, Cansu Demirci.

A whimsical, surreal little film in which everyone in the world wakes up one morning to find that overnight they have grown the tails of  animals – some have big green lizard’s tails, some have brightly feathered birds tails, some have twitching cat tails and some have a prehensile primate tail (which seems to be the least problematic and most useful of them all). The problem is that this kicks off a vast restructuring of the existing social norms – for example the President, who woke that day with a giant squirrel’s tail, is ousted from government by a cadre of monkey tails within his own party. All of this is seen from the perspective of young Nuri whose mother, a seamstress, is making a lot of money in the crisis from altering trousers. Previously a small fish in his school he has found his stock rising mightily now that he is in possession of a ferocious looking and potentially deadly scorpion’s tail. Of course if we learned anything from Spider-Man it’s the whole great power/greater responsibility thing and it’s the relationship between these two that guides Nuri’s story. A well-played, beautifully shot little film with surprisingly good practical effects for the tails, it’s only downfall is that it’s a little obvious in its allegorical intent. It was well received when it premiered in Sundance a couple of years ago but a wide release seems sadly unlikely by now. Worth tracking down.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#139 – Monsieur B dans l’Univers (Mister B In Space)

(1963, Fr, 98 min) Dir Albert. Cast Albert, Mimi X, Oscar de la Vana.

A grayed up Albert is stuffy aged bachelor Monsieur B, the company man is chosen to travel to the distant planet of French Andromeda where he will act as accountant for the colony there. His  faster than light journey out is a wonderfully sustained piece of physical humour in faux zero gravity – like the Blue Danube sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey remade by Jacques Tati. French Andromeda too is a fantastic visual creation – the best that early Sixties film money could buy, all purple rocky landscapes and blue plants. When he’s out there he makes contact with one of the green-haired alien locals (as played by his real life wife Mimi X) and falls in love. Of course it all goes downhill from there with the colonists set against the natives. Albert found himself in the middle of a political storm at the time with both left and right agreed that his film was an allegory for the colonial enterprises of French Indochina and North Africa but neither side agreed on whether the film was pro or con. Albert, for his part, simply shrugged and claimed no responsibility for their interpretations. thankfully, now that more than fifty years have passed we can appreciate this sweet, sad film for its beautiful colour photography, balletic slapstick and romance.

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#100 – One Hundred Years From Now

(1914, GB, 104 min, b/w) Dir Albert Adlington. Cast Herbert Baum, Eleanor Tatchell, Simon Fisk.

A large budget production for the time – partly funded by entrepreneur and utopian Sir Robert Sockton-Mogg – detailing the glorious future that lay ahead for the British Empire. As ever with these kinds of films it’s as entertaining to see what they got wrong as they did right. In the former camp there are the fashions which have remained curiously immobile from the Edwardian era and the biplanes that everyone has in their driveway. More poignant is the idea the film predicts that in 2014 that the British Empire would be celebrating one hundred years of peace and stability around the world but of course how could they have then predicted the First and Second World Wars, the dissolution of the Empire and all that followed. What they got right is interesting with a ‘Cinematograph’ is on the wall in every home like a flat screen TV, for example, or submarines travelling the oceans. Besides this and some ahead of their time special effects the film isn’t great, as stodgy to sit through as 1933’s similar Things to Come. It remains a valuable cultural artefact however and the mostly complete silver nitrate print in the BFI’s library is a wonder to behold. Maybe not perfect but a historical moment for sure.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms

#97 – Walking on a Moonbeam

(1968, US/Fr, 80 min) Dir Dean Wold.

After a proposed Little Nemo feature fell through Dean Wold had to span the Atlantic for his first feature, the funds for an idiosyncratic non-Disney animation such as this not immediately forthcoming in his home country. Whether this contributed to his decision for the film to be entirely dialogue free is open to debate – the man himself has given contradictory accounts in his rare interviews. Either way the decision works and no doubt contributed, along with the stream of consciousness plotting, to the film being embraced by the counter-culture on its release. Not that this isn’t a children’s film because it most certainly is. A unnamed boy is woken in the night by a beam of moonlight under his bedroom window’s blind. He pulls up the blind to investigate further and sees, to his surprise, a cat outside the window frolicking on the beam as though it were a solid road leading to the moon. He lifts the sash window and tentatively steps out to follow the scampering kitten and ends up travelling all the way to the moon where it appears all manner of creatures live – men made of melting cheese, hot air balloon heads floating through the skies and, in a fit of virtuoso animation, a ball room made of shimmering glass populated by similarly glistening glass dancers. As this description might suggest the influence of Nemo is writ large here. These adventures end with the boy back in his bed, tucked in for his parents to find him in the morning, both of them baffled by the appearance of a new pet cat in his room. A charming and inventively made film that brought the unknown Wold to the world’s attention.

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Twitter: @MadeUpFilms