See It Instead: Elysium Edition
Sometimes a movie comes along and makes you aware of an itch you never knew you had. Perhaps a review piqued your interest, or you’d rather stay in and pay yourself $10 for a small popcorn and watch a movie on the cheap. Perhaps you’re valiantly struggling through your queue on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and need a wise, cultured voice to direct you to where the real movie viewing gold is hiding amidst the Ghost Shark and serial killer biopics. Well, look no further. See It Instead is here to take today’s new releases and guide you to what you should really be watching.
“There’s a fine line between ridicule and endorsement I have to walk here people.
In case it’s blurry…don’t see this crap. Please.”
Social commentary and Matt Damon busting heads is moving on up at the box office. Neill Blomkamp (next time spell it with one L, Neill, get with the program. I’ve got enough worrying about the N-E-A-L pretenders to have you just messing around with extra letters) turns the whole Earth into a ghetto this time out, and Matt Damon (with a dubious accent poking in here and there) has to attach bike pumps to his shoulders in order to get some damn respect from the Man. Before you Occupy Hollywood, try living like the 1% with these gold nuggets from the past.
The Safe Pick: Soylent Green (1973)
Oh, Charlton Heston. How my Sci-Fi loving heart misses the times we had, before you went off the rail on a crazy train. Showing once again why he was the top dog of the Sci-Fi social drama in the 70’s, Heston plays a good cop with a hunger for justice in a future where overpopulation, green house effect caused global warming, and dead oceans have the general population just plain hungry. To meet the unsustainable demand, the Soylent Corporation has made a fortune producing nutrition wafers, the newest and most popular being Soylent Green, supposedly made from ocean plankton. When a high profile murder draws Heston’s attention, his investigation thrusts him into a plot of intrigue, cover-up, and delicious green wafers. A tense pot-boiler playing to Charlton Heston’s strength of pugnacious charisma, the film succeeds as a tight police procedural without the excellent addition of social commentary and angst provided by the futuristic elements. The movie also contains one of the most iconic cri-du-coeur in a movie since Heston cussed out those damn dirty apes for blowing it all up.
“Soylent Green is… *redacted: spoiler*!”
The Lighthearted Pick: Life Stinks (1991)
For those in the audience who only know Mel Brooks for his parody movies (History of the World, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles) I hope this little gem increases your respect for a very funny man, whose only sin was Spaceballs: The Animated Series (which unfortunately rises to the level of criminally unfunny. Forget Hitler on Ice, just plain Hitler was funnier.) For those who have not even seen those priceless monuments to comedy, get your life together. Seriously. And then see Life Stinks. Another Brooks movie starring Brooks as the main character, it tells the story of a rich developer who wants to bulldoze a projects. In order to get the real estate for a song, he takes a bet to live as a bum in the neighborhood for 30 days, anonymous and without money. Of course it goes poorly, and of course his rival rigs the bet. And where this all sounds very much like Trading Places (another fantastic comedy), Brooks makes it all his own with his put-upon, why-me delivery. Not his funniest movie, but full of great gags and moments that prove Mel Brooks didn’t need to send up another piece of work in order to make a killer joke.
The Unconventional Pick: Delicatessen (1991)
I must be hungry, because here is a second dystopian movie surrounding the concept of getting a darn meal when the world has gone down the tubes. Set in the vague future in which France (and presumably the world) has suffered such a catastrophic melt down that food has become the dominant method of payment, Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (City of Lost Children, Amelie) focuses on the plight of one tenement building where the food is inexplicably plentiful. Fans of Jeunet know him to revel in bizarre and lovably grotesque characters, and Delicatessen does not disappoint. It’s hard to even describe the film without spoiling much of the appeal of this shoe-string budgeted first film, so just be satisfied that it involves murder, clowns, deli-meat, a rogue group of feral French vegetarians, and some of the most insanely wonderful misfits you’ve ever had lunch with. Check it out.