As I’ve said, apathy is easy. So it is with tremendous ease that I will drop money on a DVD or Blu-ray that I’ve never seen or even heard of before I buy it. It is a habit that has yielded some amazing gems such as Ink and Avalon.
A few weeks ago I was feeling a bit antsy with some gift cards in my pocket and a need for quirky films about humanity. I took to searching comments about movies I have already seen that I enjoyed and were similar in feeling to what I was craving. In those comments I found recommendations for other films — films I’d never heard of before. Armed with a list of titles I set to work and, three weeks later, had in my possession some new blind buys: Sunshine, The Fountain and The Fall.
Were these blind buys successful?
What I knew about this film going into the purchase is that it was a sci-fi film, took place in space, and the premise of the story is that the sun was dying and a group of astronauts had to deliver a bomb into the Sun to “jump-start” it and save Earth.
I’m a space sci-fi junkie and stories about the apocalypse or end of times are a guilty pleasure so this, in my mind, couldn’t possibly fail.
But was it any good?
It reminded me a bit of Event Horizon where it had a supernatural feel to what was driving things when shit goes bad. There’s a scene early in the film where a crew member is staring out of a window directly at the sun. The window has a filter which a computer voice tells us allowing only 2% of the Sun’s actual light through. The crew member asks the computer to let in as much as is humanly safe, which it does, and the crew member appears to have some kind of religious experience from being exposed to the light. At that point I expected the plot to be that one or more crew members go bat-shit crazy through this Sun bath experience which leads to shit going bad.
It’s laid out very early that this is a last-chance mission. If they fail the Earth is done. If the mission is not completed, humanity goes extinct. That’s a bold thing to do in an American film and I secretly rooted for this to happen, not because I want humanity to go extinct, but because American film writers (and studios) typically don’t have balls to do it (kill off the whole of humanity). That would be something different and, by its difference, it would be special.
The acting is great. The film looks beautiful. But in the end the movie just didn’t leave me with a strong impression. I feel the story could have been tweaked to amp up the suspense and to give the driving force of shit going bad more meaning and weight.
Not a bad movie. Not a great movie.
On a side note, I immediately recognized the soundtrack as having been put to use in Top Gear’s polar special. This was just the latest in a long line of experiences where I’ve heard (bits of) the soundtrack before I’ve seen the movie and get distracted halfway through the movie trying to place the music.
The only thing I knew going into this was that there was a relationship between a man and a woman and that it would somehow span over great periods of time. My assumption that it would be something like two people who keep meeting each other in different lives (reincarnation) and how the relationships compare and contrast throughout the hundreds or thousands of years that it would cover.
I was way the fuck off, which is what I get for going by a three-sentence description with a lot of flowery bullshit that doesn’t convey any real sense of what the movie is actually about. But it was made by the same guy who did Pi, so I figured even with the vague description it was worth a shot.
I don’t know where the fuck to begin on this one.
There are three stories being told in slightly non-linear fashion with lots of cutting between the three stories. The stories revolve around a relationship between a man and woman. They are the same man and woman in each story (or at least played by the same actors). They are perhaps the same story being told as well, but the time period and circumstances of each story differ. Pieces of information learned in one story might have meaning or explanation to what is happening in another. I had some difficulty following exactly what was going on in this film which leads me to think this might be one of those films that needs to be watched a few times to really understand what it’s all about.
The movie focuses on spirituality and the meaning of life through facing death. I think it’s a good movie with great writing that is visually spectacular and abso-fucking-lutely exhausting. So exhausting that even though I recognize I need to watch this again to get the most out of it, I’m going to put it back on the shelf and give my senses a rest for a bit.
My biggest hopes for this round of blind buys rested with The Fall. This is perhaps because of these three movies I knew the least about this one. All I had going into it was a sense of fantastical adventure, which is like heroin to my mind. It did not disappoint.
The film takes place in the 1920s at a hospital where a little girl is recovering from what appears to be a broken arm or shoulder. She meets a young man, also a patient, who entertains her with something of a fairytale story. The film intercuts the bleak reality of the hospital with the vibrant world in which the story being told takes place. The film looks absolutely epic and that’s thanks in part to the fact that the director filmed at fantastical locations shooting in over 20 different countries over four years. The acting is great; the unexpected highlight being the six-year old girl. To get the most out of their young leading lady most scenes with her were unscripted and it came together exceptionally well.
I really don’t want to say much more, suffice it to say there is a critical plot point that drastically amps up the intensity of the film and will send you down many emotional paths. Don’t read the plot summary, find yourself (or a friend with) a copy of the film and give yourself this gift. You won’t hate yourself in the morning.