Things To Come (1936)

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David: We embark on a two part examination of the human condition, beginning with the movie of H.G. Wells’s 1933 novel of imagined future history. This modernist manifesto posits that humanity is distinguished from the animals by little more than ambition and the march of progress. There seems to be no alternative for us but onward, onward to the stars. Wells begins his fable with war, disaster and rebirth, perhaps meaning to describe the arc of civilsation from a fresh beginning, but also expressing pessimism about progress as the early 20th century defined it – sandwiched as it was between two world wars. Though inspired by the promises of science, Wells is perhaps poignantly aware that a shark-like need for forward motion down a one way street may harbour the seeds of its own doom.

Jules: What distinguishes a desire to change one’s local world in some aspect – access new sources of fresh water, say – and a desire to transform it entirely? Is crisis always a requirement for such transformations? If the management of crisis is an essential part of statecraft, what rules out crisis-creation as a moral method of change?

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Mad Max Fury Road (2015)

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Jules: Sequel, prequel, reboot, or mashup? Or just the logical conclusion of director George Miller’s deconstruction of genre, gender, and guzzlene?

David: We bookend our survey of 1979’s Mad Max 1 with our overview of the latest 2015 instalment. On Fury Road there’s lot to recognise from our own time. Much of the human degradation in it’s murdered world seems to be with us now, already.

Note this is a post-viewing discussion not a synched commentary.

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Sunshine (2007)

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David: Science fiction has been crowded from our movie screens by a plethora of comic strip adaptation. Sunshine raised the flag for serious sci-fi cinema in a very lean decade. It recalls Kubrick’s 2001 in positing space as a spiritual destination, with the sun, the source and nurturer of life, not unlike a god to its hapless progeny, who are on a precarious mission to keep its dying light alive. In the end one of Sunshine’s revealled truths is that a film cannot transcend its script. Much vision and beauty unravels as the story switches genres and loses its way in the third act. But for all that it stands tall, because it dared to dream.

Jules: Saving the world is often an extremely external affair: places, (often generic) people, and objects relating in a way that either guarantees or negates an apocalypse. Here, an internal story is attempted, where beliefs, perceptions, and personalities are the focus.
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Æon Flux : The Purge (1995)

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Jules: Our commentary expands to include the small(er) screen in this episode, namely the stellar Æon Flux series of MTV short films from the 1990s. Are we all the self-deluding victims of deterministic circumstance, or can we freely choose between possible outcomes as truly moral agents? We examine the cases brought forward by arch-provocatrix Æon, dictator-for-life Trevor, and gonzo-comedian-psychopath Bambara.

David: We attempt to bring our rational thoughts to bear upon the mind-mangling dream logic of Æon Flux, and observe the absolute power of Trevor Goodchild corrupted by absolute existential quandry. The spidery form of his nemesis-love-idol weaves a web of irony around him and all the while sticky pleasure traps to snare them both abound.

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Prometheus (2012)

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Jules: This film divided film viewers and critics to a surreal degree; but is it perhaps the film which most deserved overlooking in 2012? Despite its problems, what does it tell us about the ability of today’s filmmakers to revisit their own pasts?

David:  The franchise that inspired so many imitations borrows back from nearly all of them, with plot tendrils snaking about like a grasping facehugger that’s drunk too much coffee. [review]

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TRON: Legacy (2010)

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Jules: How late is too late for what might be the latest, late-to-market film sequel in the history of cinema? Problems of tone, story, and pacing pile up as the digital apocalypse approaches. But what are we to make of the mythic imagery and symbolic story elements accompanying this technical wonder-wagon?

David: Nonplussed by narrative nonsense. Nice neon.

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