For nerds of a certain generation (in which I include myself) there are touchstone films. Some are legitimate classics – Star Wars, Back to the Future, Blade Runner, etc. Others fall under the messy label of “cult classic,” which carry with them a certain cultural currency of being known but not too known. This weekend I plan to dive into a few of these movies which I’ve somehow managed to miss. I plan to begin with one I think I’ve seen, but don’t remember very well – John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China (1986) starring Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall. Trailer:
Described as a “fantasy martial arts comedy” the film is about a loud-mouthed truck driver who gets into, I assume, some big trouble in little China. Following this, I’ll stick with Carpenter and Russell and watch Escape from New York (1981). Trailer:
I’m pretty sure I’ve been aware of the movie and Russell’s iconic Snake Plissken for most of my life, but have somehow managed to never see the movie itself. Again, I assume that Snake must engage in the titular action and escape from New York.
Finally, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984). Trailer:
Despite it boasting an all-star cast, many of whom have their own nerd/genre pedigrees, including Peter Weller (Robocop), John Lithgow (Twilight Zone: The Movie), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), and Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, Jurassic Park), I know next to nothing about this movie. I am intrigued, however, by the description of Weller’s Buckaroo as “Adventurer, brain surgeon, rock musician.” And, really, what else should I need to know?
This weekend is pretty much exclusively dedicated to power-writing my final papers due in the coming weeks. Since they're both discussing the entire filmographies of two of my favorite directors, I'm using it as an excuse to rewatch some of my favorite films of theirs. My first paper is about Richard Linklater and his films. I recently bought the Criterion Collection edition of the Before Trilogy (Before Sunrise , Before Sunset , Before Midnight ) and plan to immerse myself in their beauty yet again. I also watch Dazed and Confused (1993) at the end of every school year, a tradition I've had since my freshman year of high school, so it could not have come at a more perfect time! The other paper is about the films of Xavier Dolan as melodrama. I plan to revisit the films of his I've only seen once and look at it in the context of melodrama. Heartbeats (2010) is the closest he's ever gotten, and most likely ever will get, to comedy. It's a simple storyline about a love triangle in the hipster community in Montreal that is delightfully catty and, as always with Dolan, has an absolutely amazing soundtrack. I cannot wait to rewatch.
On Saturday, I plan on attending the screening of Upstream Color (2013) at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. An impressionistic, speculative sci-fi feature film, it deals in themes more than narrative: ecology (physical & mental), trauma, recovery, love, commitment, growth. Despite this, the film moves without dragging, carrying the viewer through the more inscrutable moments via gorgeous and intense, saturated, atmospheric visuals. I saw it once before, years ago on Netflix, and am excited to get to view it on the big screen. Trailer:
Otherwise, I hope to dig into a list I have going of some obscure short films as research for my upcoming article on “Cinema as Occult Practice.” These viewings will include Curtis Harrington’s Wormwood Star (1956), Derek Jarman’s In the Shadow of the Sun (1981), and Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising (1974).