Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Science Fiction and the Siren
Know what’s funny about random drawings? They’re so bloody random. To wit, the Siren takes requests, and gets two George Sanders movies. All righty then. She also gets a B movie, and the Siren’s B-movie viewing isn’t that extensive, and she gets a Hammer movie that could be loosely defined as horror, and she gets a science fiction movie.
Now, anyone troubling to read this blog over its near six-year existence cannot fail to have noticed that two genres haven’t exactly been examined in depth: horror and science fiction. You, shrewd readers, may have guessed that these cinematic subsets hold a lower place in the Siren’s affections. And her first impulse is to say that p’r’aps altogether, shrewd readers, you’re right.
But after some contemplation, the Siren has realized that she can, pretty easily, put together a list of science fiction films that she holds in high regard. It’s just that most of them aren’t all that old, or at least not old by the standards of this blog.
Plus, science fiction attracts...how shall one put this. Passion. Passion to the point where it seems to the Siren that people are reliably touchier about this genre than any other, save Movies Involving Caped Crusaders. “Did you ever notice your mother is cross-eyed?” “Why yes, yes I did.” “Did I ever tell you why I disliked The Matrix?” “YOU WHORE.”
The Siren isn’t enough of a connoisseur to have a stringent genre definition, and that also gets her into occasional trouble. But if you’ll permit her to list some “Favorite Movies That Include Aliens, Space and/or the Future,” here’s 20, all (repeat, all) of which she likes quite a lot, in extremely rough order according to her level of affection:
1. Wall*E (OK, that probably tips her hand right there. Still, the Siren proceeds.)
2. The Empire Strikes Back
3. Star Wars
4. Blade Runner
(Note: Much as she likes them, the Siren avoids the cult for numbers 2 through 4 on this list. When she spends too much time reading too-ardent worship, the Siren gets cranky and finds herself borrowing a line from Glenn Kenny about another good film staggering under its bundle of adoration: “It’s not Jesus Christ coming down off the cross, people.” She’d rather sit in her own little corner and quietly like them.)
7. Aliens (First one is excellent. Second one plays more to the Siren’s preoccupations.)
9. They Live
10. Soylent Green (Edward G. Robinson. And Heston.)
11. 12 Monkeys
12. The Terminator (Yes. I like James Cameron.)
14. The Thing From Another World (1951)
15. A Clockwork Orange
16. Strange Days (Do people like this one now? Because the Siren used to feel very lonely.)
17. The Stepford Wives (1975) (It’s my list and I’ll include robot women if I want to.)
18. The Invisible Man (1933)
19. Escape from New York
20. Fahrenheit 451 (I probably never mentioned my huge thing for Oskar Werner either, did I?)
There you are. Another side to the Siren. You no doubt noticed the tilt toward the relatively recent. Well, it’s like this. The other night the Siren was watching Nora Prentiss and there’s a scene where Ann Sheridan and Kent Smith are driving in a convertible, pretty fast if you believe the rear projection, and his hat remains neatly tilted on his handsome brow and Ann Sheridan’s fabulous hair is barely stirring. And the Siren noticed, but it didn’t bother her a bit. On the other hand, if she’s sitting there watching an old science-fiction film and the spaceship looks like a spray-painted shoebox, she slides down the cushions muttering “Oh brother.”
Is this fair? Probably not. But the Siren has never denied that there is such a thing as progress, and she does think science fiction movies were aided by the development of better special effects. It’s probably no coincidence that the older movies that did make her list tend to accomplish things with simplicity and indirection.
Finally, if you are wondering “where the hell is Metropolis?” the Siren says yes yes yes, it’s a great freaking landmark movie, but it isn’t her favorite Fritz Lang by a long shot, and she admires it much more than she loves it.
All of this is leading up to George Sanders in Wolf Rilla’s 1960 Village of the Damned, but the Siren is going to break off here and continue shortly. You may fire when ready.
P.S. Know what it is about lists? You always forget something. In this case, Demolition Man. By rights it belongs somewhere in the middle up there. Pretend I included it, please. Carry on.