a good night in—glenn criddle—april 2020
We live in interesting times. As much as I enjoy a good movie at the cinema it's currently not a fun prospect sharing a dark room with a bunch of strangers. So for those who are anxious enough to want to stay at home, don't despair. A good movie at home is a great and responsible way to relax and shut off while waiting for this to blow over so this months article is dedicated to that huge catalogue of older movies out there. These will be available, at time of writing, either on Netflix, Prime or home media (hint: they're usually cheap on home media, particularly second hand, but if you're in a rush then go digital). Pay attention to age ratings of course.
Event Horizon: A crew travel to investigate a ship that has reappeared after being missing for some time following testing an experimental drive. Finding the ship empty, save for a few bodies, they soon find out that things have gone very wrong here and that wherever it went, it brought something back. It's basically a haunted house in space, made by the director of the Resident Evil films and staring Sam Neil and Laurence Fishburne. It's tense, horrifying, tight and efficient story with very little let-up in the feeling that something horrible is about to happen. Love it. Available on Netflix, Prime for $2.99 rental and home media from as little as $4
Holy Motors: An actor goes from job to job in a stretched limo but these aren't your normal acting gigs. Each job is more like a real life event with the clients living out a fantasy or working out a trauma and Monsieur Oscar shifts and changes to be what they need him to be from a business man, a killer, a father and even a CG fantasy.
It's an odd film that sounds like it could be hokey but is actually a wonderful love letter to the art of cinema. Beautiful, but not afraid of the ugly, it's a film that explores the medium itself, from crime to romance, tragedy to technology and even musicals and the absurd. It's often bizarre, funny and occasionally upsetting. It is foreign language (French) but please don't let that scare you off, it's subtitled. It's one of my all time favourites and a film that deserves to be watched by as many people as possible and it's a wonderful exploration of the power of cinema. Available on Prime via the Shout Factory trial or better, on DVD from $3.15 second hand.
Snow Piercer: In a frozen post apocalyptic word, society has been transplanted to a train that keeps moving to avoid the worst effects of the outside world. At the front of the train are the privileged and the rich, at the back the poor and the workers. When food shortages at the back prompt a rebellion the workers make their way forward, fighting their way through carriages of increasing luxury towards the engine in their quest to even out the injustice.
Political and provocative but thoughtful and entertaining, Snow Piercer is a slightly odd film that has real heart to it and stuff to say. While the message about society is clear, it doesn't shy away from seeing things from both ends and it's interesting to see the battle of philosophies play out against each other. It's a fine film and very enjoyable.
Find it on Netflix, Prime for $3.99 or on home media for as little as $3 second hand.
Tron and Tron Legacy: Synopsising two films in one go? Have I gone mad? Tron basically follows the story of a conflict in the real world that's also played out in the computer world. Flynn gets sucked into the computer world by the security software when he tries to find evidence for his authorship of Tron, a game he created, and finds a world of avatars that he has to befriend and battle with. Legacy continues the story years after Tron when Flynn has disappeared and his son finds out that his father's stories weren't just bedtime fantasy stories.
These are a great cross-generation combination. Neither film is particularly story driven but are quite eye-popping and a great way to see the differences in not only film technology but what the fantasies about computer worlds are now compared to what we had and what we were wowed by back in the day. It's a pure Disney fantasy story with alternate worlds, heroes, villains and cool set pieces.
Tron and Tron Legacy are $2.99 rental on Prime and for less than $10 second hand on DVD or Bluray.
The Black Hole:
The USS Palomino stumbles across a black hole with a well-known and long lost spaceship inexplicably defying the end it should have met a long time ago. After a near disastrous landing on the ship they find the remaining crew is all robots with the enigmatic commander Dr. Reinhardt being the only human left. Although everything seems friendly and interesting at first, the Palomino crew begins to realise that the commander isn't being honest with them and that his ultimate goal is one that would surely destroy them all.
More Disney but this time 'IN SPAAAAACCE! (add your own echo effect). It's largely a basic offering but a wonderful piece of fantasy for younger viewers. It does get a little dark on occasions and indeed was the first Disney film to gain a PG rating but it's one of those 'old school Disney' kinds of things where it was okay to be a little scary at times. I loved this as a kid; I hope kids today can be thrilled by it like I was back then.
The Black Hole is available on digital from Prime for $2.99, on DVD for under $6, way cheaper if you go second hand.
That's it for now, I hope you find something worth a watch and if you go looking you can find real gems for very cheap, if not free. Here's to you and yours, stay safe and see you next month where I may have some more home entertainment offerings.