Back to the Future
The Cinerama's Science Fiction Film Festival: Say Good-Bye to Your Next Two Weeks
The First Annual Science Fiction Film Festival
April 19–May 2, Cinerama
Since Georges Méliès's Le Voyage dans la Lune in 1902, science fiction has boldly taken audiences where other films can't, like Barbarella's shag-carpet sex den. Starting this week, the Cinerama is celebrating the genre with a pretty phenomenal lineup (and Cinerama manager Greg Wood says future festivals might include classics they weren't able to snag this year, like Alien and Blade Runner). Plus, everything's on 35 mm, save a digital Metropolis and 70 mm prints of Ghostbusters, Star Trek II, Tron, Terminator 2, and 2001.
And! The Cinerama's lobby will be crammed with artifacts from the nerd lair of überdweeb Paul Allen—like one of the penisy xenomorph heads from Aliens and Richard Dreyfuss's Close Encounters onesie, worn shortly before he traded in his wife and children for a joyride with deformed aliens. Speaking of Richard Dreyfuss being a dick, here's the full rundown of what's screening.
Metropolis (dir. Fritz Lang, 1927, Thurs April 19–Sat April 21): The example of classic sci-fi, presented with a live score from the Alloy Orchestra. You're obligated to attend, but hold up, look what's next:
2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1968 and 1971, 2001 Sat April 21–Sun April 22, Clockwork Wed May 2): A new 70 mm print of 2001, the best science-fiction film. And Clockwork? Goddamn. If you see nothing else, see the still-astonishing 2001; it will be big and loud and possibly best seen while high.
War of the Worlds (dir. Byron Haskin, 1953, Sun April 22): A new 35 mm print of the version made before Tom Cruise could smear 9/11 allegory on it.
Silent Running (dir. Douglas Trumbull, 1972, Mon April 23): The finest film ever made about a sanctimonious space hippie (Bruce Dern) who loves jammin' to Joan Baez and whose only "friends" are dumpy little poker-playing robots.
Barbarella (dir. Roger Vadim, 1968, Mon April 23): This film stars Jane Fonda as an astronaut/sex kitten. I wholeheartedly love it for the aforementioned reason, as should you.
The Omega Man (dir. Boris Sagal, 1971, Tues April 24): The Last Man on Earth (Charlton Heston) drives around shooting mutant vampires, then sacrifices himself like Jesus. Alternate title: Heston's Reality.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (dir. Steven Spielberg, 1977 and 1982, Close Encounters Tues April 24, E.T. Sun April 29): Spielberg at the top of his game, ladling out jaw-dropping spectacle and heart-melting sentiment? Or terrifying horror stories about creepy aliens exploiting naive human children?
Mad Max and The Road Warrior (dir. George Miller, 1979 and 1981, Wed April 25): Remember when Mel Gibson was a handsome antihero in a postapocalyptic saga that accurately prophesied America 20 years in the future? Those were the days! But then somebody asked him about Jews.
The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (dir. James Cameron, 1984 and 1991, Fri April 27): The Terminator is James Cameron ominously sharpening a machete while silently glaring at you; Terminator 2 is James Cameron drinking too many Capri Suns and getting the giggles and now he won't stop sticking his hand in his armpit to make fart noises.
Tron (dir. Steven Lisberger, 1982, Sat April 28): People who like Tron really, really like Tron. What they do not know is that Tron is the most boring movie ever, including Tron Legacy.
Ghostbusters (dir. Ivan Reitman, 1984, Sat April 28): A test of if you should marry someone: Do they love Ghostbusters? If "yes," congratulations! If "no," do not waste even one more second on them—there are so many Peter Venkmans in the sea.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (dir. Nicholas Meyer, 1982, Sat April 28): The further Star Trek gets from Gene Roddenberry's utopist fantasy, the more entertaining it is. Wrath of Khan is pretty far off, which means it's entirely awesome. BONUS: Ricardo Montalban!
Brazil (dir. Terry Gilliam, 1985, Sat April 28): In which Terry Gilliam makes the best and funniest version of 1984.
Forbidden Planet (dir. Fred M. Wilcox, 1956, Sun April 29): A science fiction The Tempest. Pulp sci-fi/Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin raved, "The Bard of Avon and Robby the Robot make a combination that has still yet to be surpassed," which is both overly adulatory and suggests Martin's written some troubling slash fiction. Still, this is a fun adventure, buoyed by kick-ass retro-futuristic design.
Planet of the Apes (dir. Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968, Sun April 29): Hello again, Charlton Heston! Between this and 2001, 1968 was a banner year for spaceship/monkey aficionados.
The Matrix (dir. Andy and Lana Wachowski, 1999, Sun April 29): Despite the Wachowskis' best attempts to ruin it, The Matrix still works: The action's great, Keanu is doofily fun as Kung Fu Buddha, and Hugo Weaving's lecture about humanity being a revolting virus is genius. (THAT IS ALL WE ARE. DON'T LET ANY NEOS TELL YOU DIFFERENT.)
THX 1138 (dir. George Lucas, 1971, Mon April 30): George Lucas's clever first film is underrated, underseen, and the opposite of Star Wars.
Dune (dir. David Lynch, 1984, Mon April 30): When I said Tron was the boringest movie? I lied! That honor goes to David Lynch's interminable clusterfuck Dune. This thing's only redeeming quality is a majestic shot in which Patrick Stewart charges into battle while carrying a pug.
Soylent Green (dir. Richard Fleischer, 1973, Tues May 1): If you still haven't gotten enough Charlton Heston, or if you're one of the zero people who don't know what Soylent Green is? See this! Or just google "Soylent Green." Yeah. Do that. Your time is better spent watching...
Solaris (dir. Andrey Tarkovskiy, 1972, Tues May 1): It isn't as revelatory as film geeks insist it is (for even more sexy thrills, ask 'em what they think of Steven Soderbergh's remake), but once you adapt to its comically slow pace, Tarkovskiy's haunted space station flick is a frigid but engaging intellectual exercise. And it still feels shorter than Dune.
Flash Gordon (dir. Mike Hodges, 1980, Wed May 2): Campy, garish, and full of Queen. Charlton Heston is not in it.