A short list (which I need to update) of some of my personal favorites-
Metropolis – Fritz Lang’s science fiction masterpiece from 1925 remains a benchmark for
special effects even today. Actually many of the effects are better than most of the CGI crap
I’ve seen spewed forth lately, and when you combine that with a great story about technocracy
gone berserk and humans being slaves to the machine you have a movie that is still far superior to infantile garbage like “The Island” or “I Robot” which try to pass themselves off as science fiction.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – Another silent era film by Robert Wiene, this early
surrealist vision about a somnambulist features highly stylized REAL sets which makes you wonder why no one made a sequel. Oh wait, they did! It’s called “Dr. Caligari,” an amazing follow up made circa 1990 by Steven Sayadian.
Island of Lost Souls – Creepy and haunting 1932 adaptation of the horror-science fiction
classic by H.G. Wells. A mad doctor performs cruel vivisection experiments on animals turning them into half-humans. Charles Laughton really cranks it up as the demented doc and Bela Lugosi turns in a great “manimal” performance. Fantastic black and white photography further enhances the grim story.
The Philadelphia Story – Wildly entertaining farce about a newspaper bloke (Cary Grant)
and his “girl Friday” (Katherine Hepburn). Some of the snappiest dialog I’ve ever heard in film.
(See the “Hudsucker Proxy” for a great homage to that kind of writing and performance.)
They Live – John Carpenter’s science fiction-horror masterpiece is prophetic. Ex pro
wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David square off (in a ridiculous fight scene re-created
on a South Park episode no less) then team up to fight evil alien republicans who have
projected a massive Wal-Mart friendly hallucination over the whole world and only special
glasses created by the revolutionary underground can see through the shiny happy facade.
On a lighter but similar note, if you like this one see “Idiocracy,” by Mike Judge.
Donnie Darko – Concerning time travel, true love, a large talking rabbit and the inevitable
consequences of plane engines falling into houses. This brilliant film got plain screwed at the
box office in the post 9-11 world, but it’s on video/dvd so check it out!
Meet The Feebles – If you want to see a good movie with muppets (albeit adult muppets)
see this movie, one of Peter Jackson’s (yes the same guy who made the Tolkien tripe) first
films which is part porn, part musical and part gore-fest. Brilliant and disgusting!
Being John Malkovich – Sublime. One of the greatest films of the last 20 years featuring
John Cusack as a burned out puppeteer who discovers a porthole into the head of John
Malkovich and, together with the very hot Catherine Keener proceed to charge people an
entrance fee. Brilliant film by Spike Jonze.
Blade Runner – One of the greatest science fiction films ever made, Ridley Scott’s artistic triumph (although Alien is amazing as well) based upon Philip K. Dick’s famous novel is a superb indictment of slavery and oppression. “All of these memories will be lost, like tears in rain.”