Category Archives: Film

Friday viewing: The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T

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Cover of "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T"

For a long time I thought I made this film up because every time I mentioned The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, I’d get blank stares or questions about my sanity. I’d say, “You know that movie about a kid who didn’t want to practice the piano? Ends up in this strange place with an evil Dr. T who wants him to play the piano all the time. Written by Dr. Seuss? No?” Well, the films exists! And fortunately, I’m far from being the only one who’s seen it. The only film Dr. Seuss ever wrote is a work of mad, understated genius.

This was no box-office bonanza when it opened in 1953, but many great films aren’t. Must be one of the strangest kid films ever and I love it.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Just Seven Years to Dystopia

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Blade Runner

One of the best films ever?

It’s the year 2019, and Rick Deckard has been forced to take on one more assignment before he retires. The assignment: to hunt down and “retire” some renegade replicants who are hiding out on planet Earth.

Yes, folks, I’m talking about Blade Runner, or for those who have read the book it’s based on – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep? I try not to compile films or books into lists, but if I had to, Blade Runner would definitely be a Top 10.  That’s quite a feat, considering the first couple of times I tried to watch the film, I could not get through it. But you have to watch it in the right context. It has to be night, you have to be committed and you need no distractions. If you do all these things, you will be in for a treat.

I re-watched it last night, and once again, was amazed by the sexiness of a retro-futuristic Los Angeles. I love futuristic films that take more from film noir than Star Trek. 1940s outfits and Art Deco buildings amongst flying cars and Voight-Kampff machines create an enticingly beautiful, yet cold, landscape. Brazil is another film which uses the same mix of retro and future, and more recently Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

Rutger Hauer as the replicant, Roy Batty, is one of the most compelling characters in a science fiction film. Not only is he compelling to look at, but he also delivers the best lines in the film. That’s not to diminish Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard at all. He spent most of the 1980s as Indiana Jones and Han Solo, so this role was a good break from all that over the top blockbuster bombast.  Sean Young as the “human” replicant, Rachael, and William Sanderson as designer J.F. Sebastian are also stand-out roles. And finally, let’s not forget the fantastic score by Vangelis.

The most incredible thing about Blade Runner, though, is that this dystopian future takes place in 2019. That’s only seven years from now. Blade Runner came out in 1982, but the book came out in 1967. However, I still find it hard to believe that people thought the world would be so different in less than a century. But aren’t those bleak pictures of the future usually the result of some cataclysmic event which happens out of the blue? So, who knows? We might not be out of the woods just yet.

Only a Paper Moon

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Cover of "Paper Moon"

Cover of Paper Moon

I’m definitely no cineaste, but the films I do love, I usually watch over and over again. One of my favorite films was just on Film 4 and I was reminded how great is – Paper Moon. It came out the year of my birth which partially explains why I have such an attachment to it. Also, I’ve been obsessing a lot lately over the 1920s/30s. The Jazz Age, Art Deco, dust bowl Americana, hedonistic Paris and Berlin – you name it. I think I remember reading somewhere that there was a resurgence of interest in the 20s/30s during the late 60s/70s, as typified by films like Bonnie and Clyde, The Sting (a film I’m always surprised George Clooney and Brad Pitt haven’t remade yet, though Paul Newman and Robert Redford would be tough to beat!) and of course, Paper Moon. All fantastic films!

Anyway, I love this bit from Paper Moon. Tatum O’Neal totally deserved that Oscar at age 10!

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