If I am not me, then who the hell am I?

A moment to remember screenwriting legend Dan O’Bannon, who left us yesterday:

Dan O’Bannon, one of the scriptwriters behind such seminal SF flicks as Alien and Total Recall, has passed away in Los Angeles following a bout of ill-health, at the age of 63.

O’Bannon was a lifelong SF enthusiast, and got his first experience of filmmaking when he worked as writer, editor and special effects producer on John Carpenter’s brilliant, cynical debut Dark Star. O’Bannon and Carpenter had studied together at USC prior to the film’s 1974 release.

He went on to do special effects work on the first Star Wars film and was involved in the early stages of comic writer Alejandro Jodorowsky’s unsuccessful attempt to bring Dune to the big screen in the mid-‘70s. But it was when he began to concentrate on writing over production and effects that his career really took off. O’Bannon is credited with writing the original screenplay for Alien (alongside Ronald Shusett), and his influence on that film extended to bringing into the fold a certain Swiss artist called H.R. Geiger, who had also been involved in the failed Dune project.

O’Bannon’s other hits included the gloriously OTT Schwarzenegger vehicle Total Recall, an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by the O’Bannon-Shusett partnership. He was also involved in a number of cult classics, including Lifeforce, Heavy Metal, and Screamers, while his Moebius-illustrated comic The Long Tomorrow was the inspiration for the art style of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.

O’Bannon changed the face of science-fiction (and horror, inventing ‘fast’ zombies in his 1986 directorial debut Return Of The Living Dead), and I’ve been hoping for years that he’d make a return to the big screen (possibly with the perpetually-delayed Silvaticus 3015) to show all these modern ‘sci-fi’ writers what’s what.

A public memorial for Mr. O’Bannon will be held sometime in the next few weeks at my apartment in the form of a movie marathon. Interested parties please reply within.

It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.

In 1981, before George Lucas was killed in a tragic accident and replaced by a robot that hates all art, he made a movie called Raiders of the Lost Ark with Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan.

Three years earlier, Lucas and Spielberg sat down with Kasdan for five days to talk about the ideas they had for the movie, and flesh out the storytelling. Today, a transcript of the story conference has just leaked online, and it is fucking awesome.

Indiana Smith

There’s also a fantastic analysis of the transcript that anyone who loves film should read.

Now where’s the one for Blade Runner?

(Via Rob Sheridan’s Twitter)

Mt. St. Helens, Hewlett-Packard, Heroin Moral Panic, Richard Pryor On Fire!

In an attempt to try to clear my head from this pounding nightmare of a skull, I bring you part 2 of the JAIRUS’ MOVIE DEALIE PROJECT, wherein I list 5 the “best” films of each year I have been alive.

Today’s installment: 1980!

1: Raging Bull: This is, in my humble opinion, one of the best films ever made. It hurts me to watch, because I know neither De Niro or Scorsese will ever come close to this level of work again. The cinematography is incredible, the acting is un-fucking-believable, and the editing is brilliant beyond the limits of the english language. I cannot say enough good things about this movie. If you haven’t seen it, rent it tonight.

2: The Empire Strikes Back: The best of the Star Wars series, and not surprisingly, the movie that George “The Jerk” Lucas had the least to do with. Character development, action, humor-that-doesn’t-suck. Perhaps the best sequel ever made.

3: Airplane!: I could watch this movie a million times, and still laugh. This movie is made even more hilarious by the fact that it was Leslie Nielsen’s first foray into comedy. Before this movie came out, he was well known for his serious roles, alongside actors like Robert Mitchum and Gene Hackman.

5: Friday the 13th: This movie set the bar for slasher films. Alongside Halloween, this film changed the way horror was directed. No longer were horror movies a study in someone else’s misery — this film’s atmosphere manages to put the viewer in the shoes of the victims. It sounds obvious in the post-Scream horror movie scene, but this is where it all started.

4: The Blues Brothers: I think this movie busted up more stuff than any movie before it. Also, the stuff busted better. A smash-em-up buddy movie that doesn’t insult my intelligence? PERHAPS SO, MY FRIENDS! (Check this movie’s trivia page on IMDB for all kinds of useless information.)

Honourable Mentions: Kagemusha and Dario Argento’s Inferno. The Shining isn’t on the list because I seriously can’t stay awake to finish it. That movie has put me to sleep every single time I’ve tried to watch it.

Disco, The Walkman, “My Sharona”, Jairus “Close The Decade Early” Khan

I hereby announce the JAIRUS’ MOVIE DEALIE PROJECT, wherein I will be listing 5 the “best” films of each year I have been alive.

Today’s installment: 1979!

1: Alien: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Simply the best sci-fi horror ever made. Ridley Scott nears perfection (which he will achieve three years later) with his Skeletor-like control over every aspect of this movie’s production. This film is a study in minimalist terror, and is made more incredible by the fact that it was Scott’s second film. Ridley, sci-fi needs you. Come home, all is forgiven.

2: Apocalypse Now: It is immediately obvious upon watching this film why it was responsible for the physical and mental breakdown of so many of its cast. Francis Ford Coppola didn’t make a movie about war, he made a war and then brought cameras along.

3: Mad Max: Not the first Australian film of note, but certainly the first to kick so much fucking ass. Although he may have left us for Jesus, Mel Gibson was the best post-apocalyptic badass of the 70s.

4: The Tempest: A post-punk Shakespeare, as directed by Derek Jarman. I shouldn’t need to say anything more to convince you to see it.

5: Life of Brian: The second-best Python film, if you’re a fan of absurdist humor. The best Python film, if you prefer lucid wit. ROMANI ITE DOMUM!

Honourable Mentions: Zombi 2, The Muppet Movie.

Random stupid Simpsons quote

The best…

1. Godfather, The (1972)
2. Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)
3. Godfather: Part II, The (1974)
4. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001)
5. Schindler’s List (1993)

6. Citizen Kane (1941)
7. Casablanca (1942)

8. Seven Samurai (1954)
9. Star Wars (1977)
10. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
11. Memento (2000)

12. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

13. Rear Window (1954)
14. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002)
15. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
16. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

17. Usual Suspects, The (1995)

18. Amelie (2001)
19. Pulp Fiction (1994)
20. North by Northwest (1959)
21. Psycho (1960)
22. Silence of the Lambs, The (1991)
23. 12 Angry Men (1957)
24. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
25. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
26. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
27. Goodfellas (1990)
28. American Beauty (1999)

29. Vertigo (1958)
30. Pianist, The (2002)
31. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
32. Apocalypse Now (1979)
33. Some Like It Hot (1959)
34. Matrix, The (1999)

35. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
36. Taxi Driver (1976)

37. Third Man, The (1949)
38. Paths of Glory (1957)
39. Fight Club (1999)
40. Boot, Das (1981)

41. L.A. Confidential (1997)

42. Double Indemnity (1944)
43. Chinatown (1974)
44. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
45. Maltese Falcon, The (1941)
46. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
47. Bridge on the River Kwai, The (1957)
48. Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)
49. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
50. All About Eve (1950)
51. M (1931)
52. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
53. Raging Bull (1980)

54. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
55. Se7en (1995)
56. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)
57. Wizard of Oz, The (1939)
58. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

59. Vita e bella, La (1997)
60. American History X (1998)
61. Sting, The (1973)
62. Touch of Evil (1958)
63. Manchurian Candidate, The (1962)
64. Alien (1979)

65. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
66. Rashemon (1950)
67. Leon (1994)

68. Annie Hall (1977)
69. Great Escape, The (1963)
70. Clockwork Orange, A (1971)
71. Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The (1948)
72. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
73. Sixth Sense, The (1999)
74. Jaws (1975)
75. Amadeus (1984)

76. On the Waterfront (1954)
77. Ran (1985)
78. Braveheart (1995)

79. High Noon (1952)
80. Fargo (1996)
81. Blade Runner (1982)

82. Apartment, The (1960)
83. Aliens (1986)
84. Toy Story 2 (1999)

85. Strangers on a Train (1951)
86. Modern Times (1936)
87. Shining, The (1980)
88. Donnie Darko (2001)

89. Duck Soup (1933)
90. Princess Bride, The (1987)
91. Lola rennt (Run Lola, Run) (1998)

92. City Lights (1931)
93. General, The (1927)
94. Metropolis (1927)
95. Searchers, The (1956)
96. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
97. Notorious (1946)
98. Manhattan (1979)
99. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
100. Graduate, The (1967)

And now the worst…

1. From Justin to Kelly (2003)
2. ‘Manos’ the Hands of Fate (1966)[M]
3. Future War (1997) [M]
4. Gigli (2003)
5. Space Mutiny (1988)[M]
6. Troll 2 (1990)
7. Eegah (1962)[M]
8. Hobgoblins (1987) [M]
9. Backyard Dogs (2000)
10. Santa with Muscles (1996)
11. Werewolf (1996)
12. Going Overboard (1989)
13. Glitter (2001)
14. Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994)
15. Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (1997)
16. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)[M]
17. Kazaam (1996)
18. Leonard Part 6 (1987)
19. Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 (2000)
20. Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996)
21. Hercules in New York (1970)
22. It’s Pat (1994)
23. Baby Geniuses (1999)
24. 2001: A Space Travesty (2000)
25. Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
26. Cool as Ice (1991)
27. Bolero (1984)
28. Mitchell (1975)[M]
29. Police Academy 6: City Under Siege (1989)
30. Teen Wolf Too (1987)
31. Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The (1994)
32. Smokey and the Bandit III (1983)
33. Vercingetorix (2001)
34. Steel (1997)
35. Captain America (1991)
36. Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach (1988)

37. Mannequin: On the Move (1991)
38. Cat in the Hat, The (2003)
39. Rollerball (2002)
40. Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)
41. Ringmaster (1998)
42. Problem Child 2 (1991)
43. Master of Disguise, The (2002)
44. Spice World (1997)
45. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)

46. Cop & 1/2 (1993)
47. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
49. Street Fighter (1994)
50. Jaws 3-D (1983)
51. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992)
52. Double Dragon (1994)

53. Crossroads (2002)
54. Bats (1999/I)
55. Barb Wire (1996)
56. Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, An (1997)
57. FeardotCom (2002)
58. Universal Soldier: The Return (1999)
59. RoboCop 3 (1993)
60. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
61. Mangler, The (1995)
62. Mac and Me (1988)
63. Iron Eagle II (1988)

64. Best Defense (1984)
65. Mr. Magoo (1997)
66. Grease 2 (1982)
67. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
68. Pokemon the First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back (1999)
69. Ticker (2001)
70. Mr. Wrong (1996)
71. Highlander II: The Quickening (1991)
72. Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol (1987)
73. Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
74. Avengers, The (1998)

75. Jury Duty (1995)
76. Glen or Glenda (1953)
77. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
78. Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd (2003)
79. Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
80. Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993)
81. Omega Code, The (1999)
82. Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
83. Caddyshack II (1988)
84. Super Mario Bros. (1993)

85. Endless Love (1981)
86. Derailed (2002)
87. Kangaroo Jack (2003)
88. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)
89. McHale’s Navy (1997)
90. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)
91. Nothing But Trouble (1991)
92. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
93. On Deadly Ground (1994)
94. Batman & Robin (1997)
95. Pet Sematary II (1992)
96. Leprechaun (1993)

97. Stupids, The (1996)
98. Soul Survivors (2001)
99. Dudley Do-Right (1999)
100. Bio-Dome (1996)

Who knew?

Two recent things I’ve really, really enjoyed:

Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians

I’ve been listening to Infected Mushroom since 1999, when they released their first full-length album, The Gathering. I’m often bored by four-on-the-floor techno, but this album really caught my attention. You could tell they didn’t take themselves too seriously, and the songs were fun, and well written and produced. Their next album was in the same vein, especially with tracks like Dracul, where an orchestral sample from the score of Dracula turns acapella mid-way through the song.

I had a chance to see them live, and their show was nothing short of incredible. Their last two albums, however, were ‘serious’ trance, and not very interesting at all. And so, I mourned for the loss of yet another electronic act destroyed by a desire to be accessible.

Which brings me to Converting Vegetarians. This is a double-cd release, the first disc consisting of ‘old school’ Infected Mushroom tracks. Very blippy, goofy, and not at all self-involved. Fantastic, but not too interesting unless you’re a fan of the style (which I am). The second cd is mainstream trance, complete with uplifting synth lines, and cheesy female vocals. Chord progression, and all that. Fantastic, but not too interesting unless you’re a fan of the style (which I am not).

Overall, the album is excellently accomplished, and intelligent. Regardless of which style you prefer in your goa-slash-psytrance, there’s at least an hour of music you’ll enjoy. Listen to it.

Equilibrium

This is a first film by Kurt Wimmer, who wrote, directed, and kicked my ass. Seriously, this film would have been an instant sci-fi/dystopian classic if Dimension Films had marketed it whatsoever. I had never heard of it before I stumbled across it in a binaries newsgroup, and I thought it’d be a funny Matrix rip-off that’d be worth a few laughs. Instead, I got the ass-kicking.

This is simply one of the best movies I have ever seen. Visually, it’s beautiful. Set in an Orwellian post-war world, the visuals mix imposing real-life architecture (Hitler’s Olympic Stadium) with paintings instead of models, giving the setting a washed-out, surreal feel. The action sequences show the first real innovation in film gunfights since Bullet Time, or when Chow-Yun Fat first jumped onto a dolly with two handguns. All the actors are perfect (really, perfect) in their roles, and the lighting is the best I’ve seen since a Coen film.

Wimmer manages to do more with a ridiculously short shooting window and a tiny budget than most action directors have ever done. No distracting CGI, no wires (really – no wires), and for at least half the action sequences, no choreographer and no rehearsal time. The only thing more impressive than the movie itself is that it came out of production conditions terrible enough to sink most films.

In addition, the movie is brilliant. Obviously drawing from Bradbury, Huxley, P. K. Dick and other great dystopian writers, the world this movie is set in gives me the same chills that I felt the first time I read 1984. The plot is simple, but the narrative is complex, and repeated viewings reveal insight and subtleties into the motivations of the characters.

I’ve seen a dozen reviews that have called it the worst piece of cinema since Battlefield Earth, but I can’t say enough good things about this film. It’s science fiction, it’s dystopian literature, and it’s a fantastic action movie. Rent it. Buy it. If you can’t find it, I’ll give you a copy. Just watch it.