The besties review
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The Andromeda Strain
This movie really reminded me of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which is ironic since both are directed by the great Robert Wise. But the real reason I made the connection is the procedural nature of it all. The Andromeda Strain is a movie with huge stakes, and yet most of it is simply scientists talking about different rules and protocols. The simplicity of the story/dialogue really lets some of the other elements shine, like the performances, production design, lighting and costumes. As far as 1970s sci-fi goes, this is exactly the kind of movie that pulls me in.
P.S. the one thing I really did not love was the monkey death scene. In the context of the movie, it’s a great scene, but reading about how they pulled it off was unsettling. No movie should have to torture or injure an animal just to get a shot, even in the days before CGI.
So I spent about half of this praying that the “IT’S PEOPLE! SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!” line was more of a midpoint or climax than the literal last line of the movie, but alas. Still, I’m surprised by how much I liked this thing, despite knowing how it ends.
All the production design and costuming elements are really great and I love how they don’t spend much time explaining the world they live in, but the standout moment in this film for me is Sol’s awe-inspiring death scene. It’s a scene that feels beautiful, sad and all too real. This is easily one of my “favorite” death scenes in any movie I’ve watched, and it’s probably one of the best scenes I’ve seen in a long time, period. I actually think maybe knowing how the movie would end allowed me to focus on all the little scenes that lead up to that point (like Sol’s death) without trying to “solve” the movie.
The Stepford Wives
What’s not to love about a suburban horror/sci-fi picture with feminist themes?
The concept is simple but effective—Joanna moves to a quaint Connecticut town with her family, where she notices the strangely perfect behavior of the other female residents—and I think the music, costumes and settings all compliment it really well. The performances are also very good, especially once the “twist” (which I have to say, I didn’t totally see coming) is revealed.
My one problem with this movie is I think it suffers from being so influential. You can see its fingerprints in all sorts of modern horror/sci-fi movies, so much so that the “original” feels a bit stale by comparison.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Hmm, did my high expectations and appreciation for the 1956 original spoil this for me? I didn’t hate this by any means, but I really was expecting to be more blown away, especially considering the great cast. I’m looking forward to another re-watch on this, because at the moment I just feel sort of mixed. I liked it in general (you gotta admit it’s a really engaging concept), but I wanted to love it.
Another “Hmm” on my list and it’s Mad Max! Unfortunately, I think this is another case of mismanaged expectations. I am a huge fan of the 2015 reboot/sequel Mad Max: Fury Road and I definitely knew going into this that this would not be that, and yet I still felt a little let down.
On the plus side, I liked some of the world-building and action scene with practical effects. I also thought Mel Gibson was pretty well-cast as Max and Hugh Keays-Byrne was great as Toecutter (though surely not as great as Fury Road’s Immortan Joe). On the downside, this was far from the most exciting movie I’ve ever seen… and it’s called Mad Max.
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!