Thursday, May 4, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks - Clones/Doppelgangers

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join the fun by picking three movies that fit the week's theme and writing a bit about them!

Never fear, I am alive!

I'm just... I've been BUSY the past couple of weeks.

[BEGIN PERSONAL STORY TIME]

You see, three weeks ago, I was offered a new job (YAY! This is a VERY GOOD THING!), and they gave me a start date of May 1. Awesome, right? I get to give two weeks notice and take a week off to relax and start the new job fresh as a daisy, right? WRONG. As it happens, our Annual Benefit at my (then-current, now-former) job was on April 27. And leaving right before the Benefit would just be a massive dick move, which I just couldn't do, even though it meant that my last three weeks there would be hell, because I would be doing extra extra work for the Benefit on top of my normal workload, and on top of that, I would be doing transition/end-of-job work. And then I would go into my new job having only had a weekend to recover. And of course, the Benefit was on a Thursday, so I was crazy busy with a million things and just didn't get the time to participate in this. I would feel worse if I had literally anything to say about cop TV shows.

[END PERSONAL STORY TIME]

But now, I'm back(!) and better than ever(?)!

Only..... are there THAT MANY movies about clones? Hmmmmmmm... let's see how outside the box I can get.....

Possession (Adrzej Zulawski, 1981) I don't even know if I can accurately describe this fever dream of a movie, but I will at least make a valiant attempt: Sam Neill returns home from business (what type of business is never exactly explained, but it's vaguely espionage-adjacent) to find his wife, Isabelle Adjani, distant, cold, and probably cheating on him. They split, but when he finds that she is neglecting their son, he becomes more obsessed with just what, exactly, is happening with her. We're eventually shown what is happening, but even then, and even after watching this COMPLETELY FUCKING INSANE MOVIE twice, I'm not entirely sure what it is. Most of Polish great Zulawski's films start at about a 9 on an intensity scale of 10, and never let up. Possession, made when he was going through a divorce, starts at a 10, and only escalates from there. It is the most intense, visceral break-up movie I've ever seen, completely earning its place in the horror genre even though it's not REALLY horror (don't let the Carlo Rambaldi credit fool you), by dialing perfectly normal situations and conversations to 11 and letting them play out with two terrific actors told to go for broke. Neill has never been better, and Adjani more than earns every award she received (including the C├ęsar and Cannes Palme for Best Actress) for her breakdown in the subway alone. Utterly hypnotic even when it frustratingly refuses to make any sense, Possession is completely unlike any other movie you will ever see, and more than worth a watch. Oh, and both Adjani and Neill play their characters' doppelgangers in the movie, although I'm not going to spoil how for either of them.

Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993) Sam Neill double feature, y'all!! Look, technically the dinosaurs are clones. Just sayin'.

OKAY FINE. HERE'S MY REAL SECOND PICK.

City of Lost Children (Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro, 1995) Krank was created on a massive oil rig by a mad scientist sort, and is now a mad scientist sort himself. Unfortunately, however, he is unable to dream, which is causing him to age prematurely. So he has invented a machine that extracts dreams from children. In order to get children, he has help from some of the original mad scientist's other creations, including a brain named Irvin and six childish clones. Some movies are style over substance, but in Jeunet's films, the style becomes part of the substance, and the dream-like feel of everything here contributes to the "fractured fairytale/bedtime story" vibe of the whole enterprise, creating a totally original, completely new, entirely self-contained cinematic world that I would gladly visit again more times than I would any of our current "Cinematic Universes".

The Island (Michael Bay, 2005) Look, it's not like there's really such a thing as a "good Michael Bay movie", but goddamn did I enjoy this one. It's the story of two beautiful people who look like Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor who live in a dystopian futuristic society that has a lot of arbitrary rules but one saving grace: Every so often, there is a lottery, and the winner gets to go to "The Island", nature's last remaining paradise. Except, SWITCHEROO, it's NOT a dystopian future, but the real world (more or less), and everyone who lived where they lived are actually clones of "real" people who paid insane amounts of money to have a clone for when they need things like a kidney or a heart or anything like that, and this is what actually determines the lottery. It's patently ridiculous, but also fun, with both McGregor and Johansson turning in deliciously calibrated movie star performances.

17 comments:

  1. The first 2 just sound the other side of weird and I want to see both! The third one does sound so silly which is why I have not seen it even though I live ewan. Congrats on the new job! Maybe now you can rest since that does sound insane last 3 weeks you had. Ok that sentence sucked but you know what I mean:)

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    1. Both Possession and City of Lost Children are VERY worth watching, although VERY different from each other.

      The Island is not one of Ewan's better films/performances, but it is enjoyable.

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  2. Jurassic Park would've been clever though lol. I've only seen The Island, which I saw once. Possession is one I'd like to see though. Especially after you've described it.

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    1. "Clever girl." hehehe

      If you ever do watch Possession, let me know what you think of it!

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  3. Congrats on new job! And yes Polish artists - as clearly most of people here - are intense :) Possession is a terrific movie it's actually not that famous or revered here.

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    1. Thank you!! Yeah, it was my understanding that Zulawski is not so revered in Poland, he was even exiled or something for a time.

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  4. Possession is a fucking classic. The Island is a bloated and shitty ripoff of Logan's Run w/ product placements from the world's biggest asshole.

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    1. YES, more love for Possession!

      All of that about The Island is completely true, but I still found it enjoyable. Don't ever need to see it again, but still good.

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  5. Congrats on the new job, sorry you didn't get down time to make it an easier transition.

    Possession is a challenge alright. I respected the hell out of both performers and Adjani's customary fearlessness but I didn't like the film by its conclusion.

    I haven't seen the other two but both sound worth taking a look at. I never read up on The Island but for some reason had a different impression about what it was about. I like both the stars so I'll have to give it a go.

    I also tried to find ones that were a bit off the beaten path though my second was rightly a big hit when it was out, it's a charmer with ideal leads.

    The Devil’s Double (2011)-During Saddam Hussein’s iron fisted reign in Bagdad Latif Yahia (Dominic Cooper), a lieutenant in the Iraqi army, is called to the palace and told that because of his resemblance to Hussein’s depraved son Uday (also Cooper) he is commanded to be his body double or his family will be exterminated. Having no choice but sickened by the corruption, inhumanity and evil he witnesses he searches for a way to escape and save his family at the same time. This is Cooper’s movie all the way and he’s just great but it’s a hard film to watch.

    Dave (1993)-Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline) is an affable Midwesterner, running a temp agency and making appearances at small events due to his resemblance to the current US president, Bill Mitchell (also Kline). The Secret Service takes note of the similarity whisking Dave off to the capitol as a stand-in for Mitchell at an event. While there an emergency arises, Bill Mitchell has suffered a devastating stroke and his power mad aide Bob Alexander (Frank Langella-oozing slime) and press secretary Alan (Kevin Dunn) talk Dave into assuming his place theoretically for the good of the country. Actually Alexander is seeking to usurp the political reins until he can figure out how to take full control. At first the subterfuge is known only by the two and a dutiful Secret Service agent Duane Stevenson (Ving Rhames) but as Dave starts to rebel against their treachery and display his very different personality First Lady Ellen Mitchell (Signourney Weaver) begins to suspect. There’s plenty more machinations in store all delightfully directed by Ivan Reitman and put over by exactly the right performer in each role. Thoroughly beguiling comedy with a perfect cast.

    I Was Monty’s Double (1958)-A retelling of the true event where an enlisted man, M. E. Clifton James (who plays himself) was chosen to imitate Field Marshal Montgomery--the leader of the British forces during WWII. The plan (Operation Copperhead) was to have Monty’s double go on a tour of North Africa around the same time as the Normandy invasion in Northern France--so that the Germans would assume the assault would come later than actually planned and from the South. The film is about the formation and execution of the ultra-top secret plan but while it treats the subject seriously it leavens the situation with a much needed humorous undertone aided by a terrific British cast including John Mills and Cecil Parker.

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    1. Thanks, Joel!

      Yeah, Possession is definitely a tough movie to like, but I was completely entranced by its energy and commitment. I wonder what you'd think of City of Lost Children - all the style elements Jeunet pushed forward in Amelie are there, but with a much darker, almost nightmarish layer on top that drives the film more than any story elements. It's wholly intriguing but definitely not for everyone.

      I liked The Devil's Double, but pretty much only for Cooper, who is super entertaining in both roles. Well done on every level but I didn't love it. I still haven't seen Dave, which is very strange given the cast and its popularity. Haven;t even heard of your last pick, but it sounds good!

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  6. Yes, brand new jobs are great things to have, even if it takes you away from us more often. As for your picks, I've only seen The Island. Definitely one of Bay's best flicks, though that's not saying much.

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    1. Yeah, Bay's filmography is so sad, especially considering how much money his films routinely make.

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  7. Oh god, The Island, I forgot about this!!! But I do love it! It's like.. my guilty pleasure because of Ewan but also I'm amazed it's a Bay movie, surprised because I love it so much.

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    1. This is EXACTLY my feelings toward The Island!

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  8. Jurassic Park would have been a brilliant pick tbh

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    1. lol I KNOW. I should have just done it.

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  9. Only seen The Island and wasn't a fan. JUrassic Park would have been a fair choice.

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