With Global Movie Day right around the corner, the Manitoban staff has recommended some of our favourite flicks for your next virtual viewing party — especially if you’re a fan of science fiction, musicals and science-fiction musicals. A continuous comfort and an escape from these tumultuous two years, celebrate everything there is to love about film on Feb. 12 with the hashtag #GlobalMovieDay.
Tick, Tick…Boom! (2021)
Shaylyn Maharaj-Poliah, arts & culture editor
Even though Broadway is still mostly closed due to COVID-19, you can bring the Great White Way right into your living room with Tick, Tick…Boom!, the film adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s rock monologue and the directorial debut of Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The film is a semi-autobiographical musical, following Larson’s life as he tries to break into New York City’s musical theatre scene prior to his untimely passing and the posthumous success of his hit musical Rent.
Andrew Garfield absolutely sparkles as Larson, capturing both the songwriter’s infectious, joyful personality and his crippling anxieties about not accomplishing his dream before the age of 30. He has a wonderful energy during the high-tempo numbers but really shines when subdued during ballads “Johnny Can’t Decide” and “Why.” His committed performance is memorable, relatable and heartfelt — truly a career best.
The film’s soundtrack is stellar, with a dynamic range of different music styles and poignant lyrics. Highlights include opener “30/90,” the heartbreaking “Come to Your Senses” and the tragically underused “Green Green Dress.”
In my opinion, Tick, Tick…Boom! outranks all of the other movie musicals released in 2021. It is such a pleasure to watch for too many reasons to name — you will just have to experience the magic for yourself.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Grace Paizen, arts & culture reporter
Not only did Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke’s film change science fiction movies forever, the film itself is full of ideas and reflections we still grapple with to this day.
The rampant retrofuturism of 1960s furniture, clothing and hairstyles is charming and fades into the background in light of the overarching themes of technology potentially “outthinking” humans, what extraterrestrial lifeforms will look like, our fascination with exploration and how we evolved from apes on a strange little planet seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
A cherry on top of the film is that Douglas Rain — who voiced the computer HAL 9000 — was not only born and raised in Winnipeg, but is a U of M alumnus.
HAL 9000 is arguably one of the best film villains of all time and the question of whether he knew the satellite would fail or not is a question academics continue to grapple with.
Though the biggest complaint of the film is how slow moving the action is, this only evokes the horror of HAL 9000’s malfunction as we see and experience the computer’s destruction in real time.
2001: A Space Odyssey is an experience in and of itself and will leave you with more questions than answers that are somehow hauntingly personal.
Zoë LeBrun, arts & culture reporter
Starring Cher and Christina Aguilera, Burlesque was directed by Steve Antin and follows talented small-town singer Ali as she pursues her big dreams in entertainment in Los Angeles. She ends up at Burlesque — a down-on-its-luck club run by Tess — where she begins working as a waitress in the hopes of one day making it onto the stage to perform.
By far the best part of Burlesque is its soundtrack. Fun, boisterous and filled with a mixture of classic and original songs, Cher and Aguilera’s beautiful vocals become our narrators, providing extra layers of emotional depth and entertainment.
Despite its excellent cast, Burlesque’s story is unextraordinary. However, what it lacks plot-wise it makes up for in sassy moments, gorgeous costuming and good tunes.
Above all, Burlesque was the first movie that showed me that women can dress and act however they want without that reflecting negatively on them as a person — that they can be feminine, smart, respected, silly and glamourous all at once, and can own and be in control of their own bodies and lives without shame or judgment.
I adore it for reasons beyond the glitter, singing, glamour and dancing.
Recommended if you like musicals, romantic comedies and Cher.
Alex Braun, arts & culture reporter
David Cronenberg’s 1983 body horror classic Videodrome is possibly the greatest thing ever made by a Canadian crown corporation. James Woods plays Max Renn, the seedy programmer for a sleazy television channel in Toronto, Ont. offering the finest in softcore pornography and violent schlock. Max, always looking for new and exciting smut, ends up stumbling upon a feed of strange snuff and torture films called Videodrome which ends up taking over his life. It drives him insane, filling his head with nightmares and even modifies his physical form — Cronenberg is a master of practical effects and some of the sequences here are truly gut-wrenching.
Videodrome has a very unique vibe. Cronenberg’s vision of Toronto is simultaneously futuristic and decrepit. There is this constant neon glow of the television, a variety of harsh, silvery grey, soulless corporate spaces and crumbling basements where Max’s video lackeys scan the airwaves. Debbie Harry, singer of the influential new-wave band Blondie, co-stars as Max’s masochistic love interest who gets embroiled in Videodrome. She comes across oddly more vulnerable than she does onstage and her presence lends some real charm to the movie.
The film’s theme of being changed — physically and mentally disturbed by media consumption — is still very relevant today. The film’s descent into a dark conspiracy spurred on by coming across a series of psychologically damaging smut is something you could easily do yourself on the internet if you choose to do so, and it’s undeniable that constant access to media of all kinds has irreparably changed the world and our minds. It’s thought-provoking stuff, and you get to see some nasty gore, too. Long live the new flesh!