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There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to write an article recommending a movie based on another movie that premiered over the weekend. Your time will come. My time is now.
I’m one of the four people on this planet who didn’t read C.S. Lewis’ books as a child. I wasn’t averse to the tales, I just was attracted to other popular children’s stories, things like Dante’s Inferno, Ulysses, and the works of Tucker Max. As such, when the film of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe hit theaters, I didn’t really care. I have no doubt it’s a good movie; based on what I hear, it’s pretty swell. The sequel that just opened on Friday, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, has a similar effect. I don’t know much about it, other than it has a 50% “rotten” rating on the Tomatometer and that there’s about a 3% chance I’ll see it sometime. It appears The Tourist is even less popular despite everything it has going for it. These facts lead to the same conclusion:
Sometimes you just need a rental.
And so, if you like these movies, or, perhaps more realistically, if you didn’t, what other fantasy or escapist films can we whet your cinematic appetite with? Can’t pick Harry Potter, that’s too easy.
–Lord of the Rings? You’ve seen that shit like fourteen times by now. I guess another won’t hurt.
–Star Wars? That, too.
–Princess Bride? Samesies.
–Total Recall? Perhaps, though it falls more into science fiction than fantasy. If you haven’t seen that you should (just be prepared for the three-boobed hooker).
All of these are quality movies that you’ve probably seen already. Most take place in other worlds, far far away. Two movies with otherwise normal people experiencing out of this world things came to my mind.
The first is Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For a Dream. Only in this column would you find someone saying, “Hey! If you like Chronicles of Narnia, check this out!” and be referencing this film. A dark movie about the perils of drug use, Requiem tells the story of a mother and son and their close friends and how their lives are torn apart by heroin and diet pills. As they spiral towards horrible fates, we get just the tiniest of tastes of what it’s like to be in mind of an addict. Aronofsky uses hyperkinetic cuts, distortion, among other tricks to display the insanity. It falls into the great-movies-you-only-need-to-see-once category. Roger Ebert said it’s the most potent anti-drug message out there.
The second, and probably a more conventional choice, is Steven Spielberg’s 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In it, a man, Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) experiences the incredible when he sees an alien aircraft hovering above his town, and alienates his family when it influences his future decisions. Spielberg seems to be the only filmmaker around who enjoys telling stories of friendly aliens, and it started with this film. He effectively captures the awe and wonder and even fear that we would experience if (and when?) such things happened.
These movies are good. You should watch them. The end.