Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Earthbound

I'm not usually one to obsess on movie trailers. Oh sure, I love watching them before a movie and even on DVD, but I will rarely wait with bated breath for the latest trailer to be released for any given movie. It's the reason I rarely discuss them on here; by the time I usually get around to seeing them there's not much to be said. Occasionally a trailer comes along that is so superbly put together or so exciting that I can't not mention it, but I more or less abstain from trailer talk here at the blog.

I did, however, catch the trailer for Mike Cahill's upcoming debut flick Another Earth and found some interesting things to note. Firstly, let's take a look:


Basically, watching this made me a little sad because a very, very similar idea had been percolating around my mind for a couple of years now and while some of the details are quite different, there's no way I could ever hope to develop my idea into anything now lest I be called a "rip-off". Still, at least the movie looks good! I'd be majorly miffed if the movie used an idea I had and yet turned out to be dud.

Secondly, Quickflix says it reminds them of Andrei Tarkovski's Solaris and that it looks like a kin to Lars von Trier's upcoming Melancholia. And while I agree with both of these statements, the movie it reminds me of most is actually Gareth Edwards' Monsters.

It's as if there's this burgeoning "lo-fi-sci-fi" subgenre that includes Monsters, Another Earth, Melancholia (from the looks of it) and even Never Let Me Go. Rolf de Heer's Epsilon (aka Alien Visitor) from back in in 1997 would also easily fit into the category. They are more or less straight forward dramas (curiously, focusing on two or three prime characters) that are predominantly not about the science fiction aspects of their plots. People dealing with human issues in the midst of something (alien invasion, medical organ harvesting, giant planets, etc) far greater than them. On a larger scale you have films like Contact, Deep Impact and (ahem) The Happening, but their bigger budgets require more common resolutions and prerequisite action set-pieces to appease multiplex audiences. They're like the lo-fi-sci-fi's wealthy uncles.


As you may remember, I hailed Monsters as the best film I had seen in the last five years so, naturally, any film that feels akin to that will garner my immediate interest. Are films like Monsters and Another Earth just excuses for their respective directors to show off what they can do? Perhaps. Gareth Edwards is now making a Godzilla movie, so... well, that's disappointing. But, even if it is the case, I like how science fiction is becoming more popular with less mainstream filmmakers (most likely due to the decreasing costs of the software needed to make them). It's like how many directors used low budget horror movies as their stepping stone into "the business", it's now becoming more common to use minuscule funds to create a work of science fiction. And, hey, that's a-okay by me. We need a counterpoint to works like Battle: Los Angeles.

Lastly, the trailer for Another Earth uses Cinematic Orchestra's "To Build a Home". A wonderful song that, coincidentally, reminds me The Tree, another of another of my absolute favourite films from 2010. Time will tell whether Another Earth manages to emerge out of the massive shadow that Monsters cast.

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