Tuesday, January 9, 2024

ENG 282 Spring 2024: Science Fiction Films


Here are examples of last semester's student Letterboxd responses: 
ENG 281 Intro to Film Studies: Fall 2023 Responses (examples)


Week 1: Donnie Darko (USA: Richard Kelly, 2001)
Week 2: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (USA: Michel Gondry, 2004)
Week 3: Children of Men (Japan/UK/USA: Alfonso Cuarón, 2006)
Week 4: Mad Max: Fury Road (Australia/USA: George Miller, 2015)
Week 5: Arrival (USA: Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
Week 6: Get Out (USA: Jordan Peele, 2017)
Week 7: Okja (South Korea/USA: Bong Joon-Ho, 2017)
Week 8: Annihilation (UK/USA: Alex Garland, 2018)
Week 9: Sorry to Bother You (USA: Boots Riley, 2018)
Week 10: Catching up on homework responses :)
Week 11: Inception (USA/UK: Christopher Nolan, 2010)
Week 12: After Yang (USA: Kogonada, 2022)
Week 13: Don't Look Up (USA: Adam McKay, 2021)
Week 14: Neptune Frost (USA/Rwanda: Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman, 2021)



List of streaming films available for your homework responses on Letterboxd (I will also, on Thursday afternoon/evening, announce films in local theaters that are available in a Blackboard message):

12 Monkeys ["In the year 2035, convict James Cole reluctantly volunteers to be sent back in time to discover the origin of a deadly virus that wiped out nearly all of the earth’s population and forced the survivors into underground communities. But when Cole is mistakenly sent to 1990 instead of 1996, he’s arrested and locked up in a mental hospital. There he meets psychiatrist Dr. Kathryn Railly, and patient Jeffrey Goines, the son of a famous virus expert, who may hold the key to the mysterious rogue group, the Army of the 12 Monkeys, thought to be responsible for unleashing the killer disease."]

2001: A Space Odyssey ["The ultimate trip. Humanity finds a mysterious object buried beneath the lunar surface and sets off to find its origins with the help of HAL 9000, the world’s most advanced super computer."]

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence ["David, a robotic boy—the first of his kind programmed to love—is adopted as a test case by a Cybertronics employee and his wife. Though he gradually becomes their child, a series of unexpected circumstances make this life impossible for David. Without final acceptance by humans or machines, David embarks on a journey to discover where he truly belongs, uncovering a world in which the line between robot and machine is both vast and profoundly thin."]

Alien ["In space no one can hear you scream: During its return to the earth, commercial spaceship Nostromo intercepts a distress signal from a distant planet. When a three-member team of the crew discovers a chamber containing thousands of eggs on the planet, a creature inside one of the eggs attacks an explorer. The entire crew is unaware of the impending nightmare set to descend upon them when the alien parasite planted inside its unfortunate host is birthed."]

Aliens ["When Ripley’s lifepod is found by a salvage crew over 50 years later, she finds that terra-formers are on the very planet they found the alien species. When the company sends a family of colonists out to investigate her story—all contact is lost with the planet and colonists. They enlist Ripley and the colonial marines to return and search for answers."]

Blade Runner  ["In the smog-choked dystopian Los Angeles of 2019, blade runner Rick Deckard is called out of retirement to terminate a quartet of replicants who have escaped to Earth seeking their creator for a way to extend their short life spans."]

Blade Runner 2046 ["Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K, unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years."]

Cloud Atlas ["EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED A set of six nested stories spanning time between the 19th century and a distant post-apocalyptic future. Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. Action, mystery and romance weave through the story as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution in the distant future. Based on the award winning novel by David Mitchell. Directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis."]

Crash ["After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife."]

Creator ["Amid a future war between the human race and the forces of artificial intelligence, a hardened ex-special forces agent grieving the disappearance of his wife, is recruited to hunt down and kill the Creator, the elusive architect of advanced AI who has developed a mysterious weapon with the power to end the war—and mankind itself."]

Denis Villeneuve's Films [I offered his films as response options, this is an archive on his films]

Dune Pt. 1 ["Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence-a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential-only those who can conquer their fear will survive."]

Ex Machina ["Caleb, a coder at the world’s largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world’s first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl."]

Fight Club ["A ticking-time-bomb insomniac and a slippery soap salesman channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Their concept catches on, with underground “fight clubs” forming in every town, until an eccentric gets in the way and ignites an out-of-control spiral toward oblivion."]

Gattaca ["In a future society in the era of indefinite eugenics, humans are set on a life course depending on their DNA. Young Vincent Freeman is born with a condition that would prevent him from space travel, yet is determined to infiltrate the GATTACA space program."]

Godzilla Minus One ["In postwar Japan, a new terror rises. Will the devastated people be able to survive… let alone fight back?"]

Gravity ["Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first Shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky in command of his last flight before retiring. But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The Shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone-tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness of space. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space."]

Guardians of the Galaxy 3 ["Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him to defend the universe along with protecting one of their own. A mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them."]

High Life ["A mesmerizing but elusive study of primal emotions under the pretense of cerebral science-fiction, Claire Denis’ High Life is, unmistakably, a significant film. It’s the most expensive and, on the surface, commercially viable film ever made by the French auteur, who is often cited as one of the greatest living directors. But rather than embrace the conventions of her chosen genre here, she excises any need for the traditional film grammar or storytelling put forth in the guidebook for making a so-called successful film. It’s no more a pure science-fictioner than her 2001 effort Trouble Every Day was your run-of-the-mill cannibal movie. Denis somehow assembles a motion picture that has the production value and cast of a Hollywood feature, yet she does not betray her penchant for opaque filmmaking, preoccupations with the body, and entrenched symbolism contained within a nebulous framework. High Life is headlined by Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche, two of today’s best performers, who set out to explore black holes in deep space; however, the machinations of the plot may exist entirely as a pretext for whatever else is on Denis’ mind. It’s the sort of film that has the potential to be everything to everyone. And it’s no stretch to claim that it’s about life, death, everything in-between, and whatever awaits in infinity. Above all, it’s experiential viewing, where your response depends less on a clear breadcrumb trail left by Denis for you to follow, and more on something that taps into the subconscious." -- Brian Eggert]

The Host ["Bong Joon-ho's The Host is a giddy revelation - an inspired and unexpectedly moving contribution to the monster movie genre. Several years ago, a crooked government official from the United States ordered the dumping of toxic substances into Seoul's River. Years later, the hapless Gang-du is working at his father's food stand along the river, caring for his bright daughter Hyun-seo. But one day, a monstrous creature emerges from the water and embarks on a murderous rampage throughout the community, swallowing Hyun-seo whole. Gang-du's bullish younger brother Park Nam-Il and sister Nam-joo condemn him for being such a failure, while their father angrily chastises them for being so cruel. But when Gang-du receives a phone call from Hyun-seo, the family must band together to reclaim her. Unfortunately, at this stage, the government has announced that the monster is the host of a dangerous virus, and anyone who has come into contact with it - namely Gang-du - must be isolated. As the monster continues to wreak havoc on Seoul, Gang-du, his father and his siblings must work together to bring Hyun-seo home."]

Interstellar ["The adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage."]

The Invitation ["Will and his new girlfriend Kira are invited to a dinner with old friends at the house of Will’s ex Eden and her new partner David. Although the evening appears to be relaxed, Will soon gets a creeping suspicion that their charming host David is up to something."]

La Jetee  ["Time travel, still images, a past, present and future and the aftermath of World War III. The tale of a man, a slave, sent back and forth, in and out of time, to find a solution to the world’s fate. To replenish its decreasing stocks of food, medicine and energies, and in doing so, resulting in a perpetual memory of a lone female, life, death and past events that are recreated on an airport’s viewing pier."  This 28 minute film is the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys in this list.  To Watch the Film for Free]

The Lobster ["In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods."]

Lola ["Sussex, England, 1938. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Thomasina and Martha Hanbury, two ingenious sisters, create LOLA, a miraculous machine."]

The Matrix ["Set in the 22nd century, The Matrix tells the story of a computer hacker who joins a group of underground insurgents fighting the vast and powerful computers who now rule the earth."]

The Matrix Reloaded ["Six months after the events depicted in The Matrix, Neo has proved to be a good omen for the free humans, as more and more humans are being freed from the matrix and brought to Zion, the one and only stronghold of the Resistance. Neo himself has discovered his superpowers including super speed, ability to see the codes of the things inside the matrix and a certain degree of pre-cognition. But a nasty piece of news hits the human resistance: 250,000 machine sentinels are digging to Zion and would reach them in 72 hours. As Zion prepares for the ultimate war, Neo, Morpheus and Trinity are advised by the Oracle to find the Keymaker who would help them reach the Source. Meanwhile Neo’s recurrent dreams depicting Trinity’s death have got him worried and as if it was not enough, Agent Smith has somehow escaped deletion, has become more powerful than before and has fixed Neo as his next target."]

The Matrix Revolutions ["The human city of Zion defends itself against the massive invasion of the machines as Neo fights to end the war at another front while also opposing the rogue Agent Smith."]

Midsommar ["Several friends travel to Sweden to study as anthropologists a summer festival that is held every ninety years in the remote hometown of one of them. What begins as a dream vacation in a place where the sun never sets, gradually turns into a dark nightmare as the mysterious inhabitants invite them to participate in their disturbing festive activities."]

Minority Report ["The System is perfect until it comes after you. John Anderton is a top ‘Precrime’ cop in the late-21st century, when technology can predict crimes before they’re committed. But Anderton becomes the quarry when another investigator targets him for a murder charge."]

Moon ["With only three weeks left in his three year contract, Sam Bell is getting anxious to finally return to Earth. He is the only occupant of a Moon-based manufacturing facility along with his computer and assistant, GERTY. When he has an accident however, he wakens to find that he is not alone."]

Mr Nobody ["In 2092 the last mortal human (Jared Leto) on Earth reflects on his long past and thinks about the lives he might have led."]

My Octopus Teacher ["After years of swimming every day in the freezing ocean at the tip of Africa, Craig Foster meets an unlikely teacher: a young octopus who displays remarkable curiosity. Visiting her den and tracking her movements for months on end he eventually wins the animal’s trust and they develop a never-before-seen bond between human and wild animal."]

Poor Things ["Brought back to life by an unorthodox scientist, a young woman runs off with a lawyer on a whirlwind adventure across the continents. Free from the prejudices of her times, she grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation."]

Rise of the Planet of the Apes ["Scientist Will Rodman is determined to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, the disease which has slowly consumed his father. Will feels certain he is close to a breakthrough and tests his latest serum on apes, noticing dramatic increases in intelligence and brain activity in the primate subjects – especially Caesar, his pet chimpanzee."]

Robocop ["In a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories."]

Rocky Horror Picture Show ["Sweethearts Brad and Janet, stuck with a flat tire during a storm, discover the eerie mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite scientist. As their innocence is lost, Brad and Janet meet a houseful of wild characters, including a rocking biker and a creepy butler. Through elaborate dances and rock songs, Frank-N-Furter unveils his latest creation: a muscular man named ‘Rocky’."]

Snowpiercer ["In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine."]

Southland Tales ["Set in the futuristic landscape of Los Angeles on July 4, 2008, as it stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster. Boxer Santaros is an action star who’s stricken with amnesia. His life intertwines with Krysta Now, an adult film star developing her own reality television project, and Ronald Taverner, a Hermosa Beach police officer who holds the key to a vast conspiracy."]

Starship Troopers ["Set in the future, the story follows a young soldier named Johnny Rico and his exploits in the Mobile Infantry. Rico’s military career progresses from recruit to non-commissioned officer and finally to officer against the backdrop of an interstellar war between mankind and an arachnoid species known as “the Bugs”."]

The Thing  ["In remote Antarctica, a group of American research scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at a sled dog. When they take in the dog, it brutally attacks both human beings and canines in the camp and they discover that the beast can assume the shape of its victims. A resourceful helicopter pilot and the camp doctor lead the camp crew in a desperate, gory battle against the vicious creature before it picks them all off, one by one."]

Under the Skin ["A seductive stranger prowls the streets of Glasgow in search of prey: unsuspecting men who fall under her spell."]

Until the End of the World ["Conceived as the ultimate road movie, this decades-in-the-making science-fiction epic from Wim Wenders follows the restless Claire Tourneur (Solveig Dommartin) across continents as she pursues a mysterious stranger (William Hurt) in possession of a device that can make the blind see and bring dream images to waking life. With an eclectic soundtrack that gathers a host of the director’s favorite musicians, along with gorgeous cinematography by Robby Müller, this breathless adventure in the shadow of Armageddon takes its heroes to the ends of the earth and into the oneiric depths of their own souls."]

Us ["Films often ask performers to play multiple roles as something of a gimmick. It’s been done for comedic effect in something like “The Nutty Professor” or for philosophical examination in something like “The Double” or “Enemy.” No one has ever asked as much of a double performer as Jordan Peele asked of Lupita Nyong’o in “Us,” and the Oscar winner delivered one of the best performances of 2019 in return. As Adelaide’s worst fear comes to life and she witnesses the shadow version of her family sitting across the living room from her, the actress doesn’t just play good and evil – she goes much deeper than that. She sells both the depth behind the fear of who we presume is the “normal” Adelaide and the wounded monster who has been tied to her. For some reason, great acting has often become synonymous with either a great impersonation or a great couple of scenes. What’s most often ignored when we discuss acting is physicality. Watch what Nyong’o does with her body to both distinguish and tie the two versions of herself in “Us.” They are distinct and yet also mirrors of each other in so many ways. It’s the kind of performance one can break down scene by scene and appreciate with greater depth and nuance with each viewing. It’s not just a great 2019 performance, it’s an all-timer." (Brian Tallerico: December 23, 2019)]


Letterboxd Profiles:

S

Ashleigh Laverack 4 (Poor Things; Film Matters publication; A.I.; The Taste of Things)

Demi Garten 6 (Children of Men; The Matrix; The Host; The Thing; Film Matters publication; Guardians of the Galaxy 3)

Jacob Heinrich 1 (Children of Men)

Jade Liebenberg 7 (Children of Men; The Matrix; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; My Octopus Teacher; 2001 A Space Odyssey; Interstellar; Snowpiercer)

Jason Dean 2 (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Children of Men)

Julianna Daugherty 4 (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; The Guardians of the Galaxy Mixtape #3; Dune; Dune 2)

Kable Eddington 1 (The Matrix)

Maddox Hillard 5 (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; 12 Monkeys; Late Night with the Devil; Dune; Poor Things)

Trinidad Alfonso 4 (Children of Men; Guardians of the Galaxy 3; The Teacher's Lounge; The Matrix)


Exemplary Responses:

Maddox Hillard: Poor Things: Vanishing Youth

Jade Liebenberg: Snowpiercer

Demi Garten: Guardians of the Galaxy 3: Families of the Galaxy

Maddox Hillard: Dune: In the Absence of Absolute Good

Maddox Hillard: Late Night with the Devil: The Devil Without the Details

Ashleigh Leverack The Taste of Things: Omelette norvégienne

Trinidad Alfonso The Matrix: Fate and Predestination

Demi Garten: The Host: The Absurdity

Demi Garten: The Matrix: Revolving

Ashleigh Laverack: A.I.: Artificial Intelligence - Artificial Love

Trinidad Alfonso: The Teacher's Lounge: Crushing Under the Pressure of a Broken System

Maddox Hillard: 12 Monkeys: Acceptable Degrees of Insanity Only, Please

Demi Garten: Children of Men

Julianna Daugherty: The Guardians of the Galaxy #3 Mixtape

Trinidad Alfonso: Children of Men Can Make Men out of Children

Ashleigh Laverack:  Poor Things - A Poetic Response

Julianna Daugherty: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: The Colors of Eternal Sunshine




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