Science fiction to base your life on

The sci-fi odyssey Dune, based on the novel by Frank Herbert, has garnered acclaim from respected critics and nerds alike since its release in 1984. Whether the success is because of a groundbreaking score by Brian Eno and the band Toto (seriously), the cult following for anything director David Lynch does, or the overall brilliance of the story itself, Dune is a film that should be watched by everyone at least twice a year and on birthdays.

In the Duneiverse, there is a “spice” which allows (for one thing) immediate space travel. The material is so important that “Whoever controls the spice, controls the universe.” However, the spice can only be found on ONE planet in existence: The planet Arrakis. This sounds all too familiar, as it is not hard to draw dotted lines from the plot to the unending struggles in the Middle East.

How is “Arrakis” not Iraq? Also, the uses of the Arabic language in the film cannot be ignored. For instance, the title of “Kwisatz Haderach” (rough English phonetics), which means “shortening of the way,” is given to a human who obtains God-like powers and abilities — which is really the only person who could stop an oil or “spice” crisis at this point.

For the record, I do not care AT ALL about the references to crises in the Middle East — deal with it. But, if by pointing them out I can help a few more viewers discover this classic film, then my job is done.

Please go purchase the film and keep an eye out for brilliant performances from Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks), Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap), Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Sting (Tantric sex guru and overall cool guy). I cannot think of any reason to dislike this movie, and if there exists a person out there who disagrees I would love to debate the importance of Dune with you for no less than one hour.

A Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Movies with Extremely Relevant Titles

The 1962 film version of Eugene O’Neill’s play A LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT is exactly what it sounds like. The film, Starring Catherine Hepburn (who received an Academy Award nomination for her performance) and Dean Stockwell, portrays a family that, during the course of one day, brings up each other’s faults and problems over and over.

The movie is intense, repetitive, draining, and overwhelmingly difficult to sit through. It may even be safe to say I will never watch the movie again. However, these are all the things that made this movie so memorable in the end.

I may have been upset at having to watch the same scene be played out over and over again — scenes where family members have problems caused by other problems, screaming at each other to fix one another’s vices while trying to ignore their own. However, watching the movie, I realized that the feeling of anxiety creeping in on me was all part of the experience.

The emotions of the characters became mine. I understood how upsetting it could be to have someone bring up and try to fix the same problem repeatedly. As much as the characters in the movie would show resistance at bringing up the problem again, I found myself on their side. I, as much as any fictional character, did not want to hear the problem brought up again.

The realistic feeling of the movie was the perfect message to address these kinds of problems. The struggle in a battle against some form of addiction has many levels — the fight against the actual substance itself being only one layer. Keeping relationships with loved ones from being affected would be, possibly, the main issue. Overall the movie was wonderful because it was so damn unenjoyable. Good filmmakers and actors put their audience in someone else’s shoes, whether the viewer wants to be there or not.

The Secret Garden

1949 Reigns Supreme

There have been many different recreations of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 classic novel THE SECRET GARDEN, but I submit to you that the film released in 1949 is the definitive version.

The story of a young snotty girl and her equally stubborn relative, who are both destined to be straightened out by friendship, hope, and a magic garden, will always be relevant as far as I’m concerned. However, it is the acting, directing, and overall style of this particular rendition that places it miles ahead of the others.

The brilliant cast is topped off by the two lead characters: Margaret O’Brien as the spoiled Mary Lennox and Dean Stockwell as her crippled relative, Colin Craven. The two often have scenes together where they do nothing but scream at each other — which is generally rewarding since both characters are always in need of a good talking to. This could easily become overwhelming and annoying to the viewer, but the two actors pull it off well. Perhaps it has more to do with the black and white backdrop of the film, or the crackling sound that peaks at each of their screams, but the scenes feel raw and honest.

Keep an open ear to the rigid lectures the children continually give each other, and see if they don’t affect some of your own personal views and ideals. The story may be intended for children, but I feel it would be difficult to find someone who was not moved by the story regardless of age.

The story itself has already lasted the test of time; the only challenge left is to either find the perfect version or create the best one. Making a new one would be too hard, so I did the legwork for the other option: Go watch the 1949 version and let it warm your heart.