The Reel Less Traveled – January 2022

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It’s Not Easy Being Green or Happy

    Two films coming to the Orinda Theatre this month to begin the New Year represent opposite ends of the movie spectrum, one arguably one of the worst ever made, the other a well-crafted piece of cinema that explores a relatively new wrinkle on a very old subject.
    In the worst column, we have The Green Slime, released in the landmark year of 1968, the same year as its polar opposite, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The title alone should tell you all you need to know. On the surface, this movie is about an alien species bedeviling a space station after the meteor they live on gets blown up. If you look just a bit deeper, you won’t find much. As a lover of cinema, I can’t in good conscience, make any more of this movie than that.
    Even back in the day when it was initially released, word traveled fast that this was, to put it mildly, not a good movie. The effects are anything but special, the actors know just what they’re involved with and the titular monsters ranks right up there with Tobonga, the killer tree stump in From Hell It Came and the equally deadly carrot from It Conquered the World.
    Since, however, this is this month’s selection for The Chiller Diller Theatre at the Orinda Theatre, I would be equally remiss if I didn’t let you know about it. It really is something. What, specifically, I can’t rightly say, but it is something. It screens Jan. 15 at 9:30 p.m.
    Elevating things, we have the welcome return of the International Film Showcase and its New Year’s entry I’m Your Man. This too is a work of science fiction, but it’s far more grounded and, with the massive advances in our technological age, frighteningly plausible.
    Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) stars as Tom, an android designed solely for the purposes of making Alma, an archeologist, more interested in her work than in making any kind of human contact, happy. Reluctantly allowing this imposition in her life, she manifests an apparent irritation, but nonetheless goes along with the nuisance since there’s a significant monetary reward attached.
    In many ways, this feels like a predictable story. Ex Machina and Her both explored similar territories, but there’s very much an air of unpredictability present, and one is never sure where the story will go or how it will end. Much of this has to do with actor/director Maria Schrader, whose work in front and behind the camera has never opted for rote, easy answers.
    To say more would be revealing too much, as is my ability to tell you exactly when it will screen. That has yet to be determined, but as usual, I urge you to keep checking www.orindamovies.com or www.internationalshowcase.org.
    Now then, until February, remember to veer towards those wonderful images made from sound and light – for that’s where the reel magic lies.

Tom Westlake can be reached at poppinjay@earthlink.net.

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