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Summer is fast approaching, streamers, and you know what that means. Sweat. Sweat isn’t that prevalent in science fiction, unless David Cronenberg is involved. It’s a winter genre, because space is cold, and so is the future. And not much came out this week, so if it sounds like I’m stalling, it’s because I am. But without further ado, let’s get to one of the most anticipated films of this year in the sci-fi community.
Upstream Color (Netflix)
Director Shane Carruth’s long-awaited follow-up to the masterpiece that was Primer is a masterpiece unto itself, but in a far different way. Trading technical jargon and labyrinthian plot tunnels for sweeping cinematography and a far more cryptic narrative, Upstream Color solidifies Carruth as a filmmaker who will attract a lot of initially confused fans in his career. At once speculative science fiction and romance, the film plays its subdued suspense like a countryside noir, allowing viewers to interpret events even beyond their mysterious subtexts. Knowing little going in is part of the film’s wonder, but just know that it’s about connection, and a much different connection than any you’ve ever experienced.
Gregg Araki’s tenth feature is something of a departure for the filmmaker, but mostly in its more absurd narrative details. Smith (Thomas Dekker) and Stella’s (Haley Bennett) friendship is bonded as strongly and strangely as any others in Araki’s previous films. They just happen to be caught up in a world of sex, drugs, and the impending apocalypse. As I said in my latest Queue Review, its sci-fi elements are overshadowed by indie quirks and supernatural elements, like witches and dream premonitions. But it’s tentatively recommended viewing for anyone who isn’t morally enraged by by hetero- and homosexuality. It’s a tough crowd out there sometimes.
Ever Wondered? (Hulu)
Hulu added five episodes of this 2010 New Zealand series where each episode delves into different aspects of New Zealand science, and science as a whole. It’s presented by the 2009 MacDiarmid Young Scientist of the Year Dr. John Wyatt, who is just affable enough to match the rest of this interesting show. Experiments and scientist talking heads abound, dealing with subjects like how scientific advancements are affecting human physical performance, the future of food, medical advancements, urban air pollution, and predicting the triple threat of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. It reminds me of what LPB used to play in the 1980s, only better.
And our shortened version of Cross the Streams ends not with a whimper, not with a bang, but with a film that exists in a world of its own. It’s part sci-fi comedy, part spoof, and it’s all terribly cheesy, but Galaxina is definitely worth a Friday night viewing with a few friends and a few space cakes. I can’t possibly top IMDb’s description, which reads: “Main Plot: Crew of interstellar police ship is sent to recover a mysterious crystal, the blue star. Sub Plots: The ships female android and a crew member fall in love. Alien is spoofed as as the captain gives birth to an alien who grows up on the ship thinking the captain is its mother.” That sentence is to casual English speech as this film is to classic cinema, but it’s fun to be bewildered sometimes. And the fun fact here is that the titular character was played by 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten, who was murdered soon after.
Hate to end it on such a foul note there, but life is cruel, isn’t it, little pigs? Damn you, Upstream Color! See you next week as we Cross the Streams anew. Thanks for reading!