IS REMINISCENT OF DE PALMA'S 'MISSION TO MARS'
Hello and welcome to the unofficial Brian De Palma website.
Here is the latest news:
his recent films:
"What I was
trying to do with
those films was to
make three student
films in order to
try and set a new
trajectory and try to
say, 'Well, what
happens if I have no
resources?' Now, having
done that, my new
work is going to be
much more ambitious
and bigger in scope and
budget and ambition,
but now building on a
new confidence or
assurance. The three
little films were very
useful. I'm glad I did
it. I hope George Lucas
does it, because he
has a wonderful personal
filmmaking ability that
people haven't seen
for a while."
a la Mod:
Also at the L Magazine, Matt Zoller Seitz put together an "End-of-Decade Clip Party" called We Love the Aughties, the first part of which included a scene from Mission To Mars.
Ryan Kelly, Medfly Quarantine
Kelly discusses Mission To Mars in his chronological list of "the movies that mattered most" to him during the decade in question. "For me, the first great movie of the decade, and also among its most reviled, though why I'm not exactly sure. But it's a wild, bold, and beautiful take on our place in the Universe, and the miracle and wonder of existence --- simultaneously sophisticated and pulpy." (There is more discussion of Mission To Mars in the comments section of Kelly's post.)
Rob Humanick, Slant Magazine
The Slant Staff placed Mission To Mars at number 80 on its list of the 100 best films of the decade. Of the film, Humanick wrote, "An argumentative line in the sand for what cinema means, Mission to Mars might be the greatest '50s sci-fi film ever, even if came half a century late. 2001 by way of irony-deprived B-movie euphoria, this wide-eyed space odyssey subverts big budget expectations with bigger feelings, actively and eagerly engaging one with expressionist emotion. Like Kubrick's masterpiece, Mars takes comfort in the probability of life elsewhere but more profoundly does it appreciate what human life means to itself. The film ponders and posits, elevating those thoughts to religious wonder. Where did we come from? We may never know, but we can always dance the night away." In the comments section, "dbe2101" wrote that "Mission to Mars is neither a good film nor a watchable one," which prompted Humanick to reply: "Well, dbe2101, gonna have to disagree with you... I for one am glad to be in the purported minority—not loving Mission to Mars seems like not loving life. But obviously, it's not that simple."
Chris Stangl, The Exploding Kinetoscope
Stangl went year-by-year as he began to build a list of 100 memorable films from the decade, placing Mission To Mars at number 6 for the year 2000. Stangl wrote:
"'Drifting through eternity will ruin your whole day.' So goes some wisdom from Brian De Palma’s marvelous spaceman thriller. Mission to Mars is practically a humanist retort to 2001: A Space Odyssey, its climactic moments dedicated to a pretty and inspiring filmstrip on biological evolution on Earth. Containing something to bewilder or sour nearly ever viewer, even the film’s final statement of wonder is marred by one badly designed transitional era CG alien effect. But all De Palma films have a little of this wonder, and no small amount of dread, as starry-eyed humans are ricocheted around a cosmic pool table along networks too daft to make sense of, dragged by forces they cannot see. Mission does, in its finale, marvel at nature, but until then it is variously spooked and awe-struck.
"The climax of physical action occurs in the black void, of course, stranded between heaven and earth (well... between spaceship and Mars), safe home and unknown adventure, chilly womb and blazing death. The suspense device is of properly calibrating jet pack thrusters and conserving limited fuel supplies; the moral questions are of the same stuff: applied force, inertia, impossible choice and aiming carefully while navigating through space.
"One zero G setpiece alone sees the director pushing the cinematic apparatus’ ability to organize space and time to a new plane: it is a De Palma Future. As the ship is about to enter orbit around Mars, a micrometeorite barrage perforates the hull, one space suit helmet, and one astronaut’s hand: bam, bam, bam, these are the crises in poetic simplicity, tiny rocks hurtling through infinity just to fuck up four heroes. The ensuing repair effort is a suspense scene of elaborate construction without parallel... except in the De Palma canon. Beginning with the image of atomized blood globules swirling lazily about the pristine ship, the sequence expands and flows into airless abstract 3D museum diorama. As four crewmembers undertake separate tasks in different locations and the atmosphere rapidly suctions out of the craft, their work unites the action, a seamless vignette about punctured seams. The source of the first leak is detected via the floating blood droplets, the second by a serendipitous packet of Dr. Pepper. The pieces and particles flocking in one direction to create a whole, the scene snakes through space, inside and outside, perfectly oriented in a place where up and down do not apply and time is the crucial dimension. Linked in purpose, discrete no longer, like the chromosomes sent to a blue planet from a red one, like the astronaut’s DNA model built of M&M’s, like the Dr. Pepper and the blood, like the clouds of Martian dust. Like pictures threaded in sequence, moving in time together to tell a story."
Eugene Novikov, Cinematical
Novikov listed his favorite science fiction films of the decade, and included Mission To Mars and Lawrence Kasdan's Dreamcatcher under the heading, "Most Underappreciated," writing, "I will admit that my uncommon patience with De Palma's visual style and his starry-eyed desire to ape Kubrick may have contributed to my appreciation of Mission to Mars. Dreamcatcher I thought was mistreated -- the tonal shifts and occasional plunges into goofiness seemed like shrewd choices rather than mistakes to me. But I'm probably not going to convince anyone about either of these."
Tiago Costa, Claquete
After posting his top 20 of the decade in order of preference, Costa listed "the rest in any order"-- but that list begins with Mission To Mars.
Tom, I Hate Popcorn
Finally, in a blog post that has disappeared since it was posted December 24, 2009, Tom placed Mission To Mars at number 24 on his list of the 25 best films of the decade. I will post Tom's full list in the Femme Fatale post, either today or tomorrow.
Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere posted a bit about Brian De Palma's Carrie Tuesday night, saying that he was "half taken and half irked" when he originally saw the film in 1976. Wells writes that the ending, with the hand jumping up out of the grave, "made me jump out of my seat, and I was thereafter sold on the idea of DePalma being a kind of mad genius." Wells then continues:
I was gradually divested of this view in subsequent years, sad to say. Actually by The Fury, which was only two years later. To me De Palma was at his craftiest and most diabolical in Greetings, Hi, Mom, Sisters, Phantom of the Paradise and Carrie. Bit by bit and more and more, everything post-Carrie was one kind of problem or another (except for Scarface).
"FACE ON MARS IS ACTUALLY AN IMAX THEATRE -- SOUNDS LIKE DE PALMA TO ME"
Wells' readers then chimed in throughout the next day and beyond, with widely differing views on De Palma's oeuvre. Everybody has their favorites, and most seemed to agree that there was something extraordinary in every De Palma film, whether they liked the entire film or not. There were staunch defenders of Femme Fatale, Dressed To Kill, Blow Out, and Carlito's Way. Mission: Impossible was also given props, with one commenter suggesting that the film will age quite gracefully throughout the coming years. A vague consensus seemed to emerge that De Palma's two most recent films, The Black Dahlia and Redacted, form a combined letdown, although The Black Dahlia also found its defenders. The most widely derided movie in the comments, though, seemed to be Mission To Mars, although that film had its defenders, as well, including this gem of a decscription from Sean: "It's a creation myth story where handsome actors [go] and discover that the face on Mars is actually an IMAX theatre -- sounds like De Palma to me."
Estimated to be more than 3 billion years old, the lake appears to have covered as much as 80 square miles and was up to 1,500 feet deep -- roughly the equivalent of Lake Champlain bordering the United States and Canada, said Gaetano Di Achille, who led the study. The shoreline evidence, found along a broad delta, included a series of alternating ridges and troughs thought to be surviving remnants of beach deposits.
"This is the first unambiguous evidence of shorelines on the surface of Mars," said Di Achille. "The identification of the shorelines and accompanying geological evidence allows us to calculate the size and volume of the lake, which appears to have formed about 3.4 billion years ago"...
...The deltas adjacent to the lake are of high interest to planetary scientists because deltas on Earth rapidly bury organic carbon and other biomarkers of life, according to CU-Boulder Assistant Professor [Brian] Hynek. Most astrobiologists believe any present indications of life on Mars will be discovered in the form of subterranean microorganisms.
But in the past, lakes on Mars would have provided cozy surface habitats rich in nutrients for such microbes, Hynek said.
Even if the Flintstones were around earlier than we thought, this wouldn’t necessarily prove Creationists right. In Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars there is another sort of missing link that people tend to dismiss along with the theory that aliens impregnated the “virgin” Mary. This is the link between life on Earth and prior life, from elsewhere, which seeded our planet. The Martian at the end of the movie (sorry if this is a spoiler — the movie isn’t worth seeing anyway), who isn’t so much our ancestor as our trillionth cousin thrice removed, is kind of creepy but also kind of sexy in a blood-soaked Sissy Spacek sort of way (this is the director of Carrie).
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