6. Casablanca in Overdrawn at the Memory Bank
Hah. Yeah. So – if you have no idea what Overdrawn at the Memory Bank is, don’t feel bad because despite the fact that it stars a young Raul Julia, it isn’t a good film. In fact it’s not a film, it’s a Canadian TV movie shot on video in the 80s. Watching it you can practically see the thought bubble above Julia’s head that says ‘I’m too good for this’.
One thing it did give us was one hell of a Mystery Science Theater episode, and from that episode we also heard one really basic rule said by Tom Servo that all movies should live by: “Never show a good movie in the middle of your crappy one.” You see – Overdrawn is all about a man living in a dystopian future where movies are banned and people go on weird mind vacations and everything is depressingly hackneyed. Raul’s character is caught “scrolling up cinemas”, as the film puts it, and discovers the film Casablanca. After this his mind gets sucked into a computer for some reason and he begins to create his own Casablanca-themed world. So you pretty much watch this entire film being constantly reminded of how much it pales in comparison to this other really good film. Then again, they really could have used any film and still ran into that same problem.
5. The Thing From Another World in Halloween
The fun of looking after someone’s kid is getting to expose them to all kinds of traumatizing stuff knowing that not only is it a blast to watch the look on their faces, but you’ll also never have to deal with the deep psychological scarring that will result. It’s a win-win all around. So of course our babysitting victims are going to plop the kids down in front of the classic The Thing From Another World while they go off to have sex/get killed. Of course, what makes the moment so great is how much it foreshadows director John Carpenter’s career.
Cut to four years after Halloween was released and sure enough JC is not only remaking the classic as The Thing, but also is arguably surpassing it in quality. It’s always hard to say that a remake is better than an original because after all, if the remake were so great it would be an original, right? It’s probably safer to say that The Thing didn’t surpass its original but rather that it became a completely separate entity from it – much like when Norris’s head turns into a big spider and crawls away from his body.
4. Lawrence of Arabia in Prometheus
Hey, you see Prometheus yet? Did ya? Go see Prometheus. It isn’t perfect; like any film out there it has its share of frustrations (seriously just turn left or right, any direction but forward) but that didn’t stop it from being the best monster horror in a good long time. Leave it to Ridley Scott to show em how it’s done.
Also – and I know how bold this statement is considering the competition – but David has to be my all time favorite android featured in this universe. His gentle, vacant look combined with his HAL-like passive aggressiveness makes his utter lack of soul 100% unambiguous. The cherry on the top is the movie he watches at the beginning of the film – Lawrence of Arabia – and the fact that he has clearly modeled himself to be as close to resembling Peter O’Toole’s title character as possible. It’s that added desire that he seems to have – that added vanity that, while still not adding a soul to the character, makes you question his level of sentience. It’s nice and creepy.
3. Blazing Saddles in Blazing Saddles
This counts. It was going to be either this, or Spaceballs: The Movie.
In a moment of what seems like pure panic concerning just how to end the film, the final western-style brawl between the good guys and the bad guys spontaneously breaks out of the fourth wall – the chaos devouring nearby studio shoots and including them in the Mel Brooks-style shenanigans. This is one of those moments in movie history that you could never get away with doing today. Just imagine any given comedy suddenly becoming self aware without any warning signs throughout – it’s just not a modern notion anymore.
After our main villain manages to escape the brawl he hightails it to a nearby theater, which of course happens to be Grauman’s Chinese Theater, currently premiering Blazing Saddles. Before he is able to make it in he is thwarted and killed by our heroes, who then decide to enter the theater to check out the end of the film. They sit down, and watch the ending sequence. I think that’s what ‘meta’ is – right?
2. Gilda in The Shawshank Redemption
This can’t not be on this list; it’s a pretty huge plot point of the film. The clever Dufresne asks Red to sneak him in a poster of the wonderful Rita Hayworth while they are both watching the film. While the reason why seems rather obvious, and is no doubt part of the reason for the request, it turns out that it isn’t primarily why he requires this item.
When you think about it though – it seems kind of mean to play Gilda, a film that showcases Hayworth in all her glory, in a prison. You’re just drumming up a lot of sexual energy that has nowhere to go but the obvious, and that’s just unpleasant all around. Play a Chaplin film or a nature documentary or something – anything else would be better. Did you see that clip? Those poor bastards – imagine being in a prison with all dudes and the only movie playing was Gilda over and over again.
1. The Work Of Georges Méliès in Hugo
What a film, Hugo was. The whole thing was a perfect exercise in imagination from beginning to end – after all, the entire subject matter of this film was the limitless possibilities of movies, and the romance we get from them. No director better to do this than Scorsese, a man notorious for portraying the harsh realities of life. It says a lot about the talent of a director who spends his entire career making gritty ultra violence when he suddenly and casually kicks the ass out of the family and fantasy genre without so much as skipping a beat. That’s impressive.
So if you’re going to celebrate the magic of the moving pictures, no better way to do it than focusing on the work of Georges Méliès, who also happens to be a character in the film. My only regret concerning this film is that I never got to see it in theaters – it would have been something to see A Trip To The Moon on the big screen. Hell, it’s even one of the few times that I’d want to see something in 3d.