Page to Screen with Soylent Green

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Harry Harrison wrote Make Room! Make Room! in 1965. It was published a year later and in 1973 was turned into the feature film Soylent Green by Richard Fleischer, starring Charlton Heston. Harrison was clearly influenced by Malthusian theory, a stance that might be summed up by the 18th-century British cleric and scholar in one concise sentence: “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.” Over the years, critics of Thomas Robert Malthus have found plenty of fodder with which to reject his dire premise, mainly because the models used by Malthus didn’t account for the many ways in which human ingenuity would make many resources more readily available, and at lower prices, to the growing number of people inhabiting the planet. Malthusian critics might also point to the divide between Harrison’s scenario, which envisioned life in the Big Apple circa 1999 as being multiplied by a factor of five, going from seven million people in the sixties to 35 million by 1999. That didn’t happen, not in NYC at least (Tokyo, on the other hand, has now surpassed that number). Today, the population of of NYC hovers under the nine million mark, perhaps held in check by the exorbitant price of a martini, not to mention the going rate for monthly rent. Fleischer, working in the 70s, decided to hedge his bets by extending the date for Soylent Green out to the year 2022. He also contributed powerful imagery not found in the book of people being scooped up by garbage trucks, which also made for a very compelling poster. [...MORE]

Fine Young Cannibals: Part Deux

What do Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush (1925), Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen (also 1991), Frank Marshall’s Alive (1993), and Antonia Bird’s Ravenous (1999) – to name but a few worthy titles – all have in common? For starters, these are prime-cut films. Great titles no matter how you slice and dice ‘em, and ones I’ve already covered in a previous post of a couple years ago. They also touch on the taboo subject of cannibalism, and there is a reason why I’m thinking of them all on this fine April day. [...MORE]

FARMAGEDDON

“This film has cross-over appeal that connects with progressive hippies and Tea Party members alike. It’s about government raids on local and organic farmers.” I’d had a long working relationship with the distributor who was telling me this over the phone, but in the past Jessica had been a broker for classics of the silent era as well as representing some of the biggest names in both the realm of foreign and contemporary arthouse movies. This was a very different and far cry from Dersu Uzala. It was a debut low-budget documentary called Farmageddon: The Unseen War on American Family Farms.   [...MORE]

Bring out the chefs!

The Oscars are tonight but surely the recent blog-a-thon covering that topic has quenched your thirst on that subject. Let’s move on to food, which comes to my mind thanks to my friends Chris and Huong, who are opening a new restaurant. They invited various acquaintances and family in for free meals and drinks to help them put a new staff through their paces and, of course, hopefully stimulate word-of-mouth. The restaurant business is a tough gig with high-risks and a cut-throat market. But the artistry aligned with this basic necessity is undeniable, and cinema is full of examples. Skipping past the recent Julie & Julia, I’ll focus on international or indy fare. [...MORE]

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