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Fifteen geek movies to see before you die

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Fifteen geek movies to see before you die

Old 02-08-07, 09:38 PM
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Fifteen geek movies to see before you die

February 05, 2007
Fifteen geek movies to see before you die

I am as much a film geek as a tech geek. In a previous life, I reviewed music and movies, and had lots more fun with the latter. If someone offered me a film-review job that paid my mortgage, I'd take it in a second, but I have a feeling that will remain a part of my past rather than become my future.

Sadly, most of the film reviews I wrote back then are not online . . . I'd love to share the absolutely horrible review I wrote of The Story of O for the Daily Texan, circa 1975. But alas . . .

Geeks and movies go together quite nicely. I've been thinking about films that reflect tech and geek culture, and have pulled together a list of 15 movies that should probably be on any geek's must-see list.

These are in no particular order, except that the first one is my No. 1 Must-Watch-for-Geek-Cred film.

Brazil -- There are some geeks who'd argue you should just list "any film directed by Terry Gilliam," but I'm only putting three on my list. Brazil tops it, though, for the ultimate in skewed sci-fi dystopia. Geeks relate to its themes of freedom, longing and getting the girl, despite being quite dorky. Oh, and Robert DeNiro as a subversive air-conditioning repairman rocks, too.

The Matrix -- Yeah, the second two in this series almost ruined the legacy of the first, but The Matrix remains an icon of geek culture. A fun mix of sci-fi, cyberpunk lit and sociopolitical commentary, it extends the notion of machines run amok further than any previous film. And after seeing it, I dare you not to wonder whether we all are, indeed, jacked in to some cheesy simulation of reality.

The Fifth Element -- The best Terry Gilliam film he didn't make, The Fifth Element has some cheap special effects but makes the list for its vision of media, society and art. If the vocal performance of the tube-headed alien doesn't give you goose bumps, you're not alive. Oh yeah, and Bruce Willis is pounds of fun, too.

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan -- William Shatner's cry of "Khaaaaaaaaaaan!!!" has entered the Geek Movie Scene Hall of Fame, as has Chekov's getting an earful of a space worm. Lines such as "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one," uttered by Spock as he sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise, have entered the lexicon.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home -- The next-best film in the series makes the list for two wonderful scenes. The crew of the Enterprise comes back to mid-1980s Earth to save the future planet from destruction by a whale-loving alien. At one point, engineer Scotty confronts a Macintosh and tries to talk to it. Someone points out he should use the mouse, which he then picks up and says into it: "Computer!" Next is the scene in which Spock gives the Vulcan death grip to a rude, boombox-toting punk on a bus. Audiences still cheer that scene.

Serenity -- Even if you've never watched the Firefly TV series, you owe it to yourself to see Serenity. It's easily the best Star Trek movie that's not a Star Trek movie, and you don't need to be versed in the characters to get what's going on. In fact, even if you didn't follow the series, you'll still weep when one of the major characters dies. This movie is smart, funny and hits the right balance between serious action and fun camp.

Dark City -- There are those who hint, eyebrows arched, that The Matrix got its best ideas from Dark City, even though the latter was released just one year before the former. A city is reworked each night, people's memories are rewritten and those who begin to guess the truth are reprogrammed. This film owes a lot visually to earlier works, such as the films of Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau and Robert Wiene.

12 Monkeys -- A Terry Gilliam/Bruce Willis pairing, 12 Monkeys is a little less serious in its dystopian vision. Willis travels back in time in an attempt to prevent a virus from ravaging the future. The film is worth it for Brad Pitt's best performance ever, as a crazed environmental terrorist. A review at the Internet Movie Database offers a grammatically garbled warning to take to heart, though: ". . .this movie needs your attention the forthcoming two hours and you better not miss some minutes for getting a coke as there is a danger you can't follow." I think I agree . . .

Shaun of the Dead -- This is both the best parody of a zombie movie ever made, and the best zombie movie ever made. All zombie movies are political commentary -- the masses are mindless and dangerous, yada yada -- but few of them have as much fun with it as this one. In Shaun of the Dead, the heroes are misfits and geeks who bust through the conventions of zombie filmdom. It will be hard to make a zombie movie with a straight face from here on out.

Darkman -- Sam Raimi does a comic book movie, pre-Spider-Man. It's an updated version of Batman with a darker heart and more attitude, in which a scientist is horribly disfigured by thugs and uses his brains to outwit their brawn to wreak vengeance. In other words, geeks harassed in high school by jocks for being science nerds will relate.

Army of Darkness -- More Sam Raimi, this time capping off his Evil Dead series with a more mainstream and approachable film. Bruce Campbell, arguably the king of geek actors, reprises his Ash role as he's sucked back in time to the Middle Ages. Ash is both brilliant and brilliantly dumb, playing a geek who succeeds in spite of himself. Best scenes -- Ash assembles a replacement for the arm he hacked off in Evil Dead II, and he does battle with a demon in the aisles of an "S-Mart".

War Games -- Possibly the first film to give mainstream audiences a taste of hacker culture -- sanitized though it was -- War Games is both a period piece and a source of geek lexicon. The term wardialing, the practice of dialing random phone numbers until you find a modem to connect to, came from this film. That later morphed in to wardriving -- cruising the streets in search of unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Geeks will also have a great time watching for the techno-mistakes, which are legion.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- I occasionally run into geeks who say, "I've never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but I feel like I have." I think it's fair to argue that the Pythons invented geek humor, and this movie is its pinnacle. Note to serious geeks: You shouldn't just have seen this movie, you should pwn it.

Office Space -- No film has captured what it's like to work at an "enlightened" high-tech workplace as has Office Space, which bombed when first released but has become a cult hit on DVD. Who among us hasn't wanted to smash the office fax machine with a baseball bat while profane hip hop plays in the background?

Repo Man -- Directed by Alex Cox, this movie is best known for having been produced by former Monkee Mike Nesmith (the smart, talented one). Emilio Estevez plays a punk who takes a job as a repo man. "Repo man is intense," Harry Dean Stanton tells him, and that's an understatement. Geek alienation and the blanding down of mainstream society are the themes here. Those who missed the 1980s may not get the references to black-and-white generics -- Estevez dines from a can marked simply "Food" -- but a little history lesson never hurt anyone.

Those are my favorites; what are yours? Add to this list via the comments.

Oh, and check ouit this list of 81 geek movies.
http://blogs.chron.com/techblog/arch...you_die_1.html
Old 02-08-07, 09:47 PM
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Guess there's nothing more to life and I'm free to die at any moment... it's been fun
Old 02-08-07, 09:58 PM
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I've seen them all.
Old 02-08-07, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by TheNightFlier
I've seen them all.
So have I.

Does anyone think it odd that he lists two Star Trek movies but doesn't list any of the Star Wars movies? Where's the love for Empire Strikes Back?

Also, he got the Repo Man line wrong. Henry Dean Stanton said, "the life of a repo man is always intense." Also great is his line "Repo Man's got all night, every night."

And The Fifth Element is not "the best Terry Gilliam film he didn't make." Maybe a Robert Zemeckis move (flying cars), Stephen Sommers, or a George Lucas movie with better visual style. The film is too much of a straightforward action movie to resemble anything Gilliam would be interested in, and is far to sunny and bright to be something he would make.

Some more obscure films that geeks would love:

Primer - Two Engineers build a time machine in their garage. The premise is taken very seriously and realistically and the film paces out just how some ordinary people may use such technology. Then the film twists, revealing new layers to not just what you're currently watching, but to all that you've watched up to that point as well.

Pi - Man may have discovered the number that defines the universe, or he may be going insane.
Old 02-08-07, 11:43 PM
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Seen most, liked most. Didn't care for Serenity though.

Compensated by Dark City which is one of my all time faves.
Old 02-09-07, 12:05 AM
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Happy to say I haven't seen them all. I can't believe there isn't a single Wes Anderson film on that list.
Old 02-09-07, 12:15 AM
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I can't stand British humor so Monty Python flicks are awful hard for me to sit through.

calling The Fifth Element the best Gilliam movie he didn't make doesn't make a lick of sense. It looks and feels nothing like a Gilliam movie.

I like Shaun of the Dead but to call it the best zombie movie ever?! I don't think so.

I would have replaced Star Trek IV with Star Trek VI but that's just me.
Old 02-09-07, 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by GoldenJCJ
I like Shaun of the Dead but to call it the best zombie movie ever?! I don't think so.
Then again, you wouldn't be a true geek unless you were prone to hyperbole, like GREATEST MOVIE EVERRRRR!!! I agree with you about Shaun. I liked it, but its not even my favorite zombie comedy of all-time. Hell, I don't think its even my #2 zombie comedy (I have to rank "Dead Alive" and "Return of the Living Dead" first).

Fortunately I haven't seen Office Space from that list. Which means I don't have to die yet. I've seen the others, so it might be a really long time before I get around to Office Space. Don't know why I've never seen it. Maybe its because I never had a "corporate" type job, so I never appreciated stuff like Dilbert (which is what this always looked like to me).
Old 02-09-07, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Jay G.
Does anyone think it odd that he lists two Star Trek movies but doesn't list any of the Star Wars movies? Where's the love for Empire Strikes Back?
Maybe he's one of those geeks that feels George Lucas raped his childhood, by making the Special Editions of the first trilogy, and making the prequels?

It is a silly omission. "Luke, I AM your father!" ranks so much higher on the geek excitement scale than Spock neck-pinching the punk rocker dude.
Old 02-09-07, 01:54 AM
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The Fifth Element -- The best Terry Gilliam film he didn't make, The Fifth Element has some cheap special effects but makes the list for its vision of media, society and art. If the vocal performance of the tube-headed alien doesn't give you goose bumps, you're not alive. Oh yeah, and Bruce Willis is pounds of fun, too.

This part is one of the stupidest things I have ever read.
Bizarre, because otherwise it's a decent list.
But the Fifth Element sucks donkey balls.

Also, ST IV is highly overrated. ST VI is so much better.
Old 02-09-07, 02:15 AM
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I've seen most of those movies but I can honestly pick a good 3-4 of those movies and say that I think they are overrated or just flat out didn't do much for me.
Old 02-09-07, 09:42 AM
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The Fifth Element had cheap special effects? Could have fooled me.

Saxon
Old 02-09-07, 11:02 AM
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Any "geek movie list" that includes "Serenity" and not any of the Star Wars movies is shit.
Old 02-09-07, 01:28 PM
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Seen them all except Shaun... own all the ones I've seen except Darkman
Old 02-09-07, 01:56 PM
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I'm glad I'm not geek enough.
Old 02-09-07, 01:59 PM
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In fact, even if you didn't follow the series, you'll still weep when one of the major characters dies
Thanks!
Old 02-09-07, 08:27 PM
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This list comes from some random blog.

Lame.
Old 02-09-07, 09:08 PM
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I'm guessing that Star Wars wasn't included because it appeals to too broad of an audience (including children).
Old 02-10-07, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by kenbuzz
Seen them all except Shaun... own all the ones I've seen except Darkman
This is your sign to finally watch Shaun...it's absurdly entertaining.
Old 02-10-07, 04:39 PM
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I'm still lost by his description of Brazil. I think I watched a different version or something.
Old 02-10-07, 05:45 PM
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Sneakers should be in that list somewhere. Even though years have past I still enjoy watching it.
Old 02-11-07, 10:23 AM
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Big vote for Primer. Every geek (especially engineer types) should see it.
Old 02-11-07, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Lord Rick
Big vote for Primer. Every geek (especially engineer types) should see it.

i agree one hundred percent. it gets better with multiple viewings. check out this primer timeline
Old 02-11-07, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by kms_md
check out this primer timeline
But only AFTER you've seen the movie!!!
Old 02-11-07, 12:37 PM
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Seen them all. I'm a geek.

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