You may have noticed that we've started a new feature around these here Moviefone-owned parts, but if you haven't, we're kicking off Movie Clubs here at Sci-Fi Squad as well as Horror Squad and Cinematical (Moviefone already has an Oscars watching club you can join in). Obviously there's no cost of membership, we're just here to show off our particular taste in film while hopefully fostering some interesting discussions in the process.
It'll go a little something like this. Before the weekend arrives one of the Sci-Fi Squad writers is going to hand pick a special bit of sci-fi cinema to be talked about the following week. Anyone who wants to jump in on the discussion then has the weekend to watch said pick and then return back here for collected thoughts as well as specific points of discussion. Sound good? I hope so, because we're moving ahead with it, anyway (though obviously we're open to suggestions as how to improve the process).
Feel free to hop over to Cinematical for Monika's weekly picks or Horror Squad (where we'll also be switching up who picks, though I also happen to be behind this week's movie over there as well) if you'd like to spread around the genre flavors. As for Sci-Fi Squad, this weekend we'll be watching...
Altered States (1980)
Directed by Ken Russel from a screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky (based on his own novel of the same name), starring William Hurt.
What's it about?
Eddie Jessup (Hurt), a scientist at Harvard, believes that everyone has within them the ability to transcend their current evolutionary state by tapping into various states of consciousness. Jessup believes that with the right combination of isolation chambers and psychotropic drugs he can finally understand what it really means to be alive, to be human, but once his experiments become more extreme, he may end up pushing past being human entirely.
Why should I watch it?
To see William Hurt in not only one of his earliest roles, but one of the best of his career. Not only that, but Chayefsky's script is a total mindbender, raising all kinds of questions about what it means to be impulsively human, to be spiritual, and to be purely scientific all at the same time. It's also one of the rare instances of science fiction being nominated for an Academy Award outside of the visual effects departments (it got nods for Original Score and Sound).
Plus it's just a flat out cool movie.
Keep in mind David Cronenberg's 1986 body horror film The Fly and how they both examine the romantic tendencies of scientists as well as an obsession of pushing beyond the veil of current knowledge. Oh, and keep an eye out for Drew Berrymore.
If you don't own Altered States or can't get a hold of a physical copy, it's available via Netflix Watch Instantly. Check back on Monday for a more formal discussion of the film.