Cinema for the Sleepless

    Here we are — the final leg of the year with summer vacation
    only inches from reach. Spring Quarter may bring more pleasant skies and an
    easier climate, but, like any long haul, you still have to trudge your way
    through the dreck — in our case, those last labs on cardiac output and
    12-pagers on feminism in Maoist China — before basking in the sun. That’s where
    La Jolla Village Cinemas come in, offering their late-night celluloid escapism
    “Midnight Madness” this quarter with a mix of sci-fi insanity and cool-as-ice
    cult films. Check out your favorite movies on the big screen with Friday and
    Saturday showings, featuring live music, trivia contests (with prizes) and
    plenty of excuses to leave that course reader on your desk.



    Despite everyone’s denial of ever seeing this film (save for
    Chief Wiggum), the 1982 virtual reality adventure remains, yes, ridiculously
    cheesy in today’s age of image manipulation, but also strangely exhilarating in
    its somewhat archaic representation of a pre-Al Gore cyberspace. Jeff Bridges
    stars as ace hacker Flynn, forced to digitally combat the sinister Master
    Control in a computer mainframe that looks like someplace between what’s inside
    Bill Gates’ mind and that “Simpsons” episode where Homer falls into the third
    dimension. So what if it was produced by Disney? Visually, “Tron” was the
    “Matrix” of its time, enthralling crowds while you were still learning how to
    spell c-a-t on Reader Rabbit.



    Catch a glimpse of the animated sequences of any Monty
    Python episode or film and you’ll know that the cartoonist, Terry Gilliam, is
    one trippy fuck. You’d figure his expedition into live action film would force
    him to tone down his wildly absurd ideas, but alas, “Brazil,”
    a modern adaptation of George Orwell’s seminal “1984,” is as psychotic and
    weird as his work with a pencil. Ensconced in a labyrinthine bureaucracy,
    government stooge Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) embarks on a fantastical romance
    with subversive Jill (Kim Greist) with the help of flying plumber Robert De
    Niro, all the while avoiding his devil-in-disguise boss played by Python alum
    Michael Palin.



    Hunter S. Thompson’s literary masterpiece is a legendary
    descent into the neon-lit American dream of the early 1970s, not the gritty
    drug-infested world touted by dorm room posters. It’s a flowing narrative
    assault of words and a sea of fine-tuned observations on society gone berserk.
    The always inventive Terry Gilliam gripped onto the material and let it spin
    him down Highway 15 toward Sin City, alongside Johnny Depp (with the spot-on
    monotone voice of Thompsonas disguised as journalist Raoul Duke) and a slovenly
    Benicio Del Toro as attorney-at-law Dr. Gonzo. Between the endlessly engaging
    musings of Depp-as-Duke-as-Thompson (“I knew it was a crime; I did it anyway”)
    and the visual intoxication (Circus Circus ether binge), Gilliam’s adaptation
    translates Thompson’s words with surreal precision, making for a raucous and
    revealing ride.



    While our current senses have been numbed to the culture’s
    violent tapestry, there’s still something shocking that lurks in the depths of
    Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film, “A Clockwork Orange,” an oddball coming-of-age
    tale chastising and lauding every element of society. Demonic in conception and
    relentless in execution, Kubrick weaves a brutal portrait of Alex (Malcolm
    McDowell), a near-anarchist youth who relishes in all forms of ultra-violence
    and rape before being “reformed” by the government. The film contains some of
    the most exquisitely excruciating scenes ever shot, including a wickedly ironic
    bit which will forever make you quiver whenever you hear the tune “Singin’ in
    the Rain.”



    Can there be a more appropriate sage for the everyday
    20-something than Jeffery Lebowski, aka the Dude? Has no job, bowls to relax,
    uses illicit substances while driving to Creedence tapes, fights fascism —
    these are the true hallmarks of a modern-day messiah. The Coen Brothers, recent
    Oscar recipients, offer an offbeat take on noir novels with the post-“Tron”
    Jeff Bridges caught in a tangled web of lies, money, nihilists and rugs, along
    with Vietnam
    vet pal Walter (John Goodman) and sad-sack bowler Donny (Steve Buscemi).
    There’s no rhyme or reason to the quest that takes the Dude across Los
    , but half the fun is letting him steer you
    from behind the wheel.



    Quentin Tarantino’s existential and postmodern approach to
    dime store novels hasn’t changed much since it took the Cannes Film Festival by
    storm nearly 15 years ago. Audiences in 1994 were taken aback by the film’s
    near-cartoon pace and the splashy, comical approach to violence, and while
    today’s theater-goers still relish Samuel L. Jackson’s opening retort and Uma
    Thurman’s femme fatale, it’s now put in the perspective of Tarantino’s full
    career, with the stylized “Kill Bill” films and the grossly undervalued “Jackie
    Brown.” Love or hate him, the man knows his way around retro cool and drags you
    along by the collar the whole way. The Jack Rabbit Slim dance, the Royale with
    cheese, Bruce Willis putting a katana to Zed’s backdoor cruelty — all are
    chiseled into cinematic history, and seeing it on the big screen reveals just
    how immortalized this classic stands todayw layer…

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