Aug 08 2013
Andrew Niccol is one of my favorite science-fiction directors of all time. The premise of his stories aren’t epic in scale or has a diverse array of alien species similar to Star Wars. He makes movies that often reflect the ills of society through a dystopian backdrop set in a not too distant future. If you’re a fan of stories by Philip K. Dick, then I bet you would love Niccol’s films. You might have shrugged him off because of his recent film The Host, but please do note that it was adapted from a novel written by the author of the Twilight series. I’ll give him some points for trying to make it more than just love story. It had an interesting concept, but it sadly had to take a backseat since Meyer prioritized the romance aspect.
Here are some of the films I have loved from Andrew Niccol. I hope you’ll appreciate the suggestions and love it the same way I have. Let me know if there are other films of his you love or possibly hate too. I’m open to having a healthy discussion.
Niccol served as the writer, director, and producer for S1MONE. This film received mixed reviews, but I actually enjoyed it and the themes that it tried to convey. The movie stars Al Pacino as a fading director looking for a new star to revive his career. When he gets his hand on a special computer program, he now has the power to create his own star using technology and illusions to trick the world. He names his creation Simone in homage to the program’s name Simulation One. He also gives the impression that Simone is a very private person, which only fuels the media and audience’s desire to see and know more about her.
I watched this film when I was a kid, and I found it so hilarious how the adults fell for such a ruse. It was also cool that Pacino’s daughter in the film played by Evan Rachel Wood was also in on it later on. I love how the film portrays how society is so quick to believe and fall in love for unauthentic things or people in the media. The best part is when Pacino tries to get rid of Simone by making her do weird stuff in a film called I Am Pig and people still loved her. Her critics and fans applauded her for being a risk-taking and avant-garde artist. It makes you wonder if people define art based on the star power behind it.
2. In Time
Niccol served as the writer, director, and producer for In Time as well. In this film, the new currency isn’t money anymore because it is replaced by time. The phrase: “Time is money” is taken literally in this movie. People pay and are paid in seconds, minutes, hours, years, and even centuries. Everyone stops aging when they reach the age of 25, but they die if their time runs out. The rich people have centuries of wealth, so they have the ability to live forever. There is no equal distribution of time in this world, so the poor live by paycheck to paycheck and their lives literally depend on it.
I think this film was released during the time Occupy Wall Street was on everyone’s minds. While the poor don’t die right away when they run out of money or currency in real life, it’s a great way to show how living to paycheck to paycheck can mean the end of our lives. People become homeless and they starve because of the corruption of a few greedy people. I really enjoyed this film and loved the whole concept behind it. Plus, wow the scene with Olivia Wilde was so heartbreaking. Check out the cool soundtrack from Craig Armstrong too. The music behind this film remains one of my favorites.
3. The Truman Show
Niccol didn’t direct The Truman Show, but he was on board as the writer and producer. This was a story about a young man named Truman who lives in a seemingly perfect life. There’s a reason why the world he lives in is so perfect. He’s in a reality show from the day of his birth, and he is the star. The whole town is actually a humongous set enclosed in a globe. Everyone in the town are actors and actresses even his family and friends. Everything is orchestrated from the weather, what people say, and what they do. There are product placements all over and Truman starts to notice when his wife talks about products like she was in some sort of infomercial. He also starts to doubt things when one of the set’s lights that acted as one of the stars fall in his presence.
No doubt this is a commentary about reality shows and other forms of media. It also conveys our interest in spectating people’s lives as an entertaining hobby. This may be a fairly old film, but I recommend it.
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without Gattaca in it. Niccol was the director and writer for this film. The name was inspired by the first four letters of the four nitrogenous bases of DNA. In this film, the future is portrayed as a world where parents can select potential children in a pre-implantation process to ensure that they get the best genes. Thus, DNA is the primary factor is defining what social class you belong to. You are either a ‘valid’ or an ‘invalid.’ Your status affects how people treat you and the opportunities that are available to you. Interestingly, the DNA data is mostly made up of projections and probabilities like the likelihood of a heart problem or estimation of death. Society believes in these results like they are infallible evidence of a person’s ability. Doesn’t it kind of remind you of what people say about standardized testing?
Anyway, the protagonist played by Ethan Hawke was born an invalid since he was born without the aid of technology. His dream of becoming an astronaut is crushed because of his DNA. However, he makes a deal with Jude Law’s character who was former athlete that was paralyzed because of a car accident. The deal involves Hawke paying Law to use his identity and credentials to be an astronaut. I don’t want to spoil anything more because it’s fun if you watch it yourself.
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