098 – Elysium (2013)

spacetime coordinates: 2154  the ruins of Los AngelesElysium

Elysium is a 2013 American science fiction film produced, written and directed by Neill Blomkamp. It stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Alice Braga, and Sharlto Copley. The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth, and a luxurious space habitat (Stanford torus design) called Elysium. The film itself offers deliberate social commentary which explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, health care, worker exploitation, the justice system, and social class issues. Blomkamp has stated that it is a comment on the contemporary human condition.”Everybody wants to ask me lately about my predictions for the future,” the director has said, “No, no, no. This isn’t science fiction. This is today. This is now.” (The film’s Earth-bound scenes were shot in a dump in the poor Iztapalapa district on the outskirts of Mexico City, while the scenes for Elysium were shot in Vancouver and the wealthy Huixquilucan-Interlomas suburbs of Mexico City.)

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director Neil Blomkamp expressed some regrets regarding Elysium, commenting: “I feel like I fucked it up, I feel like ultimately the story is not the right story.. I still think the satirical idea of a ring, filled with rich people, hovering above the impoverished Earth, is an awesome idea. I love it so much, I almost want to go back and do it correctly. But I just think the script wasn’t… I just didn’t make a good enough film is ultimately what it is. I feel like I executed all of the stuff that could be executed, like costume and set design and special effects very well. But, ultimately, it was all resting on a somewhat not totally formed skeletal system, so the script just wasn’t there; the story wasn’t fully there.”

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097 – The Neon Demon (2016)

spacetime coordinates: 2015 Los Angeles

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The Neon Demon is a 2016 psychological horror film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, co-written by Mary Laws, Polly Stenham, and Refn, and starring Elle Fanning.

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The plot follows an aspiring model in Los Angeles whose beauty and youth generate intense fascination and jealousy within the industry. Supporting roles are played by Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks, and Keanu Reeves.

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096 – Drive (2011)

spacetime coordinates: 2011 Los Angeles

Drive is a 2011 American neo-noir crime film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and written by Hossein Amini, based on the 2005 novel by James Sallis. It stars Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaac and Albert Brooks.

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Journalists and reviewers have called Drive a “classic Los Angeles heist-gone-wrong story”, a “tribute to the genre of car films” in the vein of movies like Bullitt (1968). As a character study, Drive examines themes of “loyalty, loneliness and the dark impulses that rise up even when we try our hardest to suppress them.” It combines comic gore, film noir and B-movie style and Hollywood spectacle, resulting in “a bizarre concoction…reminiscent of David Lynch‘s Mulholland DriveQuentin Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction, and [with] angst-laden love scenes that would not be out of place in a Scandinavian drama”.  – read more about  Style and inspiration – 

the film contains abundant, evocative, intense images of Los Angeles. from the little seen back streets of downtown LA to the dry arid outposts on the peaks of the desert landscape surrounding it, LA is re-imagined all the way down to the rocky cliffs by the sea.

While Drive is set in the present day, it carries a heavy 1980s atmosphere that is cautiously set from beginning to end and is underlined not only by the vehicles or music and clothes, but also by its architecture. The parts of the city seen in the Valley and by downtown Los Angeles are cheap stucco and mirrored glass. Refn avoided certain areas to preserve the gloomy atmosphere often leaving out more contemporary buildings. Drab background settings include the Southern California commercial strip. As the Los Angeles Times pointed out, whenever gleaming buildings are shown, it is because they are being seen from a distance. Refn shot those scenes from a helicopter at night in Bunker Hill, Los Angeles.

 

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052 – Night on Earth (1991)

spacetime coordinates: 1991 Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki

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Night on Earth is a 1991 film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It is a collection of five vignettes, taking place during the same night, concerning the temporary bond formed between taxi driver and passenger in five cities. Jarmusch wrote the screenplay in about eight days, and the choice of certain cities was largely based on the actors with whom he wanted to work. The soundtrack of the same name is by Tom Waits.

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