One of my favorite things about revisiting the sci-fi films of yesteryear isn’t to see how far their predictions for the future missed the mark, but rather what they got eerily correct about the direction in which the world would be heading. That goes double for any work dealing with the political and cultural climate of the 21st century.
Take The Running Man, from 1987, which imagines a United States 30 years in the future — that’s 2017, for those counting — and, well, its vision of cutthroat reality shows keeping the citizenry distracted in the wake of a major economic collapse doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Starring the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger as a wrongfully convicted prisoner, the plot follows him and other “runners” who must evade death on live TV for the entertainment of millions of viewers (and, if you want to get meta about it, the film’s real-life audience). As a rare summertime treat, PhilaMOCA will celebrate The Running Man’s 30th anniversary with a June 16 screening on the venue’s roof. Admission costs $12.
But ’80s action flicks aren’t all that the MOCA has in store for this month. The following two days (June 17 and 18), it will host four separate screenings of short films that made waves at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Sundance, of course, is second perhaps only to Cannes as the proving grounds for new directors trying to break into the mainstream. Expect to see the names behind these seven short films, which include live-action narratives as well as documentaries and animations, blow up in the near future. Tickets to each screening cost $12.
Horror, highbrow and low
No one would ever accuse Danish director Lars von Trier of having a light touch. His experimental, often bleak films tend to polarize critics, but none more so than 2009’s Antichrist. The film deals in excesses of sex, violence, and body horror, and despite the masterful setpieces and contemplative moods, the whole thing falls on just this side of exploitative. Yet the exquisite chemistry between Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, who star as a couple on a cabin retreat trying to recover from the death of their child, gives the film an unstoppable power. CineMug will host a BYOB screening for $5 on June 15, but be warned: after watching Antichrist, you will never handle scissors the same way again.
If you prefer your horror a little less highbrow, the B-movie enthusiasts at Exhumed Films have you covered. On July 16 at International House, the group will screen a marathon of five 3-D films from the ’70s and ’80s. The most famous title on the lineup is Friday the 13th Part III, the third film in the now-classic franchise that introduced Jason Voorhees with his signature hockey mask (an essential Halloween costume for edgy sixth-graders everywhere). Tickets to the all-day event cost $40.