Memory The Origins of Alien Review

One of the most anticipated films at Sundance this year, certainly among cinephiles was the latest deep-div making of work from Swiss-born filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe, who previously has looked into fandom’s disenchantment with George Lucas (The People vs. George Lucas), zombie culture (Doc of the Dead), and his critically acclaimed 2017 detailed look at Hitchcock’s Psycho shower scene (78/52).

While his new work, Memory—The Origins of Alien, began as a shot-by-shot look at that film’s ferocious chest-burster sequence, it eventually became clear to Philippe that there were forces and influences that went into the creation of Alien that went beyond standard-issue science fiction and horror. The film explores its roots in everything from Egyptian mythology, H.P. Lovecraft, parasitic wasps, comic books, and the paintings of Frances Bacon, while also making it a treat for those who want a peak behind the curtain of the film of one of Ridley Scott’s most influential works (although Scott himself is not interviewed).

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Memory The Origins of Alien Review

Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi film Alien is a classic, plain and simple. It’s one of those movies studied in film school and has been poured over by critics, filmmakers, scholars and fans for decades. But believe it or not, Alexandre O. Philippe‘s new documentary Memory: The Origins of Alien shows there is still plenty to learn about the development and making of such an influential and iconic movie.

Philippe came to Sundance a couple years ago with a documentary called 78/52. That film was an extensive, in-depth examination of the classic shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Featuring a cavalcade of cinephiles, ranging from filmmakers to critics with some actors and film professors, the film gave new context to and thorough exploration of one of the most famous scenes of all time. Philippe does that again with Memory, but it’s not quite as entrancing. The presentation is a little uneven and seems to be grasping for straws at times. Read More »

Sundance 2019 logo

While 2018’s edition of the Sundance Film Festival might not have launched any major Oscar heavyweights, it turned out a steady stream of modest summer hits from first time directors (Hereditary, Sorry to Bother You, Eight Grade) as well as three non-fiction films that were blockbusters by documentary standards (Three Identical Strangers, RBG, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?). Plus, countless Sundance selections remained critical favorites that stuck around in the conversation through the end of last year (Wildlife, Minding the Gap, Hale County This Morning, This Evening).

This is all to say, never believe anyone who tells you that a given year at Sundance is a “weak” one. Fluctuations in programming focuses and projects submissions rarely yield a continuous trajectory for a festival. That may prove doubly true for the 2019 edition of the Sundance Film Festival, which is the first under Kim Yutani’s leadership as director of programming following the long reign of Trevor Groth. This year’s festival looks noticeably more inclusive and diverse, both in terms of the stories being told and the people who are telling them. The lineup pulls less obviously from established festival favorites in favor of providing a platform to emerging artists who may have only a scattered short or feature to their name.

There’s going to be a lot to follow out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and thankfully /Film will have several writers on the ground in Park City to report out the big finds and stories. But for those of us who aren’t making the trek up into the mountains of Utah for Sundance, there’s still a way to be a part of the festival.

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Alien documentary

There have been plenty of great feature-length documentaries about filmmaking: American Movie, Lost in La Mancha, Hearts of Darkness, Best Worst Movie, Jodorowsky’s Dune, and Burden of Dreams immediately spring to mind. Now a new documentary aims to join those hallowed ranks.

It’s called Memory: The Origins of Alien, and it’s an exploration of Ridley Scott’s seminal 1979 sci-fi horror classic that features never-before-seen materials from the archives of writer Dan O’Bannon and designer H.R. Giger. Read more about the newly-announced Alien documentary below. Read More »