Touch of Evil (1958)

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A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town. (IMDb)
Brilliant cinematography and editing, from the opening 3 minute take (and many other mesmerizing tracking shots to follow) to the ingenious overlapping of scenes (a character in the background of one becomes the focus of the next) to the stark use of shadow and light. It’s got a solid noir plot, too, with a unique focus on the cops, not the crime, though here a white-washed lead role, a cringe-y damsel-in-distress, and some questionable performances from the supporting cast mar things a bit.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Planet of the Apes (1968)

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An astronaut crew crash lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved. (IMDb)
Heston’s suave melodramatics here firmly take hold the reins of this pointed sci-fi, right from his great opening monologue to his anguished final cry on the beach. The story’s commentary on science, faith, and culture, while smart, is a tad heavy-handed, but it’s offset by a trio of apes, who with Taylor give us characters to care about amongst the many ideas to ponder. A variety of interesting camera angles and a mysterious soundtrack add further flavour to the straight-forward script.
7/10 (Good)

Soylent Green (1973)

With the world ravaged by the greenhouse effect and overpopulation, an NYPD detective investigates the murder of a CEO with ties to the world’s main food supply. (IMDb)
What stands out here is the chillingly plausible future setting (a bleak-looking, resource-depleted, corporate-controlled dystopia where things like hot water and fresh food are a supreme luxury), tactfully and naturally built with each affecting scene and populated by two great characters. Despite sharp dialogue, the plot isn’t quite as engaging–a murder mystery featuring bad fight sound effects that doesn’t go anywhere until the final twist–but it doesn’t need to be in this immersive sci-fi.
7/10 (Good)