Forty years since Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (1979), the cinematic extraterrestrial is changing

 

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Sidney Perkowitz, cofounder behind the National Academy of Sciences’ Science and Entertainment Exchange, says Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016) is an outstanding depiction of non-humanoid aliens pursuing intelligent contact. (Image Courtesy: Business Insider).

Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) was released forty years ago this May, and since then, the Hollywood extraterrestrial has evolved into something more scientifically feasible than the xenomorph, according to Business Insider. Before CGI, science fiction films in the 1950s and 1960s dressed actors in alien costumes, and because sci-fi is often an allegory for society’s fears, these humanoids are almost always hostile, even though physicist and author Sidney Perkowitz says no lifeform is evil for the sake of itself. With mosquitoes carrying viruses farther due to climate change, and filmmakers concerning themselves more with box office figures than scientific accuracy, Daniel Espinosa’s Life (2017) realistically posits that alien life will be discovered microscopically, but still villainizes it.

Barbara Stanwyck marathon coming to Criterion Channel

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The New York Times is quoted as reporting that Stanwyck saw as many pictures “as her pennies allowed” during childhood to help her cope with growing up impoverished. (Image Courtesy: Fox News).

Beginning August 16, Criterion Channel will spotlight eleven films Barbara Stanwyck made between 1930 and 1934 before Hays Code-era restrictions censored the silver screen, according to Fox News. Imogen Sara Smith, the historian hosting the marathon, says Stanwyck (born Ruby Stevens in 1907 Brooklyn) was orphaned at the age of four, dropped out of school as a thirteen-year-old, performed for speakeasies at fifteen, became a Broadway star five years later, and found work in Hollywood in 1929. The actress did not retire until her late seventies, with more than eighty movie and television credits to her name when she died from congestive heart failure in 1990.

The “Titanic” survivor who made a movie about it a month later

A silent film star named Dorothy Gibson co-wrote and acted in Etienne Arnaud’s one-reeler, Saved from the Titanic (1912), twenty-nine days after surviving the sinking herself, according to The A.V. Club. Gibson’s character in the film wears the same clothes the actress wore the night of the disaster, and even though the picture was an international hit, the only known prints were lost in a fire two years into its release, in one of the worst cinematic tragedies of the era. Gibson had been part of movie history since “Hollywood” was located in Fort Lee, New Jersey – indeed, she was one of the first performers to reach stardom – and only one of her flicks still exists.

Women’s rights activists in film oppose Hollywood boycotting Georgia abortion ban

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Protestors at the Georgia State Capitol when Governor Brian Kemp signed legislation outlawing almost all abortions. (Image Credit: The Los Angeles Times).

Female film workers in Georgia fear for their careers after Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a law banning most abortions at six weeks and liberal celebrities like Alyssa Milano, David Simon, and George Takei called for Hollywood to pull out of the state, according to the Los Angeles Times. Many of these women were already activists who marched on the capitol to protest the bill before it became law, and they say the entertainment industry should instead fund local groups opposed to the legislation, rather than boycott the state altogether. With their tax incentives for filmmaking companies, Georgia is the top filming location in the United States.

Criterion Channel off to a strong start, reviewer says

After debuting last month, Criterion Channel offers over a thousand titles from the Criterion Collection as well as distributor Janus Films for eleven dollars a month, according to Fortune; the archive is relatively small, but there are more Golden Age movies than on Netflix, which largely limits itself to the last twenty-five years, and Amazon Prime, which charges members extra to watch older pictures. Reviewer Lance Whitney writes that Criterion includes a diversity of silent, sound, short, feature-length, international, and independent releases from Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, Paramount, MGM, Lionsgate, and IFC Films; while the likes of Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941), Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942), or Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s American classics are not yet part of the selection, the library will grow if more studios sign licensing deals. Overall, Whitney’s review is positive, praising special features such as interviews, documentaries, and collections; however, while the fledgling streaming service is compatible with all browsers, some available texts are only searchable on the website.