Tales from outer turnip head...

Tales from outer turnip head...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A moment of quiet sprinkled with a healthy dose of chaos...

Technology: So although I assimilate gobs of technological devices—[iPad (#2), Laptop (#3), Desktop (#5), double monitors at home and at work (so I can work 4 screens at times), GPS Road (#1), GPS Trail (#1), iShuffle (#1), Video Camera (#3), iPod (#2), xBox (#4 - 2 RODs), Blue Ray, DVD, Smart TV, 5.1 theater sound, stereo, etc. etc. etc.]—I DO not own a cellphone. It is a thing for me... I see their utility; I appreciate the wonder; I get that revolutions are coordinated with cells; I know that it may be the only device that works when the "wires are cut." I also know that a cell phone (especially a "smart" phone) would tie down this addictive soul to the point of not moving...

Tests: I've taken the Myers Briggs personality test twice, once when I was 20, and again ten years later. On both I scored almost the same. The latter test moved me slightly to the center on all indicators. The one indicator that surprised me—and seems to surprise everyone else also—is that I am a slight "I", introvert. I did not fully understand what that might mean until I read Susan Cain's Quiet. [I did not like her almost constant anti-extrovert jabs, but much enjoyed the value she places on the roll of introvert in society.] The Introvert/Extrovert indicator is more about where one recharges as opposed to being an indicator of perceived energy. Do you feel invigorated after that holiday party or drained by it? I get nervous, talk up a storm, make jokes, smile a lot [it's not faked], and drive home feeling exhausted and wishing I had listened more; I have long thought of myself as a wannabe Pooh trapped in a functional Tigger...

Pre-holiday storm: Wednesday night we had a pretty good snow storm. Roughly a foot of heavy-wet and then cold-frozen snow dropped in my area. The power went out; the candles were lit; the fire blazed in the stove; our phone line (and subsequently our internet) was ripped from the house and flung across the street (removing a little siding as well); ALL the devices failed to "connect" save my wife's cellphone...

Ack: I felt a little twinge of panic; the fire calls would be coming in any moment; my night was about to get crazy. I turned on the portable radio and listened to the communities around us called out over and over for burring lines, car crashes, a few small fires, some CO calls; we were not called out...

Quiet with dashes of chaos: I heard a loud crackle and then a pop. Again. And again. The whole family went out to listen to the storm created by the trees yielding to their wet burden. The others went in after a few minutes. I stood by the fire I had built, and  then proceeded—after a few—up to the ridge above my house, placing me a good ten feet above the roof. I could see down into town, and down onto our lot. No street lights; little traffic; flickers of flame from my neighbors' windows; and the trees continued to pop all around me. Huge limbs crashed across the way, echoing in the muffled quiet of a snow storm. Medium sized limbs nearby; it was a symphony of clacking cotton woods and poplars, and cracking pines. The cascade of surrendered snow finished off each break with a "shhhhhhhh" giving the visual feedback of how close I was to the drop. The quiet of the night broken in sporadic moments was exquisitely recharging; it was a lot "Pooh" with frequent splashes of "Tigger". Ahhhhhhh...

Photo Credit: James Kurella
A moment of gratitude: Thanksgiving was just the five of us who usually live in my house. It was quiet. The power was back on. The internet still down. It was refreshing to have many of the devices "out of service" for a while. I revel in my ability to reach out to the world, but rejoiced in the quiet served by be forced from the "feed" for a few days...

A Parting: For this moment I offer a photo borrowed from a friend from college who appreciated my energies both wild and quiet. The subject of the image is "Middle Path". Appropriate, no?

Tomorrow is December 1: The holiday madness is upon us with named days to do crazy shopping. Don't forget to find the quiet; don't forget to sip your hot beverage of choice; don't forget to find the little lights in the darkness. They're pretty, eh?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words."

1" Miniatures
Blogging Angst (#FirstWorldProblems): What to write? The week is a blur. The holidays approach and I strive to live in the moment, but the moment keeps showing up in the form of sleeping in, and wasting good lighted hours that could be spent growing my fatigue. Inspiration, Literary Heroes, Freedom, Control, Truth... Ack! I tried to explain to my mother what this blog is for... sorting out the mishmash of "stuff" in my noodle. I am not sure if it is working, but I am having fun trying... but it is madding... like three cups of coffee and trying to paint detail work on 1 inch miniatures. Thank goodness I am only trying to paint figuratively right now. The soundtrack for the moment is One Hundred Years by The Cure. If you wish to listen, read slowly as there is a an acceptance speech that you need to watch below and the song is almost seven minutes long. If you are talented you can get the audio balance right and have the soundtrack back the speech. That would be cool...

On Freedom and Childhood: When I was young I was afforded a lot of freedom by very caring and mostly hands-off parents. "Where are you going?" My mom might ask. "Bike riding," my reply, before taking off for hours to some construction lot or wooded space in the city to try stupid stuff (that rarely caused more injury than that to my pride).

We always returned home for food: Sometimes I would make my way to an unexplored space and sit down to watch the people from another neighborhood, imagining... wondering if their experience was different from mine several miles away in a different part of Baltimore. I am not sure how these scenarios appeared to my parents, but my perception was that I could pretty easily come and go as I wished with little or no interference. Each excursion was a mini adventure, exploration, experiment. Impulsive at times, dangerous occasionally, mostly harmless... We always made it back home in time...

Damage and growth: My use (abuse?) of freedom created a few major problems at times as I exercised poor judgement in exploring the world; but my freedoms also formed in me a successful independence that I value even more than the stumbles I endured (and inflicted on others) along the way...

Safer Adventures: My father would often finish his work at his desk in time to sit on the bed and watch the evening news. The TV announcer would ask "It's 11 O'clock. Do you know where your children are?" Meanwhile my mother, the night owl, would be doing her own thing downstairs, dishes? budgeting? reading? needlepoint? (I should ask her at some point... I have no idea.) I would be in bed reading as late as I could manage. My mom would head up to the third floor where I slept, long after my father had given into his own fatigue, and say "It's time to turn off your light soon." That was it. I could go for another hour if I wished, as long as I didn't draw attention to myself. And I would usually only make it a few more minutes before crashing into uneasy darkness...

But sometimes I had an adventure that could keep me tuned in long past the usual time that sleep pulled me under. The safe adventures of a great story told on the yellow pages of an acidy paperback; 4" x 7".  You know, that story that you read more times than people believe if you confess it? That story that gets better the more you are familiar with it? That story that you give to your girlfriend (read wife now), and push on your children the minute you think they are ready for it? For me that story is the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin. Any attempt I try to sell it further would do it disservice. Let my review rest with the statement that few works early on shaped my understanding of the world and beyond, and although hers is one of magic, I read more truth in Le Guin's world than in most other worlds (including our own) that I have read about.

Today: And so in a mid-morning conversation with my mother today, literally just after I began trolling the inter-webs for inspiration, I stumbled upon this... Choose to listen to one of my literary heroes, or read her words in print, but please do not tune her out. She specks truth and is honest in her truth. "Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words." 

parker higgins dot net: The following post is reproduced from a blog parker higgins dot net. The specific post, “We will need writers who can remember freedom”: Ursula K Le Guin at the National Book Awards: The video is from youtube.
Ursula K. Le Guin was honored at the National Book Awards tonight and gave a fantastic speech about the dangers to literature and how they can be stopped. As far as I know it’s not available online yet (update: the video is now online), so I’ve transcribed it from the livestream below. The parts in parentheses were ad-libbed directly to the audience, and the Neil thanked is Neil Gaiman, who presented her with the award.
Thank you Neil, and to the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks from the heart. My family, my agent, editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as mine, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice at accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction—writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.
I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.
Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship. (Thank you, brave applauders.)
Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write. (Well, I love you too, darling.)
Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.
I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.
Thank you.
Wow! Should anyone feel the need to comment, please do so on Ursula K. Le Guin's words today and not mine. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A quiet pleasant melancholy...

Googling My Brains Out
The Week: It snowed this week. The leaves have finally given up their grip. The branches drum in the wind while the roots quietly and softly hum. The nights are getting longer, and the little lights that warm the cold nights haven't been put out yet. It's a shoulder's-up head-down wool cap kind of feeling; a quiet book in the lap, let your eyes close, dog by the hearth scene.

I think we all have those places, moments, smells, memories, imaginations, dreams that bring us our quiet peace... 

More of the Week: I struggled this week with lessons of ethical conduct and conflict of interest, free speech and slander, the roll of teacher and of regular person. I haven't figured out the best path for teaching my charges while honoring my own emotions as a person... and that brings unrest to my mind. 

The art offered here is a doodle I did a few years ago after spending a solid day surfing, searching, browsing, the internet. Although I like the aesthetic of the doodle, the chaos reflects what a day in front of my screen does to my peace. I labeled it "Googling my brains out." And yet it's amazing what can soothe the disruptions of an agitated mind...

Hearth Scene
The Week's End: I watched a troupe of actors grades 7 to 12 present a delightfully humorous and at times sorrowful rendering of The Winter's Tale by the Bard. It is like Oedipus reversed, with a happy ending save a reasonably hysterical death by full ingestion by bear. Goodness, it was nice to escape my head for two hours. And then, spending time outside with a fire doing some cold yard work, putting order to the chaos; having healthy conversations with my son like two adults, realizing that he is a young man who can handle the complexities of life pretty well these days; shooting with a friend at 40 yard targets and getting a pretty good cluster of arrows; watching my daughter play some sweet indoor soccer while remaining tough even as she was traded to the other team to keep sides balanced; sharing a caesar salad with the best wife ever, basking in the realization that we are best friends and can exist near/with each other, often without needing to explain ourselves...

From the Past: I choose to dig out a moment from about 25 years ago. It sums things up pretty perfectly for me as we shuffle out of Autumn.

Do you remember those days
when in the morning it rained
and then stopped,

and the leaves were changing their
colours and beginning to fall,

and there was a warm breeze,
but because of the wet
it was damp,

and someone built a fire,
and the wet kept the smell
down, where we could
smell it,

and we would feel tragic
yet happy in the quietness where
voices traveled across whole fields,
and the leaves sang
with the breeze,

and we felt nostalgic of that
same feeling the year before?

Do you remember those days?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Division and healing...

So I think I'm in for a potentially dark trip this week. Fire Calls in the wee hours followed by some reasonably bad nightmares in the early morning, shortening daylight hours, dropping temperatures, the end of the first academic quarter with reflections on academic experiments, and the desire to make a weekly blog work feel like a press this morning. And yet there is warm bit of rose in the black and white scratches of a drawing of my November melancholy that feels like hope despite all the rest.

The soundtrack for the moment is The church: Destination. The text is DMZ by Brian Wood. The events are Civil War Heroes, Terrorism, and The Berlin Wall: 25 Years Later.

The Soundtrack: The Church Starfish, 1988, Track 1. Destination: 

Our instruments have no way of measuring this feeling
Can never cut below the floor, or penetrate the ceiling.
In the space between our houses, some bones have been discovered,
But our procession lurches on, as if we had recovered.

Draconian winter unforetold.
One solar day, suddenly you're old.
Your little envelope just makes me cold,
Makes destination start to unfold.

Our documents are useless, or forged beyond believing.
Page forty-seven is unsigned, I need it by this evening.
In the space between our cities, a storm is slowly forming.
Something eating up our days, I feel it every morning.
Destination, destination.

It's not a religion, it's just a technique.
It's just a way of making you speak.
Distance and speed have left us too weak,
And destination looks kind of bleak.

Our elements are burned out, our beasts have been mistreated.
I tell you it's the only way we'll get this road completed.
In the space between our bodies, the air has grown small fingers.
Just one caress, you're powerless, like all those clapped-out swingers.
Destination, destination.

The Text: I am just finishing DMZ by Brian Wood. I have only a few issues left to go. What started as a way to pass the time has developed into a pretty thought-provoking story told through a journalistic lens and moved with often very stimulating art by Riccardo Burchielli and many guest artists.

DMZ is an American comic book series written by Brian Wood, with artwork by Wood and Riccardo Burchielli. The series is set in the near future, where a second American civil war has turned the island of Manhattan into a demilitarized zone (DMZ), caught between forces of the United States of America and secessionist Free States of America. (Wikipedia).

In his article The Civil War Has Begun. It’s on Park Avenue   George Gene Gustines of the New York Times offers a brief summary of the Novel (which finishes in about 75 issues over ten years of release). 
"At the center of DMZ, which is published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, is Matt Roth, who begins the series as an ill-informed, unmotivated, 20-something photo intern for the Liberty News television network. He accompanies an award-winning journalist into Manhattan, but their helicopter is shot down near the Bowery and Delancey Streets, and Matt is stranded. That’s when he begins to learn that the reports about Manhattan — only insurgents remain, rats and pigeons are the main food source — are propaganda. Matt decides to stay and document the struggle for survival among the remaining residents, the diehards who will not leave and the unlucky who could not cross the bridges before they were sealed.(www.nytimes.com)
As the story develops—what started as an implausible, and at times silly, over-drama of NYC laying at the center of a civil war—the reality of possible division in any nation is drawn ever more realistically, focusing on the the people who are swept by the tides of events that seem out of their control. I do not worry about our civil war, but am saddened by the divisions that lie around the globe and wish instead to look to the healers, the patchers, the middle-ground finders—the leaders who are often rejected in the moment by passionately angry opposing sides and discovered by the masses only when the fatigue of conflict overtakes them.

Civil War Heroes: Congress recently approved awarding a Medal of Honor 151 years after the fact. Read the story here at BBC and NYT. The quote that I took away from the story is from President Obama:
"This medal is a reminder that no matter how long it takes, it is never too late to do the right thing."
I am not sure I agree that it is never too late to do the right thing, but I know that even if we are late we need to do the right thing. Healing takes time. We are still healing our civil war. I am not sure how much posthumous medals aid in that process, but the conversations of why we fought and how we heal are important to what we are as a nation. Relationships take work to remain healthy. Ours is an experimental relationship in the form of a representative democracy. It can be messy and contentious. It can be madding and rife with bitter pills of compromise and even corruption. But we struggle on to adapt a system to meet our needs. As long as we have our principles and heroes, and questioners and readers, participants and dreamers, I think we will continue to be all right. It just takes time to heal when we botch it all up.

Terrorism: The nature of terrorism is to create change though fear. We fear what we cannot see or understand. When violence comes from un-uniformed attackers and is directed at people who do not train to be ready for attack, we feel violated. And it is a violation. While all war is violation, terrorism seems to be several notches higher on the scale to me. I wonder if civil war feels similar. We study brother fighting brother, people who are often divided by fewer differences than the majority of the global conflicts we study. Does violence done to "the other" who is so similar to us harder than violence to the "the other" from afar? Do we hurt those closest to us worse than those who are distance because we are so much more reticent to engage our own kind? Or do we jump in so much faster when we can easily separate ourselves from "the other". A friend of mine teaches an enduring understanding: "What we can separate we can violate." The logical and ethical conclusion is to follow up with the lessons on how we mend, heal, and join, to prohibit the separation that so often precedes the violation.

And it can be done...

The Berlin Wall 25 Years Later: I was born in Baltimore. My grandfather was born in Germany. Some of my people are from parts of the world that I used to call East Germany. I was told at one point when I was in early high school that I would never really have the chance to visit where my ancestors came from. I felt a pretty deep sadness about this and took to heart stories I heard about the walls of Germany and the camps of WWII, of people signaling each other across the divides. An so I was glued to the TV in 1989 when I watched video clip after video clip of German kids clamoring on a wall that was the most fortified structure I knew as a kid. There were dog runs and roll wire fences, underground listening points and whitewashed walls, guard towers and spot lights, razor wire and mines. And these Germans were tearing it apart with their bare hands, sledgehammers, other parts of the wall.  I asked my father "We're watching history, aren't we?" He replied, "Yes, we are." They had become strangers, these Germans of East and West, but they have also been working on healing for 25 years now. The lines have blurred considerably. My students do not know of the sadness I had of a country divided. Such healing in one generation! It gives me a little hope...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Movie List...

Movie List: 10 Pre-Millennial, Futuristic, possibly post-apocalyptic, dystopian(?), sci-fi stories that all sort-of fall into "I-am-intrigued-but-don't-want-to-live-there" movies:

[I limited myself to 10 and a Bonus. The text and images are all from wikipedia. I will leave commentary and discussion for the comments section. Please weigh in.]

Metropolis: is a 1927 German expressionist epic science-fiction film directed by Fritz Lang. The film was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou, and starred Brigitte HelmGustav FröhlichAlfred Abel and Rudolf Klein-Rogge. A silent film, it was produced by Erich Pommer in the Babelsberg Studios by Universum Film A.G.. It is regarded as a pioneering work of science fiction genre in movies, being the first feature length movie of the genre.
Made in Germany during the Weimar PeriodMetropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia, and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city's ruler, and Maria, a poor worker, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes of their city. Metropolis was filmed in 1925, at a cost of approximately five million Reichsmarks. Thus, it was the most expensive film ever released up to that point. The motion picture's futuristic style is influenced by the work of Futurist Italian architect, Antonio Sant'Elia.[2]
The film was met with a mixed response upon its initial release, with many critics praising its technical achievements and social metaphors while others derided its "simplistic and naïve" presentation. Because of its long running-time and the inclusion of footage which censors found questionable, Metropolis was cut substantially after its German premiere: large portions of the film were lost over the subsequent decades.
Numerous attempts have been made to restore the film since the 1970s-80s. Giorgio Moroder, a music producer, released a version with a soundtrack by rock artists such as Freddie MercuryLoverboy and Adam Ant in 1984. A new reconstruction of Metropolis was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001, and the film was inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in the same year, the first film thus distinguished. In 2008, a damaged print of Lang’s original cut of the film was found in a museum in Argentina. After a long restoration process, the film was 95% restored and shown on large screens in Berlin and Frankfurt simultaneously on 12 February 2010.

A Clockwork Orange: is a 1971 dystopian crime film adapted, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Anthony Burgess's 1962 novella A Clockwork Orange. It employs disturbing, violent images to comment on psychiatry, juvenile delinquency, youth gangs, and other social, political, and economic subjects in a dystopian near-future Britain.
Alex (Malcolm McDowell), the main character, is a charismatic, sociopathic delinquent whose interests include classical music (especially Beethoven), rape, and what is termed "ultra-violence." He leads a small gang of thugs (Pete, Georgie, and Dim), whom he calls his droogs (from the Russian друг, "friend," "buddy"). The film chronicles the horrific crime spree of his gang, his capture, and attempted rehabilitation via controversial psychological conditioning. Alex narrates most of the film in Nadsat, a fractured adolescent slang composed of Slavic(especially Russian), English, and Cockney rhyming slang.
The soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange features mostly classical music selections and Moog synthesizer compositions by Wendy Carlos (then known as Walter Carlos). The artwork of the now-iconic poster of A Clockwork Orange was created by Philip Castle with the layout by designer Bill Gold.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior: (also known as The Road Warrior and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior) is a 1981 Australian post-apocalyptic action film directed by George Miller. The film is the second installment in the Mad Max film series, with Mel Gibson starring as Max Rockatansky. The film's tale of a community of settlers moved to defend themselves against a roving band of marauders follows an archetypical "Western" frontier movie motif, as does Max's role as a hardened man who rediscovers his humanity when he decides to help the settlers.[4] Filming took part in locations around Broken Hill, in the outback of New South Wales.[5]
Mad Max 2 was released on 24 December 1981, and received ample critical acclaim. Observers praised the visuals and Gibson's role. Noteworthy elements of the film also include cinematographer Dean Semler's widescreen photography of Australia's vast desert landscapes; the sparing use of dialogue throughout the film; costume designer Norma Moriceau's punk mohawkedleather bondage gear-wearing bikers; and its fast-paced, tightly edited and violent battle and chase scenes.
The film's comic-book post-apocalyptic/punk style popularised the genre in film and fiction writing. It was also a box office success, winning the Best International Film from six nominations at the Saturn Award ceremony, including: Best Director for Miller; Best Actor for Gibson; Best Supporting Actor for Bruce SpenceBest Writing for Miller, Hayes and Hannant; Best Costumefor Norma MoriceauMad Max 2 became a cult film: fan clubs and "road warrior"-themed activities continue into the 21st century. The film was followed by Mad Max Beyond Thunderdomein 1985, with a fourth film in the series, Mad Max: Fury Road, slated for release on May 15, 2015.[6]

Blade Runner: is a 1982 American neo-noir dystopian science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is a modified film adaptation of the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.
The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation as well as by other "mega-corporations" around the world. Their use on Earth is banned and replicants are exclusively used for dangerous, menial, or leisure work on off-world colonies. Replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and "retired" by special police operatives known as "Blade Runners". The plot focuses on a desperate group of recently escaped replicants hiding in Los Angeles and the burnt-out expert Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt them down.
Blade Runner initially polarized critics: some were displeased with the pacing, while others enjoyed its thematic complexity. The film performed poorly in North American theaters but has since become a cult film.[2] It has been hailed for its production design, depicting a "retrofitted" future,[3] and remains a leading example of the neo-noir genre.[4] It brought the work of Philip K. Dick to the attention of Hollywood and several later films were based on his work.[5] Ridley Scott regards Blade Runner as "probably" his most complete and personal film.[6][7] In 1993, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Blade Runner is now regarded as one of the best science fiction films ever made.
Seven versions of the film have been shown for various markets as a result of controversial changes made by film executives. A rushed Director's Cut was released in 1992 after a strong response to workprint screenings. This, in conjunction with its popularity as a video rental, made it one of the first films released on DVD, resulting in a basic disc with mediocre video and audio quality.[8] In 2007, Warner Bros. released The Final Cut, a 25th anniversary digitally remastered version which is the only one on which Scott had complete artistic freedom[9] and was shown in select theaters and subsequently released on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc.[10]

Brazil: is a 1985 British film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard. British National Cinema by Sarah Street describes the film as a "fantasy/satire on bureaucratic society" while John Scalzi's Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies describes it as a "dystopian satire". The film stars Jonathan Pryce and features Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins, and Ian Holm.
The film centres on Sam Lowry, a man trying to find a woman who appears in his dreams while he is working in a mind-numbing job and living a life in a small apartment, set in a consumer-driven dystopian world in which there is an over-reliance on poorly maintained (and rather whimsical) machines. Brazil '​s bureaucratic, totalitarian government is reminiscent of the government depicted in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four,[1][2] except that it has a buffoonish, slapstick quality and lacks a Big Brother figure.
Jack Mathews, film critic and author of The Battle of Brazil (1987), described the film as "satirizing the bureaucratic, largely dysfunctional industrial world that had been driving Gilliam crazy all his life".[3] Though a success in Europe, the film was unsuccessful in its initial North America release. It has since become a cult film.
The film is named after the recurrent theme song, "Aquarela do Brasil", as performed by Geoff Muldaur.

12 Monkeys: is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée, and starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, and Brad Pitt, with Christopher Plummer and David Morse in supporting roles. In 2013, Gilliam called it the second part of a dystopian satire trilogy begun with 1985's Brazil and concluded with 2013's The Zero Theorem.[1]
After Universal Studios acquired the rights to remake La Jetée as a full-length film, David and Janet Peoples were hired to write the script. Under Terry Gilliam's direction, Universal granted the filmmakers a US$29.5 million budget, and filming lasted from February to May 1995. The film was shot mostly in Philadelphia and Baltimore, where the story was set.
The film was released to critical praise and grossed approximately US$168.8 million worldwide. Brad Pitt was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and won a Golden Globe for his performance. The film also won and was nominated for various categories at the Saturn Awards.

Gattaca: is a 1997 American science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It stars Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, with Jude Law, Loren Dean, Ernest Borgnine, Gore Vidal, and Alan Arkin appearing in supporting roles.[1] The film presents a biopunk vision of a future society driven by eugenics where potential children are conceived through genetic manipulation to ensure they possess the best hereditary traits of their parents.[2] The film centers on Vincent Freeman, played by Hawke, who was conceived outside the eugenics program and struggles to overcome genetic discrimination to realize his dream of traveling into space.
The movie draws on concerns over reproductive technologies which facilitate eugenics, and the possible consequences of such technological developments for society. It also explores the idea of destiny and the ways in which it can and does govern lives. Characters in Gattaca continually battle both with society and with themselves to find their place in the world and who they are destined to be according to their genes.
The film's title is based on the first letters of guanineadeninethymine, and cytosine, the four nucleobases of DNA.[3] It was a 1997 nominee for the Academy Award for Best Art Directionand the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.
The film flopped at the box office, but it received generally positive reviews.

The Fifth Element: (French: Le Cinquième élément) is a 1997 English-language French science fiction action film directed, co-written, and based on a story by Luc Besson. The film stars Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, and Milla Jovovich. Mostly set in the twenty-third century, the film's central plot involves the survival of planet Earth, which becomes the responsibility of Korben Dallas (Willis), a taxicab driver and former special forces major, after a young woman (Jovovich) falls into his cab. Dallas joins forces with her to recover four mystical stones essential for the defence of Earth against an impending attack.
Besson started writing the story that became The Fifth Element when he was 16 years old; he was 38 when the film opened in cinemas.[7] Comic book writers Jean Giraud and Jean-Claude Mézières, whose comics provided inspiration for parts of the film, were hired for production design. Costume design was by Jean-Paul Gaultier.
The Fifth Element received mainly positive reviews, although it tended to polarise critics. It has been called both the best and worst summer blockbuster of all time. The film was a financial success, earning more than $263 million at the box office on a $90 million budget. At the time of its release it was the most expensive European film ever made,[8] and it remained the highest-grossing French film at the box-office until the release of The Intouchables in 2011.[9]

The Matrix: is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film written and directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano. It depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called "the Matrix", created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Computer programmer "Neo" learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the "dream world".
The Matrix is known for popularizing a visual effect known as "bullet time", in which the heightened perception of certain characters is represented by allowing the action within a shot to progress in slow-motion while the camera's viewpoint appears to move through the scene at normal speed. The film is an example of the cyberpunk science fiction genre.[3] It contains numerous references to philosophical and religious ideas, and prominently pays homage to works such as Plato's Allegory of the Cave,[4] Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation[5] and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.[6] The Wachowskis' approach to action scenes drew upon their admiration for Japanese animation[7] and martial arts films, and the film's use of fight choreographers and wire fu techniques from Hong Kong action cinema was influential upon subsequent Hollywood action film productions.
The Matrix was first released in the United States on March 31, 1999, and grossed over $460 million worldwide. It was generally well-received by critics,[8][9] and won four Academy Awardsas well as other accolades including BAFTA Awards and Saturn Awards. Reviewers praised The Matrix for its innovative visual effects, cinematography and its entertainment. The film's premise was both criticized for being derivative of earlier science fiction works, and praised for being intriguing. The action also polarized critics, some describing it as impressive, but others dismissing it as a trite distraction from an interesting premise.
Despite this, the film has since appeared in lists of the greatest science fiction films,[10][11][12] and in 2012, was added to the National Film Registry for preservation.[13] The success of the film led to the release of two feature film sequels, both written and directed by the Wachowskis, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. The Matrix franchise was further expanded through the production of comic books, video games, and animated short films in which the Wachowskis were heavily involved.

WALL-E: [OK, I cheated. This one is after the millennium, BUT I HAD to put it in my list. I love PIXAR. I love WALL-E and EVE. I am scared that the movie has more truth to it than fiction. It got a 94 from MetaCritic. So there.] (stylized with an interpunct as WALL·E) is a 2008 American computer animated science fiction romantic comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and directed by Andrew Stanton. The story follows a robot named WALL-E, who is designed to clean up an abandoned, waste-covered Earth far in the future. He falls in love with another robot named EVE, who also has a programmed task, and follows her into outer space on an adventure that changes the destiny of both his kind and humanity. Both robots exhibit an appearance of free will and emotions similar to humans, which develop further as the film progresses.
After directing Finding Nemo, Stanton felt Pixar had created believable simulations of underwater physics and was willing to direct a film set largely in space. WALL-E has minimal dialogue in its early sequences; many of the characters do not have voices, but instead communicate with body language and robotic sounds, which were designed by Ben Burtt. It is also Pixar's first animated feature with segments featuring live-action characters.
Walt Disney Pictures released WALL-E in the United States and Canada on June 27, 2008. It grossed $23.2 million on its opening day, and $63.1 million during its opening weekend in 3,992 theaters, ranking number one at the box office. This ranks as the fifth highest-grossing opening weekend for a Pixar film. Following Pixar tradition, WALL-E was paired with a short film, Presto, for its theatrical release.
WALL-E was met with critical acclaim, scoring an approval rating of 96% on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. It grossed $521.3 million worldwide, won the 2008 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form,[3] the final Nebula Award for Best Script,[4] the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film, and the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature as well as being nominated for five other Academy Awards at the 81st Academy AwardsWALL-E ranks first in TIME '​s "Best Movies of the Decade".[5]
The film is seen as a critique on larger societal issues. It addresses consumerism, nostalgia, environmental problems, waste managementthe immense impact humans have on the Earth, and risks to human civilization and its home planet Earth.[6]

And for the Bonus: The worst movie EVER because it is so averagely, hopelessly, blah. It offers promise to be cool, fun, and thought provoking, BUT it never even approaches that. It also never gets so bad that you laugh or ridicule it's badness (making it good in its own way). No, this movie is 177 minutes of my life that was just completely wasted:

The Postman: is a 1997 American epic post-apocalyptic adventure film directed, produced, and starring Kevin Costner, with the screenplay written by Eric Roth and Brian Helgeland, based on David Brin's 1985 book of the same name. The film also features Will Patton, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams, James Russo, and Tom Petty. It's set in a post-apocalyptic and neo-Western version of the United States in the then near-future of the year 2013—all part of a fictionalized history of the United States of America—fifteen years after an unspecified apocalyptic event, which has left a huge impact on human civilization and erased most of all technology.
The film—like the book—follows the story of an unnamed nomadic drifter (played by Costner) and—after escaping from a "neo-fascist" militia—he stumbles across the uniform of an old United States Postal Service letter carrier and soon unwittingly inspires hope through an empty promise of aid from the "Restored United States of America". It was filmed in Metaline Fallsand Fidalgo IslandWashington, central Oregon, and Tucson, Arizona.
Released on Christmas Day of 1997 from Warner Bros. PicturesThe Postman was loathed by critics, an enormous box-office failure, and received five Razzie Awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor and Director (both for Costner), and for Worst Screenplay and Worst Original Song (for the entire song score).