Top five sci-fi films according to Dan Landes
Science fiction isn't for everyone. But those who get it really get it. "Comics and sci-fi are the new archetypes of our culture; we relate to Star Wars and Stan Lee's characters, and we've created new mythologies through them," says Dan Landes, restaurateur and self-confessed sci-fi geek. And this Friday, May 4, Landes will make a long-held dream reality by turning his own City, O' City into a full-on orgy of nerdness with the May the Fourth Be With You sci-fi costume party. It's "the kind of thing that when you mention it to people, they immediately identify with it, they immediately have stories about the comics that they love or classic novels and sci-fi movies that they love," Landes explains. "This culture is just huge."
Beginning at 3 p.m. Friday -- about the hour most sci-fi oafs peel themselves off their mother's couches after an all-nighter of cereal and episodes of Dr. Who -- May the Fourth Be With You will set its phasers for stun, opening the event with a showing of The People vs. George Lucas, a documentary written and directed by Denver-based Alexandre O. Philippe, who will be on hand for a post-movie Q&A along with its producer and cinematographer, Robert Muratore. The screening will take place above City, O' City, in the newly opened Deerpile.
After that, the pale and daylight-sensitive crowd will head outside to the City, O' City parking lot, where sci-fi friendly bands like TaunTaun, The Pirate Signal and (fresh off tour) Bad Weather California will perform segments from the Star Wars score as well as their own material. The event will be hosted by local comedian Ben Kronberg, with Andrew Orvedahl delivering his sci-fi narrators and live painting by Lennard Mullins. At some unscheduled, unrehearsed moment, May the Fourth Be With You will be invaded by a guerrilla marching band, Boba Fett and the Americans.
"My love is to create spaces, to create an event that enhances our culture," says Landes. "As opposed to St. Patrick's Day, which is just the sloppiest holiday in the world, or Valentine's Day, which is just co-opted by Hallmark, this one is just pure love of fiction and sci-fi."
Landes originally wanted to remodel the City, O' City bar into a replica of the Mos Eisly Cantina -- the "no droids" bar on the planet Tatooine where Luke gets hassled and Obi Wan slashes an Aqualish's arm off in Star Wars: A New Hope -- but that was ultimately too invasive a project (especially considering that City, O' City just reopened after a large renovation last summer). "That may be something we can do next year; we'll start collecting materials to convert the bar for next year," he says. "This is something we plan to do annually."
In addition to the musical entertainment, City, O' City will be peppered throughout with projector screens displaying various sci-fi films, while the bar serves specialty cocktails (Yoda Soda) and Chef Brendon Doyle and the Steamin' Demon truck out back turn out a Star Wars-themed menu (Tauntaun sandwich; Hoth sauce).
While Landes wants to keep his costume plans for Friday secret, he's been gracious enough to share his top five favorite sci-fi flicks, complete with his personal commentary. Enjoy!
5.) Soylent Green
After reading us Z for Zachariah , my subversive science teacher in seventh grade showed us Soylent Green , which makes the list. Mr. Hillman and Soylent Green perhaps planted the seed for my future passions of feeding people food that is not made of meat.
Gattaca, which I don't even remember being in the theaters, was the sci-fi movie that exemplifies the "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me" axiom that I so adore.
Page down for the rest of Dan Landes's top five sci-fi flicks
I don't have a large boatload of love for James Cameron, but I have got to put his movie Aliens on the list. The audience was tense from the time they were buying popcorn all the way through the final credits. We all knew what Ripley was up against, and Cameron played that tension to its fullest. Plus, Sigourney can rock a wife-beater.
2.) Repo Man
Otto, the greatest palindrome character name in sci-fi movie history, was the reluctant hero of 1984's Repo Man . First of all, releasing a dystopic movie in 1984 is pretty cool, but when I watched Alex Cox's movie, I realized the dystopia is real and we all live in it. ...aaannnddd the soundtrack, Iggy Pop, Fear, Circle Jerks, Suicidal Tendencies, [Jonathan Richman's]"Pablo Picasso"? What else do you want in a soundtrack?
1.) Star Wars: A New Hope
Considering the tumultuous (at best) relationship with my father, it's appropriate that I dedicate this Star Wars -inspired top five sci-fi list to him. While our major point of contention was me and my less-than-conventional approach to life, we did find common ground with sci-fi movies. In 1977, we, along with hundreds of other people, queued up on the sidewalk outside the Cooper theater on Colorado Boulevard, I was six years old. I couldn't read. Sitting in the big stadium seats, he leaned into my ear and whispered, "In a galaxy far, far away..." He smelled of aftershave.
Star Wars will always be at the top of my sci-fi movie list. However, it wasn't until I read Joesph Campbell's A Hero of a Thousand Faces that I began to realize it's genius. As a culture, we responded to the universal archetype of Luke's hero journey. We also responded to the visual badassery of Lucas Studios.
May the Fourth Be With You begins at 3 p.m. on, of course, May 4, at City, O' City, 206 East 13th Avenue. Click here for more information.
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