Brainflow Feed

That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, they revolve mostly around films.)

Outland (feat. Kickass Canadian Rob Cohen)

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 9:35 am—Film

Outland (UK 1981, Crime/Action/Thriller), Writer/Director: Peter Hyams

I’ve been asking my good pal Rob Cohen (Kickass Canadian, filmmaker, comedian, part-time weirdo) to co-write a blog post practically as long as I’ve known him. So for more than four years now.

This year, the process finally got going when he asked whether I wanted something new (he’d sift through the pile of premium screeners he regularly gets as a member of the Writers’ Guild… sigh…) or something old. I threw him the ball and he offered up Outland, an old-school movie with that old-school charm you just can’t find anymore. There’s a certain quality or timbre to its tone. It’s less about fuss and gimmicks, more about stripping things down to the bare bones to really let the story and characters breathe.

Outland’s plot is straightforward. Marshall William O’Niel (Sean Connery) is assigned to a mining colony, where he keeps shady drug smugglers and other mischief-makers in line, and struggles with missing his wife and son. Oh yeah, and the colony is on Jupiter.

That’s pretty much how the setting is handled; it’s taken totally in stride. Outland is a regular story that just happens to be set in an extraterrestrial context, making it technically sci-fi but, practically, much more about a man trying to do the right thing by his morals, his employers and his family.

For me, that approach is one of the movie’s greatest charms. On top of that, it features solid performances, especially from Connery and Frances Sternhagen as his colleague Dr. Lazarus (Bunny from Sex and the City, Cliff’s mother on Cheers).

So a lot to like there, but I wasn’t sure I’d jump to recommend Outland as a must-see film. Which is where Rob comes in.

ROB: Thanks, Amanda. Well-written, and no-one will know how drunk you are. I like Outland because it is a classic story, aka a Western, but re-done in a new environment.  Even though it takes place in space, in the future, you feel like it could be anywhere. I don’t want to give anything away, but the story is simple, the cast is amazing, and it has all of the elements of a great “who-done-it.” Could be made today, and with the same story.

AMANDA: Thank YOU for not making fun of me for watching Sex and the City. I thought for sure that’d be your first dig. And don’t worry, I’ll edit your typing so no one will know you spell it “no-one.” So you think Outland stands up against some of the great classics? I’m wondering what made you shortlist it as one to recommend, out of all the movies you’ve seen… 

ROB: I think Outland is a classic, but almost a forgotten classic, given that most people don’t remember it. They still think Sean Connery was Bond, then went away, then came back as Indiana Jones’ dad. The storytelling in Outland is classic, and I think the movie holds up today. Maybe some of the technology is cheesy, but a great thriller, with great actors. Peter Boyle is great!

AMANDA: Got it. So you want to pull it up from the caverns and bring it to light so others can enjoy it?

ROB: Yes. People should know this film. It is cool, and will always be a “hidden gem.”

There’s been radio silence for a while, as Rob is super busy prepping and shooting whatever it is he’s directing these days. He can be vague. So that’s all we wrote on Outland. Fun movie. Worth a watch.

Thanks Rob!

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