More Films Out Of This World
‘Apollo 10 1/2’ on Netflix is an urgent watch if you want to get transported back to the space-struck America of the ’60s. Richard Linklater’s personal journey through the space age when man was on the precipice of reaching the moon has autobiographical elements.
The director has used rotoscope animation to breathe life into his world of nostalgia. Its contemplative tone and plot-less adventure are made to be gradually absorbed, as opposed to being hastily consumed, like most stuff today.
By the harkening back, Linklater places the viewer in a stupor when life was more connected than ever. The idea of living was simpler and did not require too many superficial qualifications, as it does today. His observant narrative has notions about humanity being brought together by a revolutionary event in its history books.
It appeals to larger themes of the unwavering human spirit that emerges from suffering like few other forces, and the reversion of generations with passing time. Here is a list of some great movies with similar themes to ‘Apollo 10 1/2’ that you should definitely check out. Happy reading!
Waking Life (2001)
Using a similar visual style and animation technique, ‘Waking Life’ traverses the uncharted beyond traditional storytelling. It is one of those plotless films that works out on the back of its altruistic ideas and the exploration of human reaction in a conducive environment seldom found in mass cinema.
‘Waking Life’s structure of “dream after the dream” is a distinct innovation by Linklater to channel his musings on life. This is a common feature in all great films, whether it be the recently released ‘Everything, Everywhere, All at Once’, or ‘2001 Space Odyssey’. A lot of digging and introspection reveals the true intentions of the makers, which usually has little or no connection to the meaning of the actual events of the film. Even ‘Apollo 10 1/2’ works on a similar notion.
Stardust Memories (1980)
Woody Allen’s trademark narrative has the perfect dramatic heft that goes well with his characteristic self-deprecating humor. It has enough warmth and wistfulness to last you the entire runtime. Much like his other protagonists, Sandy Bates in Stardust Memories goes through a tough time.
Despite being at the peak of professional success, his unfulfilled personal ambitions haunt him, while he attends a convention at the Stardust Hotel. Allen finds intelligent and effective storytelling tools to quantify Sandy’s stressed state and unhappiness. His insecurities about life also extend to other societal issues like politics to complete a typical Woody Allen film.
Like ‘Apollo 10 1/2’, the movie is a tender look at the past in hindsight. It does not do so to regret but to achieve a sense of completion that he cannot find in the present.
Stand by Me (1986)
While ‘Stand by Me’ does not account for a happy revisiting of the past, it does create a vivid experience of it. The viewer’s perspective is guided through Gordie’s narration of his beautiful, stout friendship with his mates. Through thick and thin, they stood by each other. Standing the test of actual threats and real events is tough for any relationship that is vowed by the maker to be a bond etched in time. We see it happening in real-time with the four friends.
Like Stanley and his siblings and friends, the group in ‘Stand by Me’ tries to protect each other and revels in their spotless camaraderie. The innocence attached to their togetherness is no coincidence. For every kid who grows up in today’s technology disrupted times, these displays of childhood can only evoke envy.
‘Persepolis’ is an animated multi-language film dealing with serious subjects of war, politics, and identity. Its appeal partly lies in the haunting realization of the pain of a family during the carnage that the 1979 revolution in Iran brought upon the countrymen. But more significantly, it lies in an affecting portrayal of Marji coming to terms with being an adult and facing the challenge of life against all odds.
The reflection here as well isn’t as nostalgic as ‘Apollo 10 1/2’. It does not come from a place of longing either. What makes it similar is the ability of the filmmakers to align the micro analysis with a macro, broader commentary about social values and political change. The latter is an important part of ‘Apollo 10 1/2’ as well, though it remains absent from direct viewing.
In reviving the skate scene from the 1990s, Jonah Hill has hit the nail right on the head. From the music to the clothes, everything seems to be spot on. It follows Stevie, a 13-year-old boy who is trying to figure out who he is and how to cope with the world. Eventually, he finds a place among the neighborhood skateboarders and realizes that the life he imagines they live is quite different from the one he had imagined.
In many regards, ‘Mid90s’ is a semi-biographical account of Hill’s own life. Thus, the film feels organic and full of quaint observations about the nature of childhood rather than forced with a lot of details.
It is a family whose bond is founded in environmental conditioning rather than blood that his misfits enjoy each other’s loyalty and band together. Hill’s heartfelt tribute to his childhood is well framed in the realistic arches of the neighborhood of his childhood and does not for one-second drag. Overall, ‘Mid90s’ raw mix of emotion and innocence is powerful enough to make it a lasting watch.
Ivan’s Childhood (1962)
This Tarkovsky masterpiece is also my favorite. The Russian auteur’s polished craftsmanship went along with his courage to make the kind of films that didn’t do well commercially (although this was an exception). He remained true to his principles and affection for cinema in a way that many cannot. ‘Ivan’s Childhood’, like most of his work, is set in and around WWII.
It is told through Ivan’s perspective, just like ‘Apollo 10 1/2’ is told through Stan’s. But is not the poetic infusion of the “little sapling in the storm” arc that makes ‘Ivan’s Childhood’ so special. It is the sudden draw of events that pull you out of the lull which proves to be the real show-stealer. In the form of a homage to Ivan’s memory, Galstev’s final scene preserves it and cherishes it. You do not let go of that until a long time after you have left the screen.
Licorice Pizza (2021)
The new Paul Thomas Anderson film is high on nostalgia and the exuberance of love. The filmmaker’s expressive style is often found through oddball characters in offbeat plots. In some magical way, he always manages to make his protagonists underdogs – them against the world – and that is what makes us root for them.
It may happen with a character like Barry from ‘Punch-Drunk’, or like Daniel in ‘There Will be Blood’. But it is a regular phenomenon. And ‘Licorice Pizza’ is no exception. Using the strange times of the ’70s as a setup when most teenagers and young adults were familiarizing themselves with a new way of life, ‘Licorice Pizza’ combines the bittersweet and inconsistent quality of its two main titular ingredients in Gary and Alana’s awkward and inert romance.
For most parts, it stays underneath the general expectations. The courting seems harmless, even childish at times. But as they grow into the story and experience the feeling for the first time, the passion grows. Making its way through a myriad of laughs and strange San Francisco delicacies, love finds them. They no more have to run away from themselves or the unsure fate of life.
Like in ‘Apollo 10 1/2’, the essence of nostalgia in ‘Licorice Pizza’ does not lie in how it happened. It lies in how you remember it happening.
Only Yesterday (1991)
Although most films in the list do not conform to realism much, ‘Only Yesterday’ is a noted exception. It is very much grounded in the sincerity and seriousness of drama that purists adulate. The Japanese animation film follows Taeko Okajima, a middle-aged company worker as she discovers her wistful desire to return back to the glory days of her childhood when she visits her cousin’s house in a rural town.
Director Isao Takahata’s exposition is more along the lines of personal than literary. The base memories of his structure are similar to Linklater’s in ‘Apollo 10 1/2’, the only difference being in the scale of his correlation to the setting. And just like the space film that is not really about space and can be equally enjoyed by children and adults (as children, mind you), ‘Only Yesterday’ characterizes itself by its universality of longing with a hint of regret that comes with hindsight and the arrogance to do things the right way.
So there we have it, our 8 Movie picks to keep you busy after watching Apollo 10 1/2!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!