Last time we saw Tom Cruise he was known as Jack Reacher. Now, in Oblivion, his name is Jack Harper. What range! What diversity! You’d hardly recognise him. Harper is a maintenance guy, repairing the drones that protect giant machines that suck Earth’s oceans up to an enormous space station orbiting above us, a space station that is going to take the few remaining survivors of our pyrrhic victory over invading aliens on a final journey away from a devastated planet to a new life on Titan.
Assisting Mr. Cruise with his mechanical defence duties is Victoria (Andrea Riseborough), life and work partner, keeping him in contact with the supervisors floating above them and keeping an eye on the straggling remnants of the aliens who tried to conquer us. Traditional gender roles are very much still intact in the future – even though the Moon isn’t – and Ms. Riseborough’s character seems content to never leave the spotless modern kitchen while Cruise gets his hands dirty on the surface. Neither of them seem too bothered by the fact that they had their memories wiped six years previously, although he has been having some strange dreams recently.
Saturday dawned early and I was grateful that the first screening of the morning was at the Chuck Jones’ in Mountain Village, barely a fifteen minute shuttle from my accommodation. Time to grab a coffee and then wait in line for an 8.30am repeat of the Roger Corman Tribute from the night before. This time the host and interrogator would be Leonard Maltin (familiar to all New Zealanders of a certain age, I think) instead of Todd McCarthy.
Before Mr Corman was invited on stage, we got to see an excellent documentary on his life and work, Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel. After that, Corman entered the stage to a standing ovation and we were treated to insights and stories from an exceedingly well-educated and thoughtful entrepreneur and artist for almost an hour. The surprise for me was hearing about Corman’s liberal politics and how he might have steered his filmmaking in that direction if it hadn’t been for the commercial failure of The Intruder (1962, starring William Shatner as a white supremacist).