A Movie A Day #74: The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1981, directed by Robert Gunette)


If you have ever wanted to witness the sad fate that awaits most geniuses who challenge the system, you could not do any worse than to watch The Man Who Saw Tomorrow.

The Man Who Saw Tomorrow is a low-budget “documentary” about Nostradamus, the 16th century French alchemist who some people consider to be a prophet and others consider to be a charlatan.  Nostradamus has been credited with predicting everything from the rise of Napoleon and Hitler to the 9-11 terror attacks.  Others argue that the writings of Nostradamus were so obscure and prone to mistranslation that they could be interpreted in just about any way.  While he did write about an evil dictator that he called “Hister,” he was also widely credited with predicting an atomic war in 1999.

The Man Who Saw Tomorrow argues that Nostradamus was indeed a prophet and it makes its case through cheap historical reenactments and a lot of stock footage.  The Zapruder film is used.  So is footage from A Tale of Two Cities, War and Peace, Earthquake, and Waterloo (Be sure to keep an eye out for Rod Steiger).  Some of the predictions, like Edward Kennedy becoming President and World War III starting in 1986, are easy to laugh at.  Others, like conflict in the Middle East leading to a nuclear war, would be frighteningly credible if the film wasn’t so obviously made on the cheap.  No skepticism of Nostradamus is implicitly acknowledged but there are interviews with a few believers, including psychic Jeane Dixon (whose first name the film misspells).

And narrating it all is none other than one of the most important filmmakers of all time, Orson Welles.  Sitting at a desk in front of a bookcase and occasionally puffing on a cigar, the director of Citizen Kane lends his deep and recognizable voice to the film’s narration but also adds just a touch of sarcasm to his tone.  The movie may believe that Nostradamus saw the future but Welles is going to damn well make sure that everyone understands that he does not.  When Welles talks about Nostradamus’s predictions for the future, he says, “But before continuing, let me warn you now that these predictions of the future are not at all comforting – and I might go on to add that these visions of the past, these warnings of the future, are not the opinions of the producers of this film. They’re certainly not my opinions.”  He really emphasizes that last sentence, as if he had already grown weary of people approaching him in the streets and asking him if he thought Nostradamus had predicted Watergate.

Sadly, Welles spent a good deal of his career doing jobs like this.  The films and the roles were often beneath his talent but they provided Welles with the money that he needed to pursue his own projects, many of which were never to be completed.  At the time he did The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, Welles was trying to raise the money to complete post production on his final film, The Other Side of The Wind.  The Other Side of The Wind would remain unfinished at the time of Welles’s death but it now appears that, 41 years after principal photography was completed, the film may finally see the light of day thanks to Netflix.

As for The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, it seems only fair to give Orson Welles the final word.  When asked about the film and Nostradamus on The Merv Griffin Show, Welles replied, “”One might as well make predictions based on random passages from the phone book.”

Well said, Orson.  Well said.

 

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: Fight Valley (dir by Rob Hawk)


I wish I knew how to fight.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a pacifist.  I’m not the type who would ever actually go out looking for a fight but we live in a dangerous world and I’d like to know how to fight for much the same reason that I like to carry a pink, Hello Kitty derringer in my garter.  Self-defense is important.

Again, don’t get me wrong.  I know how to pull hair.  In fact, back in the day, I was told that I was a very good hair puller.  And I keep my nails healthy and strong so I probably could scratch someone’s eyes out if I had to.  But, with all that in mind, I’d still probably be totally lost if I ever got into a real fight.  I have no idea how to throw a punch for instance.  I recently tried to show off my technique to a friend of mine who spent two years serving in the IDF.  She started laughing as soon as I made a fist.  Apparently, you’re not supposed to tuck in your thumb.  I had no idea.

I found myself thinking about this last night.  I’m in the process of cleaning out my DVR and, before going to bed, I decided to watch the 2016 film Fight Valley.  I recorded Fight Valley off of TMC on March 10th.  I’m not sure why I recorded it.  Maybe I liked the title. Who knows?

Anyway, Fight Valley is a film about fighting.  In many ways, it’s a how-to video for girls who want to learn how to kick ass.  Watching Fight Valley, I learned that the most important thing about fighting is to stand around and glare at the person who you want to fight.  Judging from the film, it’s also important to say stuff like, “This is our hood,” and “You need to take your skinny ass home, white girl.”  Apparently, when walking past someone who you want to fight, it’s very important to make sure that you bump into their shoulder.  Basically, it goes: Glare, Talk, Shoulder Bump.

 

Fight Valley takes place in Camden, New Jersey, where it appears your only two options are either joining the Mafia or getting involved with the underground fighting circuit.  Tori Colo (Chelsea Durkalec) is this kickass fighter who needs to make some money.  She asks her rich older sister, Windsor (Susie Celek), for the money but Windsor is all like, “Why don’t you get a real job and stop bumping into people’s shoulders?”  One night, a skeezy guy tells Tori that she can make some extra cash by going to Fight Valley.  The next morning, Tori’s dead body is discovered in the woods!

Well, needless to say, Windsor feels guilty.  So, she does what any rich girl who doesn’t know how to fight would do.  She starts wandering around Camden and randomly asking people, “Hey, can you give me a ride to Fight Valley?”  Well, that doesn’t work.  She gets told to go home.  Tori’s squad tells her that she either needs to learn how to fight or give up.  Fortunately, the harsh and enigmatic Jabs (Miesha Tate) is willing to teach her how to fight.  Even more luckily, it only takes four weeks to learn.

(Don’t worry, there’s a twist!  Jabs has her own reason for teaching Windsor how to fight.  I won’t spoil it here, largely because it’s kind of stupid.)

The good thing about Fight Valley is that a good deal of the cast is made up of actual fighters.  Along with Miesha Tate, the cast includes Holly Holm and Cris Cyborg.  While I have to admit that I don’t know much about ultimate fighting, I do know that if any of these three gave me the fight glare, I would immediately go hide under a table.  Whenever they’re punching, kicking, and putting each other into chokeholds, they are totally believable and there are hints of what the film could have been.  Unfortunately, the fight scenes themselves are somewhat haphazardly shot and confusingly edited.  As a general rule, when you’ve got actual athletes doing their thing, you don’t need a lot of jump cuts and flashbacks.

The big problem was the acting.  For a film where the main attraction was obviously meant to be the fight scenes, Fight Valley was a surprisingly talk movie.  Most of the film’s cast had an authenticity to them that disappeared as soon as they opened their mouths and started to recite the script’s overwritten dialogue in the most stilted style possible.  It just doesn’t work.

The same can be said of Fight Valley in general.  As much as I’d love to know how to throw a punch, Fight Valley left me feeling like maybe I should just stick to hair pulling.

Music Video of the Day: One Man, One Woman by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)


I think Hallström might be Swedish. It’s so hard to tell with this music video.

This one looks like they combined a little footage from a TV performance with shots of their faces. They either fade from one to another or pull a Persona (1966) by dividing the face into two halves made up of two members of the group. It’s a nice and simple video. You’d really have to try hard to convince me that Hallström didn’t have Bergman’s film in mind when he made this video.

Enjoy!

ABBA retrospective:

  1. Bald Headed Woman by The Hep Stars (1966, dir. ???)
  2. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  3. Tangokavaljeren by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  4. Vårkänslor (ja, de’ ä våren) by Agnetha & Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  5. Titta in i men lilla kajuta by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  6. Nu Ska Vi Vara Snälla by Björn & Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  7. Finns Det Flickor by Björn & Sten Nilsson (1969, dir. ???)
  8. Nu Ska Vi Opp, Opp, Opp by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  9. Det Kommer En Vår by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  10. Beate-Christine by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  11. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  12. Att Älska I Vårens Tid by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  13. Min Soldat by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  14. Söderhavets Sång by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  15. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  16. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  17. Love Isn’t Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough) by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  18. Waterloo by ABBA (1974, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  19. Hasta Mañana by ABBA (1974, dir. ???)
  20. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  21. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. ???)
  22. Bang-A-Boomerang by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  23. SOS by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  24. Mamma Mia by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  25. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  26. Tropical Loveland by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  27. When I Kissed The Teacher by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  28. Tiger by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  29. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  30. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  31. Fernando by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström) + Spanish Version
  32. Dancing Queen by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  33. That’s Me by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  34. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  35. The Name Of The Game by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  36. Thank You For The Music/Gracias Por La Música by ABBA (1977/1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)