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AT THE TRIPLEX: Fear of the near future

When a movie jumps ahead into the not-too-distant future, it is usually to tell us that something has gone very, very wrong.

Why do the words “near future” always sound so ominous? On the surface, there is nothing scary about the concept. The near future is inherently in our grasp, and there is no reason to think that tomorrow, next week, or even next year will be dramatically different from today.

But when a movie jumps ahead into the not-too-distant future, it is usually to tell us that something has gone very, very wrong. The clothes might look the same, and the technology might just be slightly more advanced, but it is clear that something has happened to send the world off of its axis.

“Children of Men,” 2006. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

The world is a perpetual humanitarian disaster in Aflonso Cuaron’s “Children of Men.” Humanity’s role alongside artificial intelligence is up for debate in Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina.” Societal inequities are brought to a head after environmental disaster in Bong Joon-Ho’s “Snowpiercer.” Arguably, the most pleasant versions of the future we have gotten over the last 20 years were the deep melancholia of Spike Jonze’s “Her” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster.”

Using sci-fi to grapple with present day issues isn’t new—though the litany of anxieties produced by the last 25 years of world events has certainly led to a resurgence of the genre. Movies like Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange,” Douglas Trumbull’s “Silent Running,” and Richard Fleischer’s “Soylent Green” all dealt with different fears of the early 1970s. Go as far back as 1927, and you will find Fritz Lang pondering about the impact of technology on the working class in “Metropolis.”

“Civil War,” 2024. Photo courtesy of A24.

Usually, these movies are intended as warnings: If we don’t start paying attention to X, then Y will happen. And unfortunately, we almost never listen.

So it is interesting that the genre’s latest entry, Alex Garland’s “Civil War,” which opens at the Triplex today, doesn’t lay the blame on any one issue. A story of war correspondents traveling across an embattled America, Garland never says who is at fault. Instead, in a world where we continually push off fixing things for another day, Civil War implies that we are all to blame for whatever the near future might bring.

Now Playing

“The Children”
A campy horror classic shot in the Berkshires.

Something is wrong with the children of Ravensback. After being exposed to a cloud of nuclear waste, the children of a small town become radioactive zombies who incinerate anyone with whom they come into contact. Shot back-to-back by some of the same crew as the original “Friday the 13th,” “The Children” is a horror classic you must see with a crowd! Plays as part of our Berkshires at the Counterculture series on April 18.

“The Children,” 1980. Photo courtesy of Troma Pictures.

“Love Lies Bleeding”
A blood-soaked romance with Kristen Stewart and Katy O’Brian.

A neon-soaked neo-noir that draws inspiration from David Lynch and the Coen Brothers, “Love Lies Bleeding” is an erotic thriller unlike any that you’ve seen before. Starring Kristen Stewart and Katy O’Brian as lovestruck bodybuilders who get caught up in a criminal underworld, “Love Lies Bleeding” deploys elements of director Rose Glass’ trademark body horror to keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

“Love Lies Bleeding,” 2024. Photo courtesy of A24.

“Wicked Little Letters”
An uproarious period piece with Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley.

A satirical farce about the biases lurking under the surface of a small town, “Wicked Little Letters” reunites Olivia Coleman and Jessie Buckley from “The Lost Daughter” in a hilarious period piece. When an anonymous writer begins sending profane letters to residents of a small town, all eyes turn to Irish immigrant Rose (Buckley), until the women in town suspect it is not that simple.

“Wicked Little Letters,” 2024. Photo courtesy of Sony Picture Classic.

Coming Soon

“Sasquatch Sunset”

What’s it like to be Bigfoot? That is the question at the core of The Zellner Bros.’ “Sasquatch Sunset,” which follows the ups and downs of a family of sasquatches over a year of their life. Surprisingly earnest and moving (with an unrecognizable Jesse Eisenberg and Riley Keough in the lead roles), “Sasquatch Sunset” takes a silly premise and turns it into something surprisingly human.

“Sasquatch Sunset,” 2024. Photo courtesy of Bleecker Street.

“A Stage of Twilight”

A heart-wrenching meditation on how to say goodbye for the last time, “A Stage of Twilight” is centered around two knockout performances from Karen Allen and William Sadler as a couple forced to grapple with end-of-life planning. Karen Allen and producer Brian Long will join us for a talkback following the 4:15 screening on April 21.

“A Stage of Twilight,” 2022. Photo courtesy of Cardinal Flix.

“In the Loop”

The world is on the brink of war, and the worst people possible are making the decisions. Hear what it was like to be a part of Armando Iannucci’s Oscar-nominated political satire “In the Loop” when actor David Rasche (“Succession,” “Sledgehammer”) joins us for a post-screening talkback on April 20.

“In the Loop,” 2009. Photo courtesy of IFC Films.
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