This weekend, I got a chance to see the futuristic film Code 46, starring Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton. I walked away thinking it was a very worldchanging piece of cinema.
Worldchanging not because of the plot (which IMDB accurately summarizes as "A futuristic 'Brief Encounter', a love story in which the romance is doomed by genetic incompatibility."), or even the acting (though Robbins does a fine job, and Samantha Morton's so brilliant I'd frankly pay good money to watch her take out the recycling), but because the future it creates, and thus the present it predicts. (Predicting the future being essentially impossible, great futuristic visions seek instead to inform our understanding of current trends and underlying driving forces -- they hope, in ally Bruce Sterling's words, to predict the present.)
Director Michael Winterbottom creates a world obsessed with being "inside" (living in futuristic cities of gleaming glass, solar panels and semi-ubiquitous computation, like Shanghai and Seattle) rather than "outside" (living in arid, overpopulated, shanty-town poverty). The relationship to the present is obvious -- but the obvious comment was reinforced for me by just having seen Winterbottom's last film In This World, a drama filmed in the style of a documentary about two young Afghan refugees who risk everything, including their lives, to make the long trek from a relocation camp to the jobs which await them in London.
The rest of predicted present in Code 46 varies in interest: the genetic laws which drive his plot mildly intrigue, for instance, but the multicultural future he creates, and the semi-creole English his characters speak when doing business, have a weird feeling of realism. That said, of all the SF I've seen, Code 46 creates a filmic world closest to one I can actually imagine unfolding. It's no Bladerunner, but it leaves you with the same sense of having briefly shifted time and seen the current moment from a fresh perspective.
yeah, i had the same reaction... like it wasn't that great of a movie per se, but had a great look & feel about it (like 'bladerunner' did).
i'd characterise it as 'gattaca' meets 'until the end of the world'.
hopefully '2046' is as good :D
also, haven't seen 'in this world' but it sorta sounds like 'dirty pretty things' :D i guess because the UK is kinda preoccupied by immigration!?