Uh, before we dock, I think we oughta discuss the bonus situation.

Originally posted on 4th January 2009 on Bobbin’s Movie Night)

Breaking News: New Deal: Brown Unveils Jobs Plan – Sky News

With household names Woolies, Adams and Zavvi about to bite the dust it looks like the queues at the Jobcentres are just going to keep getting longer. As the Christmas decorations are packed away for another year, and the drunken shenanigans of New Year’s Eve fade into memory we’re left with a very bleak outlook for the job market.

Happy 2009.

But today Gordon Brown has announced his plan to create new jobs, get people working, and reduce unemployment.

As of yet, however, there remain a few holes in Brown’s grand-plan. Not least of which, the matter of who these lucky 100,000 new-starters are going to be…

It is becoming increasingly clearer that we will do anything these days to get a job. It makes me wonder what Matt Smith had to do to land the role of the 11th Doctor Who (I bet Catherine Zeta-Jones is smarting over missing out there), and he no doubt feels doubly successful – not only does he get to take on a role that could catapult him to super-stardom over night, but he’s also one of the few 26 year olds with an ounce of job-security!

So perhaps we should look to TV and film to find the best recruitment process for Mr Brown’s new jobs… Because lets face it, movie land boasts some of the strangest work-place situations ever to be seen. And few things can beat: “If you want to get paid, you’ll check out this mysterious distress signal… Oh, and by the way, bring the rib-inseminating, acid-blooded, multi-mouthed alien with you…”

Talk about a lack of job satisfaction…

Alien (1979)
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm
Director: Ridley Scott
Running Time: 117mins
Genre: Sci-Fi Horror

What do you get when you cross a face-sucking multi-limbed parasite with a team of bored, underpaid, intergalactic long haulers? Some may suggest that you have a dystopian Star Trek on your hands, or maybe just a clingy ex. But in the hands of Ridley Scott you get a true cinema classic.

Seven blue-collar space workers are woken from their cryo-sleep when their on-board computer ‘Mother’ picks up a SOS signal from a distant uninhabited planet. Realising that they must investigate or forfeit their company shares, the crew of the industrial spaceship Nostromo disembark on a rescue mission. But when crewman Kane (John Hurt) ends up with a head-hugging alien clamped to his face the crew decide to ignore the quarantine guidelines, and all hell breaks loose on board when a shiny dagger-mouth alien bursts directly, and bloodily, out of his stomach.

Not exactly what the crew expected when they clocked-on that morning.

The alien itself is hidden in shadow for most of the film, leaving your imagination to fill in the grisly blanks, and some very skilful cinematography notches up the tension, delivering plenty of “Are you sure you want to go in there on your own” moments, that even now still have the power to scare the life out of us. Even the red herrings (namely Jonesy the cat) catch us off guard every time. Alien, in fact received an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, and the sequences with the alien are memorable and lasting testaments to the production team’s skilful handiwork (even if you can play spot-the-bloodpack in some scenes)!

Sigourney Weaver, as Officer Ripley, is excellent in what is a traditionally a masculine role. She reluctantly shoulders both responsibility and her motion sensor with desperate determination, leading the charge (and the retreat) in the crew’s struggle against this apparently unstoppable creature. Equally she courageously sports the world’s smallest briefs; clearly those cryogenic freezers are warmer than we gave them credit for.

The supporting cast fulfil their role admirably, going beyond being mere alien-comfort-food. From the disillusioned Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt), to the creepily clinical Science Office Ash (Ian Holm), and the whining ‘I’m going to wet myself’ crewman Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) each character maintains a clear identity as an individual within the crew. This makes their struggle for survival all the more human as they are made increasingly aware that they are no longer top of the food chain.

However, to be honest as professional spacefarers I am unsure what most of the crew actually do. There are a couple of grunts who seem to be responsible for repairs, but otherwise ‘Mother’ seems to do everything. Whilst the on-board computer does most of the work, the crew appear to spend most of their time puffing on cigarettes, complaining about pay or just sleeping off the journey time. You rarely see them working, apart from when they’re forced to by the threat of no pay…But that’s what makes this film so slick. You don’t need to know everything about everyone. Do The Company know about the aliens? Why aren’t their any bodies? How the hell did that thing get so big? Who cares?! Arguing it out it much more fun.

Even thirty years after it was first released Alien is clearly a class above many of its successors. So some of the effects look a little dated, but there was something in Alien that made it truly iconic. It moved away from the squishy family-friendly space movies of Close Encounters and Star Wars, and made the enemy a relentless, gut-wrenching monster. In Alien you are taken beyond primal and thrown headfirst into a story of pure survival.

Rather like the Jobcentre queue.

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