The Atomic Café (1982)

“When not close enough to be killed, the atomic bomb is one of the most beautiful sights in the world.”

Justin’s Rating: Didn’t George C. Scott star in this film?

Justin’s Review: Few of us have life spans that go easily back to the late 40’s and early 50’s, where rock ‘n roll was in its infancy and Brill cream oiled the heads of many. Following World War II was the frightening age of the discovery and use of atomic weapons. And while it is simply part of the world in which we live now, atomics was quite a new and unknown phenomenon back then.

The Atomic Café is a unique splicing of actual documentaries of atomic tests and attacks (including Hiroshima), as well as snippets of civil and Army information films. If you want to witness an extensive collection of genuine nuclear explosions — for reasons that I’d rather not hear — this is definitely the film for you. The harrowing blasts are simultaneously fascinating and frightening to behold.

But this flick isn’t just about explosive eye candy; it contrasts our headlong rush into the atomic age with the ignorance of the public and military of its true potential. Possibly one of the most memorable scenes is during a large H-bomb test in the desert. While the mushroom cloud is still roiling, a group of U.S. soldiers emerge from their bunkers and start walking toward the blast. Toward the blast? What you didn’t see was Justin, in his sporty red coupe, racing the heck away from anything exploding into the upper atmosphere. This apparently insane scene illustrates the government’s ignorance of the true power and threat of these bombs.

There’s also the infamous “Duck and Cover” information film here that instructs kids to scramble under hopefully lead-lined desks, all while a chirpy voice sings “duck and cover” in the background. It’s no wonder why civilization got so depressed and got into shag carpeting and the Brady Bunch a couple of decades later.

Anyway, if you like the History, Discovery or Learning channels, but crave something a little more real, order a slice of radioactive pie from The Atomic Café. (note: Justin feels horrible, just horrible to make that weak analogy. Please relay his confession to the next priest you spot)

Andie’s Rating: It’s DA BOMB

Andie’s Review: Okay, so the only reason I’ve even seen this film is because we watched it in my film class. This is one of the few classes I find I have time to go to, because my life has become completely overrun by things like Homecoming, which I choreographed a dance for and was in the parade and whatnot, and things like being a stage manager for Godspell which is cool but takes a lot of time and I wish I was actually IN the show because DAMMIT I’m a good singer and a good actress and why shouldn’t I be cast but no I’m the stage manager which I suppose is good experience but really I’m just the director’s b**** and I don’t like that so much and I’m also in an Acting class right now and I’ve had to do two scenes right in a row and my partner for the second scene just told me the other night that she has a thing for me, that’s right I said SHE, and I have to have two monologues memorized pretty soon and they’re cool monologues, one is the baseball speech Susan Sarandon does at the beginning of Bull Durham, but I just don’t have time to memorize them because I’m also running for a couple positions in my sorority, parliamentarian and education chair, and my sorority has a retro rollerskating date dash tonight, which I cannot attend because I have Godspell rehearsal, and we also have a formal on the 18th which I have a great dress for but I do not have a date yet and I probably won’t have one because I haven’t had a boyfriend since like March of my senior year of high school and that’s depressing and all my ex-boyfriends seem to be getting married and that’s even more depressing and you know what’s really depressing?

The Atomic Cafe. A good movie about nuclear war, which everyone should see.

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