9 Movies Like Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)

Staff & contributors
Imagine a fanboy makes a film about his hero—you’d expect something mawkish and fawning, a tribute that praises the icon but sidesteps the flaws. Maybe in less expert hands, that could be the case. But despite being a longtime admirer of writer Kurt Vonnegut, Robert B. Weide’s documentary isn’t any of those things. Sure, it’s lovingly made, but it’s balanced and objective as it sketches a profile of Vonnegut not a lot of us have seen before. It’s also more than just a chronological account of his life; it’s simultaneously a film about this film, which has been in the making for 40 years, ever since Weide first met Vonnegut in 1988 and followed him through his death in 2007. At some point, their lives become tightly intertwined, and it’s impressive to see not just that friendship blossom but to watch it seamlessly fuse into the documentary. When Weide pitches the documentary to Vonnegut, he optimistically promises that it’ll be the definitive guide to his life. He’s right, it’s all that and a bit more.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Edie Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Morley Safer, Robert B. Weide, Sam Waterston

Director: Don Argott, Robert B. Weide

Nowadays, more people might know the cartoon character Yogi Bear or the saying “It ain’t over ‘till its over,” more than they know Yogi Berra, the larger-than-life baseball player who originated the character and the phrase. But in his prime, Berra was one of the most recognizable faces of major league baseball. He was so beloved that he appeared in countless commercials and effortlessly won the hearts of Americans. It Ain’t Over, however, makes a case about Berra being more than just a public figure and how he was one of the best players of all time. The documentary, which is equal parts stats, archival footage, and anecdotes, is convincing without ever being forceful or desperate about its arguments. Berra’s innate warmth and charm carry over in this biography, regardless of whether he’s telling the stories himself or his friends and family regale us with tales of the icon. You don’t have to know much about baseball to enjoy Berra’s life story unfold; having a basic appreciation of storytelling and kindhearted people will suffice. 

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Billy Crystal, Bob Costas, Derek Jeter, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Lindsay Berra, Mariano Rivera, Sandy Koufax, Vin Scully, Willie Randolph, Yogi Berra

Director: Sean Mullin

Rating: PG

American cyclist Greg LeMond, who in 1986 won the Tour de France has been a legend in the sports world, but filmmaker Alex Holmes presents him to the wider audience with a brand-new inspirational documentary. The Last Rider is everything this kind of film can be—its hook is courage and hard work that pays off, its mode of storytelling is personal, intimate interviews, and its framework is a "modern hero" kind of narrative. By stringing together conversations with LeMond himself, his friends, family, and colleagues, Holmes tells a chronologically-sound, emotional version of a landmark career. For many, the 1986 or 1989 win wouldn't mean much (unless you're a sports fan or French), but the educational bits of The Last Rider make for good trivia material. If you need a courage boost, here's the story of a professional cyclist, injuries, perseverance, and fame, to cheer you up.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Cyrille Guimard, Greg LeMond, Kathy LeMond, Pedro Delgado, Perico Delgado

Director: Alex Holmes

Rating: PG-13

For better or for worse, we have no choice in the country we’re born in, the citizenship we first attain, and sometimes we’re forced to leave that country for our own safety. My Name is Loh Kiwan depicts a North Korean defector seeking refugee status in Belgium, but while the government deliberates, it’s a hard life he has to face, one that changes when he meets a fellow Korean who may not be an immigrant, but who’s just as lost as he is. While there are some subplots that falter halfway, My Name is Loh Kiwan still manages to stick the landing of being both a moving romance and an empathetic survival drama that highlights the struggles of refugees.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Choi Sung-eun, Heo Seon-haeng, Jo Han-chul, Kang Gil-woo, Kim Sung-ryung, Lee Il-hwa, Lee Sang-hee, Seo Hyun-woo, Song Joong-ki, Waël Sersoub

Director: Kim Hee-jin

Rating: R

It might not teach you the basics of cricket but Fire in Babylon uses the sport as an entertaining entry point into the discrimination faced by Caribbean peoples around the 1970s. The footage we see of actual cricket games is kept to the simplest elements, but what ultimately leaves a stronger impression are the lively testimonials from the documentary's many talking heads, injecting this historical account with a generous amount of personality. From the hip West Indian soundtrack to the unabashed pride that fuels every anecdote, this feels like a film that's genuinely being told by its characters, and not from an outsider's point of view.

Genre: Documentary, Family

Actor: Bunny Wailer, Clive Lloyd, Colin Croft, Viv Richards

Director: Stevan Riley

Set at a time when humans can travel as far into space as Jupiter, Spaceman looks delightfully retro-futuristic. It’s as if the people and tech of the ‘60s were transported to a faraway future where things like long-haul space flights and nebulous pink clouds exist, and so visually, Spaceman is not tiring to look at. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about most of the film’s other elements, including its dialogue and story. Jakub is sent to space to collect mysterious ancient dust, but since we never know why he should exactly, it never feels consequential if at all necessary. In fact, this is less about his mission than it is about coming to terms with existential truths like pain, loss, and love. And what better way to confront all that than with a wise primordial arachnid? Now, the idea of a therapy session between a spaceman and a spider sounds intriguing enough, and with strong enough writing, it could fly. But the dialogue is too sparse to be thought-provoking. The main message, that you should appreciate what you have while you have it, is also too simple to carry the weight of this expansive film, especially since we have very few details about the story and character to go on with. But Sandler, Carrey Mulligan (who plays his wife), and even Paul Dano (who voices the spider) do the best with what they can, and if anything, you leave the film stunned by the visuals and moved by their empathetic performances.

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction

Actor: Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan, Isabella Rossellini, Jessica Bechyňová, John Flanders, Kunal Nayyar, Lena Olin, Marian Roden, Mikuláš Čížek, Paul Dano, Sinéad Phelps, Sunny Sandler, Zuzana Stivínová

Director: Johan Renck

Rating: R

With expired film stock, seemingly random shots, not much dialogue, and virtually no plot, there is little to recommend It is Night in America for casual viewing. It is definitely experimental, and as director, editor, and sound designer Ana Vaz presents these shots of animals and urban landscapes, it doesn’t feel like it’s meant for entertainment. But there’s a curiously poignant tone, with the blue tint darkening the cityscape, in their eyes. Night falls for these creatures, who once had a home in this city, and all they can do is survive. É Noite na América isn’t quite the eco-horror it proclaims to be, but its moody and trancelike direction is an interesting approach to the nature documentary genre.

Genre: Documentary

Director: Ana Vaz

In a time where the Metaverse feels more and more a looming presence, hoping to crown our complex realities with its utopian promise, it's only natural to expect a film set precisely there. Director L.E. Staiman took a chance with Love Virtually, but his attempt to make a zany, absurdist rom-com (riffing off the title of your aunt's annual Christmas rewatch) simply fails. The premise sees a few couples on the brink of breaking up reconnect with the help of VR headsets, challenging each other's commitment, or cheating with each other (without knowing it of course). A rather funny gambit gets sucked into a vortex of dullness when the characters speak, their dialogues irksome to the point of second-hand embarrassment. Instead of exploring the possibilities of VR relations through an ironic lens, the film seems to not even care enough to look for the genuine comedic potential of the Metaverse as a concept-turned-space. Even the three separate references to Timothée Chalamet don't make a difference to how surprisingly retrograde and somehow banal all of this feels.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Actor: Adam Ray, Cheri Oteri, Danielle Krivak, Henry Dittman, Nikki Alexis Howard, Paul F. Tompkins, Peter Gilroy, Ryan O'Flanagan, Stephen Tobolowsky, Tom Virtue, Vincent Washington

Director: L.E. Staiman

, 2023

For some people, grief isn’t easy when a parent dies, especially if that parent is someone you wish you would never become. Grief can stir up a mix of uncomfortable emotions, like shame, anger, and guilt, and it can be very confusing to explain what’s happening to people who aren’t experiencing the same. There’s plenty of that here in South African drama Prime, with Marius losing his racist father, but the way the film depicts this grief is quite hard to follow because of the way it handles its other genres. The human horror of becoming someone you’ve hated is muddled with the randomly arranged sequences, sluggish pace, and mumbled dialogue, which is a shame, because the ideas and images could have made a better movie.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller

Actor: Gérard Rudolf, Jasmine Hazi, Michael Lawrence Potter, Nomsa Twala, Richard Gau, Sharon Spiegel Wagner, Sizo Mahlangu

Director: Thabiso Christopher