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Posts tagged “blade runner

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Trailer 2

Hmph, anyone care to explain to me how this has been out in the wilds for about twelve hours AND NOBODY TOLD ME? Hmph, sorry about that. Truth be told I’m getting a little bit anxious about this now, some elements, some imagery have me deeply concerned, and others look thoroughly amazing. It doesn’t help that its been cut as an action film either. Oh well, only three months to go…;

Blade Runner II (2017) Trailer

I’ve waited 35 years for this, and it is good;

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Teaser Trailer

I knew it was coming, I’ve been turning over in my mind for months how I might respond to this, and maybe it’s the fact that we’re in the romantic, nostalgia laden period of the seasonal cycle but there was one reaction which I hadn’t anticipated. I burst into tears;

Now, in my defence (and stop laughing at the back you heartless swine) I’ve just been disappointed with a revisit to a certain other SF legend today, and as regular readers might be aware Blade Runner occupies a monolithic position in my life, cinematically speaking, and thus I have been waiting to see this through rumours and numerous false starts for over thirty fucking years. I love the look of it, I really loved the soundtrack which took all the appropriate cues, although those glimpses we saw of the world didn’t seem to have significantly moved on from 2019 to 2049 eh? Now, if you’ll excuse me gentle reader, I shall spend the rest of the evening going on a carnage strewn speculation marathon – will they weave in some of other dormant themes from the Dick book, like the Mercism religious material and absence of animal life? Will Tyrell or Rachel cameo? Will they, actually scratch that, how will they tackle all those ‘he’s a replicant’ debates that have raged for decades – I mean, that’s inevitable, right? Is that desert wasteland off-world?  A lightly terraformed Mars maybe? Am I the only person who got a strong Hardware vibe from that preview? Oh Deckard’s wielding the same blaster……(swoons)……

Arrival (2016)

arrival1It’s funny how the little things, or rather the enormous, epoch shattering events can sneak up on you. I confess to being somewhat shocked when the trailer for Arrival, erm, arrived a couple of months ago, I’m normally pretty good at keeping my finger on the pulse when it comes to new releases, particularly SF themed material given my penchant for all things alien attuned and otherworldly ouroboros. Instead this project was a total shock, especially the presence of rising star director Denis Villeneuve in the captains chair, given his growing stature in appreciation following last years compelling crime thriller Sicario. Challenging, thought provoking and intellectually compelling SF is difficult to detect in the current constellation of Star Wars and Trek clones, like sourcing a genuine SETI signal in the franchise fueled firmament, and while these pictures can be undeniable fun they rarely leave much lasting impression, relying more on the action orientated narratives of the superhero or action movie welded with a Science Fiction genre chassis. Arrival is another, taking off from the same narrative ground zero of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind nearly forty years ago – First Contact with aliens, and all that may entail for the human race. The approach to such a obliterating event in Arrival is intergalactically equidistant from the cartoonish carnage of, say Independence Day,  this is much more in the vein of the smart, cerebral and considered, with not a single blaster nor dogfight in sight. It’s always interesting to consume these films whilst considering the paradigm of Science Fiction reflecting its era’s beliefs and fears, we’ve recently seen a burst of material such as Interstellar, Gravity, The Martian and Midnight Special which are ultimately optimistic and progressive, unlike the communist menace of the 1950’s, the saviors of E.T., StarmanCE3K of the 60’s to the 80’s, or the paranoid conspiracy of the X-Files 1990’s. More recently the post 9/11 uncertainties of War Of The WorldsMinority Report or The Hunger Games series seem to have been in the ascendant, and like those films Arrival speaks to a prevailing sense of anxiety, a global malaise which seem more prescient by the day.

amval2Based on the admired short tale Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang the film opens with a live action version of that heartbreaking sequence in Pixar’s Up, except this time it’s linguistic professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams, brilliant) nursing and then tragically mourning the death of her young adult daughter. With the somber mood appropriately set Louise’s loss is swiftly overwhelmed by an epoch shattering event – twelve vast interstellar objects have arrived at various unconnected sites over the globe, their presence and purpose a total mystery. Given her past terrorist intercept & translation security clearance Banks is recruited by the stern Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to join a specialist team, tasked with initiating contact and establishing the alien interlopers intentions, alongside theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly whom is played by a a perpetually perturbed Jeremy Renner. Every 18 hours the craft open to admit the humans who desperately attempt to establish a common communication channel, a sense of urgency adding flames to the fire as global panic and anarchy begins to sweep across the globe, and suspicious world governments of the non-American sort start to saber rattle as their populations demand assurances. So far, so conventional from a lot of SF material, but this is much more situated in the Contact, Stalker or Solaris constellation of screen science fiction, treating the material with an equal weight, with a philosophical and psychological fidelity which is rare for such an outrageous premise. It’s all too easy to reflect current events on cultural artifacts such as movies which are conceived, filmed and finished months and years before they are released to the public, but you can’t escape the fact that Arrivals is oozing with anxiety from every pore, from Louise’s bereaved psyche to the impending sense of some global apocalypse, reflected in the films palette and iconography which broods with blacks and grays in the ascendant. The SFX and CGI work is absolute first class, the arrivals feel glutinous, ghastly and simply not of our ecosystem in a completely convincing fashion. I won’t go further for fear of spoilers other than to say the design smacks of a Lovecraftian fever dream dredged from the deepest chasms of the Marianas trench, in one of the most compelling intellectualized movie species design since H.R. Gigers’ 1979 nightmare fuel.

circleSome years ago I read that the native American Indians had a philosophy and society based around a circle, this shape representing the strongest point of their understanding of the world around them, being equally tensile around every point of its 360° axis. It was also the circumference of the tepees they erected and called home, and it also represented the now rather trite sounding ‘circle of life’ chronology and repetition of the seasons, the return of the life-giving buffalo every spring and summer to their valuable hunting grounds, and apparently the Greeks were also in on this vibe. I’m not sure why I’m sharing this but it was one of the thoughts that struck me when the contact between species gains some traction in the film, and when any creative work begins to raise fundamental questions so eloquently  on our species, on our customs, hierarchies and manipulation of the physical dimensions around us, on our language, the tenses we use and our perceptions of time and temporal space I have to consider the film as working genuine wonders. The portions of the film when our creeds full intellectual rigor is pressed into such a monumental task as deciphering the otherworldly cryptography are just wonderful, brilliantly cut and spliced with a deft montage voice-over, and you initially begin to query why Villeneuve is inter-cutting these efforts with Louise’s memories of her daughter, until the two strands collide in a supernova brilliance during Arrival’s final annihilating masterstroke.

rennerUnlike this laugh-fest which I simply have to read I like how a lot of SF these days – heh – seems to play in the unstable arena of the quantum, of probing at the nature and omnipotence of time, whether it is running out or refracting back on itself, which is another of Arrival’s sub-nuclear narrative cores. Just to switch gears a little Renner is the best he’s been in more of a supporting role, Whitaker plays the Colonel with his usual hulking and dour concern, but Amy Adam’s is phenomenal as the core character cluster, the simultaneous terror and trance-like wonder scattering across her face in a fully realized and deftly balanced performance. There are a few small niggles, as wouldn’t the use of the canary in the coalmine tool be a little threatening for a first contact meeting guys? Demonstrating how we capture and exploit our fellow species? That might not look so good, even if its accurate. There is also a fairly obvious piece of explosive plot foreshadowing which is a little rushed and under-cooked, and perhaps the film loses a little focus in the middle section as to how much time is being spent formalizing the joint language, but Arrival is still smart enough to sidestep other clichés such as the suspicious paranoid CIA lackey (Michael Sthulberg) or the one dimensional aggressive military Colonel. Both are here in form but avoid there respective genre traps, both play their parts with a little more consideration and nuance, willing to give the scientists a limited benefit of the doubt that they are the best chance for success. It’s funny, I’ve been musing over the film for a couple of days now and I’ve realized that it’s also lifting intentionally or unintentionally from Cameron’s The Abyss and even, most amusingly, various manipulations in a most excellent journey.

arrival3I just loved how the film handled the genuine, psychological shredding impact of genuinely making first contact as presented in the film, the bewildered and terrified faces of the scientists, civilians and military brass, devastated on both a global and personal level – I loved the throwaway moment of earlier witnesses being lead off the camp on gurneys, with Weber muttering ‘some people just can’t handle the situation’. The traditional approach we know is the whole celestial look of magical awe, the upturned camera, swelling score and slow push-in to reveal the beatific saviour beings,  but that paradigm is deeply inverted here, as the humans attempt to process just what this seismic event means for our very species, as we are challenged on every established belief structure over the past couple of millennia. The monolith was a device that Clarke and Kubrick arrived at for 2001 – yes I’m going there –  them both realizing that the very concept of inter-dimensional entities, trillions of years in advance of our puny apes just could not be realistically represented on-screen using the cinematic effects of 1968, leaving them seeking a conceptual solution of representation instead. Through discussions they arrived at an algorithm of form and visual semiotics which is simultaneously esoteric and faceless, unknowable and impenetrable, qualities which all are wrapped up in our shared perception across creeds and cultures of that silent, indestructible slab. Arrival makes a good stab at taking this forward,  the film has one of the best realizations of something genuinely ‘alien’, of creatures utterly divorced from our evolution, atmosphere and geology that I’ve ever seen, and that alone is a major achievement beyond the usual CGI cudgels we get these days. The implications have also been carefully considered and thought through, the effect on the planets delicate geo-political landscape, and the seismic sociological and cultural tsunami that would sweep through every creed and religious ideology  propel a sense of things falling apart and decaying with a terrifying rapidity, yet still struck through with the emotional thread, the beating heart of the picture which rests on Amy Adams significant shoulders.

globalEric Heisserer deserves an Academy Award nomination for the script from a design perspective, it nestles on page and screen like a palindrome, so further re-watches are definitely in order and I have heard even stronger praise from those whom have already indulged. Although it bows to the conventions of exposition voice-over to convey information, and there are a couple of dream feints how the filmmakers manipulate the very cornerstones of how you parcel and transmit information, of how the interpretation rests within the ear of the beholder and their expectations and conditioning, its in the space between those two concepts that Arrival descends. This is where form meets story, clearly Heisserer has done his research into the semiotic difficulties of communication with entities that may even have a conception of language as we understand it, their process of cognition, their mastery of physics, they way they even approach time is brilliantly queried, and whilst avoiding spoilers these ideas are stitched into the fabric of the film in a truly revolutionary fashion. – language itself has a formalizing intellectual structure, deciding how the discourse is programmed into the psyche of others, a lesson we could all learn given the nauseous events of last week. If you think that’s gobbledygook then I haven’t even grazed the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or other queries that the film conveys – how do we, think we can / are successful in understanding bees or ants for example? What about communicating with primates or Dolphins?

arrival4Jóhann Jóhannsson’s ethereal and unearthly minimalist score perfectly complements Arrival’s scale and subject matter, harnessing that oscillation from the epic to the intimate which seems to be Villeneuve’s forte. Apparently he’s been signed up for the Blade Runner 2049 musical duties which must be quite a formidable task, given the influence and adoration of Vangelis’s original mastery. I’m immensely encouraged to see a film of this intelligence and sophistication on multiplex screens, especially one which has the confidence to manipulate the very building blocks and engineering of how cinema works, of character perspectives and how a movie can manipulate time, all of which speaking to the central themes and  lyrics of the story. Villeneuve has been slowly growing in appreciation after Sicario (I really want to get my hands on a copy of his rare, expensive to source Polytechnique) and with this achievement he has firmly been implanted as one of the filmmakers to closely follow, with this picture he has singlehandedly obliterated any remaining concerns I had about that sequel, and I hear he has his sights on a Dune remake which has detonated an ultimate nullifier of excitement in my SF sanctified soul. I am slightly hesitating, my fingers hovering over the possible use of the word ‘masterpiece’ as I think any piece of work needs some space to breathe, to establish itself in the lexicon and see how it evolves with age. Nevertheless I’m close to that level of praise, and have no doubt that future revisits will yield deeper treasures, from the oubourous opening and ending shot selection, through interrogating its deeper structure and design, and how Arrival’s conception and execution marries its thematic intentions – even the title holds a potent metaphoric charge. Are we advancing as a species? Do we deserve to? Arrival suggest we will, because we exist, and if we exist then we have a potential, despite all our flaws and foibles. We can sacrifice and struggle, and face the void which comes to us all in the knowledge that our ability to adapt and grow might be sufficient, and potentially unique in this incomprehensible universe of ours – now that’s an interesting theory. Language and communication serving as empathy projections seems to be a priority to avoid annihilation these days, both at a personal and geo-political level, so in that light I’m electing this as my film of the year;

We’ve got some really nice toys here….

So this is doing the rounds, no its not a new cut as some sites are breathlessly misreporting, it’s merely alternate and deleted scenes presented in chronological order, with a bit of Hi-Def scrub. Probably for completests only, but there is some fascinating material in here if you ask me;

That voiceover really is terrible isn’t it? Talk about exposition and removing all nuance. Whilst we’re on the subject of Ridley Scott this also surfaced this weekend, scanning this in black and white is quite striking;

Who Hired Roger For Runner?

OK, OK, there might be, and I stress the might be, some miniscule hairline cracks developing in my indomitable opposition against the Blade Runner sequel which is now officially shooting next summer. First of all nominated director Denis Villeneuve has had a storming Cannes with his new thriller getting astounding plaudits, and then today they announced that only Roger Fucking Deakins has signed up;

So with original screenwriter Hampton Fancher also in the mix I guess we couldn’t ask for a more promising mix of talent, but I still have severe reservations. Lets see who gets cast before we break out the Moet shall we? What’s that? Gosling is in negotiations?….Hmmm…(rubs chin nervously)……that might work……..

Blade Runner – Final Cut (2007) Reprise

br1‘Memories….you’re talking about memories‘ – We’ve been here before of course, through two generations of Voight Kampff interrogation, but I think you’ll be willing to undergo a third assault on one of my all time favourite films – it must be edging out 2001: A Space Odyssey for sheer volume of Menagerie coverage by now. When yet another big-screen revival of the SF classic was announced I was slightly concerned that I wouldn’t have a great deal to say from yet another screening, yet I dutifully ambled over to the Prince Of Wales cinema this week, handed over my £8 and scrambled upstairs for another trip to the Stygian Los Angeles of November 2019. Within moments of the opening credits my laughable concerns were obliterated in the face of the masterpiece – and let’s be clear with this, that this is a masterpiece –  as the film continues to mature and evolve like the highest proponents of the craft. Given that I’ve covered the familiar ground in those previous pieces I’m not going to be retracing the old ‘did you know the original cut closed with outtakes from The Shining?‘, ‘I wonder how the film would have turned out if original cast choice Dustin Hoffman shot the Deckard role?’  or ‘did you know that William S. Burroghs optioned the name title Blade Runner from one of his stories?’ anecdata which should be perfectly clear and general knowledge to you by now, instead I’ll formulate some thoughts around  some specific themes which have gloamed like those fiery refinery belches through that future industrial smog.  It’s fair to say that this entire on-line enterprise probably wouldn’t exist without Blade Runner, it was the first film I really developed an obsessive fascination with, and would watch every day after school on an increasingly degraded VHS copy that preserved an inferior ITV pan & scan transmission. Just to dilute any concerns about my mental health I would often be reading or doing homework as it thundered away in the background, so I’d look up and pay 100% attention only to the essential sequences –  the opening crawl, the Tyrell / Batty confrontation, Zhora’s knockers, the final chase and soliloquy, and, well, yes the list goes on. I’m not exaggerating when I proclaim that I’ve seen this film well over 100 times, so it is quite difficult to divorce yourself from knowing every anecdote from every component, of being able  to predict the sequence and contour of every scene and mentally mirror the dialogue ad nauseam, but I have tried my best to approach this with a fresh 2015 perspective in order to reassess the film another eight years on from its previous generation. So c’mon now, abandon those noodles, let’s crank up some music and take the spinner for a stroll, and let me show what I’ve seen with your eyes. Or something.

deckard‘Captain Bryant toka. Me ni omae yo’ – Oh god bless you internet, there I was wondering if anyone had translated Gaff’s dialogue delivered in that future urban argot – just another small ingredient of world building which adds nourishing texture to the piece – and of course they fucking have. That urban mood of the city as a living, breathing omnipresent entity evokes noir which takes us neatly to the first area I want to explore – genre, and rather more specifically genre hybrids. The mix of neo-noir and SF in Blade Runner has simply never been bettered (yes, I’m including Godard’s overrated Alphaville in that equation), and if you disassemble the constituent parts it’s rather a strange, seemingly incongruous combination. There are plenty of SF action movies, or action-comedies, cross pollenating to horror-comedies and so forth, but taking the futurism and predictive qualities of SF and then crouching those in the mean streets of urban malaise, of crimson lipped duplicitous dames and existential dread seems like a volatile, indigestible mixture. It’s not just the 1940’s costume design influences in the film, the neon-scorched & smoke saturated streets or Rachael’s Joan Crawford influenced Mildred Pierce hairstyles and power suits, beyond the visual trappings Hampton Fancher and David Peoples script also lavishes attention on tone. World-weary gum-shoe who is constantly drunk in the film? Check. Doomed, transgressive romance with a dame shielding a host of mysteries? Check. Powerful industrialist falling prey to the criminal elements of society he is in part responsible for unleashing? triple check. Thematically these iconographic contours refract and intensify against each other in some genre generated echo chamber, with the wielding of cloaked intentions and identity within an environment of moral and social disintegration, of fate and time dictated by some personified and malignant entity, with the oriental elements even suggesting the post-war occupation of Japan which was captured in the first cycle of noirs such as Sam Fuller’s  The Crimson Kimono or House Of Bamboo.

blade1‘Also extraordinary things; revel in your time’ – Just seeing this on the big screen again with roughly 25% extra visual information than the pan-scan TV versions I was weened on never fails to dazzle and inspire, Ridley populating and cramming every pixel with visual information, from Syd Mead and Lawrence G. Paul’s retro-futurist production design and Jordan Cronenwith’s caliginous cinematography. The film feels timeless like many other classics, it doesn’t have the historical gradient of many of its contemporaries and isn’t a glaring product of American cinema of the 1980’s like the Schwarzenegger or Stallone testosterone traducements. Perhaps this is because the themes and queries spliced into the film at every level are timeless – what is it to be human? How long have we got on this mortal realm? Can we create artificial intelligence? If so, then what are the consequences of igniting that Promethean fire? Even the scrubbed SFX stands up to scrutiny apart from some of those cityscape mattes framed outside Deckard’s apartment, and the post-modern fashions, the cultural and social coding is decades ahead of its time unlike similar fare which operate in the slipstream of Reganomics and the cold war – The Thing, Tron,  E.T. & Turkey Shoot – just to pick a few contemporaries from 1982. It’s also not just the 1940’s inflected future which Ridley restricted his influences upon, very little mention has ever been made about the Louis XIV inspired inner sanctum of Tyrell regaled in a Midas gold sheen, or J.F. Sebastian’s apartment cluttered with La Belle Époque garbed clockwork mannequins and prototypes, nor the New Romantic baroque decadence of the West Side bar where Deckard  fatally meets Zhora. I also noted that we never even get an establishing shot of this potentially lucrative location in the sense of fashion and design textures, an oversight unheard of in todays visual language of storytelling spectacle, all of which suggests that Ridley still had some detritus from the The Duellists to shake out of his viewfinder.

br3‘We’re not computers Sebastian…we’re physical’ – For the first time seeing the film projected I felt a real, palpable emotional core with the character of Rachel, and not simply because she was one of my first and  deepest screen crushes. Her function and plight is the emotional centrifuge of the film, the rostrum of simulacra and memory orbiting her character like a slowly descending spinner, and I was actually moved by her plight rather than taking a swim in her dreamy, chameleon eyes…….oh, I’m sorry, I erm, I got a little distracted there. Like HAL in 2001 she is the only empathic character in the film – Deckard is little more than a gum-shoe cypher who drinks constantly, gets beaten up and shoots women in the back – she is the engineered creature who enjoys anything like a dramatic arc, and her and HAL’s digital constitution is one of the great ironies of these twinned films, proclaimed as ‘more human than human’ by Tyrell as the corporate mission statement. Similarly Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer portrayal as curious adult/child hybrids given their emotional immaturity, it’s just so wonderfully pitched and played in comparison to the I.AM. {BZZT} A. ROBOT. dimensions of artificial intelligence on the big screen, and I’ll bet you digital dollars to differential doughnuts that Pris was a central influence on Scarlett Johannson in Under The Skin. Speaking of influences the films programming of Ex Machina is evidence of Blade Runners continual influence over thirty years later, a cognitive take on the major scientific and cultural issues of the day, but it was also the romance scenes in Deckard’s apartment which seem to have matured with a melancholic method, apart from the ‘no’ meaning ‘yes’ aspect of the seduction scene which is kinda uncomfortable in 2015. I’m not going to labour the point about the film not existing in almost as many cuts as the replicants themselves – 1982 domestic and international cuts, 1992 directors cut, the 2007 Final Cut and the original Work-Print – but here is a comparison of the opening and closing versions of each iteration;

The lights have expired, Vangelis prismatic score swells to establish mood and atmosphere, the credits leisurely spool across the retina as the only sensory information in a darkened auditorium, acclimatizing us into this incredibly tactile world immersion that is due to commence. I don’t want to be that guy but most movies today could take a lesson in from Blade Runner in terms of patience, of not plunging straight into the action with a barely conceived title sequence (which is an art unto itself of course), of trusting the audience and securing their undivided attention. Controversially I actually prefer the original ending, even if it doesn’t make narrative sense in the abstract that all these souls would be suffering in the LA metropolis hellhole and not living out in the Eden like mountains, except isn”t that what people do in the real world? Do they live in shanty towns in South America and Africa instead of foraging for sustenance out on the wilderness? No, we are social creatures that flock together so that criticism never made sense. I am hoping to see the original cut, either domestic or European on the big screen some day (naturally I leapt at the chance of seeing the Directors Cut in 1992) but I suspect that Warner Brothers and Ridders have pulled a Lucas and removed prints from circulation. It’s just a hunch as even on my social media feeds of numerous cinephiles and critics from across the globe no-one has ever mentioned, not once in almost a decade, of going to see the original 1982 version on the big screen.

br4‘Are you for real?’ – Must we reassess the great question that has raged for years – is Deckard a replicant? My current status with this perennial question is succinct and to the point – who cares? It doesn’t fucking matter, and no matter what Ridders said in that interview the question must and should remain opaque, uncertain and undefinable like the very notion of consciousness and moral authority probed in the movie. Does it benefit to have a clear-cut explanation of  what the monolith ‘means’, of the final shot in Haneke’s Hidden and all the queries that raises, or what ‘Rosebud’ really refers to in Kane? The beauty and strength of these inquiries on an artistic and cognitive level lies in the mind of the beholder, as you experience, digest and mull over the work in alignment with your experiences and ideology. Once an artist releases his or her creation into the cultural market then they lose any intellectual authority over that work, other than their specific intentions which are usually fascinating and instructive, but can chain the work to a single interpretation of meanings and mediations. I’m not saying that Deckard’s status isn’t an interesting query to pose and consider when thinking about the text, especially when considering some specific moments in the film (so why does Bryant have to explain to Deckard, a Blade Runner with numerous years experience exactly what a Nexus-6 is? Other than the scene being a clunky screenwriting exercise in audience exposition of course) although the sequel is guaranteed to focus on this question with diminishing and discordant results. It’s these uncertainties, these intangible signifiers that also bleed into the animal extinction and environmental catastrophe of movie world 2019. The notion that the vast majority of animal life has been exterminated is front and center in PKD’s source text but embroidered into the DNA of the film without oblique reference, no character ever wields clumsy dialogue stating ‘of course all animal life has been rendered extinct since the atomic wars of the late 1990’s’, instead it is just another factor of the world which raises the temperature of the artificial and evolutionary, of science advancing to the status of replacing but not regenerating, an ideal which is as prophetic in 1982 as it remains today.

br5Wow,…you’ve got some….really nice toys here’ – The tender streak of blood that Roy brushes across Pris’s cheek as he gives a final kiss, mirroring the drops of blood spiraling from Deckard’s wounds into his neat vodka after the encounter with Leon. The mannequin sitting at the bar with a bottle of J&B during the final chase scene (1:42) which I had not noticed in the aforementioned 100 viewings which could be another piece of evidence of Deckard as  an artificial alcoholic construction, you can’t see it well in that poor quality clip but it is there, yet more proof that further viewings can still yield intellectual treasures. The fact that Pris and Roy’s incept date seen in the opening of the film are a mere nine and eight months away) which I’m sure some cinephiles will be celebrating on-line, in the most otaku levels of fandom. The deleted scene which is so strongly reminiscent of the look and design of Alien that you’ve got to conclude that they operate in the same universe, perhaps with Weyland Yutani and the Tyrell corporation as warring competitors who in true cyberpunk fashion have supplanted government and civil society as the organizing forces of culture and capitalism across the colonized systems – if anyone from  the Villeneuve camp is reading this then yes I am available for script duties. The fact that this exists and is now my favored background writing inspiration. So finally, once again, the finale. It’s not just the speech, the now iconic addition to the greatest soliloquies of all time speech, no for me it’s the whole sequence from Deckard entering Sebastian’s apartment through to the smash-cut ending which is up there with the greatest sequences ever committed to polyethylene nitrate.  The pacing and texture is perfectly engineered, it is exciting and saturated with apprehension, giving us more vital yet abstract elements of the abandoned, saturated cityscape interiors suffering in almost abstract decay – just like Batty. Most importantly it has the emotional pay-off, the villain of the piece becoming transformed through mercy and expressing more humanity than all the other characters in the film combined – not bad for some dumb skin-job. It’s these tensions of story and theme that elevate Blade Runner to masterpiece status powered by its revolutionary visual conceptions, soundtrack and atmosphere, the extraordinarily prescient social, architectural and design predictions, a future world on-screen which straddles the immense landmarks of Lang’s Metropolis through to Kubrick’s 2001. The influence remains overwhelming as the themes evolve with each passing year – isn’t this wonderful – like Gaff’s closing ambiguous statement ‘it’s too bad she won’t live, but then again who does?’;

Blade Runner (2007) Final Cut: Re-Release

After the re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey last year and a re-release of Blade Runner this year I have to wonder – have the BFI been intercepting my calls? Two of my all time favourite films given another airing in subsequent years? All we need now is a John Carpenter season, now that would be….something. Here’s the new trailer, having seen the film three times at the flicks I doubt I’ll bother with another sojourn to LA circa 2019;

Oh fuck it, who am I kidding, of course I’ll go and see it again – I just can’t help myself. It might be fun to give it another pass and throw some thoughts together for 2015, in the light of the sequel announcement and the imminent calendar catching up with the meta-narrative – just four years and eight months to go. You know what though, what would really get me excited is a screening of the original 1982 domestic or European cut, as I’ve never seen either version on the big screen, voiceover n’all – that would be completest paradise. Here’s a reasonably written overview, for the best fun skip to the comments for some quite hilarious trolling……

Scott Free

Kids today eh? They bloody don’t know they’re born with their modern conveniences and century of cinema lore to absorb, easily absorbed through numerous streaming and on-demand entertainment options. Well, you may have been wondering why their has been radio silence on two recent high-profile and DNA related announcements, the prospect of a new Alien movie with Neil Blomkamp at the helm following the warmly received pre-production artwork, and the confirmation that Blade Runner 2 is progressing with Ford returning to the Deckard role. Exciting, and infuriating;

Well, apart from querying if this is how every future project will lever a greenlight going forward – get some outline production design concepts and sketched material together, ‘accidentally’ leak them through social media and gauge the fan reaction – well apart from that I’m hesitantly embracing the first and still rejecting the latter. I think Blomkamp has certain talents which makes this a potentially effective hybrid of material and master, he is skillful at SFX and futuristic world building, and design is absolutely crucial to any successful Alien film.  In fact if you’ve got that right then I reckon you’re 50% of the way there, the creatures, ship designs and planetary environment, I just hope he gets some decent screenwriters to bolster the mechanics and mileau which he badly botched by his own admission in Elysium. Final word – anything possible to eradicate the memory banks of the AvP atrocities is welcome around this sub-orbital system, and Ripley deserves a decent send-off.

Moving onto to our Nexus 6 chums the news of director Denis Villeneuve being attached to the project is an eye raiser, his earlier films (and one wonders if the doubling in this film was one reason he got the gig) were great but I think there is one overwhelming obstacle – the pyramid shadow of the original. Look, I’m not of the adolescent age where any interference of franchise or previous material sends me off on some nerd-rage, quite the contrary in fact, as we’ll always have the original regardless of the remake/reimagining/reboot, and the second generation might be an entertaining picture.

Does Carpenters The Thing seem diminished by infected osmosis due to the terrible prequel? No, of course not. Yet all that said I fail to see what they could possibly do to eclipse the original, as all everyone will be debating another rehash of the whole ‘oooh, is he a Replicant?’ question. Even with half of the original screenwriting talent back on board (and the other writer is the genius behind Green Lantern – awesome!) and Tyrell, Sean, Daryl, Eddie, Roy and even Bryant still defying their termination dates around this sounds like a clusterfuck of epic proportions. A new film set in that same exhausted 2019 world? Maybe. Deckard being back? No, I really don’t think so – some things should be kept sacred. Now, who’s gonna get cracking on that Legend reboot?

RIP Sir Run Run Shaw (1907 – 2014)

‘The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long’, except quite clearly not in this case as the Hong Kong entertainment mogul Sir Run Run Shaw passed away yesterday at the venerable age of 106. I’m no expert of martial arts movies, I have fond memories of some early Jackie Chan and associated merciless melees populating the shelves of my local VHS emporium (there is a nice little collection here) but course I couldn’t let this dudes passing go unremarked as he sponsored a certain special 1982 SF project;

Here’s a comprehensive list which is an amusing perusal, if only for some of the movie titles. It’s kind of fitting isn’t it, that a Warner Brothers distributed and independently financed movie should have some Oriental DNA, given Blade Runner’s sociological Asian influences? Other films to admire include The Right StuffOutland  and of course Police Academy….