Showing posts with label neo-noir. Show all posts
Showing posts with label neo-noir. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sci-Fi Watch: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)



Prior Blade Runner posts:
January 9, 2016 - film watch
September 16, 2016 - novel
January 6, 2008 - DITMTLOD



SOME SPOILERS BELOW:

Like a lot of people of my generation, Blade Runner is one of my favorite films.  To expect objectivity regarding the film at this point is a difficult request as I cannot separate the film's actual merits from the impact it had upon me when I first watched the film circa 1988 and deepening appreciation over time.

In a recent comment, Fantomenos asked what the last band was that I related to on a deeply personal level, where I felt they were speaking straight to me (I dodged the question), and I think movies operate much the same way.  I will simply never feel quite the same way about a movie now as I did in high school.  Whatever openness I had to experience during that period of development is a maze of decades of other movies, cynicism and life experience. 

At this point, I've watched Blade Runner dozens of times.  I know the beats, the characters, the dialog.  And so do you, most likely.  I can talk about things explicit and implicit to the film's story, talk about the production of the movie and tell you about seeing a Spinner and Rachael's dress in Seattle.  I'm aware it's likely part of how I became interested in cinema noir, film design, and remains the high water mark for movies about AI, in my opinion.

If Star Wars had created a totally immersive universe through design, sound, music, character and themes - a fairy tale universe in which I would have been happy to jump into, Blade Runner provided a similar experience with a dystopia in which everything seemed to fall out of the current culture, in which I could draw a line from our current lives to how we might reach this world of constant rain, stratified social classes, surreal landscapes of mega-structures and ubiquitous advertising (some of it beautiful). And, no, despite the Rachaels, I would not want to live in the world of Blade Runner.  The world of this movie is the world of the end of humanity.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Texas Watch: Hell or High Water (2016)



If you've seen the trailer for this movie, and you think that maybe you have a rough idea of what this movie will be like - bingo.  You are correct.

Hell or High Water (2016) is currently nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, which is maybe the surest sign that the Academy is comprised of white people over the age of 65.  A post No Country for Old Men meditation on justice in the sun-baked desert plains of West Texas, it's an enjoyable enough way to spend the run-time of a movie.  But with no non-standard plot turns or character moments, a movie where the sub-text of the film is text, it's the sort of thing that's been done better elsewhere (see the movie named at the beginning of this sentence) and has characters walking a path of moral uncertainty enough that you can say it has some edge to it.

That said, I didn't actually dislike Hell or High Water.  It's a fine movie with characters you'll enjoy (I've seen these same characters done a few dozen times, and if you're going to do those characters, this is pretty good), a decent plot, and if you like Chris Pine (I do!) and Jeff Bridges (what sort of psychopath doesn't like Jeff Bridges?), I've got a movie I'd say you can watch comfortably with your dad.  Or, better yet, your sibling.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Neo-Noir Action Flick Keanu Watch: John Wick (2014)

So, for reasons I completely understand, for some time, Loyal Leaguer RHPT has been on my butt to watch John Wick (2014).  It's a stylish action thriller with a decidedly noirish bent, complete with a guy with an affection for dogs who also happens to be one of the world's foremost assassins.  I guess.  It sure seems that way, because his bodycount in the 48 hour storyline of this movie has to be cresting triple digits and all anyone else gets in, at best, is a hitcount between 0 and 5 kills, and that includes folks who are supposed to be his peers.



The movie begins with John Wick burying his wife, the lady who, of course, was not absolutely horrified to marry a mass-murderer (hey, rich guys who have homes out of Architectural Digest have their appeal).  She's died of an unnamed disease, which did nothing to ravage her good looks as she lays there dead after losing her battle with the disease.  John is bereft, but his wife somehow orders him a puppy from beyond the grave (but cleverly does not order any pet accouterments, but we'll not pick nits - it's poetic) and John sees maybe a spark of life or hope.

However, a Russian thug decides to steal John Wick's car, and, in the process, breaks into John's house and kills his puppy.  Turns out this kid is the son of John's former employer, the most powerful mobster in New York.  So, John must fight his way boss-level style, through New York.

Friday, February 6, 2015

SW Watches: The Big Lebowski

I'll never really be sure I understand what the Coen Bros. were thinking with this one.  That's not to say it doesn't work, but it's an odd bit of noir-detective, what with our detective in this mystery barely participating, a cowboy narrator and all the bowling.  At the end of the day, it's really a movie, I guess, about two very different guys who love and understand one another not just despite their differences, but because of them.  Maybe.

The movie certainly leans on the trappings of the Chandler or Hammett detective novel, which - 20 years after the fact, would get associated with noir detective movies, mostly thanks to the success of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe adaptations.  There's the wealthy, non-ambulatory older gentleman in his castle asking for assistance, a sexy ice-queen of a daughter with schemes of her own, third and fourth parties working at cross-purposes, niggling idiots who cross the path of our detective who just get in the way, and repeated blackouts for our hero.

But, really, all our hero wants to do is go bowling and get a replacement rug for his living room.



Friday, January 30, 2015

SW Reads: Mystic River

blogger's note:  For some reason, this post gets a lot of traffic.  Can someone tell me how you got to this page?  I find the hit count on this post perplexing.

I just finished the audiobook of the Dennis Lehane novel Mystic River, the basis for the 2003 film which drew plum nominations and won a few Academy Awards (and which earned a bucketload of other awards).

Frankly, I never saw the movie, and I really had no idea what either the book or movie were about.  No, I have no recollection of 2003 and what I was doing.  Working, I guess.

There's a guy who works security sometimes in the building where I show up every day, and I think his story is that he does security as his day job (because he can sit there and read), and he goes home and works on his own crime novels.  I admire the hell out of that, and he recommended the book to me about two years ago, and so I finally got around to reading/ listening to Mystic River this year.



Audiobooks are a strange experience.  You're dealing with an actor's interpretation of how this should be read, and sometimes I just feel like maybe the reader missed the mark.  And, this may have been one of those times.  I think he went for "overwrought" and melodramatic when, maybe, he could have pulled it back a bit for a different impact.  I believe I listened to Scott Brick, who also read The Devil in the White City, which I listened to last year, and which I felt was fine, if memory serves.  But this book required a lot more acting and interpretation.

I don't know how I felt about the book.  I guess I'm a little surprised this particular story was thought of so well as to earn Oscar nominations, so I'd like to see the movie soon to see how it worked as Oscar bair.  And it certainly is not the first time a book that maybe wasn't the most inspiring source material worked stunningly well as a movie.  This was certainly nowhere near my favorite book, but what it did, it did well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SW Watches: To Live and Die in LA


It's not entirely clear how I've never seen this movie as I've wanted to see this movie since at least 7th grade.  Somehow I never connected free time + availability + making it a priority.  But that's the magic of being friends with SimonUK.  You can say things like "Hey, I've never seen To Live and Die in LA." and he'll say "Cheerio, pip pip!  Why, I 've loads of copies of To Live and Die in LA., Gov'nuh!"*  But, yes, it's SimonUK, so of course he owned a copy.  Because he's a hoarder and he has a problem I'm more or less enabling.

And, thus, with Manhunter included, I somehow watched two William Petersen vehicles in less than 24 hours.