Monday, 30 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049 : It's No Game

It's over a week since I saw BLADE RUNNER 2049 a second time and I'm still thinking about it a lot. The dam has just burst. Prepare for random thoughts.

BLADE RUNNER 2049 is not only better than the original, by having characters you actually care about, it makes the plot of the original movie 20% better by giving that slightly abusive Deckard and Rachel relationship some consequence.

Apparently BLADE RUNNER 2049 has been a box office flop. I'm neither shocked or disappointed by this because it means I'm not going to hear theories on it from some empty headed trendy who only went to see it for Ryan Gosling.

Gosling is brilliant, better than Ford in both movies (and Ford is pretty good in this one). Gosling seems to be playing a ghost version of his doomed character from DRIVE and his work with  Ana de Armas as Joi makes for a level of hearbreak we never get anywhere near in the cold, sometimes brutal original movie.

Officer K/Joe and Joi are just about the best screen couple I've seen all year. It's horrifying when Joi is destroyed and absolutely devastating when 'Joe' finds (or is reminded) that Joi is essentially a very smart App, and the important bond he has established with this 'woman' actually meant absolutely nothing beyond his own mind.
It was a nightmarishly relatable moment.

According to Slash Film podcast review, the hero of Kafka's The Trial is 'Joseph K', who thinks he is the center of a huge conspiracy, only to find is a minor functionary. Gosling's Officer K/Joe is an instant classic movie character, tragic on several levels. The narrative's flirtation with the plot twist from ANGEL HEART is all the more tragic and pathetic when it is revealed to be a cruel tease.

Wow that was a lot of spoilers wasn't it!
Tough. You should have paid to see the movie instead of waiting to see such a breathtaking cinematic experience on your shit television.

The debate used to be
It's now

This movie is worth seeing more than once. After the three way love scene, between K, Joi and Marriett you hear Mackenzie Davis (also great as a kind of Pris 2.0) say to Joi
"There is not as much to you as you think" .
The first time you hear it this is needlessly cruel.
The second time, when you know what Joi is, this is cruel, accurate and heartbreaking all round.

Apparently this and other scenes are getting flak for their portrayal of women. I'm not going to defend this movie from feminists because most feminists I know have a brain and won't be offended by this movie. Like the similarly devastating and disturbing HER, there is nothing in this movie that makes me think
"wow losing my emotions to an App controlled by a immortal, omnipotent, all powerful faceless corporate is a great alternative to some sweet but dozy bird I might find on Tinder".

Denis Villeneuve has instantly become, like David Fincher and Christopher Nolan, someone whose entire back catalogue now needs to be watched. I wasn't knocked out by ARRIVAL (or INTERSTELLAR for that matter) but SICARIO is a classic. I hope he's not bitten off more than he can chew with D U N E.

Another great scene, another great actress, Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, who isn't really a powerless male fantasy figure
Standing in for Bowie (see below), Jared Leto is actually great as Wallace, 2049's frustrated Tyrell. The Slash Film podcast  summed up Wallace perfectly;
"He's the CEO of Samsung coming on stage decades after Steve Jobs (Tyrell) has left and taken all his secrets with him".

As we know Denis Villeneuve is a D U N E fanatic did he cast Jared Leto because he wants Jared Leto as Leto?

I have had issues with the BLADE RUNNER since it was the crushing disappointment of 1982 but the more I see it on better quality medium the better it gets. The first time I saw the BLADE RUNNER FINAL CUT at my friend Rob's house in dazzling HD I had a genuine Philip K. Dick moment when I thought the characters in the Philip K. Dick movie looked more real than we did in the reality that was watching it.

DANGEROUS DAYS BLADE RUNNER DOC 1 The brutal love scene in original movie was more originally more tender according to Sean Young but it was cut to look like abuse. If they were "made to be together" as Sean Young says in one cut scene, this makes Tyrell even more of a cruel god.

The more I watch the original the more intriguing Edward James Olmos's character Gaff becomes as he is obviously some form of handler for Deckard, whatever he is.

For all my re-evaluation and late appreciation of BLADE RUNNER, if you want something genuinely Philip K. Dick from the 1980s, that also screams 1980s in all it's vulgar glory, Paul (STARSHIP TROOPERS) Verhoeven's TOTAL RECALL seems a little forgotten today.

C4's ELECTRIC DREAMS, a Philip K. Dick anthology show from the channel which originally brought you BLACK MIRROR. is worth a watch. A little patchy, the most mind bending thing I've seen it in so far is Benedict Wong's spot on Mancunian accent in the episode"Impossible Planet"
Benedict Wong is also in one of the BLADE RUNNER 2049 short films  (BLADE RUNNER 2049 - "2036: Nexus Dawn") so you know he's a Philip K. Dick fan.
EDIT: Benedict Wong has a spot on Mancunian accent because Benedict Wong was born in Eccles, Greater Manchester :-)

One of the other shorts, BLADE RUNNER 2049 - "Black Out 2022", should be a full length movie and I would guess will be one before long.

DANGEROUS DAYS BLADE RUNNER DOC 2 While doing painstaking model work to ensure that every microscopic light source in the cityscape for the opening of the orginal movie looks real,
Douglas Trumble's exhausted Special Effects crew gets a trip to director Ridley Scott's breathtaking actual sets. They are gobsmacked to find beautiful interiors like Tyrell's office with light dancing around like Midsummer Nights Dream from no realistic sources whatsover.
Later, graffiti on piece of  tiny modelwork is shown to say "RIDLEY IS GOD"

We speculated in the 80s that the ultimate cyperpunk accessory would be cybernetic eyes what would show you the world as if shot by the Scott Brothers. (You could have a dropdown that could switch between Tony and Ridley).

Anyway.. back to BLADE RUNNER 2049

When listened to on headphones. soundtrack to BLADE RUNNER 2049 by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch, just like the astonishing Vangelis soundtrack for the original, will put you right back in the movie, even when you are actually just queuing up for a flu jab at Boots.

Jóhann Jóhannsson was the original choice for the BLADE RUNNER 2049 soundtrack before Denis Villeneuve decided quite late on to go with Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. (If we we got is a last minute rush job it is all the more impressive). Jóhann Jóhannsson is a brilliant modern composer  which means eventually we will get a probably excellent variant soundtrack for this movie before long.

The soundtrack for the BLADE RUNNER 2049 - "Black Out 2022" short, by Flying Lotus is also good and should be expanded to album length. (While we wait for the live action movie of these events).

Bowie was the original choice to to be Wallace because Denis Villeneuve and Ridley Scott considered him to be hugely influential on Blade Runner and cyberpunk aesthetic.
As I've mentioned elsewhere cyberpunk was coined as a term AFTER Blade Runner to describe the look and concept. So what Bowie music inspired Blade Runner?
Diamond Dogs? - no, too 1970s, too glam
Outside? - no, a response, a reflection back from the 1990s

You'd need something from the big technological/style bang of the 1980s as it sloughed off the 1970s, something like this.

This is the sound of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and eventually literary cyberpunk being born screaming into life

**UPDATE** Now I come to think of it Bowie's 'Heroes' and 'Low' are much more influential on both actual movie soundtracks.

One final note.
When Denis Villeneuve needed a location to show a defunct dying Las Vegas he chose a Stock Exchange (in Budapest). I wonder how ironic and prophetic that will seem when we finally get to see BLADE RUNNER 2075?

1 comment:

  1. Wow look at all the tags on this! It's World in a Bottle bingo!