Archive for 1982

Blade Runner * * * * *

Posted in Film-Noir, Science Fiction with tags on March 15, 2012 by Mark Walker

20120315-192041.jpg

Director: Ridley Scott.
Screenplay: Hampton Fancher, David Webb Peoples.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy, Brion James, M. Emmett Walsh, James Hong, Morgan Paull.

Director Ridley Scott released “Alien” in 1979. For many, it stands as one of science fiction’s best. A mere three years after it though, he delivered “Blade Runner“. It was wrought with production problems, a less than happy crew and abundant studio interference. The end result, however, would lead you to believe that everything went smoothly. This is the definitive of science fiction movies and Scott’s finest film.

Los Angeles, 2019: Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a ‘Blade Runner’ – a unit of the police force that hunt and kill human clones, known as ‘Replicants’. Replicants have been declared illegal after a bloody mutiny on an Off-World Colony, and are to be terminated upon detection. Some have escaped and prowl the streets of Los Angeles looking for answers from their creator. This is when Deckard’s services are called upon.

Loosely based on the novel “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” by, the master of the genre, Philip K. Dick. If you are familiar with Dick’s immersive and intelligent ideas, then you’ll know exactly why this film works on so many levels. On the surface, it’s one of the most gorgeous pieces of cinema ever committed to the screen. The opening shot of the vast, dystopian city of Los Angeles – dubbed “The Hades Landscape” – is an absolute feast for the eyes and
a vision that’s yet to be beaten – even by today’s standards. The city itself is stark, rain drenched and has a heavy Eastern influence. Giant global corporations are rife; slavery, overcrowding and a decaying environment permeate the proceedings. Cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth can’t be praised enough for his eye in capturing this inhospitable future world. This is also helped, immeasurably, in it’s realisation by Production Designers Lawrence G. Paull and Syd Mead; Art Director David L. Snyder and Douglas Trumbull’s exquisite special effects. Everyone pulls their weight in capturing the sheer visual beauty of this film. Underneath the luscious surface, courses a deep and philosophical pondering. The reference to French philosopher Rene Descartes and his metaphysical statement “I think, therefore I am“, addresses the doubt we have as living beings and the nature of our existence. It’s a recurrent theme throughout the whole picture.
It’s a film that is renowned for being tinkered with. Several different cuts were released over the years. The original had Harrison Ford supply a Philip Marlowe like voice-over, talking us through the events. This was deemed insulting to the audience as it caused continuity problems. However, I actually liked it. It gave a film-noir feel that complimented the look of the film but regardless of the cut you prefer, the film is still a masterpiece. It also boasts excellent performances from its entire cast. Ford has been outspoken about his dislike for the film but he has rarely performed better and Rutger Hauer is commanding throughout – with his shiver inducing, “Tears in Rain” monologue, going down as one of cinema’s classic scenes. The haunting soundtrack by Vangelis also deserves mention and accompanies Ridley Scott’s creativity perfectly.
It’s testament alone that with all the big budget special effects these days that a film done in the early 80′s still stands as one of the most amazing visual spectacles ever made. And how many films do you come across, that not only look astounding but also channel Film-Noir and Cartesian doubt?

This connects on a visual, emotional and philosophical level that few films have ever achieved.

Included in My Top Ten films.

Mark Walker

20120315-175350.jpg

The Thing * * * * *

Posted in Horror, Science Fiction with tags on January 25, 2012 by Mark Walker

20120125-213455.jpg

Director: John Carpenter.
Screenplay: Bill Lancaster.
Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Richard Dysart, Keith David, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Thomas Waites, Larry Franco.

During the 1980′s John Carpenter was one of the finest directors working in movies. He was a craftsman with wonderfully inventive ideas and abilities. With “The Thing” he delivered his finest moment in showing how a horror film should be made.

An American scientific expedition to the frozen wastes of the Antarctic is interrupted by a group of seemingly mad Norwegians pursuing and shooting a dog. The dog survives but the scientists soon wish they hadn’t taken it in as it’s been taken over by a deadly alien entity who can take the shape of any being it wants, leaving the scientists fighting for their lives against an unknown enemy.

A masterpiece in suspense and one of the finest horror films ever made. When John Carpenter was in his prime, no-one came close to his unrelenting horror genius and this is him at his very best. He wasn’t a director to just go for cheap shocks or scares. He liked to use pychological devices for his horror films, to make them more effective and get into the psyche of his viewers. The exchange of bodily fluid in “Prince Of Darkness” was AIDS. With “The Thing” it was cancer, hence the shifting, growth and metaphorphosis, perfectly captured in Rob Bottin’s special effects – which still hold up to this day. The tension and distrust between the characters is physically and nervously played out, with Carpenter wringing out a masterclass of paranoia. The atmosphere is unbearably taut, helped no-end by Ennio Morricone’s fantasticaly creepy and unsettling score.

Unfortunately, John Carpenter doesn’t produce the quality he once did anymore but this has stood the test of time and is, quite simply, one of the best of it’s kind.

Mark Walker

20120212-133007.jpg

Tom Waits: Under Review 1971-1982 * * * *

Posted in Documentary, Music with tags on January 13, 2012 by Mark Walker

20120113-214908.jpg

Chances are, if your a Waits fan then you’ll want to, or will have already checked out this documentary. It follows his career from his demo tapes to his first studio album “Closing Time” with producer David Geffen, through his long collaboration with jazz engineer ‘Bones’ Howe, ending with the album “Heartattack and Vine” before Waits’ style changed completely.

The influences on him are also looked at, from his love of jazz to Jack Kerouac and the ‘beat’ generation.
Its packed full of interviews and anecdotes from people who worked with Waits and about the tenuous comparisons with his contemporaries John Prine, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. Sadly, it doesn’t shed very much light on the man himself (at least not much that a Waits fan wouldn’t already know) and although there is some nice footage of Waits being interviewed throughout the 70′s, there is no interview with him directly. We don’t get to hear his opinion on his wonderful albums throughout the 70′s era and his troubador style. It does show archival footage though, of live performances of some of his best songs throughout this time like, “Tom Traubert’s Blues”, “Kentucky Avenue” and “Small Change”, leaving you wanting more and heading straight for ‘You Tube’ to listen to the whole song.

For fans of the old Tomcat, it’s a nostalgic chance to revisit the lounge lizards early musical genius. For people new to him, it’s a nice introduction to his wonderfully original talents.

Mark Walker

20120215-155959.jpg

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,595 other followers