A is for… ALTERED STATES. I remember being intrigued by ALTERED STATES way, way back, when it first came out and John Brosnan wrote a glowing review of the film in Starburst, comparing it to 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY, which was a comment that hit me square between the eyes. Now, Brosnan was a picky guy with his movies and if he liked a film then it was a film worth seeing. At the time his views could be annoying to me as his opinions didn’t always gel with mine, but hell, what did I know? I was a kid back then and a sucker for the marketing boys. Remembering Brosnan’s regular column in Starburst, I find I greatly miss Brosnans views and baiting of Trekkies and Star Wars fans. In hindsight, his was an independent voice, a critic who held his own views irrespective of the marketing departments and mass opinion. He died several years ago. Turns out he was a depressive who drank too much (which killed him in the end, apparently), but I’m open to being corrected on that if anyone reading this knows better. I’d love to be reading his reviews of the films being made today, they would piss him off no end, I’m sure.
So anyway, he wrote great things of ALTERED STATES. It would be years until I eventually saw the film. I bought it on VHS, in the dim, very early days of the sell-through market- it may even have been an ex-rental copy. I remember not knowing what to make of it at the time. It was pretty strange and no doubt the film lost much of its impact on the small-screen, but I liked it. It seemed like a very ‘grown-up’ movie, and the acting was high quality, unlike most genre films. I recall it was one of those few films in which the scientists seemed to talk and act like ‘real’ scientists, you know, slightly off-kilter and other-worldly, in which the real-world seemed a distraction from their research. I watched the film again on DVD a few years ago and found it still quite rewarding, albeit inevitably slightly dated. Thinking about it now, and loathed as I am about remakes, I must admit that with today’s tech and done with IMAX in mind, perhaps even (shudder) in 3D, a remake of ALTERED STATES could be quite extraordinary.
B is for… BLADE RUNNER. Well, of course it is. Thinking back about John Brosnan, reminds me of his review of BLADE RUNNER in Starburst- I remember the opening of that review well; “Blade Runner is a masterpiece, much to my surprise“. This was back in the days when the film was ill-received and proved a massive box-office failure. Unless you were around in 1982, you cannot understand how it was back then regards BLADE RUNNER. It was the very definition of cult. I used to read Brosnan’s review over and over again. Man, I’d love to be able to buy Brosnan a drink for that review and chat about it (which considering how things turned out for him wouldn’t, perhaps, be such a good idea, but the sentiment is there, anyway).
Funnily enough, in my office at work I’m now the oldest guy there and I’m surrounded by young turks who weren’t even born back in 1982 . Its a sobering experience, and I lent one of them a DVD copy of BLADE RUNNER (“part of my ‘education'” as he put it, teasing me). The film rather confused him as it turned out. Certainly to this generation BLADE RUNNER fails to have the impact it did back then. My mate Andy lent a copy to one of his own younger friends awhile ago and she described the film as being “nice”, which is about as damning an assessment as I can imagine. Its like the world is slowly going mad.
C is for… CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Which brings me to CE3K. At work the other day one of the lads was looking up travelling times online and Google Maps slipped over to a map of the USA, and I noticed the state of Wyoming there. “Devils Tower,” I commented, pointing at that place on the map. To which bemused puzzlement was the office response. What the hell was I going on about? “Lord of The Rings?” one of them asked. “Close Encounters,” I replied. Incredibly, even more puzzled frowns. Turns out none of them had even heard of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. Incredulous, I suspected they were winding me up, but it was true, none of them had seen the film, or even heard of it. It was like I’d slipped into some alternate universe or an episode of The Twilight Zone. Now I finally realised I really am growing old.
I remember the impact of CE3K back when it came out, in those heady post-STAR WARS days. I guess Spielberg couldn’t believe his bad luck having his mate George steal his thunder, and one can only imagine a world where CE3K was released onto an unsuspecting world that hadn’t been wowed by STAR WARS several months before (I wonder at the impact of those Douglas Trumbull effects had audiences not seen the blue-screen wonders of ILM before). I remember the social impact of the film back then, how its five-note ‘tune’ that represented the conversation between us and the aliens permeated pop culture so. Its incredible to consider that there are people now that have never even heard of the film. Maybe pop-culture is all just fluff and nonsense. Being a movie buff, its natural to think some movies live forever but I guess even the greatest of films can have their fame and impact diluted by future generations of audiences and film-makers, but really, I’m living in a world wherein some people have never heard of CE3K, and that’s somehow an oddly disconcerting thought.