Blade Runner Art

Well, I’m sure you can all guess what I was watching last night.

On a related topic whilst I digest 2049 one more time (doesn’t the blu-ray look gorgeous? What in the world can 4K add, I wonder?), here’s some artworks inspired by the original film that have caught my eye recently. Some ‘work’ better than others, but I like how these pieces rather capture the spirit of the original film:

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Elle (2016)

elle1This proved to be quite a disappointment. I’ve been a huge fan of Paul  Verhoeven’s films in the past (although I never watched Showgirls) but this one just left me cold. Strangely, it was widely praised by critics with great reviews, so much so I wonder if I completely missed something.

My issue with the film was its wholly unrealistic characters and character behaviour. I just couldn’t get a grip of any of them- eccentricity is one thing, but this was something else, almost a bunch of loons with madly implausible histories etc. I should have realised it wasn’t for me from the start. The film opens with Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) being raped in her home by an attacker whose face is hidden by a ski mask. Once the attacker is finished with her and leaves, Michèle recovers and cleans her apartment of the mess and breakages from the assault, evidently of a mind not to call the police. Later, she casually tells some freinds at a meal that she was raped. She seems distant, almost casual about it.

She won’t contact the police because her father was a mass murderer who, when she was ten, went through their street killing neighbours and their children- I believe 27 in all. Whoa, I’m thinking, there goes any credibility, this thing’s moving into some other place here. I don’t know what I was expecting Elle to be – an arthouse Deathwish/ Kill Bill, maybe, I don’t know. But at least some serious film about a woman dealing with being the victim of violence and feeling empowered to do something about it. In a way, this is that film, but it just goes nuts doing it. I mean, people thought Basic Instinct was daft OTT nonsense but this is something else.

Michèle has not seen her father since he was put in prison some 39 years ago, much to her mother’s disappointment, but when her mother dies and her father fails at his latest parole hearing, Michèle relents and decides to see him. When she arrives she discovers that her father has killed himself in his cell, presumably because he had been told she was finally going to visit. She sees his corpse and mutters something along the lines of “I killed you at last!”  Its nuts.

Eventually Michèle discovers the identity of her assailant -after he returns and attempts to rape her again-  and then she goes to his home and has violent sex with him in his basement. Indeed, she even continues some kind of relationship/affair with him behind the back of his wife, a woman she considers a friend. Meanwhile, she is also having an affair with Robert, the husband of her best friend and business partner, Anna. When she later admits to Anna what is going on, Anna is at first enraged but later suggests she move in with Michèle and resume their friendship now that Robert has left them both. The wife of the rapist, who is devoutly Catholic,  eventually discovers what her husband has been doing and  apologises to  Michèle, suggesting she was well aware of her husbands twisted desires and proclivities and was fine with it as long as she wasn’t on the receiving end.

Now, you’re either reading this thinking, ‘hey thats so weird it sounds like it might be good’, or like me, you’re thinking, ‘what a load of mad shite’.  In some ways its so up its own arse with some kind of sophisticated study of gender roles and what women are in society that maybe I have indeed missed the whole point of it. I just found it impossible to take its totally far-fetched characters and character histories/behaviours seriously- it was almost stretching over into farce. There was always something self-knowing and tongue-in-cheek about the sensationalist aspects of Basic Instinct, like a HItchcock film on steroids or something, but Elle tries to dress everything up as normal and humdrum, no matter how bizarre things get. If this is all normal for people living in France, well, no offence, but I’m staying this side of the Channel.

I haven’t even mentioned that Michèle’s mother is having an affair with a man likely fifty years her junior, or that Michèle’s ex-husband, a writer,  is in a relationship with a younger woman who it turns out has mistaken him for some other author and promptly dumps him when she realises. Nor have I mentioned Michèle’s son, an ex-drug dealer who is in a relationship that Michèle disapproves of, and who is clearly not the father of the child that his girlfriend gives birth to. Or the fact that Michèle and her friend Anna own a videogame studio. Where does the madness end?

Only at the closing titles, my friend. Only at the closing titles.

Saving Mr Banks (2013)

mr banks

This film has been languishing at the bottom of the digital pile in my Tivo since Christmas 2016 when it originally aired on the BBC. Why exactly it has taken so long for me to finally get around to watching it is quite beyond me, and there’s still a few more films sitting in that digital pile. Well, there you go- something else to concern myself about; not just a pile of physical-format films on disc that I have yet to see, I now have films waiting in my Tivo to be seen. As well as those films on my Amazon Prime watchlist. My world, it seems, is full of content waiting to be watched.  It almost makes me yearn for the old days of three tv channels, no video recorders and lots of time free for reading and everything else that ‘normal’ lives were concerned with.

Televisions used to be mono, 4:3 and black and white. Now they are large widescreen stereo monsters that sit there demanding your time. Our eyes endlessly drawn to them, bewitched by them as if by some arcane spell. So many channels. So many films/discs//apps… on my Amazon fire-stick the other night I discovered some kind of ‘fireplace tv’ thing, a seasonal offering that was a single hour-long shot of a log-fire burning. I actually watched it for something like twenty minutes before I realised I was going mad.

None of which has anything to do with Saving Mr Banks, which I finally go around to watching having allowed it to sit in my Tivo over a year. And what do you know, I feel a bit of a fool having waited so long, because this was an utterly charming, warm and witty movie that I really enjoyed.

I do have a confession to make- the only Mary Poppins I have ever seen was General Leia doing her magical spaceflight in The Last Jedi. Other than a few clips many years ago on the old Disneytime holiday specials that the BBC used to air at Easter etc, I have never seen anything of Mary Poppins, certainly not the whole film, and I have no idea what the original story is. So maybe I was at some disadvantage watching Saving Mr Banks, which is ostensibly the story of how Walt Disney convinced author P L Travers to allow him to make the movie Mary Poppins.

Like, I suspect, the Netflix drama The Crown, this film is a work of fiction masquerading as fact, or at the very least, a dramatic work in which the line between fiction and fact is dimly blurred.  Tom Hanks is a very genial, very charming Walt Disney and Emma Thompson a suitably cantankerous P L Travers albeit rather beautiful and charming.There it is again- the word ‘charming’: it’s as if the poster for the film should have read ‘Walt Disney presents Saving Mr Banks: Charming! Charming! Charming!’

But it is. And maybe there is more truth to the film than my old cynical soul would have me believe. Is it possible that all this actually happened and that there is far more to the original Mary Poppins story and movie than anyone would have believed? Maybe the simple truth is that it doesn’t matter. Saving Mr Banks, true story or Disney myth, is a great heartwarming (bypass that bloody word ‘charming’ for once)  movie that is elegantly written and directed and really has a pretty great cast in top form.  I could have looked it all up on the internet and discovered the truth of it, but really, I don’t care. Saving Mr Banks was really quite good. And ultimately, that’s all that really matters.

Besides, adult fairy tales, which is, I suspect, what this film really is, can be fact or fiction, it doesn’t have to mean anything or be validated by truth. It’s a damn fine story, regardless, and films could do with more of those, I think.

Now then, what else is lurking within my Tivo…?

2049 is beautiful, isn’t it?

Hey, it’ll be here soon. To tide you over (its a bit like Christmas for us dystopia fans, isn’t it?) here’s a link to a lovely piece by screenwriter Michael Green about writing the screenplay and visiting the BR2049 set. Personally, I wish he’d write a book on the subject of his BR2049 adventure, as this tantalizing glimpse just isn’t enough.

https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/blade-runner-2049-behind-the-scenes-michael-green-journal