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

 

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Forum Horrors

brbhsThis weekend I’ve been reading American forums regarding BR2049, as the disc came out over there last week and I was curious about what people were saying about it, particularly as so many of them failed to see the film at the cinema. Some people loved it, some people didn’t, some people actually preferred it over the original, some didn’t- so the usual stuff you’d expect to see. Overall I was pleased to see many more positive comments than negative, and quite a few regretting not seeing the film theatrically.

BUT… then I read this one.: My God… I’ve watched the first hour of BR2049 and it’s a mind-f–er!! I think it’s wonderful!! I don’t want it to be any shorter!

He then adds: I felt lots of tension all the way through the first hour. I’ll watch the rest tomorrow night…

Whoa. I nearly choked with laugher (somehow it struck me as being deliberately funny). THIS is the kind of stuff that really winds me up, and makes me question people’s modern viewing habits, their attention spans, how they watch films, and maybe explains all those assertions that the film failed in America partly because of the running time. This guy buys the film, puts it on, watches just an hour, then switches it off to resume a day later. What crazy shit is that? How do you watch a film in pieces like that? Can’t people schedule their lives, leave sufficient time to watch a film throughout, or refrain from watching it until they do have enough time?

But anyway, it just struck me as rather funny, praising a film that he clearly enjoyed and then almost offhandedly adding that he’ll watch the rest tomorrow.  Imagine watching Psycho for the first time, getting up to the shower scene and then deciding to stop it and resume it a day or so later. I can imagine Hitch being well impressed by that.

Is this how the new generation digest films now? No wonder studios think they have to chuck explosions and shit it every twenty minutes to maintain people’s attention. Bit like my recent review of Cinderella, and how I was a bit annoyed by the frequent cuts to big flashy (and rather fake-looking) cgi shots to establish locations. Its a crazy world out there.

I should avoid forums. They can be a bit scary.

Meanwhile, back in 2019…

blade4November 2019 is, I’m reliably informed at time of writing, just 1 year, 9 months, 16 days away. The countdown starts here, if only so I can post this lovely image from my favourite film. Every shot is a work of art, and I can only imagine what the film looks like in 4K.

Hmm. Maybe November 2019 is a good deadline to have a decent 4K set-up ready. It might seem a way off, but the future always arrives sooner than you think.

Ridley’s Blade Runner 3

br2049Well, call me a bit of a cynic, but no sooner was Ridley Scott complaining that BR2049 was too long (which was why it failed at the box office) and that he would have taken out a half hour, than he’s already commenting on making a Blade Runner 3- and I rather doubt he’d allow anyone to keep him out of the directors chair this time around. He told Digital Spy  “I think there is another story. I’ve got another one ready to evolve and be developed, so there is certainly one to be done for sure.”

Regarding that story, I would imagine (or hope) it’s the one that original scribe Hampton Fancher is keeping close to his chest. Speaking to The Los Angeles Times, Fancher revealed that his original idea for a sequel took shape around 1986 when Ridley first approached him about returning to Blade Runner.  The story involved Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard and centered around Deckard’s next job as a Blade Runner. Fancher called the idea “horrifying” and teased that we might actually get to see it if a sequel gets greenlit; “…that idea is back in my head,” Fancher said about the story. “But I’m not going to tell you what it is.”

Now, general perception of BR2049 as a box-office failure is rather wrong. For a rather long R-rated film based on a 35-year old property that was highly sophisticated and demanded attention from audiences, BR2049 did very well at the box office. Its scale and ambition likely proved its financial undoing, and would likely make that sequel seem a dim possibility, but Alcon Entertainment is apparently keeping the door open on further Blade Runner projects.  The IP likely cost them a packet, so they would likely see sense in investing further into that IP. The film was, after all, well-received by critics and fans and might well see recognition during Awards season. The home release might have considerable success. Who knows. A smaller, leaner, less cerebral Blade Runner story might get better traction with American audiences.

I’d rather hope Ridley sticks to producing, but maybe he thinks he’s got something to prove. Given a good enough script, he can still work wonders with a tight budget and schedule (look at The Martian).  So maybe, just maybe…

Wouldn’t that be something, a Blade Runner movie that proved a hit at the box office (I can see me complaining about it already). Third time’s the charm? I don’t know. A fast-paced, action-packed Blade Runner film popular with American cineplex audiences doesn’t really sound like a Blade Runner movie at all, but Alcon do deserve a break after giving us BR2049. As long as Ridley can keep himself from proving Deckard is a Replicant. Ambiguity is a powerful thing, Ridley…

Ridley’s Blade Runner Blues

Some interesting comments from Ridley Scott during recent interviews whilst doing the press for All the Money in the World (or ‘The One That Erased Spacey’).  Interviewed by New York magazine’s Vulture website the subject turned to the recent BR20149 and he seemed to blame the film’s box office failure on the film’s length:  [Whispers] “I have to be careful what I say. I have to be careful what I say. It was fucking way too long. Fuck me! And most of that script’s mine…  I shouldn’t talk. I’m being a bitch.”

br2049It set me thinking. I mean, Ridley may have a point about the film’s length- its 163-minute running time clearly put off some viewers, but would it have made it a better film? To me, the pace of BR2049 is part of the film’s appeal- its leisurely pace is that of a tone poem, a sad study of what is human, what is real. And it must be remembered that a chief criticism of the original Blade Runner, even today, is its perceived slowness, something I consider one of its successes.

But Ridley’s words made me think just as much of his last few movies. I recall on one of the behind the scenes docs, he made a telling comment that one has to be careful in the editing room of rewatching a film too much, of losing objectivity. I can’t quote him exactly, but he said something along the lines of ‘even the best jokes wear thin once you’ve heard them too many times’, and that it is too easy to over-cut a film, and cut some good stuff out, not because it isn’t working but simply because of over-familiarity, of seeing it too much, and it can actually hurt a film, cutting too much.

I remember watching Ridley’s Kingdom of Heaven at the cinema and being thoroughly disappointed by it- it was empty-headed pretty nonsense, every bad habit of Ridley’s thrown into one vacuous historical epic. And yet his directors cut of Kingdom of Heaven, restoring really important footage, is simply brilliant, and is one of his best films (in fact, I’d rate it right up there behind Blade Runner and Alien, and like Billy Wilder’s The Apartment or Hitchcock’s Psycho,may be remembered as Ridleys last great movie).

The irony is, that theatrical cut of Kingdom of Heaven didn’t fare particularly well at the box office and got a general savaging from the critics, so what did that shorter cut achieve? There are numerous times when I have eulogised about how great the film is, to be scoffed at by others, and I have to ask them what version they saw. Its like there are two seperate movies with the same title and cast.

Thankfully, this is not true of BR2049; we got its directors cut and the critics loved it and I’m sure when people finally get around to seeing it on home video/streaming they will be pleasantly surprised by it or reconsider it on subsequent viewings. Sure, some will rally against it pace and length, as its more a ‘seventies movie than a present-day movie in some of its sensibilities.

God knows I’m a huge fan of Ridley’s work and have defended him so many times- I can always find something worthwhile in most of his movies, indeed even The Counsellor, which is widely pilloried, is a pretty good film to me, particularly in its extended cut.  I do find it annoying these days though, how how a film is perceived can often depend on which version one saw. In the old days, there was only one version of Gone With The Wind, Citizen Kane, West Side Story or Casablanca (barring regional censorship). We didn’t need two or three seperate versions to tell a story.

Moreover, I do wonder if some of Ridleys comments stem from his ire at BR2049 being perceived by some as being actually superior to his original. Maybe he has been stung by such views, or the lavish critical praise for it in the wake of less-favourable reviews of his last few movies. Maybe I should take a leaf out of Ridley’s book….  I shouldn’t talk. I’m being a bitch.

 

 

2017 Selection Pt.7

2017gWell, after a  year of some success regards curbing my disc-buying, everything went out the window towards the end of the year. I mean, just look at that haul above, which dates from around Sept onwards I think. This 2017 selection update is clearly way overdue, and with so many additions I almost gave up on it, but I suppose that would have defeated the point of all those preceding posts so here we are.

So a quick run-through seems in order. The sales caught up with me with The Walk and Nocturnal Animals. You can’t go wrong at about £4 each. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was my favourite cinema experience up until BR2049 swept me away- I may be in the minority, but I do think Galaxy 2 is superior to the original. Wonder Woman didn’t particularly fill me with wonder but it was still cheaper than a cinema visit and I’ll inevitably rewatch it sometime.

While I quite enjoyed Alien:Covenant at the cinema, it fared less well on disc, but I chiefly bought it for the Ridley Scott commentary, which unfortunately I haven’t heard yet (come on Ridley, explain it to me, what’s going on with the Alien franchise?).  The Vikings, meanwhile, is a great catalogue release- it’s a brilliant film brought to HD with a beautiful picture quality and worthwhile extras. Brilliant. Then of course we come to one of  the releases of the year- the simply gorgeous Arrow edition of The Thing, here in its LE variant- a lovely matt-finish hard box with the Amaray slipped inside with a book and artcards and poster. Regardless of the package, it’s the remaster of the film that is the big draw- it’s perfect. I almost dread the inevitable proper 4K release one day- I’ve really brought this film too many damn times already.

Then Indicator’s Hammer box (the first of four, I believe) heralded the Autumn of big releases coming up. I just cannot resist Hammer, and while the Sony Hammers that Indicator have access to are not exactly the Premier league of Hammer their treatment is exemplary and I really rather enjoyed them all. Some nice surprises in this set.

So here we come to the start of the spending madness.2017h

In My Mind was an impulse purchase, a great documentary about The Prisoner, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. Season three of The Leftovers was another import due to there being no HD release here, which was followed by the exact opposite- a release that tempted me with one too many HD options. HBOs Westworld really impressed me when aired and was a disc release that I was looking forward to all year, and it turned out to be my first dual-HD format purchase, as I bought the tin with both 4K and blu-ray discs. Of course, I don’t have a 4K telly yet and have no idea when my current perfectly-fine Bravia will fail and cause any 4K replacement. Months? Years? It feels a bit silly but already future-proofing is on my mind. That slick packaging likely swung it.

La La Land was another sale purchase, and I really enjoyed it- I only hope I won’t regret not waiting for the 4K edition to come down in price. The Farthest is a simply brilliant doc about the Voyager space mission and Captain Scarlett in HD needs no explanation for anyone like me who grew up on a diet of Gerry Anderson magic.  Then of course two blockbusters I didn’t see at the cinema- Spiderman Homecoming and War For the Planet of the Apes, both great movies. They look great in HD but again, should I have stretched out to the 4K editions? I have a feeling that question will be a routine one going forward.

2017g (2)So then we come into Decembers offerings. Two more tv series boxsets follow- season 7 of GOT and the sublime wonder that is the Twin Peaks series three set. When in the world I will actually get to watch them I don’t know (the last three sets of GOT have sat on the shelf waiting for the past few years- I love the show and having only seen them on Sky Atlantic over the in-laws are surely ripe for proper viewing without breaks etc but somehow it never happens). A few more sale buys follow- 4K/Blu-ray of the notorious marmite flick Valerian that might prove to be a disastrous purchase (haven’t seen it yet) and two anime titles from a Christmas sale at All the Anime; the tv series Terror in Resonance (actually in a deluxe set in a huge box that’s hardly shelf material) and the twin set of Genius Party/Genius Party Beyond, two rather curio films that I have been interested in for years but never seen.

Finally, last weeks Arrow release of The Apartment, one of my top ten fave films in a lovely set with some new extras and a book, and the extended 4K/Blu-ray release of The Martian. The latter has been on my radar for ages but was in one of those flash-sales at Amazon last week (I bought it whilst surfing on a break at work, and the price had already gone up again by the time I got back home later in the day). Bit daft really, I wanted it mostly for the commentary and addl extras but figured if I was double-dipping I might as well go the 4K route whilst doing it.

Christmas presents/festive sales may yet add to the selection and require another post. But clearly I already have my work cut out for me regards the to-watch pile. Breaking the barrier into 4K purchases is a troubling event that may prove to be a trend next year (I already have the 4K BR2049 pre-ordered) which frankly feels a bit silly knowing a 4K telly and Ultra HD player may yet be over a year away. But double-dipping is so frustrating maybe it’s the only solution. Will 2018 be the year I buy discs I can’t even watch yet? Shudder.

 

 

 

 

2049 is coming… And maybe 2069 too.

61uy147j0uL._SY400_February isn’t too far away (although it does feel a little unfair that our American friends get it a few weeks earlier). It feels even closer when you see images such as this- the rear artwork of one of the disc editions. Man, it feels like it’s real and almost in my hands. Can’t wait to watch this film again. The distractions of Christmas almost seem an inconvenience.

Also, there is new hope: over at Screendaily there is an interview with Villeneuve and upon being asked about one day returning again to Blade Runner, he replied . “The door is not closed. I know, to my great admiration and excitement, that for Alcon the journey goes on. They’re proud of the movie and they’re not closing the door.”

Well. Merry Christmas everyone, that feels like Santa came early. Bravo, Alcon. Even if it never happens, that intent is enough.