War is Hell

come1Come and See, 1985, 142 mins, Blu-Ray

Where to start? I honestly don’t think I’ve seen anything like this film before, anything quite so exhausting, emotionally and intellectually. Some films are more akin to experiences than the usual narrative dramas that films usually are, and I think few films fit the description more than Elem Klimov’s stark and horrifying Come and See, a war film set during the German invasion of Byelorussia in 1943. Although even describing Come and See as a war film feels rather wide of the mark. Calling it a ‘war film’ feels almost an insult considering the gung-ho heroics depicted in so many war films before and since. Its true that one could perhaps better consider Come and See more of a horror film, depicting a young man’s descent into nightmare, a journey into darkness far more disturbing than that of Apocalypse Now, which is possibly the nearest film analogue to Klimov’s film that I can think of. Both films set the proposition that no-one in civilised times and environments can ever understand what war is, the sheer madness and brutality, and obscenity of it.

As I write this, of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, and civilians are dying, cities being flattened, over a million refugees fleeing to the West: the whole thing feels like an exercise in inhumanity, evil and hate that is impossible to comprehend. That its something happening in Europe, for the first time since the Second World War, events so close geographically to those that happened and are recreated in Come and See… well, I’m way out of my league here. Watching Come and See during this of all weeks feels like watching celluloid blurring with reality, the images of this Criterion Blu-ray echoed by those images of the news bulletins which, frankly, I’ve started avoiding. One can only stand so much.

What is the old adage, to be living in interesting times?

I find it difficult to recommend Come and See, especially now. It is possibly the very best war movie ever made, and also one of the best horror films ever made. Hell, it may be one of the very best films ever made. But entertaining it isn’t. This film has teeth. And frankly, considering how it mirrors real-world events in the news right now…. its either a sobering lesson or a depressing reminder that we, as a species, as a collective humanity, just cannot escape the baser, animal instincts within us. It seems we cannot leave nation-states and racial differences behind, the dogma of ‘us’ and ‘them’ proves impossible to escape.

come2So its 1943, in Byelorussia, and two children are playing, digging in the sandy ruins of old battles (presumably those of The Great War)- young Florya (Aleksey Kravchenko) finally discovers what he’s looking for- an old rifle, which he needs in order to join up with the Partisan fighters, against his desperate mother’s wishes. His mother knows what’s coming, but of course thirteen year-old Florya has no idea. Once enlisted with the resistance fighters Florya becomes gradually pulled into a series of bizarre, increasingly nightmarish experiences that we can, alarmingly, visibly see transform his young innocent face into a mask of horror and trauma. He literally ages before our eyes: Kravchenko’s performance, if one can call it that, is quite possibly the finest child performance ever. Klimov repeatedly uses the cinematic device of characters starring back at the camera, their gaze peering back into our own, and the gradual disintegration of Florya’s personality and psyche is writ large in every frame, confronting us. Early in the film, Florya meets a girl, Glasha (Olga Mironova), and the two become split off from the partisan forces and enjoy an interlude of childish innocence which feels incongruous and almost awkward in the film, but which serves as a constant reminder of childhoods end when the events of the war overwhelm them. As the film nears its climax and we see it reflecting upon what becomes of Florya and Glasha’s faces, we remember those earlier moments and it only intensifies the horror of childhood innocence transformed into something terrifying.

Come and See concludes with an astonishing  sequence of real-world images, newsreel footage and photographs, flashing by blistering quickly, in reverse, as if our protagonist’s gunshots are rewinding history, wiping out the decades of evils of the world, until, resting upon one image, one has to wonder if the question is, how much evil and harm can be done by one individual, how one person can scar the world. We are living in a world in which borders are rendered increasingly meaningless by technology and yet we are given a sudden reminder of the power of the individual, for good or ill, and that we must not forget the lessons of History, for fear of repeating it.

Or at least, that’s what I’ve initially taken out of it, other than a contempt for the inhumanity of man, but I may be rather wide of the mark, and individuals may differ. But its undoubtedly an astonishing piece of Pure Cinema, something not to be simply watched, but experienced.

Some thoughts regards Douglas Trumbull

Brainstorm2The news this late afternoon hit me pretty hard- Douglas Trumbull passed away yesterday. I don’t believe it had been widely known that he had been ill- for myself, it came like a bolt of the blue. For a little while, the sense of disbelief is diluted with a little hope- there have been a few times when the Internet rumour mill has gotten things wrong, and I’d first read the news of Trumbull’s passing on a forum of all places, somewhat out of leftfield, so wondered if it was just a mistake. Alas, before an hour was out, reputable news outlets confirmed it. Another one gone, of those names I used to read about as I grew up reading magazines and followed over the decades since.

Its 1978, I’m reading Starburst issue 5 (Christopher Reeve’s Superman on the cover!), and an interview by Tony Crawley with visual effects genius Douglas Trumbull. Its tied into the release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the then-cutting edge visual effects produced by Trumbull and his effects company. Starburst was a great magazine and its writers very good, so Crawley uses the interview to discuss Trumbull’s work on 2001: A Space Odyssey (“we thought at the time that 2001 would start a big trend. It didn’t!” Trumbull muses), and his own directorial debut, Silent Running. The interview would move on to CE3K in the next issue – ah, those cheeky old magazine days, waiting for a month for the rest of an interview (like Fantastic Film‘s multi-issue Alien interview with Ridley Scott). But it was enough to get me fascinated with Trumbull, who I wasn’t particularly familiar with. For one thing, at the time, I hadn’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey. I actually saw Silent Running before 2001, thanks to it airing on BBC TV over the Christmas holiday of 1977 schedules (me basking in a sci-fi movie season, benefiting from a sudden Star Wars-fuelled interest in sci-fi movies, even if those of us in the UK provinces wouldn’t get chance to see Lucas’ film until early 1978). The interview was really interesting, particularly Trumbull’s observations of the film industry and his projects -like one titled Pyramid– that he couldn’t get made after his first film.

1978. Before Paramount struck a desperate deal with him to rescue Star Trek : The Motion Picture, before his company was hired to shoot the effects for Blade Runner, before he made the ill-fated Brainstorm, after which he vowed to leave the film industry all together, tired of all the studio politics.

Douglas Trumbull was something of a hero to sci-fi geeks of my generation. He didn’t direct many films, and neither he did he turn his hand to the effects work of many films: its just that the ones he was involved with were so seminal. Instead he turned his attention to amusement park rides/experiences, and technological advances (Showscan etc) as an independent entrepreneur. He was an advocate of Pure Cinema; the possibilities afforded by cinema as an audio visual experience, as opposed to a traditionally narrative one. Hence he was involved in the audience-confounding lengthy effects scenes of Kirk arriving at the Enterprise in Dry Dock, and the journey into the Cloud, in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It was something he likely learned from Stanley Kubrick while being involved in the visual effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey (for which Kubrick cheekily took home the effects Oscar, much to Trumbull’s annoyance).

Heck, I bought and recently watched the 4K edition of Star Trek: TMP mostly just to re-watch Trumbull’s effects in the best way possible; those moments of Pure Cinema, once the easiest of critical targets for what was dubbed at the time Star Trek: The Slow-Motion Picture, are for me the best things in that film. Some of us buy the films he was involved with just out of our sheer love of the images he created.

Who didn’t gasp at the first glorious reveal of the mothership in CE3K?

In September 1982, I’m watching Blade Runner for the first time in the ABC cinema in town, and my jaw drops, literally, at the opening shot of the Hades landscape of LA2019. I mean, literally drops in awe. It is the cinematic equivalent of falling head over heels in love, an astonishing, arresting moment that will never leave me. Films don’t make our jaws drop anymore. Maybe CGI advances have made huge spectacle commonplace, pushed the boundaries of what’s possible so far over the horizon nobody is ever truly amazed anymore. But back then, wizards like Trumbull took our breath away.

While writing about wizards, and ‘magicians’…

Its 1984, and I’m watching a VHS rental of Douglas Trumbull’s Brainstorm. Its a film not without its faults, but it deserves some love, as I wrote here, but that evening I am swept up by it. So much so that for a few glorious moments I’m absolutely in thrall of it. I believe every moment of its glorious finale in which a character ascends towards Heaven, accompanied by a host of Angels and rising Souls, courtesy of Trumbull’s effects wizardry. Its almost a religious experience; I’m a Believer. James Horner’s fantastic score -it was the same night I fell in love with James Horner’s musical genius-is swelling in its end titles.

Then the tape stops, and the television cuts to what’s showing on BBC television, and its Paul Daniels Magic Show. I’m suddenly back to mundane, banal reality with a horrible bump. I’m almost dazed. It was only a movie after all, and the Paul Daniels show is the ‘reality’ I’ve returned to. I’ll never forget that abrupt shift. I was so into that film, so convinced and carried away by it, and the return to a reality so brutally banal. I’d laugh about that moment for years after with my mate Andy. Part of me loves Brainstorm and thinks its the “Greatest Film Ever (Other Than Blade Runner, Obviously)”.

That’s the magic of Douglas Trumbull.

Excuse me, I now have a date with my Blu-ray copy of Brainstorm

The Killers (1946)

the killersTwo hitmen arrive in a small town under cover of darkness, their shadows stretching out before them like spectral fingers of Doom. Investigating a gas station to find it closed, they go across to a lonely Diner looking for their quarry within. They harass the staff and its lone customer there, looking for a man nicknamed the “Swede” (Burt Lancaster) before finally leaving, frustrated. The customer is Nick Adams, who works at the gas station, and as soon as its safe to leave he rushes out, dashing over backyards to a nearby hotel to warn his friend the Swede. But the Swede refuses to flee or call the police, as if he’s been expecting the hitmen and is resigned to his fate. Nick leaves, confused, and soon after hears a blaze of gunfire from behind him- his friend is dead…

So begins Robert Siodmak’s The Killers, an absolutely first-rate noir that totally lives up to its reputation as being one of the very best of its kind. I’m gradually working my way through the genre and its wonderful just gradually coming across its greats. There really isn’t much I can say about the film, except that its one of those rare films that feels quite perfect: cast, direction, story, cinematography, it all just comes together. Yeah, all for intents and purposes, quite utterly perfect. As a film lover, I just watch this kind of film and soak it up- its why I love movies.

Although highlighted as “Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers,” that’s possibly misleading, as the films grim prologue is essentially the entire content of the author’s original short story upon which the film is based; an eight-page story that describes the killers coming to a town and killing their quarry. It sets up a question in the readers mind that its film adaptation tries to answer. Curiously, a subsequent film adaptation from Don Siegel in 1964, starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and Clu Gulager, had a quite different tale to unwrap (allegedly, as I haven’t seen the later film yet).

In Siodmak’s film, which none other than John Huston had a hand in writing, the Swede’s last words: “I did something wrong once…” are as intriguing as Kane’s “Rosebud”, and the film goes off into a series of dark, Citizen Kane-like flashbacks and stories, gradually revealing through the memories of those that remember him the truth about the Swede and why he accepted his fate. Its a fascinating tale with some fine twists and turns and memorable characters (and a particularly impressive heist filmed in one crane shot that is really quite ambitious and comes off brilliantly). The Swede is ultimately revealed to be one of the great doomed losers of all noir; another guy who loved the wrong woman and never stood a chance- but there is a real depth to both the character and Burt Lancaster’s performance (in his first movie, no less). His screen chemistry with Ava Gardner is sizzling; yet again here is an actress of whom I am rather unfamiliar, no matter her reputation (just like I am of Rita Hayworth; yeah I have plenty of catching-up to do). Gardner’s Kitty Collins is wonderful; stunningly beautiful and terribly dangerous to any man who can’t resist her. From the moment Lancaster’s character sees her and instantly forgets the woman he walked in with, his fate is sealed. Gotta love these noir.

This is a fantastic film, one of those genuine classics and really anyone who loves film needs to see it (just don’t take as long as I did).

Some connections:

Robert Siodmak next made The Dark Mirror.

Burt Lancaster also appeared in noir I Walk Alone and later one of my favourite films, The Swimmer. Not to mention, of course, his role in the sublime Field of Dreams.

Don Siegel also made the cracking noir film The Lineup.

Edmond O’Brien also appeared in noir 711 Ocean Drive.

Jack Lambert also appeared in noir Kiss Me Deadly.

Apocalypse Now 4K UHD

apocI finally -FINALLY- got round to watching my 4K UHD copy of Apocalypse Now last night. Although my copy is the six-disc set with the Final Cut and Redux versions I went with the theatrical, as I think less is more for Apocalypse Now. I know Coppola seems as endlessly fascinated (frustrated?) with this film as his buddy George Lucas was with his Star Wars films, but this film is pretty much perfect as it is. I tried to enjoy the Redux version -I’ve watched it twice and always walk away hating it, so I didn’t even consider watching the Final Cut. Maybe one day, as I guess it’d be a shame for the disc to just sit there, but is there any film out there with two alternate cuts as superfluous as those for Apocalypse Now?

This is such a damned extraordinary film. I think every time I watch it, I get more out of it, and enjoy it all the more, and it just seems more and more remarkable that something like this could even get made (I guess you just had to be the guy behind two Godfather films in order to get a pass for a film like this). Its a work of madness. Of mind-boggling crazy ambition. Its an Hollywood epic in the guise of an Arthouse movie, or maybe its the reverse.

It has, without any doubt, the best voiceover narration of any film, ever. Maybe there is some other film to compete, but if there is I’ve never seen/heard it (closest I can imagine is maybe the voiceover narration for  Taxi Driver, although that example feels too obvious).

Some damn fool went and made a sci-fi reboot and called it Ad Astra. Which does make me think, why can’t someone make a sci-film as important and strange and huge and crazy as Apocalypse Now? Maybe Kubrick already did it with 2001: A Space Odyssey. Both films seem as equally important as regards being landmarks in Cinema, although so wildly different.

The 4K disc is pretty much as gorgeous as everyone has said it is in reviews etc. The HDR really does increase the sense of depth and verisimilitude: the Playboy bunnies scene pops out of the jungle darkness and the Do Lung Bridge sequence pops so bright it feels like being stabbed in the eyes. Which does make me wonder about some of these 4K releases, in the case of Apocalypse Now, how it looks with its HDR pass likely surpasses anything cinematographer Vittorio Storaro originally intended or could have hoped for back in its original projection era. Should the film in 4K be considered authentic?

I have one more question if someone could answer it: Apocalypse Now has no title card, no credits at the start and none at the end (the film fades to black and that’s it). I was just wondering how Coppola got away with that or if the film originally had credits during its theatrical release. I wouldn’t have thought the film unions would allow a film to be released without the cast or crew being credited anywhere (didn’t George Lucas get into trouble for leaving Irvin Kershner’s card until the end of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980?).

Last Week

                                              Great Scott! Those Mattes!

Well there goes another week in the mad tumble towards what some people are still hoping will turn out to be Christmas. Regular readers may have noticed a wee drop in the number of reviews being posted lately- its partly because I’ve been turning my attention to watching television shows this month, which obviously take more time to watch than a movie does. This week, though, much of my time has been taken up with other distractions, including watching Back to the Future and its sequel, the imaginatively titled Back to the Future Part II which have just been released on 4K UHD (I’ll likely get around to the third entry sometime today). Visually these films are rather more problematic than some catalogue releases on 4K UHD, which I gather is partly down to the filmstock used at the time and the optical effects, which is a particular problem with the second entry. I remember watching the film at the cinema and being wowed by those visual effects, particularly the flying cars (at the time seeming much more sophisticated than the flying car sequences in Blade Runner) and the clever split screen techniques. Watching them on this 4K presentation, some shots still impress but goodness some are pretty terrible, really: in some places the optical effects leave the flying cars looking like smudgy animation and at other moments almost pasted on like cut-outs. I don’t know if its a degradation of the original elements, or an inevitable consequence of 4K resolution and HDR making mattes etc much more problematic, but some of that once so impressive stuff looks fairly dire now and quite distracting. If anything, it makes those flying car sequences in Blade Runner all the more impressive as they seem to hold up much better (probably a case of the more simple shots being easier to realise back then, or the digital trickery that was applied to the restoration for the Final Cut).

I do have to wonder though about how this film originally looked in the cinema, my memories of it- were we so much more forgiving? Or is it something to do with how we watch films now on these 4K panels. Back when I saw the film it was blown up on a huge cinema screen, and yet still seemed to hold up better than now on my unforgiving OLED- or is it really just how I’m remembering it? Was my old VHS copy, say, simply much more low-resolution, low-contrast and therefore much more forgiving itself, too?

Fortunately the films themselves remain quite fun and endearingly old-fashioned- once all blockbusters were made this way; there’s a sense of innocence to them that was possibly cynically calculated for all I know, but nostalgia certainly clouds over some of the bad points. In some ways Part Two seems eerily prescient- the middle section looking rather uncannily Trumpworld- I’ll never see those alternate 1985 sequences the same way as I used to.

But thinking of how the films effects turned out some thirty years later on 4K UHD, and how problematic these BTTF films have been on home video over the years (some purists reckon the Blu-rays were unwatchable), made me think about home video and owning films. I remember a time when owning a film was impossible, frankly, and a time when expensive early VHS tapes were sold (I recall seeing a copy of Jaws in a cardboard slipcase for sale for something like £76 in a posh department store in 1982). Eventually films could be found more cheaply, early examples being the Cinema Club range I remember seeing in Woolworths. One of the latter included 2001: A Space Odyssey, a copy of which I had for Christmas one year.

But of course it wasn’t really a case of owning the movie, not properly. That copy of 2001 I had was on a pan and scan, horribly fuzzy VHS- if Kubrick himself ever had the misfortune to watch a copy I’m sure he would have been mortified. Which makes me wonder how film-makers re-watch their films and what they really think of some of the home video editions over the years, but that’s really another conversation entirely.

So anyway, it wasn’t really owning a copy of the film properly- more like owning a second-rate approximation of 2001. One could argue that of all the formats, the only version where I came really close to owning a genuine proper copy of Kubrick’s epic is the 4K UHD released late last year, which looks utterly gorgeous and certainly far superior to how those Back to the Future films look in 4K. Which is where filmstocks used over the years, and how certain prestige films were shot over the decades, complicate matters (Vertigo, for instance, is a revelation in 4K UHD).

Some great, classic films, some of which are my favourites, have been released on 4K UHD over the past few years, surely the last home video format we’ll ever be asked to buy, and which some of us are fortunate to watch on pretty large, sophisticated 4K panels. Returning to that £76 copy of Jaws I looked at in that department store so many years ago, I’m pretty confident it looked bloody horrible compared to the excellent 4K UHD disc of the film that came out earlier this year. Are we REALLY owning definitive copies of our favourite films now, ironically at the end of physical media?

May the 4K be with you: The Empire Strikes Back

esb4kSome twenty years ago, I was on holiday in America, on the West Coast, and it was late at night. We were somewhere near Santa Barbara I think, stopping in a motel overnight, and we went across the road to a supermarket- I think it may have been a Walmart, I’m not sure. We’d gone away with Claire’s folks, and she was with them, looking around, and I’d gone off looking at the electronics/home entertainment section by myself. I walked past some televisions and heard John Williams music for Cloud City. The televisions were showing The Empire Strikes Back (possibly another boxset just recently released on VHS) and it was the scene with Han Solo calling to the pesky Cloud City security that he was looking for Lando Calrissian, and the music swept up as the Falcon flew through those beautiful skies of Bespin and landed. I could have wept. I suddenly had an overwhelming feeling of homesickness. It was so strange. I was in a strange town in a rather odd country on the other side of the world, and while I was enjoying myself greatly, suddenly I was in the midst of the familiar, the comforting- Empire the film felt like home. Nowadays whenever I see/hear that scene, it always throws me into that oddly lonely ‘space’ on holiday in America, go figure.

40 years. Its been 40 years, pretty much, since I first saw The Empire Strikes Back in the summer of 1980. I can so vividly recall the various previews in Starburst etc, the paperback novelisation, the Marvel comics adaptation, the soundtrack album, the Meco album, the poster magazines….

To be clear, my post has as much chance of not being biased as I have of bumping into Ridley Scott in Sainsburys tonight.

So full disclosure: I adore this movie, and consider it the best of the Star Wars franchise. Indeed, to me its more than just a movie, its more an audiovisual experience, amazing imagery with an incredible John Williams score (in my mind the best soundtrack score ever written) and those glorious Ben Burtt sound effects that somehow define the saga to me. Seriously, remove the dialogue track and just play the picture with the music and I’d be a happy camper. John Williams was at the very height of his powers here and this score, from start to finish, is just an extraordinary work. Empire has also got that great, incredibly young-looking cast (some of whom no longer with us, sadly) and that gorgeous cinematography (prettiest Star Wars movie, certainly) and yes, those breathtaking ILM effects. I’m confident the film has plenty of flaws but I can’t see them, don’t think I ever will; I think its perfect.

It also looks pretty amazing on this 4K UHD disc. Sure, I know there are plenty criticising it on forums, but really, I date from an era of b&w mono televisions and VHS and I think that allows a certain reality check; this 4K presentation is absolutely marvellous to me, the best I have ever seen the film, including those first cinema presentations, probably. I wasn’t going to buy this edition, until I caught a review online from someone that stated it was actually very good and nailed the colour grading of the original 70mm showings. Yeah, that got my attention,and I have to say, the author of that review/forum post, whoever he was, was damn right in my book. The Empire Strikes Back looks gorgeous here, the colours all de-saturated and no longer ‘blooming’ crazily as they used to do, even on the Blu-ray edition several years ago: the colour scheme here is much cooler, and looks much more authentic to me. Likewise the detail afforded by the additional resolution (I confess to picking up things I don’t recall ever seeing before) is a pleasure, and the restrained use of HDR very welcome.  I know some will analyse it frame by frame, bemoan things like DNR or crush or grain, but to me its a great film that’s never looked greater. There’s something weird going on in one shot with the Falcon on the landing pad at Cloud City when there’s a flash of light on the platform as the camera pans down, as if catching a flash of reflection that shouldn’t be there, but I don’t care. I had to put up with drop-outs and dodgy tracking and all sorts back in the VHS days and I adored that too. This is better. Its also on a 55″ panel, the biggest I’ve ever owned and possibly ever will (I watched and enjoyed Empire on a 28″ 4.3 CRT years ago so its all relative).

40 years though. I believe I’m getting to that age where some films are just unimpeachable. Its true that contrary to what media claims, Empire isn’t universally lauded as the best of the franchise (some very suspicious individuals somehow prefer Return of the Jedi), and I’m sure someone has written posts raising very good points ripping it apart, but to hell with any of that. To me its… well, I guess nostalgia rears its dangerous head here, but yeah, the film represents a bubble of spacetime, a sense of time and place and mood, the way things used to be, flavoured with that unique period of growing up and all that goes in with that. We identify with certain movies, especially those we grow up with, and yeah, as I found out on holiday back in 2001, they can even feel like home.

Jaws 4K UHD

jaws4kYou never know until you actually sit down to watch it, but every fan can relax, this is great. Another substantial 4K edition of a classic movie: Jaws looks fabulous in this new 4K release. Details are amazing, right down to the fabric on the clothes and textures on objects, and the HDR adds a vibrancy and depth to the image that is almost startling. Best of all, while grain is evident, it doesn’t degenerate into mosquito noise on my OLED as it tends to at times during other 4K editions of some classic films. I doubt the film looked anything near as good as this as when I saw it at the ABC in town back in 1976, or over the years since on VHS, DVD, Blu-ray etc… yeah, this is one of THOSE films that we just crave in whatever new format comes along. Well, I’m certain this is the last time.

Fantastic movie, mind. In my opinion its Spielberg’s best, by some margin. Maybe it was the adversity of the nightmarish shoot he had, filming this back in 1974 (well documented over the years in documentaries that appear on this disc- indeed, special features ported onto the actual 4K disc, we’re truly spoilt with this one). There does seem some pattern in film history with directors producing their best work in the face of great trial, which makes me wonder if they unconsciously coast somewhat when everything goes swimmingly (sic). Not that any of them would admit to that, but maybe some thrive under pressure, and its certainly true that Spielberg, forced to look at other ways of approaching the shark attacks when Bruce proved to be a troublesome star, improved the film no end by adopting a rather Hitchcock-like method. At the same time, it allowed the character actors to do their best and truly shine, avoiding them being overshadowed by any monster effects. There’s a sense of reality to the film that grounds it, regardless of the rather ridiculous premise.

Happy Empire Day!

esb40Apparently The Empire Strikes Back, the Best Star Wars Movie Ever, turns 40 today. Happy Birthday, Empire.

The less said about it being 40 years since I read that old Sphere novelisation in paperback, listened to the soundtrack on vinyl album repeatedly, pored over articles in Starburst and sat aghast at John Brosnan’s dismissive review, possibly the better… Those were very, very good times. The best of times, really. 1980 was some year. Excuse me while I wipe my eyes with a tissue … no, just dust in my eyes, really…

November, 2019

br2019Well, its here- November 2019, Blade Runner‘s unofficial birthday.

Sometime this month I’ll be watching the Ridley Scott classic again, something I’ve intended to do since way back in 1983 when I first had the film on VHS (and likely thought that format would last forever- was I ever so young and stupid?). I remember chatting to friends back then, saying wouldn’t it be great to watch the film in November 2019? Decades and several home video formats later, I’ll be watching it in glorious 4K UHD, in a Final Cut that was undreamed of way back then.

So this being the ‘Month of Blade Runner, I may drop several Blade Runner-related posts. Or maybe I won’t, I scatter-bomb this blog with enough Blade Runner references and name-checks as it is, and I guess every geek web-site will be throwing Blade Runner posts out there like so much Brexit Clickbait. I should be above all that nonsense.

Who am I kidding? This is like Christmas.

An Unnecessary Cut

br4k2Hey, I’m offering no new insights here, but there’s another release of Blade Runner coming up and I just…  Well, there’s no-one a bigger fan of this film than I, but I’m just fine with my 4K Blu-ray of Blade Runner. I imagine most every fan, like me, who has got a 4K set-up has already bought the standard 4K disc of Blade Runner: The Final Cut, to accompany our Blu-rays and HD-DVDs (remember them?) and DVDs. But that won’t stop some from buying this upcoming re-release in glossier packaging.

But I mean, come on, double-dipping in 4K already? That’s just nuts.This is some kind of steelbook packaging the standard 4K disc with some other swag (I’ve heard a pin badge and two drinks coasters, and that’s not the discs, although they might as well be coasters for anyone double-dipping with this) to part fans with another £30. All’s fair in business I guess.

They call it a Titans of Cult steelbook, and I think its the first of a series of such specially designed and marketed steelbook releases. I suppose a re-release of BR2049 in a Titans of Cult steelbook edition is inevitable at some point next year. I don’t really understand people buying films again and again in fancy new packaging like steelbooks. Some films have had multiple steelbooks even (there’s a special circle of Hell for those that keep on releasing those damn things). Whatever makes people happy I guess. I suppose some folks are really passionate about this stuff, or maybe really passionate about certain movies and have to have every edition going.

Me, I feel guilty enough  re-buying films even when they have new extras. Buying the exact same discs in a new shiny box? Nah. Don’t get it. Even in the case of Blade Runner. And believe me, I’m passionate about this film, but everything has its limit.