See you never again, Space Cowboy, etc

Anyone else get excited to see that Denis Villeneuve has apparently signed-on to direct a film adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama? I think I’m actually more intrigued by this than I am Dune Part Two. Curious timing though; any such Rama film would have to be some four to five years away, and Villeneuve has been talking about a Dune Messiah movie. You need the patience of a Jedi these days, and I have to say, none of us are getting any younger.

arrival bookWhilst mentioning Villeneuve, I spotted a book coming out next February, a very belated tie-in for his film Arrival. The Art and Science of Arrival seems to be in the same vein as Tanya Lapointe’s previous Blade Runner 2049 and Dune books, and since its currently due out in my birthday month…  

Lapointe seems to be chasing after the film tie-in crown of the late J.W.Rinzler (damn you, 2021) and she’s gradually taking over the real estate of my bookshelf.  I’ll always think that the passing of Rinzler robbed us of the definitive’ making of’ Blade Runner book; it probably would never have happened, but one could dream of a Rinzler Making of Blade Runner as easily as dreaming of Electric Sheep, and it would surely have been something truly special.

The news that Netflix has already -already! after just THREE weeks!- cancelled its live-action Cowboy Bebop, which I actually quite enjoyed… well I suppose that’s either definitive proof that I’m way off the cultural zeitgeist -someone will be telling me that Disney’s Star Wars films are film classics next- or I’m smarter than everyone else (okay, okay, yes I’m utterly irrelevant, stop reading this now). While the show was clearly not perfect, I suspect its production in the midst of a full-blown pandemic could mark it as a Covid Casualty. I still think for all its flaws it had some promise, was pleasantly different to most other genre stuff we see lately (usually dark, serious and overblown, as if everything has to be Game of Thrones written from a JJ Abrams typewriter), and might have found its proper footing in a second season. I don’t get it with Netflix- they don’t seem so occupied with viewing figures/ratings like ordinary networks are, so if its worth investing in a ‘new’ property (I’m using the term ‘new’ loosely in these reboot/remake days) surely its worth backing that up with a second season? Bad enough I’m going to be waiting forever for a Mindhunter season three. Maybe I should cool down my expectations for the Netflix Conan.

Coming full circle to all things Villeneuve, Amazon Italy put my 4K copies of Dune and The Last Duel (hey, Ridley gets a mention, and hopefully a film review here, before the end of 2021!) through the letterbox so I know what I’ll be watching this weekend, and with the 4K disc of No Time to Die hopefully arriving Monday, crikey, Christmas has indeed come early. Hopefully the next lockdown won’t follow suit…

BR2049: Interlinked- The Art

P1100243Much-delayed, BR2049: Interlinked- The Art finally got published this week. Written/curated by Tanya Lapointe, this book is a companion piece to her 2017 book The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049, which was published back in 2017 shortly after the film originally came out. That book was a reasonable examination of the making of the film – the cast/crew and the sets, etc- but considering its title surprisingly had little actual artwork, instead focusing on behind the scenes imagery of the sets and actors and props, its title seemed rather a misnomer, something which this book addresses.

P1100244Its telling that the majority of the artwork within Interlinked -most of it artwork created in computer art packages as opposed to pen, brush and paper- is very tonal, very concerned with atmosphere and mood. Its clearly one of the things that most interested Villeneuve, or something that he prioritised. You can see it in the film itself, the studied attention to lighting and cinematography. An artbook for the 1982 film would have been more about the design details, the intricacies of objects, form and function, than what seems to have been the chief concern of the artists on BR2049. That being said, in this dawning age of limited behind-the-scenes documentaries on home video releases (we were so spoiled by Dangerous Days the 2007 documentary on the making of Blade Runner by Charles de Lauzirika and his Alien 3 documentary Wreckage and Rage) anything we can get now about the making of these films is fascinating and valuable. Obviously a detailed, definitive making-of book about BR2049 is some distance away, if ever, but if these artbooks are all we get, fair enough, its certainly better than the little afforded by the films marketing and home video teams.

P1100241They actually have a third book due out next year containing all the BR2049 storyboards, I imagine the three books together will be everything that the 1982 film never got even after all these years. Not that I’m sore about that. Well okay, a little- I waited years for an Art of Blade Runner and we never really got one; apparently all the rights issues derailed several attempts to actually get such a book of the ground. How odd though that the 1982 pretty much got no proper books (Future Noir may be the ‘bible’ of the making-of the film but it is deplorably lacking in imagery/presentation, and the few paperbacks we got in 1982, the sketchbook etc were basic) and yet the sequel seems to be getting so much attention- you’d think it had been a huge success and the franchise going from strength to strength).

P1100245In any event, its nice to see that BR2049 is still subject top some interest and attention. Maybe there is life in it yet. I suppose the chances of the film getting an in-depth and expansive future home video release with docs and commentaries etc -much as I would love to see it and double/triple-dip yet again- are so remote as to be quite inconsequential. Its simply the world and home entertainment landscape we’re living in. Interlinked is a very handsome book; and I’d certainly recommend it to fans of either of the Blade Runner films – its particularly interesting to see the evident mark of the 1982 film and the artists gradually moving away from it- I would have perhaps appreciated more text and anecdotes but its clearly more of a visual exercise, and that in-depth examination of the making of the film may yet be in my hands someday. I certainly wouldn’t rule it out considering the lasting interest/legacy of the 2017 film.

New Blade Runner books coming

br2049aWell, they must have done something right with BR2049, because there’s a few more books coming – if only the 1982 film had gained such attention so early on. Most interesting of the releases is an art book – Blade Runner 2049 Interlinked: The Art curated by Tanya Lapointe, serving as a companion book to her The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049 that came out at the time of the films cinema release. The latter book was a fine souvenir/companion to the film but there is obviously a treasure trove of art not included in that book (as I recall some critical reviews of the book complained there was too little art, too many set/behind the scenes photographs, so this should please those readers). It does bug me a little that various rights issues seem to forever negate any chance of a similar tome concentrating on the 1982 movie, but maybe someday (life has a way of pleasantly surprising you sometimes).  Currently scheduled for October and looks to be same price/format as the earlier book. Hope there’s plenty of text accompanying the artwork and that maybe we’ll get some hints of deleted scenes alongside abandoned concepts etc; the definitive making-of for BR2049 has yet to be written, so I’m certain the film has lots of secrets to yet reveal.

br2049cA little earlier in September we get what must be one of the first texts examining the film – Blade Runner 2049 and Philosophy is a ‘collection of entertaining articles on both Blade Runner movies (and on the spin-off short films and Blade Runner novels) by twenty philosophers representing diverse backgrounds and philosophical perspectives‘. Blade Runner was the subject of several books over the years –  Retrofitting Blade Runner by Judith Kerman was one of the first and is one of my favourite books, hugely important when I first read it and while several similar studies followed, it remains one of the most important. Now that I think about it, it would likely be fascinating to re-read the Kerman book with the benefit of hindsight and all that happened afterwards regards the Final Cut etc.

br2049bAnd your Blade Runner bookshelf will need a little more room this Autumn because scheduled for October is another book about the film- Blade Runner 2049: A Philosophical Exploration (Philosophers on Film). Seems the film studies/critique network is thoroughly enchanted with Dennis Villeneuve’s film (or they know a cash cow when they see it, considering how many books came out about the 1982 film). This book might be especially noteworthy since it actually has a  foreword from Villeneuve himself, and I can imagine it must be especially rewarding for Villeneuve to see his film getting all this attention. I’m curious to see how similar these tow books actually are and it will be fun to read contrasting views between the two collections. This latter book will be ‘essential reading for anyone interested in philosophy, film studies, philosophy of mind, psychology, gender studies, and conceptual issues in cognitive science and artificial intelligence’. You got to love it- E.T never got this kind of attention. One note of caution- these film scholars/ philosophers are hardly what I’d call efficient, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these books slipped into next year. We’ll see.

br2049dBut we’re not quite finished yet. You are probably aware that Alcon Entertainment in cahoots with Titan Comics is bringing us a Blade Runner 2019 mini-series, set, as the title suggests,  shortly after the first film and is officially canon, franchise fans.  I don’t think the first issue is out until June or July, but they have a collection of the series scheduled for November. They do seem to be treating this seriously, as it has the involvement of BR2049 scribe Michael Green to add some weight to its ‘official canon’ claims. The Boom! Comics adaptation of Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was surprisingly good, and it will be interesting to see how this turns out (I won’t be buying the individual issues, I’ll wait for the book, I expect). Some teased artwork which I’ll include an example of below certainly suggests it will be a quality production. Speaking as someone who had the original Marvel comics adaptation of the 1982 film back in the day (and I still say that was a beautiful piece of work adapting a film not really ideal for the comic treatment), br2049e.jpgI do get a bit of a kick from the Blade Runner films getting this kind of treatment. Of course we also have the anime series due (next year I think) so its evident Alcon are trying to keep the torch burning brightly for their Blade Runner property. A film is possibly too much to hope for, all things considered, but perhaps a HBO/Netflix/Amazon live-action mini-series might actually be even better. Not that we need ‘more’ but it is, well, strangely refreshing and vindication, really, having championed the film back in the post-1982 days when the film was buried and forgotten, to see all this attention now- and clearly the box-office woes of BR2049 hasn’t totally turned Alcon off the intellectual property. The cynic in me suggests they are just trying to maximise/get some return on their investment in untangling the rights to Blade Runner several years ago (which likely wasn’t cheap). At any rate, it certainly is interesting all this going on. Maybe a super-duper disc edition of BR2049 with decent extras/deleted scenes/commentary tracks might be in the offing someday. I bought Blade Runner so many times on home formats, it almost seems wrong not to wind up doing the same for its sequel.