Archive for film noir

Hitch’s tricks

Posted in Books, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2020 by xi'an

As I was watching the first minutes of the 1944 under-rated Lifeboat by Alfred Hitchcock (and John Steinbeck as the script writer!), a series of objects floating by the lifeboat to convey the preliminary mutual sinking of an Allied boat and a Nazi U-boat contained a cover of the New Yorker. Which while being iconic sounds like a weird inclusion, given that this is the very first issue of the magazine, in February 1925, hardly the first thing I would carry across the Atlantic at war time! Maybe being iconic was the reason to keep this issue rather than a more recent one, another mystery about the great Hitch allusions and clues interseeded throughout his films.

blade runner 2049

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2017 by xi'an

As Blade Runner 2049 was shown at a local cinema in a Nuit du Cinéma special, my daughter and I took the opportunity to see the sequel to Blade Runner, despite the late hour. And both came back quite enthusiastic about it! Maybe the plot stands a bit thin at times, with too many coincidences and the evil ones being too obviously evil, but the rendering of this future of the former future LA of the original Blade Runner is amazingly complex and opening many threads of potential explanations. And many more questions, which is great. With fascinating openings into almost philosophical questions like the impossible frontier between humans and AIs or the similarly impossible definition of self… Besides, the filming, with a multiplicity of (drone) views, the use of light, from blurred white to glaring yellow and back to snow white, the photography, the musical track, almost overwhelming and more complex than Vangelis’ original, are all massively impressive. As for the quintessential question of how the sequel compares with the original film, I do not think it makes much sense: for one thing the sequel would not have been without the original, the filming has evolved with the era, from the claustrophobic and almost steam-punk film by Scott to this post-apocalyptic rendering by Villeneuve, both movies relating to Philip K Dick’s book in rather different ways (if fortunately avoiding sheep and goats!).

Blade Runner

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , on February 23, 2009 by xi'an

Over the past weekend, I watched Blade Runner with my kids, as I was forced to inactivity by the demise of my mailbox! I had not watched the movie for twenty years, since the time I was a postdoc at Cornell and enjoying the student movie club, so it was almost like watching Blade Runner for the first time. (In particular, except for the cut of the final scene, I could not spot changes from the 1977 version.)

The atmosphere of the movie has not changed, though, in its oppressiveness. The play on lights is a major factor for this feeling with no natural light ever used but instead side glares that enter buildings periodically, including the apartment of the detective, Deckard (which makes it appear less private, in a Big Brother kind of way), or wax candles for the magnate Tyrell. The sci-fi touch is somewhat light, except for the obligatory flying cars (in 2019?!), which is just as good because this does not age well (like, the computer screens already appear antiquated or the phones are fixed phones, not cell phones). The themes are highly reminiscent of Philip K. Dick‘s universe, with an asianised LA, including origamis (just as in The Man in the High Castle), a permanent ambiguity/paranoia about the status/feeling of the characters (it is never clear in the movie that Deckard is not a replicant), the dubious nature of humanity, and a pessimistic view of the future civilisations. I did not remember, though, the strong connections with the films noirs of the 50’s, from the light—and the omnipresent cigarette smoke diffracting this light—to the costumes, and obviously to the hard-boiled attitude of Deckard. Even though I found the interpretation of Harrisson Ford somehow missing in depth (but this may be part of the ambiguity about his true nature, human versus replicant), I still agree with my former impression of Blade Runner being truly a cult film. (Unsurprisingly, my kids found the movie terrible, if only for the “poor” special effects!)

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