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AFI List: The Last Picture Show – 1971 (95)

Movie: The Last Picture Show Year: 1971 Genre: Drama

Like Do the Right Thing, I had to bake my thoughts on this film… I’m not sure how I feel about the story. It isn’t the same apathy I had for Blade Runner, but I am not excited about it as I had been with the rest of the films I’ve seen so far. While vastly different, I couldn’t help but make contrasts and parallels between these two films because the Library of Congress held both in high enough regard to preserve them due to “aesthetic, historical or cultural significance”, a theme I thought about throughout watching this film – and likely one I’ll bring up while writing about it.

Truthfully, I’ve always been curious about this film, since my days as a Blockbuster employee in college. I’d walk past the cover, pick it up occasionally and read the synopsis and then put it back in favor of something funnier (I tend to enjoy comedies – laughing, to me, feels better).  I was curious, and I had free rentals so I could take anything other than a new release out for 3 days at a time. There were people I recognized, most notably Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd – who at the time were both leading promising careers in film and TV.

Yet, I always put it back.

So, when I saw it was on this list, I once again became intrigued. More time has passed and the film is now recognized for being aesthetically, historically or culturally significant, so there must be something to it. As I did my research, I became more and more curious about it and actually looked forward to seeing it. Randy Quaid, who I have loved in some of his sillier movies, was in it. Cloris Leachman, who I loved from Mary Tyler Moore and Malcolm in the Middle was in it. Eileen Brennan from Private Benjamin. Ellen Burstyn. I was surprised at how many names I recognized and was curious about the story. I couldn’t find this film through a streaming vendor, so, ironically, Blockbuster came to my rescue – I can’t believe I’m still in the system there, since it has been so long.

I’m not sure which of the three qualities – aesthetics, cultural or historical significance – the Library of Congress had in mind when they selected this film to be preserved, but if I were on the board, I would have voted for aesthetics. The film was shot in black and white, which was uncommon at the time. Bogdanovich used a lot of high contrast and lighting techniques to place emphasis, which I liked quite a bit (being a fan of high contrast black and white photography). The fact that it was in black and white made it all the much easier for me to place these characters in 1951 and 1952, when the story was taking place. The editing was a bit choppy, but it seemed to be intentional, as it was for some films from that era. I thought that, if anything, it gave the story a bit more credibility, especially as it relates to the film’s title. Another notable thing for me was the use of music in the film – all through radios (much like Do the Right Thing, incidentally) – that mostly played Hank Williams (Bogdanovich’s voice was the DJ in the film). And, I discovered that a song I always thought was a Norah Jones song was actually a cover of his song Cold Cold Heart – which was played a lot in this film (I’m not a big fan of country so my knowledge of that genre is pretty thin, apparently).

It is set in a small town, and having also grown up in a pretty small town, I could relate to the interactions of the characters – everybody knew everyone (and all their business) and news always spread quickly. I think about the LTE commercials where people, noses in their phones say things like “… did you hear…” and the response is “…that was so 17 seconds ago…” – this film had that same element only without the LTE network or our snazzy smart phones. That’s how small towns work.

The story is commonly referred to as a “coming of age” film. I usually have apprehension about films described this way because, in a lot of cases, that label is a pretty subtle way of describing “kids becoming sexually active”. Don’t misunderstand: there is plenty of that element in this story, some of which was kind of graphic (I was surprised by that, but that could be attributed to the realism of the way it was shot – it really seemed like a film from the 1950s rather than from the 1970s). To me, though, the story was more about how Sonny (who to me was the main character) transitioned from being a happy-go-lucky kid to being a man in the span of a year and through events to which sex was ancillary. It should be described, instead, as “turning point to maturity” as I saw it at least.

The story centers around three high school seniors (and soon graduates) from the fall of 1951 through to the fall of 1952 in a tiny, economically depressed Texas town. In the town is a man named Sam (the lion) who owns a pool hall, a movie theater and a diner. He runs the pool hall, he has an older woman running the movie theater and a woman named Genevieve (Brennan) running the diner. The boys – Sonny (Bottoms) and Duane (Bridges) – are poor, but happy. They are on the football and basket ball teams, and spend a lot of their time hanging out at Sam’s pool hall with another boy – Joe Bob, a mute that may also be mentally retarded. They also get almost all their meals from Genevieve (who is a fill-in mother for the boys) and watch movies regularly at the movie theater.

Jacy (Shepherd) is the daughter of a man that owns an oil field and Ellen Burnstyn (which surprised me… I didn’t think she was old enough to play Shepherd’s mother). Jacy is popular and pretty and one of the richest kids in the town and is the girlfriend of Duane, who she adores. Her mother, however, thinks she could do better than Duane and encourages her to see (and sleep with) other boys. At first, Jacy is repulsed at the suggestion and defends her relationship with Duane, but begins to think about her mother’s suggestions and, at a town Christmas party, accepts the invitation to another rich boy’s (naked) pool party by a friend of his (kind of a sleezy character played by Quaid) who wants to date Jacy.

At the start of the film, Sonny is dating a girl who, to be blunt, is bitchy to him. He breaks up with her. A short time later, he is asked by his football/basketball coach to take his wife Ruth (Leachman) to an appointment. Sonny picks her up and drives her to the appointment (which is a regular appointment) and brings her home. She seems to be instantly attracted to him and you can tell from the conversation she seems to feel ignored and is happy to have someone talk to her. She asks him to take her to the appointment in the future weeks and he agrees. During the same town Christmas party, they start a physical affair.

As 1952 unfolds, we discover that Jacy has developed a crush on the rich boy in town (not Quaid, but the host of the naked pool party) who tells her that he would date her if she wasn’t a virgin. She sets out to loose her virginity, considering her mother’s advice. It is around this time we discover that her mother is having an affair with one of the men that work for her husband named Abilene. Jacy first tries to loose her virginity to Duane. He comes to visit her in a motel, excited about reconciliation with her, but is unable to perform. She gets angry with him and he leaves. A short time later, Abilene comes to their house to report to her father, but her parents are not home. He convinces Jacy to go with him to the pool hall and she looses her virginity on one of the pool tables. He then takes her back home, and is rather mean to her – almost pushing her out of the car. She comes back inside, in tears, and her mother – knowing what happened, consoles her and continues to give her advice about marriage, relationships and sex with men, admitting that love is not always the same as marriage and that she has loved a man other than Jacy’s father.

It is also around this time Sam takes Sonny (and Joe Bob) on a fishing trip. Sam has always been somewhat of a father figure to Sonny (who seems to be orphaned – there are no parents for him in this film), for Joe Bob (his father is a preacher, but seems not to interact with him much) and for Duane (who does have a mother, but he doesn’t seem to live with her as she is very poor and possibly an alcoholic). Sonny sees this trip as a special event in his life (sort of a reconciliation after an unfortunate incident where some boys ‘helped’ Joe Bob loose his virginity with a town prostitute) and the two talked about women and life, Sam shows Sonny how to roll his own cigarettes and explains how he got the nickname “Sam the Lion” (from a former girlfriend of his that he loved deeply).

Sonny tells Duane about the fishing trip – and plans Sam discussed about fishing farther away one day – and upon discussing it, both boys agreed that getting out of town sounded like a good idea and decide to go to Mexico for a few days. They gather their money and tell Sam they are going out of town. Sam gives them advice and some money and tells them to be safe. A couple of days later, they return to discover Sam the Lion died suddenly. The boys are devastated. The diner is bequeathed to Genevieve, the movie theater to the woman that runs it and the pool hall to Sonny. Some money is left to Joe Bob. The entire town attends the funeral and mourns the loss of Sam, but the funeral seems especially difficult on Jacy’s mother who, overcome with grief, has to leave it early.

Eventually, the town settles into the new normal without Sam and the kids graduate. Duane tries again to get Jacy back but she refuses so he takes a job out of town. Jacy starts to show interest in Sonny (after another unfortunate incident with Joe Bob who kidnapped a young girl) and they begin dating (he admits to having a crush on her). He stops seeing Ruth (without telling her or explanation, breaking her heart) and continues on with Jacy until Duane comes back to town to confront Sonny (who maintained that they had not slept together but were seeing each other). The discussion escalates to a fight and Duane punches Sonny with a beer bottle, puncturing his eye and Sonny has to be hospitalized and wear an eye patch. Ruth makes one last attempt to see Sonny in the hospital and he refuses to see her (notably, Jacy never came to visit). After he gets out of the hospital, Jacy comes to see him at the pool hall and convinces him to get married. They take off to elope, and are pulled over in Oklahoma because Jacy had left a note (and hoped/expected to get caught). Jacy rides home with her father and Sonny rides home with her mother. During the trip home, Sonny discovers that Jacy’s mother was Sam’s girlfriend that gave him the nickname Sam the Lion.

A few months pass, Sonny is running the pool hall, Joe Bob is sweeping the streets, and Jacy is off to college. Duane comes home to visit before he is shipped off to the Army. Sonny comes to visit him, the boys reconcile about the fight and Sonny invites him (for old times sake) to go to the last showing of the town’s movie theater before it closes (the old woman just couldn’t keep it open). The boys – and Joe Bob – watch the movie (only three in the theater) and leave. Sonny and Duane hang out for the evening and Sonny drives Duane to the bus to see him off. He goes back to his pool hall to witness an accident where Joe Bob – while sweeping the street – is struck by a car and killed. The movie ends in a very sad scene where Sonny goes back to Ruth for comfort after Joe Bob’s death. At first she apologizes to him for not seeing him for a while and then gets understandably angry, throwing things and yelling at him. He sits, stoic, and takes it all. She sits down and demands him to look at her – she puts her hand out and he holds it – they cry and she pats his hand and tells him all is going to be OK.

Even reading this now, I can’t really put my finger on what bugs me about this story. It isn’t so much that it is depressing (which it is) or that there is no resolution to anything (which there isn’t, but I can use my imagination for that part… and there is a sequel which I’m debating seeing now). I guess it is the blatant wickedness of people toward each other. I still can’t fully understand why Jacy convinced Sonny to marry her if she just wanted to get caught. It is horribly mean, in my opinion. I can’t fully understand why her mother convinced her to sleep around when she admitted later it has brought her nothing but heartache and trouble and that she’s very unhappy – who would want that for their own child? I can’t fully understand why Sonny just abandoned Ruth the way he did – wouldn’t he want to be told a relationship was over? I know the realities of these things – and have experienced all of them first hand.

Maybe that’s the reason it did not sit well with me.

Next up: Pulp Fiction #94 – This one was a favorite of mine in 1994 when it first came out and I never tire of seeing it… if it is possible to wear out MP3s, I still regularly wear out this soundtrack… I’m really looking forward to seeing this one! OR Titanic #83 – I’ll try to go in order, but there may be situations where I’ll deviate a little and I think this might be a good reason… I’ve only seen this one in a theater and it is in the theaters now for re-release and it would be kind of cool to watch it that way again. I just have not decided yet!

Happy Easter!

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in AFI 100 Years List

 

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AFI List: Do the Right Thing – 1989 (96)

Movie: Do the Right Thing Year: 1989 Genre: Drama

Starring: Danny Aiello, Spike Lee, Ossie Davis, John Tuturo, Rosie Perez,

I saw this film about 4 days ago. I have this on-going joke with friends of mine that I “bake” my thoughts – in other words, I’m a pretty pensive person, really, especially when I want to comment on something that could be a sensitive topic. So, I sit here at the computer, trying desperately to organize my thoughts about this and I decide to just bake my thoughts… this is the reason *this* write up also took a while.

I remember this film from my college film class and I must say, I had placed the memory of it deep into the folds in the back of my brain and forgot all about it until I saw it on the list and said “oh yeah… I liked that movie!” as we were reading the titles at work. A few days in advance of watching it, I couldn’t even remember the plot line, I’m embarrassed to say. The only thing I remember is that I really liked the movie and it seemed to move me.

I remember now why I liked it… and yes, it moved me again. Probably more this time.

I think I took a lot more away from this film this time than I did before – partially because of my difference in perspective: I’m almost 20 years older than when I saw it the first time; I’m a mother now; I’m divorced; I tend to be a little more patient and empathetic than I used to be. I tend to be a little more grounded now. I was idealistic and probably pretty naive back then, which I believe shaped my impression of the story itself. As I watched the film, though, I began to remember some of the impressions I had about it the first time – I remember liking (and being impressed with) how he was able to weave that many characters into a story. I liked how the characters addressed each other (back then, that was the first time I had seen it). I remember liking the dialog. I remember thinking that Mookie’s act at the end of the film was more of protection than anger because, at the time, the idealistic me didn’t accept the true anger people sometimes feel.

Now, however, having the perspective of a few years behind me, I see things a bit differently. I know that anger now, and I understand it better. Maybe that’s why I saw two major plot themes in this story: social/racial and generational. This film is renowned and recognized for the social impact, but the generational part of the theme I didn’t catch the first time I saw it – and isn’t really discussed in the research I’ve done. And, frankly, I don’t remember that part of the film from the last time I saw it…maybe because, most of the characters in the film were all older than me. But, now that I’m getting older and I’m evaluating my own life and what I’ve done with this wonderful opportunity I’ve been given, I think I noticed the generational aspect of the film and that it helped me relate more to all of the characters. I am simply blown away at the sheer talent of Spike Lee for this film – he wrote the whole thing in about 2 weeks, he directed it and even starred in it as a pretty pivotal character in the story.

From a technical stand point, there were two things I really loved about how he shot and produced this film:

  1. the use of music throughout the film – in addition to being a running geek, I’m also a music geek – well, music lover really – I have only scratched the surface of what there is to know about music and I seem to have a pretty ravenous appetite for learning about it. I appreciate music done well of almost any kind, so I tend to be sensitive to how it is used in films because, in my life, the music that I tend to go to as my favorites help ingrain memories for me – a soundtrack to my own life, if you will. Music, to me, was integral to this film. The most obvious is the heavy use of “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, which opens the film, is blasted from the boombox of one of the characters in the film, and is played in key parts of the film when the story reaches it’s climax. There was also the DJ, played by Samuel L. Jackson that narrates and plays a “soundtrack” to the day – starting with his emphatic “Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake UP!!” at the beginning, his begging folks to chill out and some of the commentary throughout the day… like having a narrator without actually being obvious about it. Finally, there is a score that is played (it was mixed a little too loud for my taste) but is key to a conversation Sal has with one of his sons.
  2. How he uses the camera – There were many ways that I took notice of the way he used the camera. All the shots were pretty tight – not a lot of background noise. He used a lot of bright, vibrant colors (and film to capture them) to illustrate different feelings and attitudes. I also loved the way he used light in his shots. Ok, so yeah, I’m a bit of a camera geek, too.

This film is set in Brooklyn, NY in the summer and is supposed to be one of the hottest days of the year. There are a lot of characters in this film… It opens with the neighborhood waking up to the DJ (Samuel L. Jackson) telling everyone to wake up – one-by-one, you are introduced to Mother Sister (Ruby Dee), the older woman who sits at her window and watches over the neighborhood; “the mayor” (Ossie Davis) the older man who is the neighborhood alcoholic; Radio Raheem who blasts “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy; Smiley, the mentally impaired man who tries to sell photos of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr; the four teens (one of which is a very young Martin Lawrence); the three gentlemen sitting on the corner evaluating the goings on in the neighborhood, Buggin Out, Mookie and his sister Jade; the Puerto Ricans, including Tina and her son Hector who live with her mother, the Koren convenience store owner, and finally Sal and his sons Vito and Pino, who own the local pizza shop. There are more characters, but these are the main ones that are most integral to the story.

Sal’s pizza shop has been in the neighborhood for years and his sons work with him in the shop. Mookie is their delivery guy. Mookie has a good relationship with Vito, the younger son, and with Sal, but his relationship with Pino is strained because, quite frankly, Pino is an asshole. He does not want to be in this neighborhood and makes that clear from the opening shot of the film and throughout constantly reminds us that he’s profoundly unhappy working in a “black neighborhood” and wants to work closer to their own neighborhood. The first interactions of Pino and Mookie set the tone for the remainder of the story as each character develops.

As the day unfolds, and gets hotter, you see many interactions with the characters: the teenagers open the fire hydrant to cool off the younger kids, but get an Italian guy’s car wet which starts a fight; Radio Raheem has a “blast out” with the Puerto Ricans, who eventually concede; we discover that Tina’s son Hector is Mookie’s son and that they are lovers in a quarrel over him not spending enough time with her; we hear Pino throwing racial slurs throughout to Mookie and all of the people coming in to the Pizzeria, and Mookie trying to talk sense into him (“who’s your favorite basketball player?” – “Jordan… but he’s different” says Pino).

Throughout the day, though, the story lines incorporated interactions between generations…

  • We have the septuagenarians The Mayor and Mother Sister (Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee) who have been through rough periods in their lives – rougher than what the kids are experiencing today – and tend to be voices of reason throughout the film. Both of them, but The Mayor in particular, act as protectors and parental figures in the neighborhood.
  • Next, we have the three on the corner as well as Sal – they appear to be in their 50s – still vivacious, reminiscent of “the good old days” and less patient with their children’s generation.
  • Then, we have Jade (Mookie’s sister), Mookie, Radio Raheem, Smiley, Buggin Out, Pino, Vito, and Tina – all in their late 20s or early 30s and a little high strung; all still a little angry.
  • finally the gang of teenagers (Martin Lawerence’s crowd) who are young, naive, think they know more than they actually do.

Then we get to the turning point when Buggin Out becomes annoyed that there are “no brothers on the wall” of Sal’s Pizzeria. Sal tells Buggin Out that he’s Italian and it is his place and he’s “putting American Italians on my wall”. The argument escalates to the point where Sal tells Buggin Out  to leave. Buggin Out decides to boycott Sal’s and goes throughout the neighborhood to recruit boycotters. Everyone declines: the teens because they love it (and have had it their entire lives – “I was raised on Sal’s pizza!” exclaims the girl), the Mayor because he wants peace and cooler heads to prevail.

Eventually, though, Buggin Out does find some boycotters in kind with Radio Raheem and Smiley. As the Pizzeria is closing, the teenagers ask for one more slice for the night so Sal lets them in. Behind, them, however, is Radio Raheem, Smiley and Buggin Out. Sal orders them to leave and tells Raheem to turn the music down. Raheem refuses, so Sal smashes his radio with a baseball bat. The two begin fighting and the fight spills into the street, Radio Raheem almost killing Sal. The police arrive to break up the fight, but end up choking Raheem to death. The crowd is stunned at the sight of their friend being killed in front of them – Mookie grabs a garbage can and throws it through the window of Sal’s Pizzeria. The crowd erupts into a riot – destroying the Pizzeria, finally, with Smiley setting it on fire. The fire crews arrive to attempt to put it out, but end up having to manage the riot instead.

The last scene is the next morning when Mookie returns to Sal’s to collect his salary of $250 a week. Angry, Sal throws $500 at Mookie. Mookie throws $200 back and says “I owe you $50”. Sal asks what he’s going to do and Mookie responds “You know… work… and get paid”.

My initial impression – when I saw this movie about 20 years ago – was that Mookie was protecting Sal by throwing the garbage can. I don’t think that today. He looked angry to me – and the crowd had not yet started to riot… they all seemed to be in shock. To me, it seemed like he felt a violent anger and, rather than directing it another person and risking more injury or death to a person, directed it to a building. The rest of the crowd followed suit. In a weird way, I think it did protect Sal a little – most of the crowd blamed him for Radio Raheem’s death – but I did not take away from that scene that Mookie was intentionally trying to divert attention away from Sal – he was dealing with his own anger and didn’t seem to think much about anybody else around him. The other thing I really caught this time around that I don’t remember thinking last time was the familial relationship between Sal and Mookie that was best displayed during their “reconciliation” the next day. Although it was quite strained between them, they still seemed to display a genuine affection for each other, in spite of the events from the evening before. Thus… to me, at least, showing more of a father-son relationship than anything – as though Sal thinks of Mookie as his kid – who screwed up – but he still loves him and cares about his well being.

I mentioned that the film moved me – I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. That last scene moved me the most because of the father-son relationship I saw. The riot scene the night before made my heart break for the entire neighborhood, especially when you hear from The Mayor, having the benefit of wisdom, trying desperately to keep everyone calm and told them “let’s not do something now we’ll regret tomorrow”. My heart broke for Radio Raheem – to be murdered, basically, in such a way. My heart broke for his friends and neighbors – to see that. My heart broke for Sal – just trying to run a business and loving his customers – all of them – and to see one of them murdered broke his heart, too. My heart broke for the teens – so young to see all this violence.

I am really glad this film was on the list – it was really good to watch it again and I am still in awe of Spike Lee’s talent.

Next up: The Last Picture Show #95 – I had heard people rave about this one before, but I don’t know much about it… yet.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2012 in AFI 100 Years List

 

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AFI List: Blade Runner – 1982 (97)

Movie: Blade Runner Year: 1982 Genre: Science Fiction

Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah

My friends… it took me a while to write this post. Partially because I wasn’t left with a strong feeling about the film either way, and partly because I started a related project to this one, but I won’t comment on that just yet… I don’t hate “Blade Runner”, but I don’t love it, either. I’m just… I’m just…

meh.

I have discussed this project with my friends at work. When the subject of this film came up, the men were pretty excited that I was going to watch Blade Runner. They all seem to have a very positive impression of it and seemed to love it. Their excitement about it is somewhat infectious, so admittedly, I got caught up in their excitement and became excited about seeing Blade Runner, too. I do like some films in the Sci Fi genre – I am a fan of the Star Wars franchise (even using the nicknames Vader and Yoda for my kids). So, when I admitted I hadn’t seen it, those same men that were super excited about my seeing it let out a collective gasp followed (almost in unison) by the phrase “YOU’VE never seen ‘Blade Runner’?”.

(sigh) No… no I haven’t.

I don’t know what it is about this genre – some I love, some I’m apathetic about. I don’t hate any that I can think of, they – collectively – just don’t “do it” for me. I appreciate the creativity that goes into these stories and the imagery, but I guess, in my heart, I’m more of a realist. So… having said all of that, here’s my (most likely longer-ish) post…

Here’s where my “research” ahead of time might get me into trouble… once I started reading about this film, I went down a veritable rabbit hole of information, all leading to interesting facts and debates about this film. I know all about the various cuts. I know all about the actors and how they felt about Ridley Scott. I know how they felt about the final product (and I agree with Harrison Ford on a lot of it). I read the Wikipedia Cliff’s notes about the book and I think I got a good image of what the story was supposed to be… and am (as I usually am in this situation) profoundly disappointed in the departure from what I thought the story should have included from the book. But the debate of the versions… that intrigued me so much so that I felt like I had to see both the original 1982 theatrical release and the Scott Final Cut versions.

So… I did.

I get the debate now.

Short version of the long story: Blade Runners are bounty hunters for Androids called replicants. Replicants look like humans and are really only distinguishable by their lack of empathy (which can be measured by a VK machine – kind of like a lie detector). The replicants were banned from Earth long ago and are used on colonies for dangerous work. When they come back to Earth, they are “retired” or killed by a Blade Runner. In this case, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a retired Blade Runner who is enlisted to find 4 rogue replicants that have made their way back to Earth because the end of their service (about 4 years) is approaching and they want more time (read: longer life). His first stop is the manufacturer of these replicants who has an assistant (Rachael) we soon discover is also a replicant (with implanted memories), but doesn’t know it. Deckard leaves so he can find the first on his list – he finds and retires her while another replicant witnesses the retirement. Seeking revenge, the witness replicant tries to kill Deckard, but Rachael saves his life – after which he promises not to hunt her.

Meanwhile, on the non-crowded side of town, the other two replicants (Roy and Pris) befriend a lonely bio-mechanical engineer named JK Sebastian who lives alone in a huge building, but is surrounded by these creepy Franken-Toys (I can’t believe I’ve used that phrase in two posts now…) – he says “I make my friends”. Sebastian is suffering from a degenerative condition that ages him faster than his years – which is important in how the replicants relate to him. The replicants talk Sebastian in to taking the leader (Roy) to the owner of their manufacturer (Tyrell) and, after realizing there is nothing even Tyrell can do to help them live longer, Roy confesses his sins and kills both Tyrell and Sebastian (by poking their eyes into their brains – a pretty graphic thing I chose not to watch). While Roy is away, Deckard finds Pris (the last replicant) and retires her. Roy arrives shortly after Pris is retired and the two fight until Deckard almost falls off a building – Roy saves him at the last minute, delivers a soliloquy and dies. I’m ending it there because there were two different endings.

So… the things I liked about the film:

  • I liked the Neo-Noir feel to it – the mashup of early 1980s with early 1940s in the attire of all the characters – I actually even noticed a few cars that had that same mixed feeling.
  • I liked – generally speaking – the idea of the story – it made me think a little more about humanity and longevity and how we’d all like a little more time to just do a little more here on Earth.
  • I preferred the Final Cut version – I thought the clean up they did on the color and contrast looked much better and the imagery was just brighter
  • The hover cars were pretty damn cool

Here’s what I didn’t really like about it…

  • I hated the narration of the domestic theatrical release. I get what they were going for, I do – the noir narration typical in the 1940s, but you could really tell that Harrison Ford was *not* on board with it and he sounded so irritated. Thank you, Scott, for getting rid of that.
  • Although I didn’t read the book, I know that a major plot line in it (hence the name of the book) was the animals and that owning an animal was a big deal – it was a status symbol and it helped prove you had empathy – that’s why all the humans wanted one. Deckard wanted to buy an animal and had motivation for taking the job of bounty hunter. He didn’t really have any motivation for taking the job in the movie. He got up to leave Bryant’s office all huffy and “I’m still quit!” but Bryant said “Sit down – you *have* to do this” and he sat down like a chump and took the job. No real motivation.
  • Animals are only mentioned 4 times: the turtle during a replicant VK test, an owl when Deckard comes to Tyrell’s office the first time, the snake one of the Replicant uses in a strip tease show, and the owl at Tyrell’s office appears again in his apartment when Roy kills him. The turtle was a completely hypothetical situation and the owl and snake were both replicants – the characters talk about the fact that they are expensive, but never are real animals discussed… maybe I don’t have enough imagination for this or maybe, perhaps, I was sullied by an important plot line in the book missing from the film and would have been none-the-wiser had I not read that.
  • There is a unicorn dream that Deckard has (while in a drunken stupor, no less) – the unicorn doesn’t do anything – it is just running through a field. This 15-seconds is supposed to symbolize the fact that Deckard may also be a replicant and had implanted memories (because another cop played by Edward James Olmos puts an oragami unicorn at Deckard’s front door). The “dream”, though, was cut from the original theatrical release so the oragami unicorn at the front door in that version made no sense at all… aside from that, unicorns aren’t real, so it isn’t like he was remembering something from his past… so, the whole “planted memory” thing doesn’t hold water for me…
  • Did I miss the news that Noah is making a visit to LA in 5 years? Since when did LA ever get that much rain? It would have been better if they just didn’t say what the city was…
  • The eyes thing kind of creeped me out… I get the symbolism of it (eyes are the window to the soul and all that), but I just didn’t like seeing people die by having their eyes poked out. That gave me nightmares a couple of days later…

So… I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I found holes in the story, but I think that my imagination might have been turned off that day. I dunno. On to the next one…

Next up:  Do the Right Thing (1989) #96 starring Danny Aiello and Ossie Davis – I saw this one in Film Class, but as I talked about it today, I honestly couldn’t remember much about the story. I remember that I liked it when I saw it about 19 years ago… let’s see what I think now.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in AFI 100 Years List

 

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