Sunday Video Essay: Blade Runner’s Noir Influence Is The Essence Of It’s Science Fiction

The Lessons From A Screenplay YouTube Channel spends a satisfying 10 minutes examining the noir roots and tropes behind Ridley Scotts 1982 masterpiece, and soon to be latter day sequel-ized, Blade Runner. This is not just your run-of-the-mill lesson in aesthetics, but rather the core aspects of noir, normalization of crime, police corruption and death. Enjoy it as we are only a few days away from Denis Villeneuve’s spin on the world, and it will be interesting if he and his screenwriters can capture that tone.

Friday One Sheet: Orange ‘n Teal

As key art goes, this latest poster for Blade Runner 2029 is about as assembly line as one can get. I only post it here to beat the dead horse of Orange and Teal one final time. For years since the Digital Intermediate became standard in the editing/post-production process, action film directors and producers (ahem, Michael Bay, Joel Silver) have been colour grading their films towards orange skin tones and blue tints, because science (SCIENCE!) says we like it. But we also get tired of it, and it has been falling out of favour (with a few exceptions) since Die Hard 5’s overkill use of it.

This phenomena has worked its way into posters as well, because Photoshop is pretty easy, but I’ve never seen it as prevalent as this one, which literally puts the orange on one half, and the teal on the other. Now this kind of syncs with the art-design of images and scenes we have seen in the movie. Roger Deakins is not really behind the curve here, rather he is actively moving between entire scenes of warm orange, cold blue, and steely grey, much the same way he used Yellow and Blue filters as a guide to where Emily Blunt’s character’s awareness/control was in Sicario. It is more just putting the same two halves (I suspect) of the movie onto one kind of standard one sheet.

Clear as mud? Righto.

Trailer: Blade Runner 2029 – The ACTION Picture


 

The latest advert for Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to cult classic science-fiction-noir Blade Runner, is made for television. With that in mind, I never expected the tradition and history of this film to result in a generic shoot-em-up action picture, but hey, that is how one gets butts in seats. Of course, the trailer also gives more glimpses of the wonder post-urban world that cinematographer Roger Deakins and producer Ridley Scott magnificently deliver.

The internet is ‘freaking out’ and telling people not to watch this, as they embed it in the very-same ‘warning article.’ I am less caring about Spoilers, and more curious as to if this film will indeed be an action picture, and not an atmospheric, thoughtful science fiction film. Knowing Villeneuve (who recently made the nearly-gun-and-explosion-free Arrival, which brimmed with thoughtful sci-fi concepts and sophisticated film grammar, I am expecting the latter in spite of this bit of marketing.

 

Second Trailer: Blade Runner 2


 

If you want action and chases and a lot more Jared Leto, well then, this recent trailer for the Blade Runner sequel is probably tailored to your liking. Sure it sells it like a more conventional action-blockbuster, which I am confident it will not be, but there is your marketing department for you.

Also getting a healthy amount of trailer time are Robin Wright and David Bautista, but the real star here is the production design by Dennis Gassner and the cinematography by Roger Deakins.

Cinecast Episode 483 – Drag Me to Hell

We’ve come full circle. The Cinecast started with an argument on Alien and almost ten years later it continues with an argument about Alien: Covenant (SPOILERS!). Almost ninety minutes of chatting about the inner-workings of Ridley Scott’s brain and his plan for the current state of, and future of the Alien franchise. Something things to love, some things that aren’t quite as lovely. But rest assured with double the Fassbender, there is a lot to discuss here. After that, we try to rank out the order of Fincher’s filmography should be exposed to children after some talk on Zodiac. Our beloved Romancing the Stone makes another Cinecast appearance as well as Mendelsohn and Reynolds grinding through Mississippi. And hey Tarantino’s breakout hit is actually a master class in editing. We talk about the kids’ experience with “R” rated material and remember our own childhoods and being turned away from the multiplex for not having the proper ID.

Turns out the Alien franchise is a nice morning warm-up and we’re happy to share it with you. But beware of face-huggers and SPOILERS! As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

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Trailer: Blade Runner 2


 

The full trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s epic-scaled Blade Runner sequel has arrived, and it is glorious. In terms of future hologram bespackled cities, Ghost in the Shell, in hindsight was simply an amuse-bouche to the feast that Roger Deakins has prepared for us. Cold grey-blues, Fury-Road oranges, infinite whites, and twinkling Atari lights.
Oh My.

In terms of new cast members Robin Wright and Jared Leto introduced here, as does Ana de Armas (blink at the right point, and you will miss Dave Bautista).

I hope the story is as beautiful as everything on display here. I expect nothing short than greatness, even as I believe that movie will explicitly, in no uncertain terms, finally INSIST that Deckard is a replicant, and likely all of the police force.

Blown away here at the moment, though. Enjoy.

Friday One Sheet: Blade Runner 2049

Unfortunately it looks like the rage that was minimalism isn’t quite dead yet. I say unfortunately because while minimalism has its time and place, I tend to prefer creativity and flashiness and color – when it’s done well. Minimalism tends to stifle creativity and encourages laziness. Case in point here. Not these aren’t handsome looking posters; on the contrary they are quite eye-catching and definitely set a mood. But at the same time, they’re kind of boring.

And if you ask me, they look like Mad Max: Fury Road and a Fast and Furious movie respectively. Which I’m hoping, Bladde Runner 2049 is nothing like; despite the fact that I do like those movies, I’m hoping Blade Runner: 2049 is a bit closer to something like Looper in tone; or at least in pacing.

At any rate, I remain cautiously optimistic about this film. One moment I’m excited, the next I’m apprehensive. This new poster set does really nothing to swing the proverbial pendulum either way for me. So here’s to more hoping and waiting.

Leon Kowalski @ 0

“Describe in single words. Only the good things that come to your mind. About your mother.”

“My mother… I’ll tell you about my mother.”

The Nexus-6 replicant (Combat/Loader model) who had an itch he couldn’t scratch, and is sensitive in regards to questions about his parentage, would have been born today, April 10, 2017. Happy Incept-Day, Leon!

Teaser: Blade Runner 2049

Eschewing the cyberpunk rain and clutter, the first teaser trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner sequel is all arid and spacious. It gets the job done however, showing Ryan Gosling as the title character leaving the cluttered metropolis, accompanied by a key line of dialogue from the original film, to a desert wasteland, where he encounters a piano, and an aged Harrison Ford; hopefully not a Replicant.

The first key dialogue, “Things were simpler then” — As if the first film was anything but simple. With Villeneuve, the superb above-the-line team including Ridley Scott, Roger Deakins, Hampton Fancher and Jóhann Jóhannsson and the budget of two major studios (Warners and Sony/Columbia), we have a potential FURY ROAD situation. This is a damn fine thing.

Roy Batty @ 0

A happy birthday, literally, to Nexus-6 replicant Roy Batty, who on this day in 2016, came into existence (however that is done) in the fictional universe of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (which, by the way, is currently getting a sequel with Dennis Villeneuve at the helm.)

Or as they say in future Los Angeles, happy Incept-Date, Fucker.

Review: Synchronicity

I never thought it would happen, but I have finally, personally, hit the wall with indie time travel flicks. Jacob Gentry’s Synchronicity is not lacking in smarts or clockwork precision, but abjectly fails to convince in its core ideas of love and fate.

Love may be a sticky and difficult thing, but the film seems to only communicate lust and desire, while empathy fails to make the journey. There is one worm hole too many. This leaves some impressive homages to Blade Runner’s dreamy Vangelis score and neo-noir chiaroscuro, as well as Code 46’s delight in contemporary-future architecture, simply hanging in empty space.

Slightly strung out scientist Jim Beale (Chad McKnight) is on the verge of inventing time travel with the help of his two calmer, wise-cracking lab technicians, Chuck (AJ Bowen) and Matt (Scott Poythress). But here is his paradox: He only has enough funding and radioactive material provided from billionaire angel investor Klaus Meisner (Micheal Ironside, deliciously vile) to open one side of the space/time wormhole. How to prove that something by necessity, requires two ends, when you only have one? Don’t sweat it, though, it works as certainly as Werner Heisenberg was of his famous principle or that Nicola Tesla knew he would die broke and alone feeding pigeons. In short, Synchronicity struggles with understanding the difference between a hypothesis and a theory.

Of course, nature abhors an empty wormhole and someone comes back through the other side. The human figure is obscured in the predictable kind of way of this type of film; with so few characters, elimination can get ridiculously easy. Could it be the femme fatale, Abby (Brianne Davis) who collects serial-numbered dahlias? Or Ben himself coming to warn of the dangers of flirting with gorgeous solitary ladies found in parking garages?

No matter, the film quickly starts to draw ever tightening circles around Ben and Abby’s relationship to one another, all the while Klaus threatens to steal the invention by withholding raw materials, and Matt and Chuck have to do all the heavy lifting. There is nothing wrong with this, some of the humour is quite excellent in fact, but just nothing is terribly fresh about its execution here. Shots from Aronofsky’s The Fountain are lifted without any resonance to the story, as is all the Blade Runner stuff.

Gentry does have a nice time machine design — possibly built out of old power supply units and industrial sized speaker magnets? — and certainly lays out the pieces of the film in a manner that makes sense to any attentive viewer as the the narrative structure becomes apparent. But his world drowns in empty homage, and even more colossally empty city landscapes. This is not a post apocalyptic urban landscape, but supposedly a thriving metropolis, and the lack of denizens makes the film feel too insular to suspend disbelief.

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