Posts Tagged ‘blade runner’

  • Mondays Suck Less in the Third Row

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    Minimal Disney Posters | see more


     


     

    Gary Oldman, Jaimie Bell, Garret Hedlund and Willem DaFoe for Prada

     


     

    Blade Runner 30th Anniversary

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  • Now Playing at the Row Three Rep: What is Human?

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    [Row Three programming if we owned a Rep Cinema]

    Blurring the Line Between Android and Human

    Metropolis – 5:00pm
    Blade Runner – 8:00pm
    A.I.: Artificial Intelligence – 10:00pm
    bonus: Battlestar Galactica – all night and the next week :)

    With the concept of mankind creating sentient robots and androids inevitably follows the question of how we are to treat them – since we made them, can we do with them what we want, treating them as disposable slaves? Or by creating something that can think like us, and eventually react and feel like us, are we bound to treat them the same as we would (or should) treat other human beings? And faced with such a potential reality, what does it really mean to be human? These are the kind of questions that cerebral sci-fi has always asked, with robots and now clones being among the most appropriate catalysts to spark such explorations of ethics, morality, and ontology itself. There are many films (and TV series) I could’ve chosen for such a triple feature; I chose these partially to tie in with our ongoing Ridley Scott marathon, and also because these films also specifically feature androids, that is, robots that appear to be human, who fool humans into thinking they are human, and who may not even themselves be aware that they are androids. Of course, all of these works use androids to explore the issue of “otherness,” or what happens when a dominant group comes into contact with a group they deem “different.”

    Note: Scott’s Alien also features a human-fooling android, but questions of human-android ethics are not really explored in that film.

    Taken on the surface, there’s not a whole lot of inquiry into the robot-human question in Metropolis; the human Maria is unequivocally good, almost angelic, while the robot Maria is evil and destructive. But I wanted to include it because it is really the first iconic cinematic depiction of a robot, and it’s telling that the first use of a robot in cinematic science fiction is to mislead and misdirect a humanity that believes the robot to be human – and not only to be human, but to be somebody they know and trust. It would be many years before sci-fi would have good human-mimicking robots – even the robots in Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still are distinctly non-human in appearance. In Metropolis, that question of whether robots should be treated as humans is superficially irrelevant, because the only robot we see is given the role of enacting the worst that humanity has to offer. On the other hand, the Complete cut of Metropolis fleshes out (so to speak) the back story surrounding the creation of the robot, which inventor Rotwang created as a substitute for Hel, the woman he loved and Joh Frederson took from him. So before the robot was commandeered by Frederson as a means to put down the undercity rebellion, Rotwang already intended it to be a human stand-in. Deeper questions are begged – would Rotwang have found comfort in this shadow of Hel? Would the robot have been an adequate substitute? Are robot-Maria’s evil excesses solely due to Frederson’s mission for her, or is a mechanical creation of man inevitably going to disappoint and betray, and if it does, is that because if its mechanical nature or the humans who built it? Would (should) Rotwang have treated robot-Hel as human, or would he simply have enslaved her, a helpless puppet to his desires? It’s unclear from the film whether robot-Maria had full sentience or autonomy, so the questions may be moot. But they’re there, nascent even from the very first cinematic depiction of a human-mimicking android.

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  • Countdown to Prometheus: A Ridley Scott Retrospective

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    With this week’s release of Prometheus, Ridley Scott returns to his roots, revisiting the world of his second feature film for the first time in over thirty years. It seemed like a good time for us in the third row to look back over Sir Ridley’s career as a whole; with brief essays about selected films from throughout his filmography as well as a week-long tribute to Scott’s films and the Alien universe.

    Scott’s background is in art and design, having studied at the West Hartlepool College of Art and London’s Royal College of Art in the 1960s. He directed one short film during his time at the RCA in 1965, but wouldn’t direct another film until 1977′s The Duellists. In between, he worked as a designer for the BBC and formed a company with his brother Tony to produce commercials. It’s unsurprising that with this background, his films are well-known for their visual style, with Alien and Blade Runner especially outstanding in the field of visual design (thanks not only to Scott but to concept artists like H.R. Giger, Jean “Moebius” Giraud and Syd Mead) and becoming extremely influential in the look and feel of later sci-fi films.

    Later Scott films have not necessarily captured the long-term imagination of moviegoers to quite the same extent as those two, but his sense of visual style and narrative storytelling has never faltered, even when the stories he’s telling don’t quite live up to the flair with which he tells them. After trying on a number of different genres (romance, fantasy, crime drama, etc.), he settled into a string of highly acclaimed war films, from the pageantry of Ancient Rome in Gladiator to the modern grit of Black Hawk Down and the medieval scope of Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood. Yet the anticipation of Scott’s return to the world of Alien shows perhaps just how much his early work continues to enrapture viewers.

    If there are two legacies that stand out in Scott’s career besides his fantastic visual sense, the first is likely his recurring strong female characters, most notably Ripley from the Alien series (who is among the first modern female action stars in cinema, and has become a cultural icon even apart from her role in the film), and the dual heroines in Thelma & Louise, who have become feminist cinema icons of the highest order. And Scott’s other legacy is his pioneering use of the Director’s Cut, which he has employed on most of his major releases, whether it was his idea to release a secondary version or the studio’s. Scott has declared himself happy with the original release of Alien, with the Director’s Cut being merely an alternate version. Blade Runner, on the other hand, marks one of the most significant Director’s Cuts in the history of cinema, and helped develop the film’s rabid fan-base after its initially poor response upon theatrical release in 1982. The Director’s Cut of Kingdom of Heaven represents a return to Scott’s original vision after the theatrical release was overly influenced by preview screening reactions. Whatever the reason, Scott and his studios have seen fit to revisit these films and others, some more than once, but notably without ever destroying the theatrical cut in the process (yes, we’re looking at you, George Lucas).

    Without further ado, let’s look at some selections from Scott’s filmography in greater detail.

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  • Sunday Bookmarks (April 18-23)

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    • “Film Critic Elvis Mitchell axed from Movieline
      Nikki Finke, who works for Jay Penske, who publishes Deadline and Movieline and hired Mitchell, posted one explanation for why he was fired. For cause, apparently, for an error in his Source Code review. She infers that Mitchell may not have seen the movie, and slipped a reference to something from its screenplay into the review. Several people report seeing Mitchell at a Source Code screening. Sloppy is more Mitchell’s style. More than one of his editors complain about what a pain it was to edit him, especially at The New York Times. He was a much better fit at the LA Weekly.”
    • Ayn Rand’s New Religion for the Righteous
      “John Kenneth Galbraith famously said that “the modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” That exercise may have reached its limits with the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, which has become the bible of conservative economic “wisdom” in our time. How did the work of a pro-abortion atheist become so popular with the culture warriors of the right? How do you get people who want to strip Darwin from the classroom to enforce Darwin on the unemployed? How does a book that inspired Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible wind up on the lips of evangelical Christians waiting in line at the box office?”
    • Blade Runner and Following The Rules
      Rule-following is an extremely powerful technique for manipulating things. Psychology is a form of science that identifies the rules in obedience to which human beings act. Those rules are identified by watching human beings and noting the constancy with which some effect follows some other cause. A human being who experiences something unpleasant will try to avoid it. That is a simple rule. These rules can be applied in reverse. An example is found in movies. An unpleasant or frightening situation can be created by forcing a human being to avoid something. This is why the image of a closed door is frightening in a horror movie. The door obstructs the human being’s view of what is beyond it, and this forced avoidance creates an unpleasant experience of anxiety. By exploiting a simple rule, the person making a film can create an experience in the human being who watches it.” (Thanks Matt Brown for the heads up on this one)
    • Is the video-on-demand business bad for Hollywood?
      “Make no mistake: History has shown that price points cannot be maintained in the home video window. What sells for $30-a-viewing today could be blown out for $9.99 within a few years. If wiser heads do not prevail, the cannibalization of theatrical revenue in favor of a faulty, premature home video window could lead to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Some theaters will close. The competition for those screens that remain will become that much more intense, foreclosing all but the most commercial movies from theatrical release. Specialty films whose success depends on platform releases that slowly build in awareness would be severely threatened under this new model. Careers that are built on the risks that can be taken with lower budget films may never have the chance to blossom under this cut-throat new model. Further, releasing a pristine, digital copy of new movies early to the home will only increase the piracy problem—not solve it.”
    • Filmmaker Jim Mickle Offers a New Take on Vampires
      “Perhaps it is this unusual collection of sources that gives the film its unique flavor, but it’s no accident that “Stake Land” approaches traditional components of vampire and post-apocalyptic films in a new way. Mickle and Damici made a point to focus on humanity over the unhuman.”

     
     

    You can now take a look at RowThree’s bookmarks at any time of your choosing simply by clicking the “delicious” button in the upper right of the page. It looks remarkably similar to this:

     

  • Wake up Blade Runner, Time to Live Again

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    While I am always curious interested in the burbling Blade Runner rumours that seem to sprout up ever couple of years, things seemed to have come to a boil yesterday with the trades announcing that Alcon Entertainment has optioned the prequel, sequel, equal rights to make more films. I am certainly not opposed to making tangent films in that unusual universe. Cyberpunk has come a long way since 1982, so we are already in an analogous place from the Original Star Wars trilogy aesthetic to the Prequel Trilogy aesthetic, most likely. And lets not forget that supposedly forgettable Soldier (yea, the Kurt Rusell one) is ostensibly set in the same universe. I’m all for the 28 Days/Weeks/Months later philosophy of new stories in developed universes.

    But lets not get too worked up either way, people. The lesson from TRON is that 30 year old cult films are never going to make Spielberg/Cameron type money and I expect that the production cycle for a film such as this is going to be a long and arduous one. Nevertheless, I’m sure people paying for the rights are bandying about the word ‘Franchise.’

  • Bookmarks for Mid August

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    • When should a director stop messing with a movie?
      “There are many kinds of re-cuts, created for different reasons, under different circumstances. Whether you consider a second or third or fourth cut valid (or superior) to the first depends on what you liked or disliked about the first cut, and the circumstances that produced that first cut, and what you think was gained or lost in revision.”
    • Lock & Load (Video)
      A video montage-essay on Cinema’s fetish with guns (mostly America, but look for a lot of Johnnie To and John Woo in there too.)
    • Mit Out Sound, Mit Out Solution
      Guy Maddin on Josef von Sternberg: “With this mild mea culpa, von Sternberg was done turning out his pockets. Every interview he did after that, until his death just a few days before Christmas of 1969, was a variation on the theme of “I could tell you the secret of my genius, but upon reflection, I prefer it remain a mystery for the ages.” He’s left it for us to work out, that dumpy, dapper rapscallion, but I can hardly blame him. A mystery as insoluble as this is a gift nearly as great as the films themselves.”
    • ‘Scott Pilgrim’ Versus Itself
      “I don’t want to be the guy arguing that a movie adaptation of a comic book doesn’t do justice to the original comic. I especially don’t want to be the one doing that about Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, because there have already been dark accusations about it being too fanboyish, and I am most definitely a fanboy for Scott Pilgrim the comic book. But the little things that bug me about the movie all ultimately feed into one big complaint: the wonderful treatment of female characters in the comic book gets lost in the transition to the big screen. It’s what happens when you make a big action-filled summer film. But it’s not good that this requires the female characters and their particular relationships to be swept under the rug. ”
    • Half a Century of Making Cars Into Stars
      “There was KITT, the modified Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that protected and talked to David Hasselhoff in the 1980s television series “Knight Rider.” There was the rebuilt and countrified 1921 jalopy that Jed Clampett drove — with Granny in a rocking chair behind him — from the Ozarks to Hollywood in the 1960s series “The Beverly Hillbillies.” And most notably there was the 1955 Lincoln Futura with the bubble top that Mr. Barris and his crew chopped and stretched into a sinister-looking shiny black-and-red crime fighting machine called the Batmobile “In the hall of fame of car customizers, George Barris is No. 1,””
    • Rene Laloux’s Fantastic Planet on Blu-Ray (U.K)
      “I hesitate to use the word ‘surreal’, because it has become so dulled by overuse as to become almost meaningless, but if there was an animated work that warranted such a label, it is this one. Be warned though – the drug-inspired and often highly sexualised designs complete with images of bare-breasted aliens will probably deter the more Victorian-minded from presenting this to their pre-teens as a Disney substitute. This is definitely one to be filed under the category of “adult art animation”.”

     

    You can now take a look at RowThree’s bookmarks at any time of your choosing simply by clicking the “delicious” button in the upper right of the page. It looks remarkably similar to this:

  • Dan O’Bannon Died. He was 63.

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    DanObannon

    One of the big names for Sci-Fi genre junkies, Dan O’Bannon passed away from Crohn’s Disease on Thursday. Besides the iconic Alien Franchise (or at least Ridley’s Scott’s first entry), O’Bannon also wrote at the high and low ends of the science fiction spectrum including Screamers, Blade Runner (he was one of many involved in the screenplay, somebody will surely corret me if I’m wrong on this, but many of the writers were uncredited as the screenplay went through a ridiculous number of drafts before productions started), Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce, Invaders From Mars, John Carpenter’s Darkstar, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall and John Badham’s Blue Thunder. He also directed the cult zom-com favourite, Return of the Living Dead (pictured, sort of, above)

    Via Filmjunk.

  • Movie Scenes Recreated in Game Engines

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    blade1-small

    In video game parlance, “in-engine” refers to graphics that are done within the gameplay generator itself, rather than as cinematic cut-scenes, which are rendered as pure animation. Generally, in-engine graphics are a lot harder to get right and high-quality (a common question when new game trailers come out is “are these graphics in-engine,” because if so, it’s a much better indicator of the graphical quality of the final game). Game-Artist.net has been running a contest over the past few months for designers to recreate famous movie shots within gaming engines (Unreal3, Source, and CryEngine2 mostly, which respectively were developed for Unreal Tournament III, Half-Life, and Crysis, though other games also use them), and they recently announced the winners.

    The winning team (aptly named The Replicants) recreated the underbelly cityscape of Blade Runner with an amazing amount of detail and realism (see above screenshot). This looks so good I’d play this game in a heartbeat, despite knowing how mediocre games based on movies usually are. Here’s another shot. (Click on any of the images to see the full-size version.)

    blade2-small

    The second-place team did Hook, and though it doesn’t hit me as quite as “wow” as the Blade Runner shots, it’s very, very nice in a more cartoony way. Looks like Guybrush Threepwood (of the Monkey Island games) could pop out for an Insult Swordfight at any moment.

    hook1-small
    hook2-small

    The whole contest can be found here, though I admit I wasn’t able to find a good solid description of the challenge in concise terms. Apparently I’m not familiar enough with the forum. All the official entries are in this thread, though each project has its own thread in the main section with comments and critiques. And the winners thread is here – the other runners-up did X-Men 2, I Am Legend and Aliens. Sci-fi is a popular genre among game designers, clearly.

  • Standin’ in the Rain Talkin’ to Myself

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    You’re a director. You have a vision. It’s a final fight scene. A first kiss. A monster’s revelation. Yet, your vision seems incomplete… something is missing and you can’t put your finger on it. Then it hits you, something so simple, so obvious, you can’t believe it took you so long to think it up. Rain. That’s how you make almost any scene exponentially cooler and one to remember. Myself, I’ve always been a fan of the effective usage of rain during a scene, specifically a scene that includes fighting. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it’s the way I’m wired – the same way that watching a football game during a torrential downpour is just so much more fun.

    So, without further ado, let’s take a look at memorable rain-soaked scenes throughout the years in cinema.

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