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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Treaser Trailer: Synchronicity

Synchronicity

Time travel concepts and Blade Runner science fiction noir come together in Jacob Gentry’s Synchronicity. Gentry is perhaps best known for the quirky-absurd middle vignette in the 2007 apocalypse triptych, The Signal and has a particular knack for sync’ing up framing and action to electronic music, which you will see on display in the teaser trailer below.

The film is startlingly ambitious for what is probably a very tiny budget, and is playing at this years Fantasia International Film Festival. The film stars horror-indie regular AJ Bowen (The Guest, House of the Devil, Rites of Spring) and the villain is played by iconic Canuck character actor and ham (literally, watch ABC’s “V: The Final Battle”) Michael Ironside, who is also at Fantasia, starring in the Quebecois post-apocalyptic kids adventure, Turbokid. Go Michael!

Trailer: Blade Runner

As the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cyberpunk-ennui par excellence, Blade Runner slowly trundles along towards being made, the 2K re-release (known as The Final Cut) of the original film is coming to select cinemas, I am aware of the BFI doing a special release nation-wide in the UK, as well as TIFF LIGHTBOX in Toronto in spring. A brand new trailer has been cut for this release, and it’s a master-class in evoking the images, the plot, the characters and the overall feel of the film in an very elegant package.

Take a break from whatever ever you are doing, click the video below, bump the resolution to 1080p and soak in the timeless magic of this amazing film.

Cinecast Episode 383 – Dogpocalypse

row31-640

 
Ever walk into a typical coffee shop, order a basic cup of joe and think to yourself, “well this is a much nicer brew of java than I would have expected!”? This is how we bookend this weeks review on the show. While we rarely dive into “the news” on The Cinecast, the passing of Leonard Nimoy, the magnificent Mr. Spock himself, is an important issue that both Andrew and Kurt feel needs addressing; as does Harrison Ford in another Blade Runner movie. Meanwhile, canines take over the city in White Dog God, which the boys discuss despite Andrew’s screener conking out at the halfway mark (Kurt managed to get it all in however).

In The Watch List, Andrew tackles two more films on the IMDb 250 Project after defending the choice of using such a list for viewing fodder, while Kurt caught up with a Wong Kar-Wai influenced piece of joy in Millenium Mambo as well. Kurt also gives a brief sneak review of Jay Cheel’s (FilmJunk.com) How to Build a Time Machine based on the current work-print (fair warning). Lastly, Liam Neeson goes smokes on airplanes and Anne Hathaway is cute then sexy. All in an evening’s work here in the third row.

Please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below, and again, thanks for listening!

 

 

 

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Friday One Sheet: The Blade Runner is Still Running

In light of the strong rumour than Dennis Villeneuve is going to be the director of the long delayed sequel with a returning Harrison Ford, enjoy this handsome poster above. If we are going make another legitamite Blade Runner film (1998s Soldier doesn’t count), I cannot think of a better choice than the director of Enemy and Incendies to give it his best shot.

Here is hoping that he does NOT listen to Ridley’s whispers that Deckard is a Replicant.

Cinecast Episode 356 – Bearfucker

 
Welcome to the time-discombobulated episode of the cineast. First things Last: Kurt’s son number one, Willem joins in for a detailed discussion of Edge of Tomorrow, with emphasis on details and minutiae. It’s tucked at the end of the show. Andrew and Kurt discuss the specifics of the new Rowthree design before getting into the 1984 project with taciturn Chuck Norris and side boob, but slapped in between Gamble joins in for a lighter-on-the-spoilers discussion of the Tom Cruise movie, so we can Live. Die. Repeat. There is a bit of a love-in for the action stylings of Neil Marshall as he helms the penultimate Season 4 episode of Game Of Thrones with an eye for continuity and geography at Castle Black. Finally there is a Watch List where Kurt & Gamble debate (again) the merits of Orange is the New Black. Also: Roger Dodger, Rango, Full Metal Jacket, Blade Runner and Deathproof. So grab your G.O. juice and your copy of Italian Vogue and hop into the fray.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

 


 

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Now Playing at the Row Three Rep: What is Human?

[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 πŸ™‚

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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