By: Henry J. Fromage –
I decided this week that being as we’re in the Fall and prime movie season, it was time I made a concerted effort to watch some. Here are the desserts this week.
202. Blade Runner: The Final Cut
It’s been years since I saw this (never mind which cut I would’ve caught), and my wife never has, so I figured a double feature with one of my most anticipated films of the year was in order. An interesting phenomenon occurred- not only was I cooler to this film than I remembered being, but I also found it’s sequel superior. Don’t get me wrong, Ridley Scott’s film is influential in ways Blade Runner 2049 could never hope to be, a true triumph of futurism and design which has become so intertwined with its genre that it can be hard to imagine what a mind-blower it must have been on June 25th, 1982. Unfortunately, I was not in the theater then, so while I yield to the brilliance of its aesthetics and its truly surprising and gorgeous ending, much of the rest of the film left me more indifferent in the unique manner in which Ridley Scott films often do. It’s probably time to start recognizing his great talent as a filmmaker and his relative mediocrity as a storyteller in the same breath.
203. Blade Runner 2049
While I can certainly understand why this 2 hour, 43 minute rumination on what it means to be human didn’t play to the general public like Transformers 3, I’m very glad a studio was dumb enough to give Denis Villeneuve the ducats to make it (don’t hold your breathe for his new Dune movie, though). With Roger Deakins pushing the visual language of the first Blade Runner to dizzying new heights, Villeneuve’s usual creative team layering on spectacular sound design and editing, and Hans Zimmer, Benjamin Wallfisch, and Johann Johannsson contributing a Vangelis and drone-inspired score, even as a purely sensory delight Blade Runner 2049 is a triumph. However, it’s Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford delivering performances as good as any they’ve yet done and a beautifully paced story full of both action and philosophy which really elevate the film.
204. American Made
Plenty of thinkpieces have been written about Tom Cruise being Hollywood’s last Movie Star in the classic sense- a headliner whose name alone is an endorsement. Well, let’s go ahead and ignore this year’s The Mummy for a second (he at least was fun in it), and file American Made as yet another piece of evidence that this remains true. He’s utterly magnetic in his turn as Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot who gets recruited to run spy flyovers for the CIA, starts gun-running, then ferrying cocaine back to the U.S. for the Medellin cartel, then really gets in hot water from there. It’s Doug Liman’s light touch on such heavy material that really stands out, though, as he turns a history that’s arguably set back the entire Hemisphere into the absurd farce that it in many ways was even more ridiculous in real life. Any story that can inspire sentences as mind-bending and truly disgusting as Ronald Reagan’s “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions tell me that’s true, but the facts and evidence tell me it is not.” proves the maxim that truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Istanbul if you ever visit (and you absolutely should) is sheer number of surprisingly healthy and friendly-looking stray cats roaming the streets. It turns out that cats are almost a communal property there, a true feature of the city, and Kedi roams it in search of stories of human and cat connection and whatever universal truths it can glean from that. What it becomes is a surprisingly affecting portrait of not just cat lovers, but the beautiful human instincts that draw them towards emotional bonds with animal-kind. It’s as humanist a film that has come out this year, one that could use many more stories like these. And yeah, it’s catnip for cat lovers, too.