Blade Runner: the Unkindest Cut of All

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP

sean young

SEAN YOUNG AT HER BEST

Like Walt Whitman who revised Leaves of Grass until he reached the last page on his deathbed, Ridley Scott has been tinkering with his classic Blade Runner.

After various “Director’s Cuts,” Scott has gone the butcher shop by coming up with chopped liver and Salisbury steaks. He has swept up the bits from the cutting room floor and installed them in the butcher’s window.

We finally got around to seeing the 2007 Blade Runner: The Final Cut.

If we settle upon this one as the cut above the rest, we’d be rejecting all those versions that made 1982’s Blade Runner one of the most mind-boggling and influential movies of its time.

Two movies changed the sci-fi landscape forever: Mad Max and Blade Runner. They made the future ugly and dirty, crowded and unpleasant. Throw in Alien (also by Scott) and you have a futuristic mess.

No, Ridley has not cleaned up the set. He now revels in the messiness. Gone is the wonderful narrative voice of Harrison Ford, explaining to us what was going on. It’s not necessary because we’ve all seen the film before.

Adding a few moments amplifies the characters without a narrative megaphone. The film is striking—especially from Sean Young’s Joan Crawford look to the smoky offices in the skyscrapers, and we still love Ford’s fey impersonation that loses nothing on Bogart’s fey impersonator scene in The Big Sleep.

This 1940s detective film set in the 21st century lacks only Dooley Wilson, leaving Ridley Scott to play it again and again.

We wanted to see again if Deckard is really another ‘replicant’ sent to retire other replicants. We have wondered about this for 30 years.

The Final Cut is brilliant. It’s hard to do more than polish a diamond, even if you want to cut it into smaller segments to add more jewel facets.

In the meantime we wait for Ridley’s deathbed version.

 

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It’s Not Paranoia If You’re Obsessive-Compulsive

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

This curio movie stars a generic leading man in a tale about businessmen with no scruples. It seems like a story we have seen on screen before. Robert Luketic directs Paranoia, but it’s more like a bad case of OCD and worse case of scriptwriting.

Liam Helmsworth is handsome and winsome. He is also vapid and canned. His New Yorker mover and shaker wants the big time, but he believes old men of today are ruthless and hold back the younger generation. Channing Tatum would have played it more convincingly with an edge.

With his killer looks and GQ body, Liam Helmsworth is a likely corporate boy-toy. He is groomed and blackmailed by one old man to be a corporate James Bond against another. We suspect he would have been singled out as a paid companion before any thought of making him an espionage agent.

The old men are the really interesting part of the movie.

Gary Oldman has about him a dangerous and smarmy quality well suited to be the corporate Henry Higgins making over his boy spy to take on the aging archenemy played by Harrison Ford in slouch mode.

These brilliant old stars have gone from being red giants to white dwarfs. It’s not like they are taking any port in a storm or any role in a movie to remain relevant, but we are still glad to see them flash their stuff. Liam Helmsworth looks like a pretty and empty Brooks Brothers gray flannel suit next to them.

Of course, someone in central casting decided to let Richard Dreyfuss play the broken down father of Helmsworth (he’s Thor’s younger brother by the way). Only in Hollywood fantasy could anyone think pipsqueak Dreyfuss could sire a Playgirl centerfold.

Put aside any thoughts of classic business tales like Executive Suite or Patterns. In fact, this is not even up to the quality of Wall Street or The Social Network. Excess in style, realism, verisimilitude, and taste, has become the new yardstick of making a movie relevant to anyone under 25.

No wonder the new generation thinks the great stars are best suited to playing doddering amoral old men.  The end of this pip is a groaner of the up-teenth magnitude.

Read more movie insights from William Russo in MOVIE MASHUP and ALFRED HITCHCOCK FRESHLY SHOWERED. All books are available at Amazon.com in softcover.

42 Makes Jackie Robinson ‘Relevant’

 

DATELINE: MOVIE MASHUP!

Movies have always been used to teach history, and movies never know history, preferring to make it. 42 is the latest movie to be treated like gospel and dogma rolled into one.

After seeing the anachronisms in Baz Luhrmann’s version of dancing through the Lost Generation in The Great Gatsby, we took on baseball beanball with 42.

Truth takes a ball to the noggin and is awarded first base and home plate. The film is produced by Legendary Films and announces suspiciously at the start: “based on a true story.” Of course, we prefer the 1949 movie that starred Robinson himself: low budget and earnest with Ruby Dee.

As for the new movie, we haven’t seen such revisionist falsehoods since Theodore Roosevelt was reportedly the first president in a wheelchair, and Franklin Roosevelt charged up his credit card at a San Juan department store.

Stanley Kubrick never made a sports movie, though he was obsessed with the number 42 as a motif in his movies. Maybe during his youth in New York City, he was at Ebbetts Field to take in the Jackie Robinson story, or at least watched Jackie play himself in the movie biography. The film features Harrison Ford, now doing his spin in featured roles, this time as Branch Rickey. Next stop as his career winds down will be a television series.

Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, and Audie Murphy all played themselves in movies to great effect, but were limited by their own good taste and reluctance to show their anal warts.

This biographical movie of Jackie Robinson lacks only the scene where his ghostly apparition walks out of a cornfield and goes the distance.

Doc Rivers when coach of the Celtics took his team to see this movie to teach them about teammates and Ubuntu. Moviegoers and sports fans under 40 have no idea about that retired number 42 hanging from every stadium wall in baseball.

This movie will provide the background to mythology. We’d recommend Ken Burns’ documentary on baseball as the final word on accuracy.

MLB preferred this movie, but the Oscars did not.