Archipelago

ARCHIPELAGO_Film_Poster

When you see a dictionary definition of the film’s title on the DVD cover you know you’re in ‘earnest independent film’ territory and this British flick would have been completely off my radar if not for my (ahem) interest in Tom Hiddleston.

Made for a tiny budget in 2010 Archipelago is written and directed by Joanna Hogg and is an excellent yet uncomfortable depiction of a family in crisis.

Edward (Tom Hiddleston) is giving up a job in the City to undertake voluntary work in Africa for a year. Before he leaves he joins his mother Patricia (Kate Fahy) and older sister Cynthia (Lydia Leonard) at their holiday home on Tresco for a family reunion. They are joined by Patricia’s art teacher mentor Christopher (Christopher Baker) and a hired cook Rose (Amy Lloyd). The father, William, intends to join them but is delayed and never appears.

What follows is an often excruciating, sometimes comic yet extremely well observed portrayal of an upper middle-class family falling apart.

Edward is sincere and well intentioned yet clearly conflicted about his decision to go to Africa and is searching for his path while trying not to upset anyone. Cynthia by contrast is brittle, angry and constantly finding fault with everyone and everything around her. Patricia is fragile and hangs by a thread, seemingly lost without her husband’s presence. Christopher is a calming and often wise presence who becomes a sort of father-figure to Edward and Rose is the outsider stuck in the middle, an unwilling witness to the familial fallout and at one point, the focus of Edward’s embarrassing almost-seduction. William is present only in family conversation and Patricia’s increasingly desperate telephone calls (of which we only hear her side), but he looms large and one feels that much of the family’s dysfunction and unhappiness is due to his absence, emotionally and physically throughout their lives, and not just on this holiday.

The shot composition is interesting with very few close-ups, a lot of long shots and frames where characters are only partially in view. There are many scenes where the action and dialogue takes places completely out of shot while the camera focuses on the empty space or the reactions of the character/s overhearing them. It gives these scenes great impact and tension and kept me slightly off balance while watching it.

Much of the dialogue felt ad-libbed, often gracelessly mundane, and all the more genuine, and embarrassingly familiar, because of it. The restaurant scene is particularly painful to watch, the more so because I recognised people I know, and myself, in the stifled politeness and passive aggressive sniping! I was struck by the actor’s naturalistic performances and interested to find out that Rose and Christopher were played by non-actors with Amy Lloyd being a real cook and Christopher Baker a successful artist and Joanna Hogg’s real-life art teacher. Their performances didn’t feel at all out of place with the rest of the cast.

There is no background music; the only soundtrack is bird song and ambient background noise. The long silences and stillness add real space and atmosphere and for much of the film I felt like I was trespassing on a private moment, which is part of its genius.

I would highly recommend seeking out this film. It’s carefully structured, nuanced and insightful albeit hard to watch at times. The cast, actor and amateur alike, is superb. And it will particularly resonate with anyone who understands that very middle-class English dread of causing a public scene!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some feelings to repress…

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Zero Dark Thirty

Initially, I had misgivings about seeing this film. I was uncomfortable with the subject matter and unsure that it could, or should, be appropriately made into entertainment.

I should have realised that as it was Kathryn Bigelow that was directing this film (and not Michael Bay for example), it would be dealt with with thoughtfulness and subtlety. Bigelow has proved herself to be a skilled and sensitive director with 2008’s excellent The Hurt Locker and the patriotism on display in both that and this is far more ambiguous than one might expect from a film dealing with the War on Terror.

Zero Dark Thirty depicts the CIA’s decade long search for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. It follows intelligence analyst Maya (Jessica Chastain) as she relentlessly pursues leads that eventually culminate in the storming of his hideout and his death at the hands of Navy SEALS.

From the first moments of a black screen and the distressing sounds of phone messages to loved ones from those trapped in the twin towers on 9/11, you know that this film will not be a comfortable watch. The torture scenes in particular make very difficult viewing but are necessary to the telling of the story so don’t feel gratuitous. The routine tediousness and frustration of tracking down leads and setting up surveillance are an interesting counterpoint to the slick and exciting spy-stuff of Bourne and Bond and feel all the more real for it.

Despite the large cast most characters have the opportunity to become more than one-dimensional plot-movers, which takes skill in terms of scripting and direction (although the brief John Barrowman cameo bothered me as I kept expecting him to beam or burst into song.)

There is a lot of talent on display but it’s Chastain’s film. Her character, Maya, is not particularly likeable but she is watchable. Chastain imbues Maya with a tense fragility and a repressed emotion that is quite brilliant. Her drive and ruthlessness are not characteristics that drew my empathy but you feel her need to see this grim business through to the conclusion. Interestingly she’s almost entirely absent for the climax of the film but her final scene, boarding the empty cargo plane alone to take her back to Washington, the trauma, exhaustion and relief overwhelming her as she realises that the long years of pursuit are over, is extremely moving. It’s an impressive performance.

It’s an intelligent film slickly and tightly directed. There are some real shocks and I jumped in my seat more than once. The use of light is very effective – many of the scenes have a drab washed-out look that seems to mirror the exhaustion of the seemingly fruitless and endless pursuit. The shock of the sunlight after the semi-darkness of the huts used for the torture scenes is akin to the emotional assault of what’s been experienced inside.

Zero Dark Thirty doesn’t have the emotional pull of The Hurt Locker; it’s about process and pursuit and thus lacks the human centre but it’s none the less gripping and tensely watchable for that. Bigelow treads the balance between documentary and entertainment, voyeurism and accurate portrayal and for the most part succeeds admirably.

This film richly deserves it’s Oscar nomination – it’s an emotive and controversial subject handled intelligently and however you feel about the real life events Bigelow ultimately allows you to make up your own mind.

Hugo

LoveFilm sent me this film back in May and it’s taken me until now to get around to watching it. I’m somewhat ambivalent towards Martin Scorsese (I know, I know, fighting talk) – I often find his films unnecessarily violent, bleak and far too long – and I wasn’t sure what to expect from a film of his apparently aimed at children. But, the enthusiasm for this film amongst film critics and people I know who had seen it buoyed me.

I probably should have trusted my instincts. Firstly, it’s not a kid’s film although it’s not violent or inappropriate. And it’s not a bad film. It’s just a bit dull.

It is based on the Brian Selznick book ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’. Set in Paris in the 1930s it tells the story of Hugo (Asa Butterfield) a young orphan boy who, following his father’s death, has been taken to live at the Gare Montparnasse and taught to repair the clocks by his alcoholic uncle (Ray Winstone). His uncle has disappeared but Hugo remains, scrounging a living, maintaining the clocks and trying to evade detection by the station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). Before he died Hugo’s father (Jude Law), who worked in a museum, had found an automaton, a clockwork man, and had been teaching Hugo how to repair it. He left Hugo his notebook, which Hugo has been using to continue his father’s work. When he gets caught stealing parts from a toymaker, Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley) who confiscates the notebook, Hugo follows him home in order to try and retrieve it. There he meets Papa Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chlöe Grace Moretz) who he enlists to help him. It gradually becomes clear that Papa Georges is actually visionary French filmmaker Georges Méliès and the automaton belongs to him.

As I said, this is not a bad film and there is much to admire. It is a love letter to cinema telling, as it does, the life story of Georges Méliès. There are homages to iconic moments in cinema history, notably Méliès’ ‘Le Voyage dans la Lune’ and Harold Lloyd’s ‘Safety Last!’ It also features a re-creation of the famous train crash at Gare Montparnasse.

The opening sequence is breathtakingly beautiful: the camera swoops across the rooftops of Paris as the seasons change from Spring to Winter, moving closer to the station and then travelling along the platform and into the terminal as we are introduced to each character. It has the stylised look of a Toulouse Lautrec painting, some scenes looking almost like animation. It’s dripping with art deco styling and the clockwork mechanisms of the station clocks, the toys and the automaton are exquisitely realised.

But for me, sadly, it never fulfilled its potential or lived up to the promise of these visuals. The casting jarred and I frequently found much of the acting mannered and stilted, especially Butterfield who too often seemed to be trying too hard to be an ‘act-or’. Spielberg has the knack of coaxing naturalistic performances from his child actors – I’m not sure Scorsese has this same gift.  And despite telling a story that should have been fascinating, the plot meandered and was simply not very interesting.

In the hands of Tim Burton or maybe even Baz Luhrmann this might have been a different film. A little more magic and enchantment would have gone a long way to smoothing over the cracks. But for me, it missed the mark.

Originally posted 24 September 2012

Dredd

It’s a Sunday afternoon and what could be more natural than a craving for junk food and an hour or two of mindless cinema violence? (That’s not really a question). After much deliberation it came down to a choice between The Expendables 2 and Dredd 3D. Dredd won obviously.

I don’t consider myself a hardcore Judge Dredd fan – I was a casual reader as a teenager because my boyfriend subscribed to 2000AD. My most vivid memories are of playing the Block Wars board game with him: it always ended in a row because I always lost when he suddenly ‘remembered’ some obscure rule that worked to his advantage. Still, I knew enough to know that the Stallone version sucked big time and that if I’d acted it out in my living room in a homemade costume I’d have come closer to capturing the spirit of the comic. (I didn’t but I actually might do that later if there’s nothing on TV…)

I didn’t have high hopes – just that it would be better than The Expendables 2. And it was. It was really good. Very violent. Very exciting. And better than all that – it was cool.

The plot is simple (which it should be for an action film.)

Dredd’s world is Earth after multiple nuclear wars. Society is violent and anarchic and people have congregated in enormous mega-cities, in Dredd’s case Mega-City One. Within these cities most of the population live in giant tower blocks called, erm…Blocks. Blocks are often run by drug lords and criminal gangs. Keeping order is difficult and therefore law is quick and brutal and discharged by the Judges.

Dredd (Karl Urban) is despatched to investigate 3 homicides at Peach Trees, a Block run by violent and unstable prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her gang. Ma-Ma controls the production and distribution of a new drug called Slo-Mo that slows down perception to 1% of real time.

Dredd is assigned a rookie, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), and instructed to evaluate her in the field to see if she’s got what it takes to be a Judge. Anderson is a genetic mutant with powerful psychic abilities (handy). Upon entering the Block they arrest one of Ma-Ma’s inner circle, Kay (Wood Harris), for the murders but before they can take him back to headquarters for interrogation Ma-Ma shuts down the Block and issues a death warrant for the Judges. With the entire Block now against them their only choice is to fight.

Karl Urban is excellent as Dredd, sticking to Judge Dredd lore and never removing his helmet, and therefore acting mostly with his chin (in a good way) while vocally channelling Clint in Dirty Harry. There’s no weakness or inner turmoil and there’s mercifully no hint of romance with Anderson. He’s grim, implacable, kicks ass (did a lot of his own stunts apparently) and is ultimately believable in the role. He’s laconic in the extreme but evinces enough dry humour not to descend into parody.

Thirlby is great as plucky rookie Anderson. She doesn’t overplay the character’s vulnerability and is convincing when she rises to the challenges in front of her.  She’s an effective counterpart to Dredd and, a relative rarity in current action cinema I think, a strong female character who can hold her own and not just cling to the back of the hero’s motorbike or provide the token love interest.

Lena Headey is impressive as the dangerously psychotic Ma-Ma – her soft-spoken delivery making her all the more chilling. It’s also great to see Wood Harris, who was so brilliant as Avon Barksdale in The Wire, as Ma-Ma’s right-hand man Kay.

This is a proper old-school action film – the kind that doesn’t seem to get made very much anymore. There’s no soul-searching, no complex character motivations, minimal backstory and no romance crowbarred in ‘so women will watch it’. It doesn’t flinch, cop out and give you A-Team-style violence to keep it’s 12A rating – it’s brutal and bloody and quite shocking in places. The scene where Ma-Ma unleashes multiple gun cannons on Dredd had the fangirl in me very nearly jumping up and down and clapping her hands in glee. It delivered what it promised and at only 1.5 hours long it didn’t drag.

There’s effective use of slow-motion camera work for the drug scenes and it isn’t overused (something Guy Ritchie should take on board) so it doesn’t become tedious or interrupt the narrative.  The mostly muted visuals and dirty light reinforce the bleak atmosphere and it’s one of the first films I’ve seen where the use of 3D really enhances the action.

It also has a pounding industrial rock score which gains it extra points.

This is an admirable realisation of the iconic 2000AD character. Sequel anyone?

Originally posted 11 September 2012

Duel

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Seeing Jaws on the big screen prompted me to dig out and watch one of my favourite Spielberg movies. It’s not one of his blockbusters but a low-key thriller made in the early ‘70s. My Dad introduced me to this film when I was quite young and it fed my love of all things American – the Peterbilt trucks, the lonely whistle of cross country trains, the endless highways, the small-town diners. Based on a short story by Richard Matheson, first published in Playboy, it was one of Spielberg’s earliest films and it displays all of the storytelling flair that has become his trademark.

It has a great opening sequence.  A red Plymouth Valiant (the colour deliberately chosen by Spielberg so it would stand out against the desert background) backs out of a suburban garage and negotiates city traffic as it travels onto a desert highway. There’s no sound other than the car engine and the radio as the driver flicks between stations. The scene is almost exclusively shot from the car at bumper level and the driver’s view through the windscreen. It’s brilliantly effective because not only does it establish what kind of man the driver is – joe normal – but that this film is essentially going to be about the vehicles and not the drivers. It’s a theme reinforced throughout by the interesting camera angles Spielberg employs – turning crankshafts, close ups of headlights and axles, wheels and license plates.

Unusually for a Spielberg film there is minimal use of music, Duel being one of the few films where Spielberg didn’t collaborate with John Williams. The soundtrack is chiefly percussive which really enhances the atmosphere and the main string motif, very reminiscent of Herrman’s classic music for Psycho, is used sparingly and reserved for real moments of action. It’s another effective move because all of that space builds tension.

The story is deceptively simple and therein lays its genius. A motorist, Dennis Weaver as salesman David Mann, is driving to a meeting and overtakes a slow moving and dirty tanker truck. Moments later the truck roars past him then slows down and blocks his way. Mann overtakes a second time and the truck blasts his air horn. It seems like a harmless piece of road rage but as the film progresses the truck relentlessly pursues Mann across the lonely desert highways attempting to run him off the road and kill him.

It becomes a gladiatorial contest – a fight for survival, David versus Goliath, him or it. Like so many great stories it puts an ordinary man in an everyday situation and then strips away all of the things that he relies on – reason, civilization, rules of law and order, other people – turning it into a nightmare. As Mann says in the movie during one of his inner monologues, ‘all the ropes that kept you hanging in there get cut loose and it’s like, there you are, right back in the jungle again.’

You really feel Mann’s isolation – the scene in the diner after the first major tangle with the truck, is excruciating. The truck has chased Mann down a mountain road bumping the car until Mann has lost control, swerved off the road and hit a fence opposite Chuck’s Cafe. The truck drives on. Mann enters the diner, shaken by his ordeal, but when he comes out of the bathroom the truck is parked outside. He then starts discreetly sizing up everyone in the diner wondering which one is his would-be assassin. Naturally everyone looks sinister. It’s a jumpy and paranoid scene with some great touches that ramp up the tension – like the waitress clattering the cutlery down on the table interrupting Mann’s inner monologue and startling him and audience alike. When Mann eventually confronts the man he thinks is the truck driver a fistfight breaks out. The café owner intervenes and the man drives away in a pick-up. As Mann is picking himself up and wondering who else it could be the truck engine roars to life and pulls out of the parking lot – he was never in the diner in the first place.

This leads on to another great device of the film – you never see the truck driver. It’s not important – the truck is a character in its own right. My Dad maintained that there was no driver – that it was supernatural – like Stephen King’s Christine (Duel reminds me very much of a King short story).  That could be suggested by the unearthly roaring sound you hear at the end as the truck ‘dies’ (Spielberg later used the same sound effect in Jaws). But whatever the intention it doesn’t matter – that’s the beauty of leaving it to the audience’s imagination. Less is most definitely more (Michael Bay).

Surely the greatest part of the whole film is the scene with the school bus. It’s a masterpiece of sustained suspense. Mann has left the diner and has stopped to help a stranded bus full of school kids. The bus driver asks Mann to give him a push start – Mann reluctantly agrees, fearing that the car’s bumper will get caught under the rear bumper of the bus. This predictably happens and while the bus driver tries to help Mann bounce it loose the kids get off the bus and run around the lay-by. Mann suddenly sees the truck appear a little way down the road and come to a stop part way into a tunnel. “That bastard turned around and came back.” The truck headlights come on. Mann panics and manages to work the car loose and pull away just as the truck circles around and drives up behind them. Mann stops down the road to see what the truck will do and watches in disbelief as it gently shunts the bus back onto the road. It’s a clever and chilling moment as Mann realizes that he alone has been targeted. It’s personal.

The action rapidly escalates as the truck driver becomes more and more ruthless in his pursuit. There’s another great scene where Mann has stopped at Sally’s Snakerama, a gas station, to try and use the phone. The truck attacks before he has chance to call for help, destroying the phone booth and many of Sally’s cages letting loose her rattlesnakes and other creatures. The truck driver is now openly pursuing Mann with no regard for whoever or whatever might get in his way.

Showing real skill for controlling the tension Spielberg gives us a respite as Mann manages to temporarily escape and pull off the road, parking up behind an embankment next to an old junkyard. There is a fabulously eerie scene as Mann, exhausted, falls asleep and the camera shows varying shots of the junkyard – close-ups of broken headlights, rusted fenders, waving grass growing between the wrecks – with the red Plymouth Valiant always somewhere in the picture. Mann is shocked out of sleep by a freight train approaching on the track next to where he’s parked. A wonderful moment of tension and release.

The film now approaches the final showdown but before that can take place the rules of the contest, the duel, have to be established. Mann, sure that the truck has gone and his ordeal over, is stunned to find that it’s waiting for him around the bend. He attempts to flag down a passing car but the old couple driving are unwilling to get involved and drive away in terror as the truck starts reversing towards them down the road. Mann runs into the scrub at the side of the road but it stops within inches of his car then drives back up the road and resumes it’s original position. Mann tries to approach on foot but it drives further away.

Mann must be in the Valiant and he must face the truck alone.

Back in his car the truck allows Mann to pass and the final chase begins up into the mountains where Mann is confident he can escape, as the truck won’t be able to maintain speed on the steep gradients. However, the Valiant’s radiator hose fails (flagged in an early scene at a gas station) and the car begins to pour smoke, losing speed as the truck gains. Barely making it to the top he is then able to put it in neutral and gather speed for the descent. He loses control part way down, hits a rock wall and again, only just manages to pull away before the truck reaches him.

In the final scenes Mann leads the truck along a dirt road near a cliff edge and turns to face his pursuer. Using his briefcase to jam the pedal (a tried and tested ‘70s film manoeuver) he drives towards it throwing himself from the car as the vehicles collide, the car bursts into flames and both vehicles are driven over the cliff. The truck gives a final blast of its air horn as it crashes into the canyon. Mann’s savage dance of glee and triumph as he watches the wreck is primal. This is followed by silence apart from the dripping of oil and the slowing tick of spinning wheels from the wreckage as Mann sits on the cliff edge throwing stones into the canyon as the sun sets.

I never get tired of watching this film and no matter how many times I see it I never fail to get drawn in by the tension and atmosphere. In many ways it breaks a lot of movie conventions because there’s minimal soundtrack, hardly any dialogue and only one real character in the whole film and yet despite this (and a certain amount of early ‘70s cheesiness) it works.

It’s Jaws with a truck and if you haven’t seen it you should.

In fact go and do that…now.

Originally posted 2 August 2012

Prometheus

Prometheus-Movie

I was bitterly disappointed with Prometheus and my previous enthusiastic blog about Blade Runner only served as a reminder of how great Ridley Scott can be when he’s on form. He wasn’t on form with this film. His form had left the building. His form had packed a suitcase, got on a plane and left the country.

Plot: Archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) decide to go in search of humanity’s alien ancestors after looking at some cave paintings (as you do). The Weyland Corporation fund the scientific mission that includes camp android David (Michael Fassbender), pointlessly menacing Mission director Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) and a bunch of faceless and grumbling crew members destined to become Alien-fodder. They land, they go poking about where they shouldn’t, everything goes tits-up.

In its favour the film looked great. The sweeping shots of dramatic landscapes, waterfalls and gliding spacecraft were awe-inspiring. The human-like aliens (Engineers) were well-conceived, although they did put me in mind of Duran Duran’s Wild Boys. But you know you’re in trouble when all you can find to praise about a film is the cinematography and the special effects. What atmosphere these scenes managed to create unfortunately dissipated the moment anyone spoke or appeared on screen.

The characters were stereotypes at best and one-dimensional cardboard cutouts at worst. While its not necessary to provide copious backstory there does need to be enough substance in the characters to make them believable and their behaviour and reactions credible.  A decent script might have helped with that.

The story was flimsy and predictable but it wouldn’t have mattered if it had made any sense and if the random and pointless plot twists and character inconsistencies hadn’t robbed it of any dramatic tension.

The Alien itself appeared to take at least 3 different forms, as if no one could decide which was more scary so they threw them all in. Was it a liquid? Was it an infection? Was it a big snake that ate you? Did it mutate you into an alien? Did it make you give birth to snake aliens? Did it burst out of you like the Alien from the original franchise?

Plus, I must have been missing something cos I found Fassbender’s swishing about in flip flops trying to be like Lawrence of Arabia just comedic after a while.

Also, if you’re making a prequel then surely the tech and the styling shouldn’t be more slick and sophisticated than whatever it’s preceding? I know that this is meant to be depicting a well-financed scientific mission and the ship in Alien was a commercial towing ship but still…

And what was with the lame Star Trek: TNG-style music?

And…breathe.

The point is, this film could have been amazing and it wasn’t. What it did was reinforce the utter genius of Alien. But that’s a whole other blog…

Originally posted 23 June 2012

Blade Runner

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The release of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus this week got me thinking about my favourite of all his films, Blade Runner.

Ridley Scott has made some of the most ground-breaking, genre-defining films of the last 40 years. He also made Kingdom of Heaven. But for me Blade Runner is his greatest. This won’t therefore be a review so much as a why-I-feckin-love-this-film gushfest.

For those Philistines who have never seen it and want some background. It’s Los Angeles 2019. Mankind have created artificial humanoids called Replicants to work in Off-World Colonies. After a bloody rebellion they’re declared illegal and are to be killed on sight. Blade Runner units are the specialist police forces that kill them. Deckard (Ford) is a retired Blade Runner called back to duty to retire a group of Replicants, led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), who have escaped to the Los Angeles underground (hang on, that sounds familiar…)

I don’t remember exactly when I first saw it but I was fairly young and in the midst of my monster crush on Harrison Ford. It wasn’t the sci-fi film I was expecting, it wasn’t Star Wars. It was much darker, much more violent and made a huge impression on me.

I was fascinated and unsettled in equal measure. The endless rain, the scenes shot in such gloom it’s hard to tell what’s going on, the pervasive Japanese culture, the music, the ambiguity of almost every character. It felt hostile and yet not without beauty or redemption. It felt like a plausible vision of the future.

I’ve watched it many times since and each time I love it more. It’s simply a masterpiece.

The opening scene is extraordinary. A cityscape at night is revealed, gas explosions from refinery towers, a flying craft zooms past as the enormous Tyrell Corporation building comes into view, and soaring over it all is Vangelis’ incredible score.

The story itself may be simple, predictable even, but the whole film is soaked in such style and atmosphere that it elevates it to a whole different level. And the violence, while by today’s standards is fairly tame, is shocking when it occurs.

There are so many elements of this film that I love: the deco style of Deckard’s whiskey glass, the satisfying sound of the machine Deckard uses to view a close up of a photograph, the eerie woman’s voice on the advertising billboard that hangs over JF Sebastian’s house, the sound of the Don’t Walk signs, the creepy little toys JF Sebastian makes to keep himself company, the silver origami unicorn and the line “Too bad she won’t live, but then again, who does?”

All of these things have stayed with me like a beautifully surreal and vivid dream.

But the greatest moment of the film is the final scene between Deckard and Roy Batty and Batty’s last speech. It’s given after Batty has saved Deckard and is dying and Deckard just listens. Its poetry – beautiful, moving.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain… Time to die.”

Apparently Hauer made that last line up. If it had been “tears in the rain” it wouldn’t have been as powerful. Incredible.

This film works as a sci-fi action thriller but also raises more profound questions about what it means to be human. At the risk of sounding unbelievably pretentious, it manages to be art as well as entertainment. With Blade Runner Ridley Scott set the benchmark for every science fiction film that followed. It is so much of its time and yet still feels fresh.

This film has rewarded me time and time again and I adore it. I’d never seen anything like it before and I’ve not seen its equal since.

Originally posted 30 May 2012