Thursday, 5 October 2017

October 5 2017
Blade Runner 2049
Final Portrait
Stay tunes for Festivals galore!

After decades waiting, we finally have a sequel to Blade Runner, my favourite sci-fi film ever. In honour of that, I write a review that is much longer than my usual five-minute one! Top Aussie actor Geoffrey Rush is back in a portrait of the artist Giacometti, and I foreshadow a truckload of film festivals coming up. 

Blade Runner 2049
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Length: 163 minutes
© Sony - what's real and what isn't? What does it mean to
be human? Is this a vision of our future?
All questions raised in this amazing film.
At last, here's the movie I've been waiting 35 years for, the sequel to Blade Runner.  How to begin to give a sense of any film so awe-inspiring and complex in its breadth of concepts? I'll try: in this dystopian future a new model replicant (a bio-engineered human) has been created. K (Ryan Gosling) is one of them. He works for the LAPD and is charged with tracking down older models (those rogue Nexus 8s who rebelled in the first film) and "retiring" them, future speak for killing. While on the job, he discovers a box of old replicant bones from 30 years earlier, the investigation of which unearths a conspiracy so mind-shattering that it could threaten the entire fabric of society. To reveal more of the plot would be churlish, as the inspired weaving of the ideas of the original film and this sequel presents constant surprises and challenges, and the less you know in advance the better. 
As expected, the cinematography from master Roger Deakins is sublime, ranging from visions of the depressing rain-soaked metropolis of LA, with its overarching tawdry neon signs, to nuclear wastelands in Nevada and towering piles of mechanical detritus creating worlds of dread almost unimaginable. Then there's the technical mastery of of bringing to screen things a human mind can barely conceive, such as the morphing of bodies, as K's holographic girlfriend employs a real woman to be her body surrogate. Throughout the film there are echoes of the original in style and reference, and yet this sequel takes everything a step further, expanding upon the earlier ideas, especially the central one of what it means to be human, and the nature of our memories. 
Casting is near-flawless - Gosling is the perfect lead, reminiscent of Ford in ways, yet with more "heart". The memorable performances are endless - Robin Wright as the LAPD chief, Ana de Arnas a Joi, K's "girlfriend", a hologram that is more compassionate and human than many real people. Jared Leto is freaky as the ruthless blind Wallace whose corporation has taken over where Tyrell left off, while Sylvia Hoeks is a cold relentless force as Luv, the henchman of that corporation, determined to destroy all evidence of past secrets. And of course Harrison Ford, back as Deckard, is better than ever, (when he finally turns up 2 hours into the film's long runtime). And while the film takes its time in establishing all its elements, it also paces the action superbly, meaning I am never bored.
This vision of a dystopian future is scarily closer to real life than we may wish to imagine, and I find myself leaving the cinema with the indelible visuals swirling through my brain along with thoughts of the endless catastrophes that humans create in the name of progress. Best of all, this human has not been disappointed, and I relish seeing this film as often as I've seen the original, to keep mulling over the ideas and wallowing in another marvel of human creation - a great film!
4.5 wholeheartedly recommended!

Final Portrait
Director: Stanley Tucci
Length: 90 min
© Transmission - Geoffrey Rush again shows his acting
genius in this portraying of artist Giacometti
Renowned artist Albert Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) is living in Paris in 1964, when he runs into his old friend, writer James Lord (Armie Hammer) and asks him to sit for a portrait. What is supposed to take two days, runs into weeks, as the restless artist continually nears completion, then starts again. During the frustrating process, the two men develop an odd friendship. If you are a fan of the distinctive spindly works of Giacometti, you will no doubt be fascinated to see this small window into his working style, and this period in his Bohemian life. The film creates an alarming vision of the squalor and chaos in which the artist dwells, and depicts his penchant for prostitutes, hard drinking and hard swearing. Although I find the film a little slow for my taste, I am nevertheless in awe of the performance from one of today's best actors, Rush, who simply inhabits the character in a manner that leaps off the screen. It's worth seeing for this alone. 
3 - recommended!

Festival heaven - coming up
Over the next couple of weeks I'll be tempting you to participate in some of the many Festivals coming to our cinemas. Stay tuned for info, and reviews on films from:
Greek Film Festival: 11-22 October
Classic French Film Festival:12-15 October
Jewish International Film Festival: Oct 25- Nov 22
British Film Festival: October 26 - Nov 15
German Cinema Melbourne: 17 - 25 Nov
(Or you can do your own research in advance, to get a jump on the ticket buying!)

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