Monthly Archives: October 2017

What people get wrong about Blade Runner (or Blade Runner as film noir)

The original Blade Runner is a film about the past, present and future. The future part is obvious: replicants, flying cars, off world colonies. It also remains fixed in the present of its time, the early 1980s, with the film’s characters wearing neck ties, reading newspapers, smoking indoors, talking on payphones, watching small screen TVs, and dressing like punk rockers. The past part may not seem so obvious, but it is essential to understanding the film.

The past of Blade Runner is film noir of the mid 20th century. Not just in the way it looks, though the look of film noir is spread throughout the film: the clothes Rachel wears, the office that Bryant works in,  the style of clothes and music in Taffy Lewis’s club, the constant smoking, the hats of Gaff, the trench coat of Batty. It is noir in its morality and outlook. The world is a bleak place, the characters are not who they appear to be, and the morality of everyone is compromised and complicated.

I thought about this again when I read this piece,  There’s Something About “Blade Runner” | Balder and Dash | Roger Ebert, as well as  reading comments about Blade Runner 2049. In this piece, the author tries to establish who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Assigning who the good and bad people are in film noir is pointless. No one is entirely good, and more often than not, everyone is some degree of bad. Film noir characters have to make difficult choices in a bleak environment where there may be no happy outcomes.

Likewise, some people are critical of Blade Runner 2049 and the role of women in this future. The assumption should be that in the future there should be progress and women should have better roles. But the future of Blade Runner is not one of progress. It is a future where despite technological advances there is no progress. It may not be the future you want, any more than the worlds of film noir are not ones you want to inhabit. It is the future the filmmakers want to explore, and get you to think about.

More on film noir here and here. A great example of what Blade Runner might look like cast as just a film noir film is in that clip above. While Blade Runner is gorgeous in colour, I’d love to see a black and white (sepia and white?) version of it too.

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Three smart analyses (and one not so smart) on Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049
Here are three smart pieces on the latest Blade Runner film. I’ll touch on the last one separately.

  1. Life After Empathy: On Philip K. Dick and ‘Blade Runner 2049’ – Paris Review
  2. Inside the kaleidoscope mirrored heart of Blade Runner 2049.
  3. Blade Runner 2049: Identity, humanity and discrimination | Pursuit by The University of Melbourne
  4. Review: Blade Runner 2049 can’t replicate its predecessor’s mastery – Vox

Each of the first three pieces delve into themes and ideas and layers of the film, and among other things, what I took away from them is that the sequel to Blade Runner is going to be studied and discussed for as long as the original film was. I highly recommend these pieces.

The not so smart analysis comes from Vox. It makes the same mistake that others make, namely, in criticizing the film for being too slow and unlike the original Blade Runner. That is ironic, because Blade Runner 2049 seems to be intent on not making the same mistake as the original Blade Runner of shortening and dumbing down the film to make it more appealing. It took three tries until Ridley Scott could release the Blade Runner he wanted (the Final Cut version).

If you have seen the film, read the first three pieces (or any one of them) and then read the Vox piece, and you can see how they miss out on the richness and depth of the film.

I have seen Blade Runner 2049 twice now, and I understand the difficulty people might have with it. It is long. It doesn’t strive to entertain. It swerves away from the film noir genre that Scott stuck to. For all of his artistry, Scott is a traditional storyteller and filmmaker. He makes Hollywood films. Villeneuve strikes me more of an art film maker. He still works within the Hollywood system, but he is striving for something more. That something more is captured here in Blade Runner 2049.

The arc that New York City has swung, from the 1980s to the present

NYC
Two stories worth reading about  New York City, one set in 1981, one set in 2017. Read Jonathan Franzen’s recollection of being Hard Up in New York  (The New Yorker) first, then read about the current state of the city in Why the Upper East Side Is Now Cooler Than Brooklyn. What struck me was not that New York has become wealthier and gentrified, but that it has gone from being a place that was unlivable in one sense to being unlivable in a very different sense. Once you avoided parts of New York because of the danger: now you avoid parts because they are too expensive.

Of course New York is a massive city, and there are people that live in parts of it that can be still considered dangerous while there are other parts that could still be considered affordable. But NYC has changed dramatically since the 80s, and these articles — especially the one by Franzen — highlight this well. It’s hard to imagine Manhattan ever declining to the state it was in the 1970s and 80s, but in the 80s it would be hard to imagine it being as gentrified as it is now.

P.S. If 70s and 80s New York is your thing, I also recommend this.

On finding comfort in times of discomfort

There are times of discomfort when you expect that you should experience constant distress and misery. In such times you will find there will arise moments where you can actually find ease and comfort in spite of your situation. In such difficult times you will find places where you gain rest and solace and a break from the things that assail you. They may seem illusory but they are not. They may not last long but they are not false.

In times of discomfort, savour such moments of comfort. Use them to gain perspective. Use them to gain some rest. Use them to relax and to recover.

Such times will not last, but they last long enough. Take time to appreciate what you have in such moments. Such moments will carry you through the darkness.

How to arrange supermarket flowers and other flower arranging tips

Flowers
If you are fortunate, you have access to a great florist and they can arrange your favorite flowers for you. If you don’t have that, if the best you have is flowers from the supermarket or the corner store, you can still do great things, as these three articles show:

  1. How to Make a Stunning Bouquet with Supermarket Flowers | Bon Appetit
  2. Three Stylish Takes on DIY Flower Arrangements – Bon Appétit | Bon Appetit
  3. Three Great Tips for Making Better Flower Arrangements | Healthyish | Bon Appetit

My advice: pick one or two of  these rules or examples and then get some flowers based on them. If in doubt, start small and keep it simple.  As you can see from the photo, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a big bouquet stuffed in a large vase: a simple collection of one type of flower in a simple bottle still looks wonderful. If you get a bunch of 4 or 5 different flowers from the supermarket, break them up into groups of 1, 2 or 3.  Try different things. Flower arranging is an art in more ways than one.

Also, when cutting your flowers, take your time and cut away a bit at a time until you get the height you want. You can always cut further, but obviously you cannot lengthen them!

Flowers bring automatic beauty into your life. Go get some.

P.S. If you have to get vases and you don’t want to spend alot, consider the local dollar store. Most will have a collection of simple glass cylinders of all heights. Get a small, medium, and large size cylinder and you will be all set for whatever flowers suit your mood that day, be they a small bunch of daisies or a big batch of sunflowers.

Random links from BlogTo

Old computers

One of my favorite sites is BlogTo. For some reason, I thought all of these links were interesting and worthy of keeping in my Pocket list of links I keep.

BlogTo.com has lots of great info for those living in and interested in visiting Toronto, even if you think the ones I chose are bonkers. If you didn’t already know about it, now you do. Go visit.

P.S. That old tech photo is weird. And the straps on the front of the tape drives go around the tape when you remove it. Don’t ask me how I know 🙂

How to get started making low cost films using your smart phone

Sure, to make a great film, great equipment helps. But as these links (and that photo of Zach Snyder shows), you can also make a good film using the latest smart phone technology. And not just Snyder: Gondry does it too. All the links below can help you get started making films using the technology in your pocket. Your films may not be as good as those, but the sooner you start making films with what you have on hand, the better your later films will be.