Distracting from the tragedies of 2016, I've decided to do a review of a movie about the death of a celebrity, police brutality, racial tension, and the use of social media to record crimes. Yes, I refer to Strange Days by Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron. It's a movie with such strangeness as Ralph Fiennes as an American drug dealer and a choice between Angela Bassett vs. Juliette Lewis being difficult.
Oh, it's also about technology exists that can be used to record and share memories. It is one of the quintessential cyberpunk movies and is notable for taking place in the far-off future of 1999. Note: The movie was filmed in 1995 so this was always meant to be something of a joke timeline wise. It was inspired by the Rodney King Riots, though, and it's vision of Los Angeles isn't too far off. Well, except for the inexplicable 70s fashion everyone is wearing.
|The first rule of being a drug dealer: Don't sample your own product.|
It's a bit like Being John Malkovich, except you're more likely to do sex with two women or a heist. I'll be honest, I'd do it along with every other video gamer on the planet. Interestingly, similar technology appeared in both Neuromancer as well as Cyberpunk 2020. Indeed, it will be the focus of the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 game.
|Faith is a mid-list rocker who may never be any higher--so good casting.|
Lenny's life takes a change for the worst when a prostitute friend of his is murdered and he ends up with mental footage of the act. It gets worse as he also finds himself involved in a conspiracy to cover up the death of a popular Black rapper. This may, accent on may, be related to a threat to Faith's life but could well just be the desperation of a man who wants to get back with his ex. The ambiguity of whether or not there is a conspiracy is one of the elements which makes the movie work as it's clear Lenny is not entirely right in the head so he may be seeing things which aren't there. My theory is either SQUIDs have an affect on the brain similar to drugs or he's not rich because he's using hardcore drugs in addition to his own product.
|One of these cops eventually becomes Daredevil's Kingpin.|
The casting is somewhat questionable in this movie as I mentioned. Juliette Lewis is extremely toned and loves to show that quality off in this film's myriad nude scenes but it's difficult to buy her as Lenny's ephemeral Venus. Indeed, aside from his idealized memories, the character of Faith comes off as shrill and obnoxious. Ralph Fiennes does an excellent job of selling himself as a drug dealer who hasn't showered in a few days but still remains inexplicably charming.
|Faith's new boyfriend is a bad person. You may be surprised to discover this.|
I think what I like about the movie most is it's thoroughly unromantic in an idealized way. The movie embraces the idea conspiracies are bullshit, your one true love very possibly wasn't, you should move on when dumped, and fantastic new technology will probably be used to either kill people or have sex. The movie starts with the idea of a hyper-competent serial killer ala Hannibal and a group which may be untouchable that has influence over the city.
|It's a crime this movie didn't have Prince's "Party like it's 1999."|
By the end, the killer is revealed as a degenerate pathetic waste of flesh while the "group" is a bunch of idiots digging their own grave. Did our heroes make the world a better place by their actions? Probably not. The world will go on with none of the major issues behind the unrest around them resolved but they're alive and their enemies are (mostly) dead--which is enough, perhaps.