Harrison Ford Can't Find a Pay Phone

Fly your car immediately to the Cinerama!

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As Scott Foundas is telling you in his review below, don?t miss the new ?final cut? of Blade Runner, which runs through Thursday, November 8 at the Cinerama. (The DVD box set arrives December 18.) The new print, which I just saw last night, is fabulous. And the effects, mise en scene, and smoky, rainy dystopia of it all are amazing--even more so when one considers that the 1982 film is entirely pre-digital, none of it created inside a computer. Director Ridley Scott and his visual effects team--notably including Douglas Trumbull, who worked on Close Encounters and 2001, and directed Silent Running--make the city of Los Angeles the most powerful character in the drama. It?s a permanently benighted, neon-lit, constantly steaming and dripping jumble of Aztec skyscrapers; people, most of them Asian, scurry like ants beneath 100-story towers that are rotting and empty. It seems most of the white, affluent, healthy population has emigrated to greener, undespoiled planets.

As Harrison Ford chases down the dying replicants (Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young, etc.), intent on killing the bio-engineered androids aware of their own mortality and implanted memories, he seems like the last man in the city--or on Earth, even--with a conscience. Los Angeles circa 2019 doesn?t seem like a place worth saving. There isn?t a tree in sight, and all the animals are apparently dead. Or manufactured. That?s why it?s worth noting how this 25th-anniversary restoration--with one crucial modification of plot, symbolized by a unicorn dream--comes at a much different environmental and technological context. We?re closer now to 2019 than we are to 1982. We?ve seen An Inconvenient Truth, which in a sense predicts the Blade Runner future.

And what a future it was. Ford has to drop coins in a video payphone that charges him $1.25 for his booty call to Young. (No inflation?) The flying cars twist and spin among the Metropolis towers; while on the ground bicycles are still pervasive. Computer screens are still green, and the replicant lie detector device Ford employs has a bellows lung that hisses on the table. Cell phones don?t exist, and the guns still shoot bullets, not laser beams. Among the brand names announced in neon, or advertised from hovering surveillance blimps, are Coca-Cola, Bell, and Atari. No sign of Microsoft or Apple. (Though two years later Scott directed the famous apple ?1984? ad, which draws directly on Blade Runner, which also influenced the look of most MTV videos for the remaining decade.)

As my former SW colleague Steve Wiecking and I were chuckling at the screening, Blade Runner now draws an overwhelmingly geeky fanboy audience (ourselves included). It?s like the old headline in The Onion: If the roof caved in at the Cinerama, we?d write, ?37 IT Administrators Feared Dead in Blade Runner Screening Disaster!? But, truly, it?s worth the risk.

Our original review from Scott Foundas:

Ridley Scott?s vanguard science-fiction epic returns to the big screen for its 25th anniversary, digitally tweaked in hundreds of ways, most of which will be noticed only by the most pious of fanboys. Mainly, the re-release is a good excuse to indulge once more in Scott?s iconic and highly influential vision of a future Los Angeles choked by rain, neon, and cheap pleasure palaces, where Harrison Ford?s bounty hunter trolls the godforsaken urban landscape for those renegade ?replicants.? Of course, there comes a steely-eyed brunette (Sean Young), who may be a replicant herself. It has always been difficult to discuss Blade Runner--one of the few genuine masterpieces of the forlorn 1980s--without focusing on its style, and yet it is a movie where style becomes content and vice versa, as the romantic fatalism of ?40s film noir freely intermingles with the visionary imagination of Philip K. Dick.

 
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