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Written by James Cameron and directed by his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, Strange Days is a cyberpunk film set just before the year 2000. Former vice-cop Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) sells 'SQUID' recordings on the underground circuit. Basically, these are full-sensory pieces of human memory on MiniDiscs that capture other people's emotional experiences, and act as a 'fix' to the people that are curious or missing something in their lives. Nero is in a state of unhappiness after breaking up with girlfriend Faith (Juliette Lewis) and repeatedly relives their happier (and most erotic) times together via the box of tapes in his apartment.
While strictly only choosing to deal in soft-core porn imagery, Nero soon finds himself in the possession of a snuff disc, which shows the murder of Jeriko One -a Hip-Hop artist that has been heralded as the next Messiah. Aided by his friend, Mace (Angela Bassett), Lenny attempts to stop the killer's tracks before all hell breaks lose on the streets of Los Angeles prior to the new millennium.
While Strange Days is incredibly cheesy and over-the-top in places, this sort of adds to its charm. Rather than expecting the viewer to cower in fear at the prospect of the world coming to an end in Y2K (well we couldn't now anyway, seen as though the millennium has passed) the film relies on action and wit to drive the plot forward. The issue of virtual reality being so real that you don't know what reality is anymore is such an intriguing concept, but rather than attempting to lecture us on the dangers of a technological over reliance, Strange Days does what it can to keep the audience entertained.
Director Kathryn Bigelow and the special-effects artists create a Blade Runner-type city that makes us feel like we really want to be part of the action. And Cinematographer Matthew F. Leonetti's first-person photography of the 'SQUID' recordings is, arguably, the strongest point of the film.
The characters are great: Ralph Fiennes is the insecure protagonist, Angela Bassett the kick-ass sidekick, Michael Wincott the psychopathic music producer, Juliette Lewis as very hot rock chick, and Tom Sizemore as Lenny's best friend.
A couple of things about Strange Days irritated me: Nero's unrestrained obsession with his former girlfriend, and the overlong running time. At two hours 25 mins, the latter may not sound particularly exhausting, but the film could've been wrapped up well before it got to that point, and this was mainly due to Nero's over-emphasized obsession. I mean, we get that Nero misses his ex, but there's no need to go on about it so much.
It's an annoying feature of the film, but one that fortunately doesn't suppress the intriguing concept of seeing the world through other people's eyes. As with most films like this, it isn't about the logic of what could happen if technology gets into the wrong hands; rather, it is about humanity's limitless imagination taking us places that isn't always physically possible.
(C) Andy Carrington, 2009.
[as part of andycarrington.co.uk]
Is the future really going to be this nasty? Aside from Star Trek, anything set even slightly in the future seems to involve humanity shooting/biting/gouging lumps off each other. About the only incentive to live past tomorrow is that you'll get a post apocalyptic haircut and a cool gun/sword/boomerang.
Strange Days, indeed.
Kathryn Bigelow sets her particular dystopian tale around the end-of-the-world-that-wasn't, new year's eve 2000. It's a world not far from our own, except that the government has developed a device to store and reply experiences as if you were there, and called it a SQUID... The black market, in the form of Lenny (Ralph Fiennes,) has picked up on this and now sells porno and high-octane thrills to bored executives. Lenny's biggest problem is that his girlfriend just left him, and keeps tormenting him by singing PJ Harvey songs at the local club. Then people start to get killed, and it all starts to go horribly wrong for Lenny...
Bigelow manages to avoid the usual pitfall of this kind of work, in that the future she presents has just enough weirdness to make the movie feel futuristic, but enough realism to keep it grounded. Her first person perspective camerawork was apparently specially developed, and it really does look as if we're living through someone else's body in those sequences. Look out for the first murder, delivered to an oblivious Lenny, and feel his revulsion as he realises what's going on...
This is an excellent movie, in plot (screenplay by a certain James Cameron,) and characters. Indeed, the whole future-noir feel owes a lot to Blade Runner, especially as Lenny's 'cop with a conscience and a hangover' bit has been redone countless times since Ridley Scott's magnum opus.
The support cast includes Tom Sizemore (nice hair,) and the increasingly popular Vincent D'Onofrio; (he was the psycho in The Cell, and the star turn of the first half of Full Metal Jacket,) and the excellent Angela Bassett (Tina Turner to most of you,) all of whom whirl around Fiennes to great effect in an escalating maelstrom of paranoia and murder. It is they, of course, who add depth to the politcial and social dimensions of the story.
All in all, a nice twist on the old redemption tale, as the new millenium washes away the sins of the old. Plus, those PJ Harvey numbers really rock.
Strange days is a spooky crime sci-fi,it tells the story of a man who trades memorys through a device which makes you belive you are the one reliving the memory,things start to go wrong when a friend of his gets into trouble and is murdered and he recives a memory of the killing taking place.
Its a very dark film and it plays alot on the relationship between Ralphie fiennes and his ex girlfriend Juliette lewis,as he desperatley trys to save her from her new boyfriends wrath the whole film is very edgy and although now its quite old it really keeps you hooked on whats going on.The film takes its time to reach its conclusion and at times has lots of different plot lines all going on at once,but bear with it,its the sort of movie you can watch repeatedly and still find something new,juat one warning though the rape scene is quite nasty so you might feel the need to fast forward.
Everyonce in a while you stumble across a film that you think is a solid, highly entertaining piece of cinema that for some reason has been all but ignored by most of society. Strange Days is one of those films. Strange Days takes place on the eve of the millenium. So, when it was released it was portraying the future but only four years in the future. The streets of Los Angles are a mess, amongst the celebrations there is also riots and general chaos. Amongst all of this chaos lives Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes). Lenny was once a police officer but after being thrown off the force he has become a dealer. A drug dealer? Well, not exactly. As he says, what he sells is much stronger than any drug. He sells memories. The basic concept of selling memories is central to the film. Lenny supplies people with a device that they weat on their head that plugs in to their cerebral cortex and records what they are seeing through their own eyes. These experiences are recorded onto disks that then can be played back into some one elses brain through using the same device. This process is called jacking in. For the person jacking in they feel as if they are experiencing these events as if they are the person involved. It appears as if they are seeing it with their own eyes and along with the vision comes the feelings involved, In a nutshell you can , for a few moments, actually see and feel the world through another person's eyes. These experiences are called clips. So, Lenny is a clips junkie turned dealer. He sells everything from sexual encounters to tapes of someone robbing a resurant. Whatever someone wants to experience he supplies. When he is revewing one of the clips given to him by a supplier he is shocked that it is of a prostitue being murdered. He is seeing this through the eyes of the murderer. To top it off he knows the prostitue. Lenny is a junky but he is still a good guy at heart and he needs to find o
ut more about the murder and make sure it doesn't happen again. The more he looks the deeper and deeper he gets until he uncovers a major police consipracy. What follows is a face paced, science fictionish thriller intervoen with the stories of Lenny's longing for his ex-girlfriend Faith (Juliette Lewis) and his relationship with his best friend Mace (Angela Bassett). Finennes acting is spot on. It is often difficult to remember that this sleazy American street life really speaks with an extremly posh English accent. He is very belivable as his character. He plays Lenny as the kind of guy you like despite all of his faults. The play between Finennes and Bassett is one of the real joys of this film. Bassett playing a strong, grounded, black woman who happens to be a widdowed mother that has strong feelings for a white man, breaks so many on screen stereotypes that she had a lot to live up to with this character. She more than does that with a very solid performance. The behind the scenes aspect of the film has a lot of pedigree as well. The script was written and produced by produced by James Cameron. The same person behind Terminator and Titanic (for his sins). The director is Kathryn Bigelow, who did films such as Point Break. Bigelow manages to create a distinct feel for this film. It feels gritty and underground, just like the characters in her film. The final scene of the film shows her true directing talent. It involves thousands of people in an outdoor party atmosphere. She, like her film, is underrated. At the time that Strange Days was released, I was working in a Cinema in the United States and the trailer for it ran in our lobby about twenty times a day. I think that part of the reason that few people saw the film is that the trailer made it out to be something it wasn't. Watch the trailer on the DVD to see what I mean. It makes the film out to be a shoot em up action film akin to Rambo or som
ething. While it is true that there is a lot of violence in this film it is more of a science fiction thriller and that was all but totally ignored in the promotion of the film. So, if you enjoy face paced thrills with a bit of science fiction fantasy thrown in than you should give Strange Days ago.
"Strange Days" is one film I like better every time I see (I own it on DVD), which is rare for me. This is one of the edgiest and most violent movies of the decade, so if you don't go in for that type of movie don't waste your time -- but the violence is only rarely exploitative (how many times can the Lenny Nero character get beat up?), and the film manages a superb level of tension throughout, and will keep most people guessing right until the end. The movie is an absolute feast for the eyes, ears, mind and senses, the "Blade Runner" of the 1990's. Rolling Stone magazine called it "a dazzling visionary triumph," and I am inclined to agree (I'm not afraid to give praise where it's due). The last 15 minutes of the film manage to create an atmosphere rarely seen in the movies -- you'll have to see it to understand, because I can't explain it to you in a short review -- but if a lot of tension and violence (including a particularly grotesque rape/murder scene) won't turn you off to a movie, this is one I highly recommend. I believe I have reviewed this film before, and I'm now upgrading my review to 10/10 -- taken as a whole, this movie just does not take any wrong steps. Production values are among the highest I've seen in a film, and it's obvious that a lot of thought went into every second of the script. Here's a film you not only don't have to turn your brain off to enjoy, but will enjoy more with your brain turned ON. Highly recommended.
I'm always amazed how little hype and how little media coverage this film recieved. No-one I've talked to has ever seen it... but they really, really should. If by some fluke you can find a video shop that stocks it, it's worth every penny. Set in the run-up to New Year's Eve 2000, Strange Days is a fairly unique film with a prophetic look at the future of entertainment. The "Squid", so called because it looks like... well, a squid, is a little bundle of techy gubbins that sits on your head and records your perceptions of the world around you, which can then be replayed to other people showing them exactly what you saw, what you felt etc. Although it sounds like a cool form of entertainment, it is quickly banned as people begin to misuse it... recording what it feels like to have sex, or to kill, or even to die. The film's main character is a blackmarket dealer in Squid recordings, and the film shows what happens to him after he recieves a recording of a police execution. The basic plot of it is, I will admit, fairly formulaic- hero gets object, baddies want it back- but the ideas of the film are so plausable and so well presented that even those who are critical of sci-fi in general will accept the Squid premise unquestioningly. While some elements of the plot are run-of-the-mill stuff, the majority of it is refreshingly original and you'll come out of the film feeling happy in the knowledge that you're one of the privilaged few to have seen it. It's great- what are you waiting for?
Strange Days is one of the most original movies ever, and any argument that women cannot direct like men will go out of the window when you learn that Kathryn Bigelow directed it. Ralph Fiennes stars as Lenny, who in the future(Set before the Millennium!) is a dealer in real virtual reality experiences. When he accidentally comes across a tape which records a murder, he becomes involved in intrigue and suspense. Tom Sizemore, Juliette Lewis and Angela Bassett also star, and the authentic nightmare neo-Blade Runner atmosphere and the great directing ensure that Strange Days is the best dated futuristic film ever. Definitely worth a look. Unfortunately the R1 DVD isn't anamorphic widescreen.
Strange Days. A story by James Cameron. Strange Days takes place over the three days leading up to the Millennium. The story by James Cameron revolves around Lenny, a discredited police officer played by Ralph Fiennes, who peddles a new form of pornography. "Sqibs" is a boot legged FBI technology originally developed to replace the more traditional wire used in surveillance until someone realizes it can be used to record and play back peoples experiences and emotions. From this discovery an industry has grown up in which Lenny excels. Kathryn Bigelow's direction produces a story set during the three days leading up to the Millennium. There is much intrigue, murder and strangely enough love. Lenny tries to reach his estranged girl friend Faith, whilst Macey (played by Angela Bassett) the security driver looks on acting as his conscience and protector in almost equal measure. The film I think is at its best when considering Lenny and Macey's relationship, and their parts are well drawn with Fiennes and Bassett working well together to produce a believable partnership which is more three dimensional than some science fiction characters. It is difficult to comment too much on the plot without giving away its surprises. I think for a piece of science fiction set in the near future (which is actually in the past now!). You would have to go far to beat this film.
In a seedy world of sex, violence, drugs, corruption and errrm...VIRTUAL REALITY, Ralph Fiennes is the ex-cop who sells this illegal form of virtual reality. He deals in "clips", digital recordings of real-life experiences packaged for a vicarious thrill. Amongst all of this Fiennes is also searching for his ex-girlfriend who's run off with a vicious gangster. Oh and by the way it is December 31st, 1999, the "Eve of the Millenium". I don't really want to say much more, as if you watch it not knowing what to expect you will be in for a refreshing change. It also stars Angela Bassett (Tina:What's Love Gotta Do With It), Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear) and Tom Sizemore (Heat).
James Cameron wrote the script for Strange Days, a not-so-futuristic science fiction tale about a former vice cop (Ralph Fiennes) who now sells addictive, virtual reality clips that allow a user to experience the recorded sensations of others. He becomes embroiled in a murder conspiracy, tries to save a former girlfriend (Juliette Lewis), and has a romance with his chauffeur and bodyguard (Angela Bassett). Cameron's ex-wife, director Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break), brought the whole, busy, violent enterprise to the screen, and while the film's socially relevant heart is in the right place, its excesses wear one out. Some of the casting doesn't quite click either: Fiennes isn't really right for his nervous role, and Lewis is annoying (and unbelievable as the hero's much-yearned-for former squeeze). Expect some ugly if daring moments with the virtual reality stuff. --Tom Keogh, Amazon.com