March’s Shame: Blade Runner by @theactualkeith

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Blade Runner creeped up on my Shame List when after a failure in February, I felt I needed some true penance. Plus, I saw a few minutes of Blade Runner on TV and wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. (The scene I caught was Harrison Ford, Deckard, scanning the picture of the room while drinking his futuristic bottle of scotch.)

Blade Runner takes place in a future which has birthed organic robots referred to as “replicants.” Replicants have been banned on Earth and are used exclusively on off-world colonies. As we enter the world of the film, a group of replicants have escaped the off-world colony and returned to Earth to hide out in Los Angeles. Semi-retired Blade Runner, Rick Deckard, agrees to take the assignment of tracking down the escaped replicants. Blade Runner is the title for the police officers who are tasked with tracking replicants.

Harrison Ford is an excellent choice for the role of burned-out Deckard. The fact that a Blade Runner can get burned-out speaks a lot about the job. (It’s interesting to imagine what Blade Runner might have been had Dustin Hoffman taken the role in the first place.)

This film is what all science fiction movies should be. An exploration of the modern world through the prism of the future. And instead of looking at topics like social class and racism, Blade Runner actually explores the very nature of humanity. I already knew the great question of the movie going in. Maybe it was because I knew it, that I had trouble seeing the signs that brought it up in the first place. The same problem happens when you know directions so well that when someone asks you can’t give them landmarks.

So is the answer to the big question affirmative? Yes. Probably. But that wasn’t really the point, was it? The answer is the same as to whether the top falls at the end of Inception. 

ImageThe importance of the film is that it makes us consider what humanity is. What makes us know that we are human? What makes us know that someone else is human? Whether we are or not, how do other treat us and do they even care?

The larger questions aside, the film is beautifully crafted. Perhaps here would be a good time to talk about the various versions of the film. The film I saw was the only one I could get my hands on — The Final Cut. I knew that there were voice overs in other versions and I can see why Scott would have removed them for The Final Cut. They weren’t needed. If I ever find the time, it might be interesting to compare the many cuts of the film and see how they impact the story and the question of humanity.

But really, I’m content to watch and rewatch The Final Cut and look for all the details Ridley Scott hid in his world for us. The level of detail is immense — to the point that there are prices on the parking meters that are still illegible even in high definition.

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Blade Runner is a great film that has so much going on within its world, I feel only slightly less shameful than at the start of the year. What will fully relieve my shame? Several rewatchings of the film and a better understanding of its parts beyond a base knowledge constructed from parodies, references, and rip-offs.

 

January’s Shot at Redemption: Caddyshack

Comedies are a strange thing. It’s hard for a comedy to be truly timeless. There are jokes that will always be funny, but as a whole, it’s hard for them to withstand the test of time. Comedy relies heavily on the time and relevancy. Not just on cultural topics, but the general barometer of comedy culture at the time. The culture of comedy twenty years ago, is different than today. Different generations have different senses/styles of humor. (I think this is why Conan went over so poorly with Leno’s audience.)

With the passage of time, something else happens with older comedies that were very successful – they become part of mainstream culture. They are referenced and respun, spoofed and parodied. Movies in general do this, but for comedies it means that their jokes or gags are revealed to those that haven’t seen the movie yet.

Caddyshack Murray

These are the contributing reasons that Caddyshack fell short on my first viewing. The main scenes that made the film famous are ones I had seen before, or felt like I had seen them in parody. The scenes with Bill Murray and the gopher, the bits of Rodney Dangerfield, and the boat sequence are all funny, but they didn’t catch me the way they probably did for people who saw the movie with no expectations or point of reference.

I’m not saying Caddyshack isn’t funny, but it’s been so cemented into the annals of comedy that it had a lot to live up to. It’s one of those movies a lot of people of a certain age reference because when it came out, all those people were of a certain age to see it. The younger you go, the less it’s referenced because less people in that generation have seen it. They are only aware of it through other references.

The cast is great and live up to their comedic legacies. Bill Murray is genius (maybe not as much as Ghostbusters, but still great), Chevy Chase has great delivery of lines you almost miss because he doesn’t act like he’s telling jokes, and Dangerfield does what he does best – gets no respect and does a solid 30 minute set spread throughout.

I saw it thinking I’d catch more references people were making. Turns out, I get them all already without seeing the movie. I had fun on my first CinemaShame penance, but I didn’t get the absolution I was hoping for. Maybe I’ll have slightly better luck in February.

Forgive me, Internet. I have Shamed. by @TheActualKeith

Watching movies has always been like a job for me. I love movies. I watch as many as I can, but somehow there have been many that still elude me. I try my best to keep up and catch up, but it’s hard when I’m the only one keeping myself accountable.

Now, thanks to the Internet (Thanks, Mr. Gore!), @campbelldropout, and @007hertzrumble I have other people that will keep me accountable for at least 12 films I really should have seen now. Although, seeing the lists of others, I don’t feel as bad. This site is like a great little support group.

“Hi, my name is Keith, and I’ve never seen…”

My list:

January: Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)* and Caddyshack (1980)

February: Sound of Music (1965)

March: Citizen Kane (1941)**

April: Braveheart (1995)

May: North By Northwest (1959)** and Vertigo (1958)**

June: The Graduate (1967)

July: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1966)**

August: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

September: Blade Runner (1982)

October: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

November: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

December: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

* I watched Glengarry Glen Ross a couple days before this idea was born. I thought about counting it for January since I had never seen it before, but that felt like cheating. That’s why I’m adding Caddyshack.

** I feel like I’ve seen these movies before, but it was so long ago, I can’t remember if I did. I couldn’t tell you anything outside of the standard synopsis, or the pop culture references. Maybe I saw them as a kid, or I only saw clips in a film class. Either way, I need to dedicate time to these.