Movie Rob’s Genre Grandeur: Strange Days (Cyberpunk)

Here is my contribution to Movie Rob’s Genre Grandeur series – the full post is also published over on his site along with other awesome bloggers’ entries. Thanks Rob! Hope to see you all in January for the Westerns genre entries. cyberpunk

For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Cyberpunk Films, here’s a review of Strange Days (1995) by Catherine of Thoughts All Sorts

Thanks again to Becky of Film Music Central for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Catherine of Thoughts All Sorts. We will be reviewing our favorite Westerns set in the “old West” – so, that excludes Contemporary Westerns i.e. No Country for Old Men, Hud, Desperado, Junior Bonner etc.

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Jan by sending them to oldwesterncat@movierob.net

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Catherine!

Let’s see what Catherine thought of this movie:

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Cyberpunk, the chosen genre for this iteration of MovieRob’s Genre Grandeur iteration, is a story that has a future setting, contains advanced technology and has a breakdown of society (as per Wikipedia). I’m very new to this genre so I may have gone with the obvious but the movie that fits these requirements is Strange Days (1995).

I’ll always remember walking out of the cinema back when it was released being totally blown away but also a bit nervous of the future. I haven’t seen this one since then (so, probably a good 20 years) and pulled it out of my collection last week. I was worried I’d dislike it but, whew, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Possibly even more so because some of the messages make a bigger impact now than when I was a teen! Besides, the Millennium has passed and technology has advanced so it is quite interesting to watch.

How does it fit in with Cyberpunk? Well, the “future setting” may not be future today but back then it was definitely so. The story plays out over the 30th and 31st December 1999, just as a Los Angeles is on the verge of collapse and disorder prepares for New Year Celebrations. Lenny (Ralph Fiennes), a former cop, deals in SQUID discs. These are recordings of real events (ranging from the romantic to the violent) that can be experienced by the wearer of a special transmitter device as if they were there. But…the plot thickens as Lenny‘s ex-girlfriend Faith‘s (Juliette Lewis) friend Iris (Brigitte Bako) fears for her life. She is later found dead with her death having been SQUID recorded by the killer. So unfolds a story of murder, addiction, back-stabbing and violence as Lenny, together with friends Mace (Angela Bassett) and Max (Tom Sizemore) work to get to the bottom of this all while being chased by dirty cops and other thugs all trying to stop the truth from coming out.

strangedaysWhile the technology may be old(ish) today and 1999/2000 has long come and gone, I still think the themes are relevant and don’t feel too outdated to watch. For a moment, I was transported back to the big Millenium New Year celebrations – while I didn’t experience the violence, the movie still manages to capture the mood so well. At least I think so – although I was on the banks of the Thames, the masses were still the same, the party spirit and anticipation probably similar world-wide. The technology seems to be almost, if not already, current and I’ve often found myself wondering when personal experiences will become traded as a form of entertainment (and how far people will go).

Some awesome music (which I rushed out to buy on CD way back then), including Juliette Lewis, Skunk Anansie, Peter Gabriel and Deep Forest amongst others, add to the gritty and dark feel. Have a look out for Hardly Wait by Juliette Lewis in one of the club scenes (which also portrays the atmosphere of the movie very well)

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Great acting from a stellar cast that also includes Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio and Glenn Plummer. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. While I don’t think it did very well at the box office, I personally enjoyed it.

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11 comments

  1. I’m not at all familiar with Cyberpunk – thanks for introducing me to a new genre. Normally I wouldn’t have given this film a second glance, but you’ve “sold” me on it. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    Like

  2. Rear Window + Do the Right Thing + cyberpunk = Strange Days.
    I read somewhere that this was supposed to be an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, I love Arnie but I just can’t imagine that.

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