We hope to see the new Blade Runner film later this week so yesterday evening we watched the original 1982 movie. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the original film is that the setting is 2019. The Sci Fi imagination clearly saw a lot more technical progress being achieved in respect of flying cars, while portraying Los Angeles as decayed and dystopian. And it never seems to stop raining.
Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, a retired blade runner, a specialist police officer who hunts down replicants. These are bioengineered androids that are confined to off-world colonies, but are unwelcome back on Earth, thus the need for blade runners. Deckard is forced out of retirement to track down four such replicants, these being highly advanced and difficult to distinguish from humans. There is a test that will reveal a replicant, but these advanced models have embedded memories and can be quite difficult to identify. An attempt to do so with one of this group, Leon, ends rather badly for another blade runner.
Personal Shopper competed for the Palme d"Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. We were in Nice at the time and saw a couple of 'Cannes' films at local cinemas, but not this one. It is now on Amazon for rental at £1.99, so we viewed it on Thursday evening. All I knew about it was that Kristen Stewart plays a personal shopper, and that there was a psychological mystery aspect.
Set mainly in Paris, Maureen Cartwright, the shopper, is first introduced to us as she arrives at an old house, accompanied by another woman. She is left there alone, and the place is quite spooky. It transpires it is the house where Maureen's brother lived, the woman who accompanied her there being her brother's girlfriend, Lara. Her brother, who was her twin, is dead. The reason for being in the house is that potential buyers want go be sure that it is free from evil spirits, but Maureen also would like to try to make contact with her brother. Both he and Maureen believed themselves to be mediums, each having promised to try to make contact in the event of the other's death. It appears that her brother, Lewis, was more convinced of the medium thing than Maureen, who seems at times to be somewhat ambivalent. She does encounter a spirit, but it isn't Lewis, and once the spirit has left her job there is done.
Amazon was offering a £1.99 rental on this film, which I missed at the cinema. In fact with a discount coupon it only cost me £0.99. So was it worth the money?
Originally a Japanese manga series the film is certainly futuristic with gigantic holographic images permeating the city. Cybernetic technology is mainstream and it seems that it is difficult to distinguish between completely 'real' people and those who have been enhanced to a greater or lesser degree using cybernetics. Scarlett Johansson plays Mira Killian, the ultimate cybernetic hybrid in that the only organic part of her is her brain. She is led to believe that she was rebuilt after her parents were killed in a cyberterrorist attack. Juliette Binoche plays Dr Ouelet, the designer who is responsible for Mira's development, and who is very protective of her. Dr Ouelet's boss, Hanka CEO Cutter, is however far less emotionally attached and thinks only of the business benefits that will flow from the project.
As a major in the anti-terrorist bureau Section 9, Mira is know simply as the Major. She receives orders from Chief Daisuke Aramaki, who speaks in Japanese (I assume) throughout, while Mira and everybody else reply in English. The anti-terrorist team intervene in an attack on a Hanka business conference where Mira destroys a mechanical geisha, after which she learns that the geisha had been hacked by an unknown entity, known as Kuze. In an attempt to track down this entity she breaks the rules and 'dives' into the geisha's AI. She has to be disconnected when the entity attempts a counter-hack, but she learns enough to set her on its trail.