*Blade Runner 2049* (some Straussian spoilers)

by on October 14, 2017 at 10:44 pm in Film, Religion, Uncategorized | Permalink

I hardly expected the movie to be so drenched in Tarkovsky (“The Zone” and Solaris, maybe a bit of The Sacrifice), and the now-famed sex scene draws from Bergman’s Persona.  Overall, the colors and palette were stunning, and the use of sound was as impressive as in any movie, do see this one in IMAX.  It hardly makes any concessions to the Hollywood vices of this millennium and indeed much of the Tysons Corner audience seemed to be baffled.

Think of the main plot line as showing a world where the Christ miracle is inverted and what that would have to mean for everything else.  Much of the plot is sprawling, some of the references are too heavy-handed or scattered (Moses and the Dalai Lama and Kafka and Star Wars 1-2 are thrown in for good measure, and few will grok the Galatians reference), and the whole thing could have been fifteen minutes shorter.  Still, this is a worthy sequel to one of the best movies of the 1980s or is that the 1990s?  Carla Juri steals the show, and furthermore it resolves the main plot puzzle of the original Blade Runner rather economically.

Also on the plus side, Adam Driver does not appear in this movie.

1 Enrique October 14, 2017 at 10:55 pm

strangely enough, why has no one explored bladerunner from a monopoly perspective? See https://priorprobability.com/2016/06/23/blade-runner-forever/ and https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1991411

2 Enrique October 17, 2017 at 10:41 pm

Update: Here is my libertarian-inspired review of this beautiful film: https://priorprobability.com/2017/10/18/review-of-blade-runner-2049/

3 Jmcsf October 14, 2017 at 10:59 pm

The whole thing could have been 50 minutes shorter. Had I known it was almost 3 hours I would have not ordered a large soda and have had to crawl over half a row to run to the bathroom.

Sure this is a love letter to the original, but I yhink the director/studio believe they have a better film than they actually produced.

4 chuck martel October 15, 2017 at 12:49 pm

You probably haven’t read “Great Expectations”, watched a baseball game or seen many Bollywood movies. There doesn’t seem to be a scientific survey on the subject but Indian movies are, on average, substantially longer than the US films made for the short modern American attention span.

5 Impolitic October 15, 2017 at 11:57 pm

“The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.”

– Alfred Hitchcock, who knew a thing or two about movies.

6 Sahil October 16, 2017 at 1:31 am

A big difference is that Bollywood movies have intermissions because the movie makers know the “endurance of the human bladder”. Probably also to increase concession sales.

As an Indian, I was still quite taken aback by the length of Blade Runner 2049, although I loved the movie. We had an intermission for this film which, while giving a breather and a bladder break, ruined the pacing because this film wasn’t made with an intermission in mind.

7 Oleg October 16, 2017 at 9:55 am

Seems to me that, if 2001: A Space Odyssey has an intermission (and it does) then 2049 REALLY needs an intermission. It’s 2.4% “more” movie, after all.

8 Jacques René Giguère October 16, 2017 at 10:04 am

As for intermissions: when “2001” came out in 1968, there were still double bills. Intermissions were necessary and people were accustomed to it. So Kubrick integrated intermission in his movie. We don’t anymore,even though we need it…

9 Massimo October 14, 2017 at 11:06 pm

What was the main plot puzzle of the original?

By the way, who did see another other movie of Rutger Hauer, The hitcher? What do you think about it?

10 Brian October 14, 2017 at 11:16 pm

I assume TC is talking about that which is hinted at more aggressively in the later releases. Google differences in the director’s/final cut if you’re still confused. I’m not so certain that it is resolved in this one, so I am a bit confused myself.

11 Yancey Ward October 15, 2017 at 2:05 am

I have read that the later versions suggest that Harrison Ford’s character was a synthetic. However, I have only seen the original version of the film.

12 Massimo October 15, 2017 at 2:50 am

Noooohhhhh, Harrison Ford another replicant…. I did not guess this one. Sounds like “I see dead people”….

13 Jeff R October 15, 2017 at 9:43 am

That seems like stretch. Every encounter he had with the actual synthetics, they beat the Christ out of him.

14 WB October 15, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Ridley Scott has said that Deckard is a replicant, while Harrison Ford has claimed that Deckard is human. Fans of the original movie have fought over this question for years. The fight intensified after the release of the director’s cut, because it provided a stronger suggestion of Deckard android origin.

Blade Runner 2049 does NOT resolve this debate. The director, Denis Villeneuve, has said that the sequel leaves that question unanswered.

15 Jeff R October 15, 2017 at 2:49 pm

I don’t like it. Doesn’t seem to fit well with the rest of the movie. Cram it, Ridley.

16 Steve Sailer October 16, 2017 at 4:10 am

What’s the point of the big shout out in 2049 to Nabokov’s Pale Fire? That Ryan Gosling’s character isn’t who he wishes he was? Or just that the character has good taste? (Pale Fire is extraordinarily entertaining, much more entertaining than 2049.)

17 Tyrell October 16, 2017 at 3:44 pm

consistent with the design intent of the Deckard replicant. He was intentionally created to be unaware of his own nature. He had to have physical performance of a normal human.

18 Jeff H. October 14, 2017 at 11:11 pm

If you want to see it as the cinematographer intended, don’t see it in imax. Wasn’t originated in that aspect. See it in widescreen 2D in the best theater (with the best sound) you can.

https://www.rogerdeakins.com/film-talk/blade-runner-2049-2d-or-3d/

19 malcolm October 14, 2017 at 11:34 pm

The sex scene seems to owe something to Spike Jonze’s Her.

20 efim polenov October 14, 2017 at 11:47 pm

Galatians is good, but it is subject to misuse by those who are not very attentive: factory farming of intelligent and friendly hogs (even Wodehouse and E.B. White ate bacon -sad!) and coastal towns built on lobster-trapping (average age of the lobster – from 5 to 100 – think about that), and trapping of innocent small mammals, left to die alone in pain, and hunting as the basis for wide-spread frontier (barely acceptable) and settled land (unacceptable) economies, and lack of humility as to one’s own theology (here is one big connection to the stupid questions about the poem beloved by the selfish, stupidly eloquent and unloving Kinbote, whose only very apparent virtue, up until the end, was painting the past in better colors than it deserved – the only type of kindness he understood at the time – think about “Out of the Past” and then either of the “Blade Runners” to see what I mean – the foolish, ” not very nice ” Kinbote could not in a million years have understood “Out of the Past”). Philippians – the letter from Paul to the church at Phillipi, where Paul had no criticisms to make (and hence no rhetoric for the resentful and the cruel to exploit) is better in the sense that is it less easy to misuse. Galatians if of course, good, but, like I said, more subject to misuse. If you read much Philip Dick, you notice that the Galatians and the “genitum non factum” themes show up a lot, even in his almost unreadable early pulp novels; they are easy things to talk about without sacrificing the various forms of gluttony that drug-addicts, even the really well educated ones, do not want to sacrifice. Again, Philippians has more worthwhile answers for the Philip Dicks of the world – speaking to them where they are – than the wonderful letter to the Galatians. Just saying, feel free to disagree. Personally, I like them (the letters to the Galatians and Philippians) equally but can’t imagine being a drug addict; if I could I too would probably lean more to Galatians. Gene Wolfe does Philippians type themes a lot – “what would the world be if (insert some themes from Philippians here)”, and you get the theme of several of Wolfe’s best novels and stories. There are currently no full-length Gene Wolfe movies, of course (although I am sure there are lots of references and homages here and there in the thousands of SF movies and TV shows I have not seen).

21 anonymous October 15, 2017 at 12:32 am

Whether you read that long comment or not: or wondered why someone would write it, or didn’t wonder : “May, 2007, that day at the zoo, our favorite animals were the pet Italian goats, and we held each other’s hand for the first time”: “Cor ad cor loquitur.” Everyone should have such good memories. That is what those of us who pray everyday pray for when we pray for the rest of us. Remember how Francisco and Jacinta were taken away so very very long before Lucia was – the plot of a better novel than any novel ever written: imagine going back to those days a hundred years ago and imagining/knowing that one of the three siblings had 80 more years to live. Wonderful years, for Lucia. A hundred years ago today – things were slower in Portugal then than they are now – so many people came home and talked about yesterday (a hundred years and a day ago).

22 Massimo October 15, 2017 at 2:54 am

I have no idea of what you two are talking about…

23 Alan M October 16, 2017 at 12:16 pm

At least they’re enjoying themselves.

24 efim polenov October 16, 2017 at 11:46 pm

Read it again, Massimo and Alan, and imagine it makes sense. Look up a few of the references. You are lucky enough to be born in a world where people know what the Miracle of Fatima was, and who Gene Wolfe is, and how rare it is for even good people to have a happy day followed by another happy day. Sorry if my effort to describe that – an effort that may have gone over your arrogant and sarcastic heads – offended you. Still, I am not offended, and I have good news for you – You do not have to go through life as a sarcastic and arrogant wannabe comedian. Then again, maybe you see yourself, 20 years from now, still sneering at the targets of the “humor” of the rich kids – all of them certain they are better than you – who script the “Simpsons.” If that is the case, enjoy your ignorance. Not saying I know what I am talking about – just saying that you can do better. God did not create us to be Howard Stern fans, or even to be delighted at the antics of his Wack Pack. You can do better, Massimo and Alan.

25 Lotek October 15, 2017 at 8:46 am

It’s a fine line between bots and humans.

26 Jeff R October 15, 2017 at 2:47 pm

I think maybe that was the theme of a movie a saw one time.

27 efim polenov October 16, 2017 at 11:47 pm

Lotek – thanks for reading. Actually it is not. Read again, as if someone you respected had written that.

28 Lotek October 19, 2017 at 11:15 am

Sir, I did not intend to disparage you. I apologize.

29 efim polenov October 14, 2017 at 11:58 pm

Galatians in “30 words or less” – “the Old Testament rules do not, after the efficacious sacrifice of Christ, control Christians’ lives, but God’s Spirit, which convicts us of our sinfulness and leads us to Heaven, should”. (Galatians 5:16 is a key verse)

30 efim polenov October 15, 2017 at 12:10 am

Or “instead of thinking that the suffering involved with being a human gives you the right to act like a human, and to follow your desires as far as you legally can, recognize that being saved gives you the opportunity to fully live your life as the daughter or son of the Lord”. (Galatians). (more than 30 words 🙁 …). Philippians, on the other hand, can be explained in 3 words (one noun, doubled, one preposition, one verb) ” Cor ad cor loquitur”.

31 msgkings October 15, 2017 at 1:00 am

Thank you for this excellent comment.

32 efim polenov October 17, 2017 at 12:02 am

You are welcome. Thanks for reading.

33 Dude October 15, 2017 at 1:16 am

The original Blade Runner is a good story, but having Harrison Ford and Sean Young as the lead actors, along with a slow pace, make it an overrated film. Sorry.

34 msgkings October 15, 2017 at 1:30 am

Ooo so edgy.

35 So Much For Subtlety October 15, 2017 at 4:34 am

I disagree. Certainly Sean Young never put it a better performance. Nothing else she did came close. Ford is not outstanding as he was, to be honest, in Star Wars and Indiana Jones. But he was pretty good.

More surprising was the supporting performances from everyone else. Rutger Hauer would also never have as good a role. Brion James and, arguably, Edward James Olmos would not either.

The problems are the stupid ending, the music, the poor editing (which I quite like) and the voice over.

36 Ted Craig October 15, 2017 at 8:04 am

Or Daryl Hannah. since she is at her best when she doesn’t speak.

I could argue about Olmos, however.

37 Steve Sailer October 16, 2017 at 7:42 am

I presume Olmos was recreating his “Zoot Suit” stage role. I was surprised by how little gravitas he had in the original Blade Runner compared to his Lt. Castillo role a couple of years later that more or less took over “Miami Vice” partway through the first season.

The archetype of the Mexican-American police official who clashes/cooperates with the freelance Anglo private eye goes back to “Captain Hernandez” in Chandler’s early 1950s Philip Marlowe classic “The Long Goodbye.” You can see another Captain Hernandez-type again in Larry Gelbart’s fine noir Broadway musical “City of Angels,” which articulates the ethnic tensions between the white lone wolf detective and the Mexican-American institutional policeman, Munoz.

Is Edward James Olmos the last Mexican-American (i.e., somebody who went to high school in America rather than somebody who had already made it in the Mexican entertainment industry before arriving in Hollywood as an adult) to be nominated for an acting Oscar back in the late 1980s?

It seems like it’s pretty common to cast Puerto Rican actors as Mexicans.

38 Steve Sailer October 15, 2017 at 1:23 am

Will any studio executives get fired for greenlighting such an unprofitably high quality movie?

39 msgkings October 15, 2017 at 1:30 am

Excellent question.

40 A Truth Seeker October 15, 2017 at 8:31 am

Probably unless they can make up the not-eaened box office money with merchandising. Americans worship the Almighty Dollar.

41 Anon October 15, 2017 at 12:23 pm

The only people who care about Bladerunner are Babyboomer males and you guys just aren’t the demographic that used to be. This movie’s failure was predictable.

42 A Truth Seeker October 15, 2017 at 2:31 pm

So that’s what America has become: an elephant graveyard of Baby Boomers…

43 JWatts October 16, 2017 at 3:31 pm

What are you guys talking about? The movie has been out 10 days and it’s grossed $158 million on a $150 million budget.

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=bladerunnersequel.htm

It might not be a huge record breaker, but it’s doubtful that it will be unprofitable, even assuming another $150 million in marketing expenses.

44 Steve Sailer October 17, 2017 at 2:47 am

$150 million seems to be the minimum estimate of the budget.

China might save it financially, but we’ll see it when it opens there later this month.

In the U.S., the opening weekend was weak and the 53% decline to the second weekend, while not terrible, doesn’t suggest particularly good word of mouth.

It’s a high quality movie but a little too high brow for a mass audience.

45 M October 15, 2017 at 4:01 am

“Drenched in Tarkovsky” — yes, I definitely got that feeling as well. It’s probably the reason why the movie bombed at the box office. For so much of the running time the characters just stand around doing nothing, which is a Tarkovsky hallmark, but it doesn’t mesh together with the fact that it’s a plot-driven action movie. I’d say the movie would have been better if it was thirty minutes shorter.

46 AE October 15, 2017 at 4:23 am

This is the best Hollywood movie I’ve seen in ten years.

Please go and see it. High quality movies deserve more revenues.

47 Steve October 15, 2017 at 11:46 pm

hear hear

48 Eh October 15, 2017 at 5:32 am

Moment: killed the hologram woman
I’m the Messiah. Oops I’m mistaken.

49 Eh October 15, 2017 at 5:35 am

woman
(Line removed)

I’m

50 Bellemy October 15, 2017 at 5:53 am

Why the random Adam Driver dig at the end? I think he’s great.

51 Tyler Cowen October 15, 2017 at 9:57 am

Great sometimes, yes, but not as Harrison Ford’s evil son.

52 Ian Brown October 15, 2017 at 10:15 am

Agree with Tyler’s specific comment here and also I Lol’d at the dig.

53 Oleg October 15, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Completely agree (except perhaps for the “Great sometimes”).. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why they cast perhaps the only actor in Hollywood that was far too ugly to be the natural progeny of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher (barring a wildly improbable freak genetic mutation) to play the son of Han and Leia.

54 rob October 15, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Patterson – thanks to Driver – and Arrival -thanks to Villeneuve -the best movies i saw last year

55 A clockwork orange October 15, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Microloans do not have any place in a city haunted by mirrors and mannequins disguised by helmets as bandaids for monkish habits such as elevator doors and farts on the subway.

56 Jacques René Giguère October 15, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Pronounce Deckard the right way and it means Descartes (“I think, therrefore I am.”) Deckard is a replicant but replicants are not machines. They are us.

57 Axa October 15, 2017 at 5:50 pm

I think the main plot puzzle was if Deckard and Rachael escape led to a happy ending or not. Replicants were made with a limited lifetime. That was the reason Roy want to meet his creator, to try to extend the lifetime of Pris and his.

If Deckard is alive by 2049. That means he’s human or a replicant without the short life feature. Just being alive kills the open ending of the first film.

58 ant1900 October 15, 2017 at 6:42 pm

We know Rachael is a replicant and did not have the limited lifetime. It’s possible that Deckard is the same model of replicant. It’s possible that he’s a human.

But 2049 does not resolve whether Deckard is a replicant. In fact, the movie strings the audience along even more than the first film did.

Deckard can somewhat handle a fight with K – is he just an impressive human or a less sophisticated replicant?

K launches himself through a wall while Deckard takes the door.

Gaff has a line early in the movie about Deckard’s retirement – “I could see it in his eyes.” In both movies the eyes play a major role in identifying replicants. But that phrase is also a cliche you could hear when a normal person has undergone some change.

In their conversation Wallace makes a few statements to Deckard suggesting that both he and Rachael were replicants built to fall in love with one another (or Rachael was just built to fall in love with Deckard the human). Deckard tells the audience that he believes he is human (“I know what’s real.”) But of course in the original film Rachael was so sophisticated she didn’t know she was a replicant.

59 Dave October 15, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Loved the first movie. Hated this one. Way too loud, way too long, poorly directed. Left with 5-10 minutes to go. Might like it more on the dvd, when I can adjust the volume. Harrison Ford was ok, Edward James Olmos was ok in his brief cameo.

60 Dave October 15, 2017 at 7:21 pm

I read the book, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” in the 70s. One of my favorite books, the 1st movie was based on it.

61 Steve October 15, 2017 at 11:45 pm

Harsh commentary Tyler – I saw the movie on the weekend and was quite simply blown away – a deeply immersive experience and one of the most thought provoking philosophical movies I’ve watched in years. So much to take away from the film and process. As for the cinematography, the soundtrack, the production and the execution – all of it elite level and Oscar worthy. Brilliant performance from Gosling. Hope I don’t wait 35 years for #3

62 Impolitic October 16, 2017 at 12:07 am

Methinks the Vox woman screws up the point of that line in the Nicene Creed. God only knows what the point of the line in the movie is.

63 ohwilleke October 16, 2017 at 6:34 am

After seeing it with my teenage son, the conservations turned to the economics of the firm.

In other words, how can a movie that costs so much to make with so many profoundly talented people work on it, still turn out badly. (A problem hardly unique to movies.)

The core of my explanations:

1. Not all aspects of a movie or other grand enterprise are equally critical to its success. You can have awesome production values and images devised by incredibly talented people that can be squandered if the screenplay or key actors or director’s timing and editing are bad. You can only devote perhaps a dozen people to those key factors even if it takes 2,000 people, most of whom are highly talented in multiple ways, to make the film. (This is one reason why comic book adaptations are so successful – most of the choke points for good creative decision-making by small numbers of people in the enterprise have already been made, lots of comics have done that part of the process badly, but you don’t make that 99% of comics that are ever written into movies., you make the 1% that got all those things right already.)

2. The bigger the names of the people making the film, the easier it is for them to get money without critical review and oversight of what they are doing. Unlimited options and resources can weaken creativity, just as reasonable limitations can often inspire it.

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