Strange Days Screen 9 articles

Strange Days

1995

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  • Makes no sense whatsoever. Now, most action films make no sense whatsoever, but the best ones are so exciting that you're willing to overlook plot holes and character deficiencies; STRANGE DAYS is loud and garish, but I didn't find it particularly thrilling, so I spent most of the film thinking "Wait a minute..." What's more, it doesn't even take advantage of its own gimmick; most of the plot elements that hinge on "wire-tripping" don't require such visionary technology--a camcorder would do.

  • The first time I saw this movie, two months ago, in a well-equipped screening room, I was gripped if not always convinced; the second time, last weekend at Webster Place, I was mainly bored out of my skull. It's amazing what a good Dolby system can do in getting you to overlook your own intelligence. So if that's what you want to do to yourself--and I can't imagine any other reason to see this picture--look for the theater with the best sound system.

  • Like a lot of VR fiction, Strange Days didn't really foresee that people would like exploring vulnerability and suffering as much as power fantasies and pleasure. On the other hand, the film has a compelling take on how technology can help both the powerful and the powerless. The core plot about a surveillance recording of police brutality was a clear response to '90s politics, but it's still very relevant today.

  • The most original aspect of STRANGE DAYS is the friendship and romance of Lenny and Mace. Although Lenny is slender, sensuous, and sentimental, and the muscular, stoic Mace must protect him, this isn't simple role-reversal. The equitable intimacy between them is the foundation of the film as well as the propellant and the payoff. The James Cameron script has very little to do with this; the intimacy is a function of two exceptionally smart and physical actors and a well-inhabited back-story.

  • A pronounced failure at the box-office the first time out, this button-pushing science-fiction sprawler is, with the benefit of hindsight, one of the most distinctive Hollywood films of its decade. James Cameron’s story is near-future noir... Bigelow fashions a kinetic opera, her camera roaming fearlessly through time, space and consciousness.

  • The movie never stopped pushing, then or now, from the virtuosic sequence-shot that opens the film (dazzling in execution, grisly in content) to the climactic fusion of cross-racial alliance and interracial romance as blazons of hope amidst a dismal-looking future. Along the way, Bigelow, the screenwriters, and their on-set collaborators force us through plenty of formally impressive and thematically provoking episodes.

  • Bigelow's movie boasts one of the most unexpectedly charismatic couplings in sci-fi: Ralph Fiennes's Lenny, a disgraced vice cop now peddling disks that allow users to get off on the rush of others' extreme experiences, and Angela Bassett's Mace, a chauffeur and bodyguard of unimpeachable integrity. Their last scene together — a steamy lip-lock — is perfect, a utopian moment at the end of a hyperkinetic dystopian project.

  • Cameron and Cocks’s script is curious about the tech, but incurious about who, besides a sad hustler and a murderer, would want to use it. Bigelow, on the other hand, is as always a master of action — curious about how it looks and what it means to keep looking, even when we want to turn away. She shows she’s a master of perspective; our time looking through the eyes of SQUID is as serious and discomfiting as anything she’s done.

  • Today’s apocalypses have the unenviable fortune of either tomorrow’s farces, which we read and watch and laugh over at how much worse things actually are than we were warned, or today’s uncanny documentaries, weird reverse time-capsules that accidentally captured the zeitgeist of the future. STRANGE DAYS is both. It is a film that unflinchingly puts American racism and misogyny on display as driving forces of catastrophic exploitation, cruelty, violence, and barbarism

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