Strange Days

Strange Days ★★★★

Kathryn Bigelow 1995 cyberpunk state of the nation address. It remains by far her most ambitious movie, putting on the blender so many at the moment anxities (the Rodney King tape, the approaching millenium, gangsta rap, virtual reality and the way then arriving social media changes how relationships and images are experienced) and making them ready to be carnivalized through some inspired forceful filmmaking. It does for the first half of the 90s what Kelly's Southland Tales, another strangely hopeful California set dystopic science fiction, does for the early 00s (not surprisingly both were widely derided at the time). This is far from a perfect film, James Cameron and Jay Cocks script not only has some really awful oneliners but is shaped around a whodunit so rote Bigelow doesn't even pretend to care and the final resolution has a rather pat uncorruptable chief of police deux ex machina after going to the verge of cathartic racial apocalypse (that said it is probably worth point ou that the climax does diffuse somewhat the simple LAPD racism goes down to some bad apples logic of the script by including extended footage of Angela Bassett getting spanked with glee by anonymous "good" cops). There is plenty of great too from Bigelow single take forceful reendering of the film's central Peeping Tom goes cyberpunk concept and how it effectly allow the idea of society more and more floated with snuff imagery (and cinema's role in it) to ressonate. To the film deeply twisted casting in which the flawed white knight is played by a guy then better known for playing a nazi, the object of affection is Juliette Lewis at her most toxic and the deep bench casting includes the largest parade of 90s fetish psychopaths (Tom Sizemore, Vincent D'Onofrio, William Fichtener, Michael Wincott, one wonders how Michaels Madsen and Rooker failed to register at least a walk-on). And off course there's at the center of it Angela Bassett who is truly wonderful and remains more fully realized female action hero than anything current wannabe progressive action movies come up with (which is much more a matter of Bassett's performance than the writing I should add). The alternate 90s it conjures remain both rather dated and often fascinating. And for all it's very mid 90s qualities this remains disturbing contemporary in many aspects.

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