Blade Runner 2049 ★★★★

Usually, if an important character shows up in the third act for the first time, I find myself annoyed. Dues ex machinas, of any sort, tend to reveal laziness in story telling. But in this case, because we got Lubna Azabal (whose earlier partnership with Denis Villenueve in Incendies is one of my favorite movie watching experiences of all time), I'm not too mad about it.

Ryan Gosling (perfectly read in this AO Scott review) is perhaps the human embodiment of that moment in Star Wars when Harrison Ford answers Carrie Fisher with an "I know." He is smug and unfeeling, letting us graft whatever meaning or emotion we want onto him. To overextend the metaphor, Ford in this film, has his own "I am your father" moment, of sorts. And there are plenty of other inter-textual references to grab at throughout the film (pour one out for all the essays about what an origami buffalo means). The fun of sci-fi movies, and sequels, is to dive deep on these themes. But unlike other texts of this sort, the story telling here does not suffer. Villenueve and Roger Deakins are superb partners, working at the height of their talents.

One of my favorite philosophical themes in this film, and in Villeneuve's recent work Arrival, is the nature of memories. He pushes this line of thought a bit further here by describing memories are being mostly about the messy feelings they espouse not about the details of what did or did not happen. I found this sub-theme interesting to think about throughout the film. It is the most compelling part of neuroscience and literature to me. This film treated the topic smartly.

A small irritation: I wish films didn't use specific future dates. I can already see November 29th, 2019 and June 10, 2021 being deemed Blade Runner 2049 days, with costumed celebrations and Twitter memes. Although if we are lucky, Twitter will be long dead by then.