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A.I. Rising

Original title: Ederlezi Rising

Director – Ladar Bodroza – 2018 – Serbia – 18 – 86 mins

****

Serbian Sci-Fi shot in the English language in which a male astronaut becomes dissatisfied with the female android programmed to satisfy his every desire on a deep space mission – on Amazon and iTunes

You’ve got to admire the sheer ambition of A.I. Rising, a Serbian sci-fi movie shot in the English language with production values and visual effects on a par – mostly – with anything Hollywood at its most lavish can offer.

I say mostly because there’s an early rocket launch sequence which cries out for exterior shots of the rocket on its launch pad and then taking off, but all we get is an admittedly impressive view from space of the distant ship ascending into the atmosphere. It’s the only time the production misses a trick like this and it doesn’t detract from what follows.

The plot concerns one man and his dealings with women – well, one woman in particular. Milutin (Sebastian Cavazza) is given a new assignment by the Ederlezi corporation. Prior to his flight into deep space, a woman social engineer (Marusa Majer) explains the nature of his mission and that he’ll be required to work in a team of two, the other member being an android modelled after a human woman “but unlike a human woman, she’ll be unable to hurt you.”… Read the rest

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A Good Year

Director – Ridley Scott – 2006 – US – 12A – 118 mins

***1/2

A ruthless, successful Square Mile bond trader travels to Provence to sort out the estate he’s inherited from his late uncle – UK release date 27/10/2006

Back in the 1980s, British TV commercials spawned a number of hugely successful feature film directors, with Scott arguably the most talented. A great visual stylist, his impressive filmography includes the seminal (Alien, 1979; Blade Runner, 1982; Thelma & Louise, 1991), the blockbuster (1492: Conquest Of Paradise, 1992; Gladiator, 2000; Kingdom Of Heaven, 2005) and the forgotten (Black Rain, 1989; White Squall, 1996; G.I. Jane, 1997). Scott is perhaps the archetypal ‘style over content’ director: his impressive visuals often threaten to overpower everything else, yet his sense of style invariably makes anything he does worth a look. A film-maker, in other words, of extreme contradictions.

The end of that same era saw highly regarded London advertising man Peter Mayle relocate to the South Of France to pen a series of books about that region starting with the bestselling A Year In Provence.

Scott and Mayle have known each other since the eighties advertising boom.… Read the rest

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Gladiator (2000)

Director – Ridley Scott – 2000 – US – 15 – 155m

*****

UK Release 12th May 2000.

Initiated by screenwriter David Franzoni (Amistad, Steven Spielberg, 1997) at DreamWorks, this picked up definitive cinematic stylist Ridley Scott, who created the seminal futuristic cityscape of Blade Runner (1982). Elsewhere, Scott’s downside is that his visuals notoriously swamp character and plot. Thelma & Louise (1991), his best film in the interim eighteen odd years, sidestepped precisely this pitfall. Gladiator, however, is more like Blade Runner. The plot is fine as far as it goes – which is far enough to deliver a halfway decent, engaging dramatic potboiler – but far more importantly it gives Scott the perfect peg upon which to hang another superlative cityscape. In short, Ridley Scott does ancient Rome.

Set-up, plot resolution, characters and even the leading man’s look are borrowed wholesale from The Fall Of The Roman Empire (Anthony Mann, 1964). Russell Crowe (looking remarkably like the original’s Stephen Boyd) plays Roman general Maximus, unhappy that the late Caesar Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) has been succeeded by his unsatisfactory son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Treachery is afoot as Maximus is sold into slavery as a gladiator to compete in Commodus’ lavish games at Rome’s amphitheatre.… Read the rest

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Blade Runner – The Director’s Cut

Director – Ridley Scott – 1993 (1982) – US – 15 – 116 mins 29 secs

*****

DO FILM EXECS DREAM OF ELECTRIC UNICORNS?

One of the two main motivating forces behind the current Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1992) – the other was Videodrome, (David Cronenberg, 1983) – Blade Runner turns up in the cinema here some ten years after its original release in a Director’s Cut.

According to the press handouts, this isn’t just the original cut prior to Warner Bros.’ encouraging director Ridley Scott to remove the downbeat ending and insert a film noir voice over to explain what was going on – the film has additionally been re-edited by the director to make it work for a nineties audience.

Thus, the redundant voice over has gone and the original down ending is back – to make more sense of the story. There’s also a new and crucial sequence in which Harrison Ford as Deckard (an ex-cop, or ‘blade runner’, who forcibly retires renegade androids known as ‘replicants’) dreams of a unicorn which looks suspiciously like an out-take from the director’s later big budget fairy tale flop Legend (1985). The relationship between Deckard and the state-of-the-art replicant Rachel (Sean Young) (“she doesn’t even know,” he comments bitterly) is expanded too.… Read the rest

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Ridley, Ripley, Thelma & Louise

Alien

Director – Ridley Scott – 1979 – US – X – 116 mins 35 secs

*****

Blade Runner

Director – Ridley Scott – 1982 – US – AA – 117 mins 04 secs

*****

Thelma & Louise

Director – Ridley Scott – 1991 – US – 15 – 129 mins 22 secs

*****

At the end of Alien, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), having defeated the monster, strips down to her underwear only to discover that she hasn’t defeated it at all and it’s still in the space shuttle with her in the archetypal Hollywood false ending of recent years. It begged the question, why did Ripley remove her clothing at this point if not for the obvious gratification of the male members of the audience (and, one should add, the accompanying box office returns)?

At the end of Thelma & Louise, the eponymous heroines (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon respectively), on the run after the former’s rapist has been murdered after the event by the latter, find themselves trapped between the Grand Canyon’s gaping precipice on one side of them and massed hordes of police marksmen, ready to open fire if they don’t surrender, on the other. No pandering to male voyeurism here.… Read the rest