Strange Days (1995)

The future is the present, but moreso.

This is has been the guiding principle of futurist science fiction since the genre was invented; take the current status quo and extrapolate logically and presto, you have a plausible future setting for your story. Early British sci-fi is all about the ethics and difficulty of maintaining a vast empire (don’t worry lads, won’t be a problem long term). Star Trek had space hippies and an interstellar Cold War. Eighties sci-fi is really worried about these Japanese guys. Trouble is, the course of history is less an elegant upward line and more like a panicky chihuaha on meth that keeps running off in different directions. For example: The USA and USSR are locked in an inexorable arms race that can only end with nuclear anni…

Whoops. Never mind.

Well, the Japanese economy is an unstoppable behemoth that will crush its Western rivals and establish a new world order of corporate hegemony…

Huh.

Awesome, history is over and now America as the world’s lone superpower will rule over an endless long peace…

Where did THIS clown come from?

Ah jeez, America has moved inexorably to the right and the Republicans will maintain dominance for generations, slowly turning America into a paranoid police state…

What the hey?

Racism is over everybody! Peace love and kumbaya for all!

Okay History you are now officially taking the piss.

This is why it’s almost impossible to write science fiction that accurately predicts the future, because the present won’t sit long enough to have its picture taken. Even the works that do get props for accurately predicting the future tend to only get certain details right while getting the rest very wrong. William Gibson came damn close to predicting the internet, but he also predicted that the world would be ruled over by several competing mega-corporations when of course in reality it’s only ruled by one.

“BEHOLD MY GLORY!”

“Yes Disney, we all behold your glory.”

Which is why, as a good rule of thumb, if you’re writing sci-fi you should set it far into the future so that when you are inevitably proven wrong, you’ll be long dead and no one will be there to laugh at you (unless they use their futuristic magic tech to resurrect you purely so they can laugh at you which would be incredibly petty and, going on current trends, entirely probable).

Strange Days was released in 1995 and sets its tale of sci-fi dystopia in the misty far off time of…December 1999. That’s ballsy.

And yet, it honestly feels more prescient than any science fiction film I can recall seeing.

“Uh, Mouse?”

“Yo.”

“I just looked at this film and it has a ton of boobs Are we a boob blog now?”

“No, we are not a boob blog.”

Yeah, so I realise the movies I’m been reviewing lately have been a little more racy for a blog that rarely reviews fare rated harder than PG. Truth is, this is a review I’ve been trying to find the time to do for almost three years now (it’s one of the Joanna VR requests). This is one my friend Roger Courtney requested because he feels that it’s a ridiculously under-appreciated movie that I should review and everyone should see.

It is, I did and they should.

Let’s take a look.

The movie begins with a caption telling us not only the date and setting (Los Angeles, January 30th 1999) but even the exact time, with the seconds and minutes ticking on to show us that this is the very, very near future.

Suddenly, we’re in the back seat of a car looking through the eyes of a criminal as he and his two buddies don masks and burst into a Chinese restaurant, terrorising the customers and staff and raiding the cash register. Things go south when the cops arrive and our POV runs to the roof, tries to leap to another rooftop and instead ends up as street pizza.

It’s an absolute monster of a scene.

The movie was directed by Kathryn Bigelow but co-written and co-produced by her ex, James Cameron, a man who doesn’t so much make movies as he does advance human technology under the guise of making movies. Seriously, CGI, deep-sea photography, full colour 3D, Cameron has been instrumental in the development of all of them. If we as a species ever want to crack time travel, just put James Cameron in charge of a Back to the Future reboot and he’ll figure it out. For Strange Days,  they basically had to invent a new kind of camera that could simulate a first person viewpoint and the opening sequence took a staggering two years to co-ordinate. In the age of GoPro it may not seem all that impressive but in the early nineties this was an absolute technical masterpiece. Also, y’know, Bigelow is still probably one of the best living action directors so that helps.

Anyway, we now see that this whole scene was being experienced by Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes), a washed up former cop in Los Angeles, of all things. Lenny is now a black marketeer who sells SQUID recordings; real memories and experiences that are recorded so that they can be experienced by anyone. Lenny was given the robbery clip by Tick, who looks like Ringo Starr if he’d ended up in the seventies porn industry. Lenny is pissed because the clip ends with the guy dying which makes it a snuff film and that’s a hard line for Lenny.

There are two absolutely stand out performances in this movie and Fiennes is one of them. Nero is a character that you often see in crime thrillers but rarely as the main character. He’s the greasy hustler who the cops approach for information and he doesn’t know nothing so they hang him off a roof and he’s all “Okay! Okay! Okay! It was Big Leon!”. You know the guy.

Fiennes takes that guy and breathes real life and humanity into him. He’s got the desperation and the flop-sweat and the general scuzziness and seaminess of that kind of character, but underneath it all there’s a desperate puppy-dog innocence and need to be loved that makes him incredibly compelling. Also, Fiennes is one of the most magnetic screen presences of our time so, y’know, that helps.

Nero finally buys the clip off Tick, reasoning that he can cut it before the guy dies. We now follow Nero as he goes about his business in Los Angeles 1999.

This Los Angeles, it turns out, is awful. I mean, obviously, not as bad as the real thing, just awful in a “Mad Max 1, civilization is teetering on the brink of collapse” kind of way. Everywhere there’s riots and police in military gear going all Fallujah and, just to drive the point home, two women mugging Santa Claus in the street.

“Ho ho OW!”

And in the middle of it all, Lenny Nero, ducking and diving through the carnage, hiring a guy to record his memories from a one night stand here, instructing two strung out strippers how to have sex for the camera there, always hustling.

We now cut to a subway station where a hooker named Iris (Brigitte Bako) is running through the streets being chased by two LAPD officers, Steckler (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Engelman (William Fichtner). Iris just barely escapes by leaping onto the subway train just as the door closes but Steckler grabs her by the hair which comes off in his hand. Steckler and Engelman examine the wig and find a SQUID inside it, meaning Iris was recording everything and they are in big trouble.

Nero returns home just a few minutes too late to get a desperate panicky phonecall from Iris begging him for help. Lenny kicks back with some booze and spends the night rewatching memories of happier times with his girlfriend Faith (Juliette Lewis). We cut continually between Lenny’s first person view of his own memories, all sunshine and music and naked Juliette Lewis, and the third person view of Lenny, smiling gormlessly alone in his dingy, dark apartment just to drive home how pathetic his life has become.

The next day, Lenny wakes up to hear the news the Jeriko 1, an outspoken and radical rapper, has been gunned down in the street and that the cops are treating it as “gang-related”.

Yes, almost definitely.

Lenny goes to a bar and has a drink with his best friend Max (Tom Sizemore), a down on his luck sleazy private eye (in LA, of all places). The two get approached by Iris who begs Lenny for help and says that both she and Faith are in trouble. As soon as he hears the word “Faith”, Lenny agrees to go…

As they step outside, she tells him that she put something in his car that she needs to show him but a cop car pulls up and she bails. Lenny then sees his car being repossessed. He tries to reason with the repo man, offering to pay him off, and offers to give him his rolex watch as collateral. The dude takes the watch, and then drives off with the car. Lenny curses this betrayal, and takes another fake rolex out of his suitcase and makes a phonecall.

He goes back to wait in the bar with Max when his ride arrives.

So this is Angela Bassett as Mace and you do not deserve her and neither do I. Mace is a friend of Lenny’s from his days on the force. We later lean in flashback that Mace’s husband was arrested a few years ago and when she came home she found Lenny in her son’s bedroom reading him a story so he wouldn’t be scared. Now Mace works as a limo driver/bodyguard and Lenny’s fall back whenever he fucks up (so, she’s working two full time jobs). The three of them watch the news coverage of Jeriko’s murder and realise that the city is bracing for its biggest riot in history on a night when ever single person is going to be out on the streets celebrating the end of the millenium.

Aw man, if you weren’t around during the turn of the millenium I pity you. It was the greatest night ever. We all thought it was going to be a massive anti-climax but nope. Greatest night in human history. And you’ll never know what it was like. Sorry.

Max opines that this is probably the end of the world because everything’s already been done, governments, hairstyles, chewing gum flavours and asks “What are we supposed to do for another thousand years?”

“Just look at tiny screens and get progressively angrier?”

The news coverage then shows Jeriko’s manager, Philo Grant, who’s played by Michael Wincott, an actor who always seems to be playing a vampire, even when he’s not.

“Come and join me in the savage garden. Say your goodbyes to the sunlight and we shall spend eternity together…”
“Michael, you’re not playing a vampire.”
“Oh shit, were we rolling?”

Max tells Mace that Philo is the guy who stole Faith away from Lenny. He doesn’t say that he stole her away to his crumbling castle on a bat-infested cliff to be his immortal bride in darkness, but the implication is clear. Mace gives Lenny a lift to the hotel where she’s picking up a client. She doesn’t approve of his line of work, calling him a pornographer, but Lenny counters that people will always want to experience risks and thrills and that he offers them a safe way to do it and has probably saved many lives. Of course, SQUIDing requires real people to actually take those risks in real life and Lenny profits off that so it’s not exactly a victimless crime, either. At the hotel, Lenny bumps into Commissioner Strickland, his old boss who fired him from the force and the two exchange insults. Lenny then sweet-talks Mace’s client, a Japanese businessman, by posing as Mace’s boss and then proceeds to sell him SQUID in the back of Mace’s limo. Mace finally has enough and throws Lenny out of the car. Mace chews Lenny out for always being broke and for taking advantage of their friendship and Lenny just stands there and takes it, looking like a five year old who’s been caught with his hand in the jam jar. She finally relents and lets him back in the car, saying she’ll drop him halfway to where he needs to go, only for her client to ask to go to the club that Lenny was trying to get to anyway, because Lenny has been talking it up so much. And Lenny just smiles sheepishly at Mace in the rearview mirror.

At the club, Lenny tries to talk to Faith, who’s lounging around the club with Philo who has his shirt open because of course he does.

“Oh these foolish mortals, dancing away their mayfly lives. And yet…how I envy them.”

Lenny tries to warn Faith, saying that Iris visited him and that he thinks she’s in danger and begs him to come with her. But for Faith, Rich Dirtbag Boyfriend trumps Broke-Ass Dirtbag Boyfriend and she tells him to screw off. Philo has Lenny booted from the club. Of course, Lenny is back inside in moments and he bumps into Max, who sheepishly admits to Lenny that he’s working for Philo, monitoring Faith’s every move. He rationalises this to Lenny by saying he’s keeping an eye on her for his best friend (and better him than someone else, right) and Lenny brushes it off. Seeing as this is a club and Lenny is a dirtbag, he naturally goes to work selling SQUID clips to the patrons, until one of his usual contacts gives him a clip that he says was left for Lenny. Mace picks up Lenny and gives him a lift back and he tells her about how Iris gave him the bum’s rush. Mace muses how, despite working as a cop in vice now working as small time hustler, Lenny is still so innocent. Then, Lenny takes a look at the clip he was given in the club.

What he sees horrifies him to his very core.

He watches through the eyes of a man breaking into an apartment in the dead of night. He sees a woman. It’s Iris. She sees him. She screams, she runs. He catches her and drags her into the bathroom. He ties her to the towel rack. She begs him, pleads with him, tells him she hasn’t seen his face and he doesn’t have to do this.

He rapes her and then he kills her.

And that’s not the worst part.

He hooks her up to a SQUID, forcing her to experience everything he’s doing to her through his eyes.

So, to recap:

A female film-maker made a movie where a man forces a woman to experience her own rape and murder through the perspective of her rapist and murderer.

Call me crazy guys, but I think there may be some kind of commentary going on here.

Lenny collapses out of the car puking and trembling. Because Mace is right. Despite everything he’s seen, Lenny Nero is still an innocent. They take the clip to Max who watches it and throws his Chinese away saying “Well, that’s my appetite gone. For about a year.” Mace wants to take the clip to the cops but Lenny says he can’t because he’ll almost certainly be fingered as the perp, since he knew Iris and nobody knows more about SQUID tech than him. Max agrees, and says that he’ll contact his friends in homocide to see what they know and tells Lenny to go home and get some sleep.

Lenny stops by Philo’s home to tell Faith that Iris is dead and begs her to come with him. Philo shows up and they actually do the “Come to the one you love” thing on Faith like she’s a frickin’ labradoodle. She decides to stay with Philo (who must have had bacon in his pockets) but after he leaves, Philo beats her because he knows she’s only staying with him to protect Lenny.

Meanwhile, Lenny gets jumped by three of Philo’s goons and only gets saved when Mace shows up and beats the snot out of them.

I “Yas Queen!”ed, and I’m not even a “Yas Queen!” kinda guy.

So here’s something about Angela Bassett in this movie that I realised: She’s playing the white guy.

What I mean is, Mace plays the part in this story that would, in a movie of this era, have typically gone to Bruce Willis or Mel Gibson. She’s the serious, straight-laced defender. She’s a limo driver who’s nonetheless trained in hand to hand combat and gunplay. She’s the white everyman badass in the Die Hard mold, with two notable differences. Lenny, on the other hand, is a mixture of the Girl With A Secret Who Has To Be Protected and The Wacky Ethnic Sidekick. It’s a really good example of how old tropes can be reinvigorated with just a little mixing and matching. I don’t mean to be reductive, both Mace and Lenny are far more than just “types”, which is the benefit that comes from hiring actors of the caliber of Bassett and Fiennes, and one of the real joys of this movie is how real and fleshed out both these characters feel.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a perfect movie. There’s a lot of weird coincidences and narrative leaps. Plus, Cameron’s always been a little hit and miss with dialogue and here’s no different. And some of the performances seem to be taking place in a different movie from everyone else, or even different genres like Sizemore (broad comedy) or Lewis (Porn. But. Y’know. The high-end Vivid studios stuff. Seriously though, she’s quite poor). But it doesn’t matter, because the movie builds itself on Mace and Lenny and that is one damn solid foundation.

They take the clip of the murder to Tick who analyses it and notices that the footage has a weird, washed out colour aesthetic.

“So we should be looking for Zak Snyder?”
“Nah. Not his MO. The victim wasn’t a superhero.”

Tick says that this most likely means that the killer was colourblind.

Lenny remembers that Iris said she left something for him in his car so they break into the car impound lot in the dead of night.They find a SQUID disc but get ambushed by Steckler and Engelman and only barely escape by driving Lenny’s car into the harbour and swimming away. They head back to Mace’s house to grab her son, and from there they go to Mace’s sister’s to hide out. Lenny finally watches Iris’ clip.

He sees Iris and another girl driving down the freeway beside Jeriko 1 (played by Glenn “Man, everyone got AIDS and shit!” Plummer) and another member of his band. One quibble I have with this movie. Jeriko 1 is supposed to be basically Tupac Shakur, a fiery and eloquent rapper whose lyrics represent a real threat to the status quo. Unfortunately, Jeriko kind of comes off as a preening dumbass which makes his death lack some of the impact it needs to have. The car gets pulled over by some cops into an abandoned quarry. Then Steckler and Engelman force Jeriko to kneel on the ground and they shoot him and his bandmate and the other girl while Iris runs for her life.

Still processing what they’ve seen, Lenny and Mace get a call from Max who tells them to meet him at Tick’s place. Driving over, Lenny tells Mace that he doesn’t think the cops killed Iris, but rather that whoever she was wearing the wire for did so that the trail wouldn’t lead back to him.  At Tick’s place they find Max already there and Tick comatose. It seems that Iris’ killer hooked him up to a SQUID and fed him an amplified signal that overloaded his brain. He’s not dead but he might as well be. Mace and Lenny tell Max what they found on Iris’ clip and he tells them that he’s heard rumours of a secret LAPD hit squad. See, apparently some LAPD officers have gone rogue and just started executing black people for no reason which is a terrifying concept that could only come from the visionary mind that gave us the Terminator.

“Hey, sarcasm is MY thing, buddy.”

Mace says they need to get the clip to the authorities but Max points out that if the 11 o’clock news shows a prominent and outspoken rapper being executed by the LAPD on the night of the biggest party of the millennium “They’ll see the smoke from Canada”.  Nevertheless Lenny agrees that they need to make the clip public, and says that the only person they can trust to do it is his old boss, Commissioner Strickland. Strickland is a by the book, straight down the line officer who doesn’t tolerate dirty cops and Lenny knows this because he’s the guy who fired him.

They go to the Millenium party where Strickland, Philo and Faith are all in attendance. Funny story, this final scene has thousands of extras which the film-makers got by actually throwing a real rave and booking acts like Aphex Twin and Dee Lite. The party lasted from 9 pm to four in the morning and several people were hospitalised after taking ecstasy because this movie is the most nineties movies that has ever nineties movied.  Lenny points Strickland out to Mace and she follows him into the men’s room and tells him he needs to go into one of the stalls and watch the SQUID clip. And he has her escorted from the building. Which might seem harsh, but remember that SQUID is illegal contraband so she basically just went up to the chief of police and said “Sir, you need to go into that stall and do this heroin right now.” I mean, I don’t wanna manwhitesplain, Mace, but if the clip shows evidence of his officers engaging in illegal activity, maybe open with that rather than keeping everything spoiler-free.

Meanwhile, Lenny goes looking for Faith because he’s worried that whoever killed Iris will come after her next.  He finds another SQUID clip waiting for him. Lenny watches the clip in horror as he sees through the killer’s eyes as he grabs Faith, pushes her on the bed, chains her up and blindfolds her…

Unable to watch any more, Lenny runs into the bedroom and sees a body lying under the sheets. He pulls the sheet off but it’s not Faith, it’s…

“At last. Free from the ennui of eternal life.”

Lenny puts the SQUID back on to understand what happened and sees the killer and Faith…have perfectly consensual sex . He then watches as Philo discovers them and the killer beats him to a pulp and then forces him to watch an amplified signal of he and Faith fucking until it scrambles his brain. Lenny takes off the Squid, and looks up to see Max standing over him with a gun.

Lenny: Never knew you were colour blind, Max.

Max: Only way I could stand your ties.

Yeah, I know right? Tom Sizemore was the scumbag rapist. What a twist.

“Dude, I swear to God.”

Max gives the standard villain monologue. Philo had used Iris to secretly record Jeriko to get leverage over him. But when Iris accidentally recorded Jeriko’s murder, Philo ordered Max to kill both Iris and Faith (who knew about everything).  Problem was, Max had fallen in love with Faith, but he knew that if he refused the job Philo would get somebody else to do it. So he killed Iris (and scrambled Tick’s brain to cover his tracks) and now he’s going to kill Philo, and then shoot Lenny. He’ll pin the blame for everything on Lenny (which, seeing as he knew Iris, was Faith’s jealous ex and generally kind of a scumbag should be plenty plausible) and then he and Faith can be together.  Then Faith comes in to join her lover boy in the mwah ha has but she has a change of heart when Max tries to shoot Lenny and she pushes Max so the shot goes wide.  There’s a pretty damn brutal fight where Lenny gets stabbed but he finally manages to push Max over the balcony.

Realising that this Faith chick is kinda bad for him, Lenny staggers out of the hotel room, richer in wisdom and poorer by around two pints of blood and a couple of ribs.

Outside, Mace gets attacked by Steckler and Engelman but manages to overpower both of them and handcuff them on the ground. More police arrive and find her standing over two officers with a gun pointed at them, but once she calmly explains the situation to them they’re perfectly reasonable…

Ha! No. The world is a nightmare.

The crowd watches as the cops brutally beat Mace and a riot breaks out. But at the last minute Strickland arrive and saves Mace. He tells her that he watched her clip. He orders Steckler and Engelman arrested for murder and the two racist police officers are carried off to face the full weight of the law.

Look guys, it’s science fiction. Little suspension of disbelief, all I’m asking here.

Mace and Lenny are put in ambulances to be taken to hospital for their injuries. But Lenny gets out of his and finds Mace, and as the last seconds of the millennium tick down, they kiss.

***

Strange Days is not a perfect film, but it’s a gutsy, pitch-black, excellently performed (mostly) film that’s stunning innovative, well written and has plenty of smart, cogent things to say about race, gender and technology.

So naturally, it was a complete bomb at the box office. Oh hang on, let me just check what vacuous piece of eye candy was the number 1 movie instead.

Oh. Okay, that is actually a fantastic film.

Well what was the biggest box office movie of the year overall? What celluloid effluent did the great unwashed mouth breathers choose to see over Strange Days?

Oh.

Alright, sidenote, 1995 was actually a banner year for intelligent, well made blockbusters and audiences are often a lot more discerning than critics give them credit for my point is… 

Strange Days was not a big hit on release but it has been undergoing a pretty serious re-appraisal since then, with many calling it Bigelow’s magnus opus and a devoted cult following having sprung up. Let me be clear; you should join that cult. You don’t even have to bring your own goat. This is a fantastic film. It depicts a world where police rule over minority communities like an occupying force, where women are used as commodities and then disposed of, where lonely people cannibalize their own nostalgia for a better time, and use technology to vicariously live through the lives of others. It was made twenty years ago, but it feels like right now, streamed straight into your cerebral cortex.

The future is the present, only moreso.

Scoring

So I’m going to be reviewing a lot more movies that aren’t cartoons and aren’t superhero fare which means devising a whole new rating system from scratch. I’ve spent months on this, trying and failing to come up with the perfect system. Then it hit me: Who acts in movies? STARS. As in, movie stars. But what if, stay with me, I used ACTUAL STARS to rate the movies I review? I know, sometimes I just strike myself dumb with my own brilliance. So, on the new, groundbreaking, never before seen Unshaved Mouse Stars-But-Not-Movie-Stars-Actual-Stars-Instead Rating Scale (Patent Pending), Strange Days gets:

Next Update: 01 March 2018

 

Next Time: You ready, bub?

28 comments

  1. I really need to re-watch this one. Saw it when I was like 13, and had no clue about all of the subtext. I liked it then, I would probably love it now.

    Also I didn’t know it was made by Kathryn Bigelow, the director of Near Dark. Oh, and I guess she also made The Hurt Locker, one of the most acclaimed movies of the past decade, winner of six Academy Awards including Best Director, making Bigelow the first woman to take home that honor. But Near Dark, guys!

    Can’t wait to see you tackle X-Men. I should give that a re-watch too, it’s been too long, and I honestly can’t say how well it holds up in this era of much slicker superhero movies (Black Panther opens tomorrow, yaaaaaay!).

  2. It’s been a while since I watched a movie because you were about to review it, Mouse. So I must say, this one was pretty good. Although I was surprised it was made by Kathryn Bigelow, since before this I had only seen her war dramas.

  3. Never saw it and after you mentioned that it is good, I skipped the review. But I got a good laugh out of your opening with the different historical events changing the direction of the world. I guess the only thing a fiction writer can do is predicting what will happen if we don’t do better so that we might learn something and do better after all.

  4. Hi there! Love your blog, but after a lot of jabs at Republicans, I feel like I, as a Libertarian raised by staunch conservatives, that the Republican-Democrat conflict is not as black and white as most media paints it as.
    Take Obama, for instance. He’s commonly painted as someone with a cool head who WANTED to work with those nasty Republicans, but damn it, they just wouldn’t cooperate! Not so much. Republicans saw him as a president who looked down his nose at them and their way of life, thought the country would be a better place if they were simply done away with, and actively avoided working with them. Much of his landmark legislation was passed by executive order, which, to conservatives, was like an enormous middle finger saying “I don’t need your approval! I do what I want!” They called him King Obama, because they felt he was circumventing the proper processes in order to cement his own legacy.
    This is not to say Bush wasn’t guilty of governing by executive order. And it’s not to say he didn’t pass some controversial and far-reaching legislation through it. Republicans aren’t innocent little angels. But neither are Democrats. They’re both attracted to power, and they’ll both go to disgusting ends to attain it. Of course, when the other side does it, it’s wrong; when your side does it, it’s necessary.
    Again, I love your blog, and I find your perspective balanced for the most part. That bit has just been nagging at me and I wanted to point out that things aren’t as they seem.

    1. Hey, thanks for the comment. I’ll freely admit that the media tends to oversimplify (yeah, just a tad). In the early years of his presidency Obama genuinely did try to work with Republicans in the early years of his term. And in return he got probably the must sustained campaign of contempt and obstruction in modern American history. They called him “King Obama”? They called him a lot worse than that. They called him a Kenyan. They called him a muslim. They yelled “you lie!” during his state of the Union address. They treated the first African American president like someone who did not deserve even the respect of the office, let alone respect as a man. Did Obama overuse the executive order? Absolutely, and it set a very dangerous precedent especially given who his sucessor turned out to be. But he was left with little choice. It was either find ways to work around the Republicans, or betray the people who elected him by a huge margin to enact the agenda he had promised them and submit to the contempt of a party that was intent on loathing him from day one. From where I’m standing, it was pretty black and white.

      1. In that case, I think I’ll just take my leave. You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m tired of seeing people who, like Democrats, hold complex and flawed views—people like my parents, who taught me from an early age that skin colors were just another expression of God’s creativity and love of beauty—dismissed and mocked as cartoonish bigots. (And if you’re thinking “Well, that’s JUST your parents—no. It isn’t. I lived in five different states before I was ten years old—states all across the country, conservative ones like Wyoming—and in each of them, my parents took me to churches where pastors preached that true Christians vote Republican. Every single one of those pastors, every single parishioner I remember, celebrated racial diversity.)

        The Republicans I know are not the villains you seem intent on seeing them as. Are their views all-inclusive? No. But most of the Republicans I knew growing up—and I knew quite a few—wanted to vote for the first black president. They simply couldn’t square with Obama’s policies. Because of that, they are demonized as racists, their (in my view, valid) concerns and complaints about spending and social programs and government overreach reduced to the yammerings of angry bigots.

        Thank you for your Disney and Marvel reviews. I highly enjoyed them. But I think what I’ve seen is enough for me.

    2. Both parties suck, sure. But only one party is calling for banning Muslims, breaking up families by deporting people who have been here for decades and never committed a crime, and not enacting stricter gun control laws. So spare me the platitudes about how Democrats are just as bad as Republicans.

      Sincerely,
      A socialist living in Alabama.

    3. Yeah, Mouse seemed pretty reasonable in his rebuttal; he didn’t resort to pettiness, he didn’t glorify Obama’s decisions. He’s not even American, and he sounds more thoughtful about the whole thing than I am. Personally, I would like to hear YOUR thoughts as to why so many Republican senators and legislators fought so fervently against Obama’s policies. Because I agree, surely it was more nuanced than petty racism, but surely as well they must have thought they were detrimental choices (Either that or they conflicted with their self-interests) and, years later, we could determine whether or not such actions were worthwhile.

      Of course, I suppose none of this matters, since you appear to have chosen to stop visiting the blog altogether just because you disagreed with a joke, so you won’t even be seeing this. Because, as we all know, if you slightly disagree with a content creator, even something admittedly civil as this discussion, you must abscond of their works entirely.

    4. I was going to say something myself, but I was thinking about chickening out. So I have to thank Pughugger for bringing this up, so I can feel that I’m not alone about feeling this way. As much as I usually enjoy this blog, most of the anti-Republican jokes rub me the wrong way. Of course, everybody is free to dislike the Republican presidents if they don’t like them. But I happen to still support Trump, even though it’s almost illegal to do so here in Sweden (people are strongly encouranged be pro-Democrat here). And even though I won’t deny that Republican presidents can be flawed as well, they’re not as evil as left-wing media loves to portray them. Don’t forget that there will be two sides to most stories…

      But just to say something about the movie at hand: I have not seen “Strange Days”, and it’s much likely that I will never see it. But I found it interesting that these two characters don’t fit squarely into the typical gender and racial stereotypes. Somebody should write about this on the “Stereotype Flip” article on TV Tropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StereotypeFlip

  5. I’ve literally never heard of this film before but it sounds great. And you’re absolutely right about Ray Fiennes. For my money, his performance as Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List is quite possibly the single greatest performance of all time.

  6. Even with your praise, it doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy actually watching… Still. Thanks for the review.

    Hmm, I feel about the X-Men movie like I do about original PlayStation-era video games: loved it at the time, but hard to go back to, y’know? 😅

  7. Hnnnn.

    While I’m not against live action films per se, three in a rowd already and with no new animated picks announced in the horizon, isn’t that too much? It’s starting to feel like Disney itself, with way more live action remakes on the way and like zero new big screen animated projects that are not sequels. Personally, before the X-Men movies, I’d have picked the DC Animated Films (starting with Mask of the Phantasm) as the next ongoing feature; there are lots of them, and most of them of enough quality to be watchable, although I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped at Flashpoint Paradox.

  8. I adored this movie when it came out. I saw it three times in the theater and found something new each time. Thanks for appreciating it and reviewing so well.

    *ahem* the ACLU reviews from last year…

      1. Any four of the following:

        Ladyhawke
        Newsies
        To Be or Not To Be (either the Ernst Lubitsch or the Mel Brooks version)
        20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (James Mason and Kirk Douglas)
        The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
        The Thief of Bagdad (Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. version)
        Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land (only 20 minutes long)

        Honestly, any 1 plus Mathmagic Land would be fine.

  9. This movie has been on my radar as early as high school, where I was flipping through my parent’s CD book (And this was the late 2000’s; my stepmother was stubbornly behind the times) and realized there was a movie that seemed to be named after a Doors song. I think I’ll finally try and make room to give it a watch after this review, Mouse.

    It’s certainly an odd thing when speculative sci-fi actually manages to hit the mark, especially decades BEFORE the fact. Sort of like how, on a whim, Back to the Future II nailed the 2015-era obsession with nostalgia and remakes.

  10. This sounds like a really interesting film, but maybe a little too intense for me. Out of curiosity, how do you think Jeriko’s actor’s performance should have differed to get the character to come off as intended?

    Also, thanks for teaching me the word “gormlessly”. My mother’s got an English major and I still hadn’t heard that one.

    I hate to tell you though, Clinton voted for the Orwellianly named “PATRIOT Act” (which allows spying on Americans without a warrant) when she was a senator and Obama signed an extension of it as president. There definitely a lot of issues where the Republicans are the greater of two evils, but BOTH parties want to turn America into a paranoid police state.

  11. I suspect Japan’s economy is gonna back a Come Back. They still produce of the Entertainment Media I care about.

    Thing is, I’d like to know what specifically people are referring to when they say the 80s had a lot of SciFi about Japan taking over the Future? I’m not aware of any besides what was made in Japan that I’ve watched.

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