Strange Days, party like it's 1999


#1

Over 20 years ago, I loved this movie so much I bought the VHS for it. About 10 years ago I finally got rid of my VHS and I’m not sure what caused me to think of it, but I logged into Netflix and had Strange Days delivered to my doorstep. I couldn’t even recall the name - I had “1999” stuck in my head and finally found it by googling “movie set in 1999”.

I was wondering how well a movie from 1995 would hold up and if I would still like it as much as I did back in the 90’s. My memory had sufficiently faded that I only had vague idea that it involved being able to record and subsequently watch people’s memories - and this is cemented in the first 5 minutes.

I should turn my movie credentials in, because I was surprised to see this is a film by Kathryn Bigelow (and James Cameron!). Of course, if I can’t recall the name from 23 years ago, I guess I can forgive that it was done by these two.

The primary reason I was surprised is that I would never have thought a woman would direct a movie such as this which just oozes sexuality. I had never thought of Juliette Lewis (playing singer Faith) as particularly sexy, but this movie turned that thought on its head. wow. Look at this clip if you doubt it.

Our protagonist, Ralph Fiennes plays the protagonist Lenny - who is weak and just keeps getting himself beat up again & again. A washed out cop hustling memories can’t let go of his old flame Faith Angela Basset plays the strong and capable Mace who Lenny relies on time & again to pull his ass out of trouble.

I hate to spoil a movie that is 23 years old for those who have not watched it because I do think it is a really good movie (if a bit long at nearly 2 1/2 hours long) that people should seek out & watch if you haven’t. It does miss the mark on a few things - most notably the gloomy, not quite blade runner dystopia view of 1999 - which was created in 1995! I find it kind of laughable how Bigelow portrayed such a bleak and dismal armed & authoritarian state just a few years into the future. This portrayal, unfortunately detracts from the movie more so now than it would have in 1995 when it was released.

The other scene which caused my eyebrows to twinge was a bit of a preachy exposition by Mace near the end - it wasn’t because it was preachy, but her cadence and inflection reminded me so strongly of the Oracle from the Matrix, it took me out of the scene.

If this movie came out today, we’d most likely have a dedicated thread, so here you go.

Enjoy the Party


#2

+1 like. This movie is still in my Favorite SF Movies list, and one of my favorite memories of Y2K, beyond being pleased that the world’s computers weren’t melting down, and being astonished that Boris Yeltsin was stepping down, was inflicting this movie on a group of friends at a New Year’s Eve party.

The cast is still terrific (though it’s a pity what happened to Sizemore), the music was great, the POV sequences are still pretty cool, the L.A. tech noir setting wasn’t too different from what ended up happening. (Well, instead of black market memories, there was Napster and black market songs. And gas didn’t get up to 4 bucks a gallon until the Bush years.)

Wish there was a Blu-Ray version in the U.S. This is a movie I would triple-dip for.


#3

I also bought a VHS of this! I’m glad to hear it holds up, I’ll have to go back to it. I watched it every new years eve for several years (and then alternated with Hudsucker Proxy for a while).


#4

I still have this on DVD but haven’t watched it in ages. IIRC it was definitely strange pre-cyberpunk lite…heading in that general direction but the early precursor chapters before we got there.


#5

Which is exactly why I love it.


#6

Yup + 1 here too. One of my absolute favourites, warts and all. Basset is magnetic in it.

“Is it impact proof?”


#7

Excellent movie, time for a rewatch.


#8

I haven’t seen it since I saw it in the theater on opening day. I have thought about it quite a few times in the intervening years though. It was a strange movie, and strangely unsatisfying, I remember. But I loved the soundtrack, so it’s one of those cases where I saw the movie and immediately went to Camelot music to buy the soundtrack CD.


#9

It isn’t New Year’s Eve until Tom Sizemore falls from the Bonaventure Hotel!

When is this movie coming out on Blu-ray? In the U.S., I mean.

Happy New Year!