I picked up the box. Turned it over. “As bold as the original Blade Runner.” (Empire). Uh huh. Got that at home somewhere. Maybe I’ll watch it again. Read further. New blade runner unearths a secret, yeah, yeah, plunge society into chaos, yeah, right – oh, hey – “a quest to find Rick Deckard [Harrison Ford]”. Who has been missing for 30 years. Didn’t he go on the run with – yeah, I remember. “Too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?” Oh. Spoiler there. Sorry. Wasn’t Deckard also – no! Don’t say it!
Sean Young. That last line spoken by Edward James Olmos, playing Gaff. Mr Olmos (I discover by the simple expedient of looking him up on IMdb) is an activist as well as an actor, with a particular interest in the needs and rights of children. “We all have a choice,” he says, and “If I can do it, so can you.” Unlike most people, Edward James Olmos is older than I am. I like him already, although I suppose I’ll never meet him. [Jumping ahead – there he is! Gaff, anyway, putting in an appearance.]
I put the DVD of Blade Runner 2049 back on the shelf. Thought: maybe I will go on a quest to find Harrison Ford. Maybe in Blade Runner, maybe in the original Star Wars. Maybe in something else for a change? There was that film with Anne Heche, wasn’t there? They’re stuck on an island because their light plane crashed and she gets something stuck down her trousers that he – oh, why do I have to remember that scene? I suppose back then it would have been the “money shot”* – and there it is, front and centre of the “images of”. Search Six Days, Seven Nights (1998). How times change.
But wait a minute, didn’t we go on a quest to find Mark Hamill in that recent episode? Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)? We did. And we found him, didn’t we? We found Spock in The Search For Spock (1984), come to think of it, and Kurtz in Apocalypse Now (1978) – not to mention Joseph Conrad’s short book Heart of Darkness (1899), on which that film was very loosely based. So far as I can remember, going all the way back now to sleepy afternoons in primary school, they went on a quest to find Cloudberry in The Little Grey Men by “BB” – a name that always puzzled me. Pseudonyms weren’t on the syllabus for the reception class, back in the day.** [I remember the world map on the wall, coloured mostly red. Something about the sun not setting.]
Cloudberry. They probably found him, too. “On a quest to find” is one of those plots, isn’t it? A road movie with a person at the end – and for it to work, you need the person. You need the golden fleece, or whatever. I went back and picked up Blade Runner 2049 again, ready to be enjoyably indignant about all the Star Wars echoes. And I took it home. And I watched it. And it went on for two hours and thirty-seven minutes (“approx.”, says the box). I think I understand the term “easter egg” now, although I didn’t realise entire sub-plots could be replicants. I’d like that car, although if the sun roof has to fly away and film stuff every time I get out, I’d like to live somewhere less rainy. A child is born, anyway.
It started very well, with the land outside Los Angeles gone back to subsistence farming, and Ryan Gosling dozing at his absent steering wheel, and the fog, and the soundtrack – I must get some earphones and move slowly through life picking up and gazing at the minutiae. I have a horse like that, a cow actually, with a(n in)significant date scratched on it (in blue ink: I’ve just done it) so we can go back to the future again and find our easter eggs. Very original. There was a “rise of the machines” theme, and right at the end, a scene so pregnant with a line spoken by Darth Vader to a very close relative in a distant galaxy some while ago – that I wasn’t surprised the screen went black. Deliberate, no doubt. But … how can you re-create/clone an individual from the original DNA, but get the eye colour wrong?
Were we thinking through the right details here? I don’t know. I think I enjoyed it, although it’s the kind of film where you know what they want you to be discussing as you emerge from the cinema. [Dead tree? Live flower?] So much these days happens in a kind of stereo, a double-vision effect, as if we’re all simultaneously concerned with being seen to be, and being. Seen to do, and doing. The truck delivering the groceries has “Delivering the groceries” painted on the side. The bus travelling between villages has “Connecting communities” on the side. An overlay to life. “Making a film like Blade Runner.” We carry our present participles with us, don’t we, static as they are?***
Reading the subtitles. Happily, I took the precaution of also borrowing Three Colours Blue (1993, Krzysztof Kieslowski), which has “Stunning… astonishing… profoundly moving” (Geoff Andrew, Time Out) written on the back. 97 mins approx., although it’s still playing in my head. I’ve just noticed on the box that there are extras, which takes care of my next visit to the screen in the corner. A film just powerfully content to be itself. “What about the ending?” Julie (Juliette Binoche) asks at one point. She’s talking about the music, but. Oh, the music. Oh, the film. Fantastic ending.
*Even after all the dinosaurs that escaped from the successive Jurassic Parks, I still best remember that shot of the water’s surface trembling as the Tyrannosaurus Rex set off around Seattle. That was described at the time – somewhere – as the film’s “money shot”.
**Denis Watkins-Pitchford. The book was first published by Eyre and Spottiswoode in 1942.
***If I ever design a T-shirt, it will bear the words, “Wearing this T-shirt”.
I love that moment. If ever I’m in a foreign city, and lost, I hope I have the presence of mind, and the packing skills, and the somebody back in the room, to extricate myself from the difficulty with the minimum of map-reading and the maximum of noise. I love imagining how that scene would play out in real life – assuming some other means of going to the window and making a lot of noise. “Darling, could you go to the window and play my trumpet loudly until I get there?” “Yes, dad.” Not.
Hard as barnacles. What I really want to say is, changing the subject, I have no interest in your data. Surprise! It’s going to be a blog post about that. [If you’re a utility company or a robot, I have no interest in “keeping in touch” either.] I haven’t collected any of your data (knowingly), I don’t hold any of your data (knowingly), and the couple of address books I have in the house only record defunct telephone numbers. That word “knowingly”. How difficult it is to write a simple sentence these days.
There may be data crusted around my online activity, like barnacles on a rock, but if there is, I don’t know where it is, I’m not interested in it and you can have it back. If you or I can find it. Actually – very much not like barnacles on a rock. More … something vaporous and unreliable. It’s also hard to come up with a good metaphor these days*. I remember when we used to talk about Big Data; about how we generated data all the time. Popcorn exploding? Shaving foam expanding as you spray it into your hand? Never mind.
I know that if I scroll down on my “dashboard”, I can see where you came from, to get to this website, but the (unfashionable, I know) method for this blog is not to know who’s reading it, so no, I’ve never done that. Yes, I suppose I might have your email address, might even be related to you (no, darling, I know I don’t play the trumpet, I was just saying for example), but that doesn’t mean I want to influence your vote in the next US election. If you have one. Let me know, and I’ll delete it. Yes, by email, I suppose. I’ll delete that too. Infinite regress.
Protection. Remember that Icelandic volcano that closed down air traffic over Europe for a while? Eyjafjallajökull, was that it? [Yes, of course I just pasted that in.] A similar quiet has fallen over my inbox. Oh, a few companies have sent me emails telling me that by reading their email I’m confirming that I want them to go on sending me emails, but mostly, I think GDPR (the Global – oh, you know by now) marks the end of the chatty emails about sport and television from that company that once – only once – cleared out my drains.
Always, the opportunity to start again is welcome. Yes, this new euro-legislation hits the chatty-email industry hard, but that kind of copy-writing isn’t included in the standard measures of economic performance, so never mind. They’ll be back. And while I’m on the subject, how much of the way we live now would be improved if we just, simply, started again? Perhaps we need a Global Politicians…, or Global Corporates…, or Global Media…, or some other Protection Regulation.
If [insert your example here] could be taken down to its component objective(s) and reconstructed from the ground up, would the result be an improvement? Or – what was I thinking when I started this? – an interminable argument with cost over-runs and no realistic prospect of completion? Or at worst, something resembling what we have now? With people to tell us that lessons will be learned?
Love you too, human nature.
*Like a present participle on the side of a van?