Blade Runner Blow-out (Part 1 of 3)

A stylish revival of Film Noir detective films…

A brilliant (somewhat ironic) study of how mankind has lost it’s humanity… and how androids are more human than the rest of us…

A question of self awareness?

Blade Runner is probably the best example of how to skillfully craft a movie. It is a film that has aged well, and endured over the past 30+ years… It is a beautiful film, whose “retro-future” look has inspired films like Minority Report and Total Recall…

Blade Runner is also controversial: raising the idea that the main character might not be what he thought he was, and may have a connection to what he fears most…

Is Rick Deckard a Replicant?

The answer is not as clear cut as — hero dreams of unicorns… hero finds origami unicorn… The Police know his memories, so he must be a Replicant

It’s a little more complicated… Even in the alternate cuts of the film. To properly answer this question, we need to look at several themes:

First, there is a common theme in Ridley Scott’s films that during a quest to find God, all “servants” want to kill their masters… In Prometheus, the android David had the great line “Don’t all children want their parents dead?”

By that logic, the Replicant leader Roy kills Tyrell (his “father”/creator)… Deckard kills the Replicants, NOT his possible creators.

The theory that Deckard was created by Tyrell to hunt Replicants on Earth makes no sense because if all servants want to kill their masters, Deckard would want to kill Bryant, Gaff, and Tyrell too… Deckard even has a good reason to kill Gaff at the end of the film — to protect Rachel… but doesn’t.

Some fans get around this by saying that it is possible that Deckard is part of a new NEXUS series that was created by Replicants… That doesn’t work either… Replicants are outlawed on Earth, so if Deckard were a machine created by a machine and his memories programmed, he couldn’t have a clearly developed history with Bryant and Holden…

This theme would seem to confirm Deckard’s humanity…

Problem is, it doesn’t…

Depending on which version of the film you see, it may or may not have had voice overs by Harrison Ford which give you insight into the character’s emotional reactions to the events of the film… Both Ford and Ridley Scott were opposed to the inclusion of the voice overs… My opinion is that they have a place in the Theatrical Cut, but I don’t miss them in the Director’s Cut and Final Cut…

These voice overs tend to humanize the character, and show that unlike the “emotionally immature” machines, Deckard has a firm emotional grounding. Without the voice overs, he comes across as just a cold, emotionless killing machine.

This is interesting, because the “emotional immaturity” of the Replicants — due to their four year life span — actually makes them very passionate… Dare I say: more passionate than the human characters in the film… “More human than Human’, describes Tyrell… Roy is very passionate about his fellow Replicants, his life experiences, love, regrets, mortality… Deckard on the other hand, dismisses these things as “occupational hazards”… This suggests that machines have more “Humanity” than the Human Race…

These themes argue that Deckard is not a Replicant… But that does not end the debate…

There are several other controversial themes prevalent in Ridley Scott’s work that would indicate that he could be a machine… These themes include memories and dreams, and the “sexual urges of robots…” which was a theme that Ridley carried over from Alien. We’ll discuss those tomorrow.

And Friday, we’ll discuss production design, and the look of the film…

Posted in Movies | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Coming Soon: Blade Runner Breakdown

Coming later this week, a discussion/dissection of Blade Runner. I won’t spend too much time on whether or not the hero is a replicant since there has been much debate on that topic already, but there are a lot of other interesting themes to look at…

Coming soon… (I need to brush up on the multiple versions of the film first…)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Back in the Saddle Again…

Well, I’m back… It’s been a while… You know… I have been experimenting with various forms of social media, and none of them really give me the opportunity to express my thoughts in long form…

I miss that… I find that writing over several paragraphs really helps me to organize my thoughts.

I am not sure how regularly I will keep this up this time… But I do promise to write about things I find cool and interesting…

It will be random…

It may be insightful (periodically)…

It will be a fun ride… 😉

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

Top 10 Guitarists

I was listening to the song “Home” by Dream Theater this morning, and it got me thinking: Who would I choose if I were putting together a list of the top 10 guitarists?

10.  Richie Sambora – The 12-string riff on “Wanted Dead or Alive” has to count for something… 

9.  Robert Randolf – I saw him in concert a few years back, and he covered Hendrix on a steel pedal guitar!!!  Anyone who can do THAT deserves to be on any list!

8.  Eric Clapton

7.  Slash – Like number 10, I am partially basing this one on riffs.  However, Slash was one of my inspirations for learning to play guitar.  When I was young, Guns ‘n Roses had some great guitar driven songs.

6.  Keith Richards – The rhythm guitarist for the Rolling Stones is responsible for some of the most recognizable riffs in rock history.  Some people would say that Ronnie Wood is the better guitar player, but I was watching a Stones concert on TV a few days ago, and Keith just has this style of playing that is almost effortless.  It was amazing to see him make playing the guitar look so easy…

5.  Eddie Van Halen

4.  The Edge (U2) – The Edge has a very interesting style of playing.  I can associate with his style because like me, he is more interested in tone and effects than in the amount of notes. 

He has a very distinct (pre-Achtung Baby) sound which was more of a clean and ringing tone with lots of delay, and a distinct (post-Achtung Baby sound), which is more distorted, with lots of sustain, but still manages to maintain hints of that classic U2 sound.

3.  Jimi Hendrix – “…Cause I’m a voodoo child, yeah!!!”  ‘Nuff said.

2.  Stevie Ray Vaughn – Stevie said in interviews that he could not read music, so he learned to play simply by feel.  Easily, the best blues guitarist of all time, Stevie played his guitar hard, with a lot of passion.  Now, what is interesting about that is that he played an electric guitar with .13 gauge strings, and his fingers would typically start bleeding halfway though a set, and he would just keep playing.

(Also… the man covered Hendrix, and Robert Randolf said (in an interview on the 2010 Crossroads DVD) that Stevie’s version of Voodoo Child was better.

1. John Petrucci – Probably the most versatile guitarist on this list.  As the lead guitarist for Dream Theater, Petrucci has played some incredible axe shredding solos.  However, he is also very skilled in jazz and classical guitar styles, as demonstrated on his live album with Jordan Rudess. 

Note: I have not put explanations for some of the more obvious choices because their music speaks for itself.

As always, feel free to comment and let me know your opinions (or if I left anyone out that you fell should have been included…)

Best wishes,

Bryan

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Fate of Atlantis

On this 4th of July Weekend, I think it is appropriate that we take a minute to reflect on one of our country’s finest achievements.  As most of us know, this will be the final liftoff of the space shuttle Atlantis, marking the end of NASA’s shuttle program.

A few years ago, the President of the United States cut the funding for NASA’s Constellation program, which was supposed to replace the current shuttle fleet.  An unfortunate side effect of this decision was that nearly 10,000 NASA employees in the Vehicle Assembly Building are now out of work. 

I grant you that the people who lost their jobs are highly skilled workers who should have no problem finding work for the various entrepreneurs who eventually hope to offer commercial space flights (for example: Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic).  However, I can’t help but feel that this is another in a string of recent hits to our national pride.

When Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the Moon in 1969, fulfilling President Kennedy’s vision, it sent a message to the rest of the world that America was the dominant power in the “space race”.  And that was a title our country retained with the invention of the shuttle. 

The large cargo capacity of the space shuttle has allowed it to carry scientific instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope into space.  Also, the shuttle was the workhorse behind the larger components of the International Space Station. 

Neither the Russians or Chinese have spacecraft that can rival the cargo capacity of the shuttle so I have to wonder if the decision to cancel the shuttle program will put an end to the space station’s construction.

I believe that we are witnessing the end of an era in American ingenuity.  Back in 1969 the world watched in awe as our countrymen landed on the Moon.  I think it is an embarrassing reversal of fortune that we will now have to hitch a ride with a foreign agency just to make into orbit for the time being.

As always, feel free to launch your comments into cyberspace here and let me know what you think.

…and of course, have a GREAT 4th of July weekend!!!

Best wishes,

Bryan

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

My First Amendment

Well…  this is unusual for me.  I am about to amend a prior post. 

A few days ago, I commented that the Apple Corporation’s ITunes software is killing the compact disc.  Well… I just downloaded Sister Hazel’s new record titled “11411”.  It was being sold for free as a promotion on Amazon.com, and well…  who am I to resist free music?

It would be nice to hear the album on my stereo, but for what I paid, I will happily settle for listening with headphones.  Sorry Compact Disc.  You’re still my number one…

Best wishes,

Bryan

Ps.  By the way… the album is pretty good, but it includes 3 acoustic versions of older songs too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who Killed the Compact Disc?

Last week, I read an interesting article.  Someone was interviewing Jon Bon Jovi, and he mentioned that “Steve Jobs killed the music business.”

Now, I am a fan of Bon Jovi, and have been since the 80’s, but in this case, he is wrong. 

The I-Pod didn’t kill the music business, and neither did its inventor.   In fact, the ITunes service has allowed greater access to musical content such as emerging artists.  I would think that Jon Bon Jovi would respect that since he himself had to fight his way to the top “once upon a time, not so long ago”.

He is correct though that there is a problem here.  The mp3 format (as any HiFi audio nut will tell you) is a very low fidelity format that uses a lot of compression.  As a result, it does not have the same clarity as a Compact Disc, or an SACD.  Yet, people now download albums off of ITunes faster than the CDs fly off the shelf. 

Bon Jovi should not have a problem with this, since the artists still get paid if someone downloads an album through ITunes.  I however, do.

I like CDs.  I like that a HiFi format exists that allows me to hear every little nuance the artist intended.  I already lost the SACD format in the battle against mp3s. 

Think I am crazy for being a fan of SACDs even though they are now considered a dead format?  Consider this: home theater receivers no longer contain the jacks for a SACD player.  Now, all receivers can also connect to your I-Pod through a wireless connection.  Could we be approaching the point where home theaters no longer connect to a CD player too at some point in the near future?

Food for thought…

As always, feel free to chime in and let me know what you think. 
Best wishes,

Bryan

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment