Strange Days

Strange Days takes us to a dystopian world at the end of the 20th century. The exact date is December 30, 1999. The millennium countdown has begun. The setting is Los Angeles, but a Los Angeles ridden by racial tensions, police roadblocks, experimental music, and ubiquitous SQUID disks.

Review by SAndman
August 25, 2008

Strange Days Movie

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Writers:
story: James Cameron
screenplay: James Cameron and Jay Cocks

Cast:
Ralph Fiennes as Lenny Nero
Juliette Lewis as Faith Justin
Angela Bassett as Lornette 'Mace' Mason
Tom Sizemore as Max Peltier
Vincent D'Onofrio as Burton Steckler

Released: 1995

Tick: One man's mundane and desperate existence is another man's Technicolor.



SQUID, or short for Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices is the latest in technology. Initially used as a means of police surveillance it has become the best-selling illegal product on the market. Far better than TV, this is real life, squirmy fresh and dripping with emotions.

You can experience all kinds of things by way of SQUID or Playback disks - the two are synonymous. SQUID records whatever is happening to a man and then by playing the disks you get access to any sensation right off his cerebral cortex, so virtually you play his life back. Options are boundless. Sex, violence, even death. And the combination of the three!

Oddly enough, there is no mention of the Internet in this version of the future. SQUID, or Playback, is the cutting edge of technology in Strange Days. You will, however, soon notice that the director and the writers decided to keep cellphones in the movie.

The plot of Strange days follows the petty pusher Lenny Nero, a former cop, on his rounds from the point when he obtains raw uncut Playback stuff to his private Playback sessions at home, in which he plays the disks with his own recorded memories, which all revolve around his ex-girlfriend Faith.

Most of the action takes place at night, and the only moments when we see any daylight in the movie are when we are watching a Playback. This is a nice touch. It is partly because Lenny's routine entails sleeping at day and working at night, and partly because this movie is about illusions and the interplay between the real and unreal.

The light of day = the light of truth. Since we know a Playback can never be completely real, despite everything Lenny would have us think, we have the nagging feeling that something is just not right with Lenny's world.

Lenny wanders the violence infested streets of LA from one seedy joint to another hustling customers, meeting weird individuals, and generally getting himself in trouble.

Lenny is a loser who keeps himself afloat by one thing alone - he desperately hangs on the hope that Faith might still be in love with him although everything we see points to the contrary.

One of his friends, a pro named Iris, comes to him looking for help. It has to do with a certain Playback disk which the police are looking for all over the place. She warns him that Faith might be in trouble too. Soon Iris disappears and Lenny stumbles upon a disturbing revelation.

Strange Days combines a mystery plot with a deeply upsetting love story in a stark near-future setting. The original technology, SQUID, and more importantly its profound effect on the characters' lives, as well as the dystopic background, make Strange Days a true science fiction movie.

Add to that really clever directing, a nuanced script and a fine cast and you get a...masterpiece?

I leave that part to you. I will just say that Strange Days was one of those few cold-hot-hotter movies. The first watching left me fairly cold. The second watching pulled me in. Suddenly the movie was starting to make perfect sense. I began to see all the good points - and there are plenty of those. Another watching and I was hooked.

And thought I should spread the word. :)



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