Archive for the ‘Blade Runner’ Category

‘My Kid Could Paint That’: mixed-message masterpiece

March 3, 2008

The jury remains out on My Kid Could Paint That, the story of a pre-school girl whose abstract paintings sold for big bucks before a 60 Minutes feature suggested the works were done, instead, by her father. But it certainly doesn’t make the art world look good, in that, if the paintings are a ruse, so many were suckered in by them.

There’s also the question of what is art: a bunch of odd colors and shapes mixed together into a glop which allegedly sparks deep meaning? Or is there true, intrinsic artfulness, even for abstract works?

This superb documentary leaves it to the viewer to decide, but for me, I found the film to concern not art so much as today’s alarmingly worsening sense of stage parents, Little League parents, whatever you want to call them, who use their children to make money or to live out their own dreams without giving the kid much of a choice and while robbing them of their once-in-a-lifetime innocence.

Many parents today are even encouraging their kids to take steroids so they can become star athletes — the health risks be damned. That’s how bad the culture has gotten.

How about just letting a kid be a kid? Is that asking so much? If a parent wanted employees, they should have hired them, not given birth to them.

‘Blade Runner’: More sci-fi with class

December 21, 2007

Give Ridley Scott this: The man can take an often maligned genre, sci-fi, and make it shine like a sun in nova. He first did so with 1979’s Alien, giving a horror show in space a classiness bordering on elegance (despite the gore). He then returned to resplendent sci-fi with 1982’s Blade Runner, a film both classy and classic — and so much a classic that’s it’s now new in several DVD configurations, including a five-disc box set.

You can take your pick which cut you prefer from several that Scott offers, but in each you’ll find an absorbing noir thriller in which Harrison Ford’s hunter of replicants (androids) ranges through wet, steamy L.A. of the not-distant future.

It’s also L.A. of the not-distant past, when it comes to landmarks and sci-fi reference points.

Part of Blade Runner was shot in the architectural majesty of the Bradbury Building, a structure on a seedy side of downtown L.A. (trust me — I’ve paid it a visit) that’s been used in many film and TV productions. In fact, its wrought-iron interior was the chief setting for a classic Outer Limits episode from 1964, Demon With a Glass Hand, penned by Harlan Ellison. That story and Ellison’s Outer Limits script for Soldier shared so many elements with 1984’s The Terminator that Ellison took legal action and later received screen credit for that film.

Actually, his story shot in the Bradbury Building also shares elements with Blade Runner, and more than the setting. Yes, androids were big in ’64, too. In fact, another Outer Limits episode not written by Ellison, The Duplicate Man (based on a 1951 story by Clifford D. Simak), is even closer to Blade Runner in terms of its illegal or “bootleg” androids or replicants.

Of course, Blade Runner was drawn from a source novel by Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? But that was written in 1968, several years after the Outer Limits episodes. I’m telling you: That ’60s sci-fi anthology series was fertile ground for creativity, and it contines to yield rich harvests, directly or indirectly, today.