Strange Days

Strange Days takes place over a two-day period starting December 30, 1999. It ends just after midnight of January 1st 2000.

Many movies have tried to fit into a new genre or to recombine exiting genres, most have failed. A new genre that seems to becoming more popular is the synthesis of Sci-Fi and Film Noir. Blade Runner and Dark City are two excellent examples of this new type of film. Now there is a definite third, Strange Days.

Strange Days takes place over a two-day period starting December 30, 1999. It ends just after midnight of January 1st 2000. The store revolves around an assassination of a popular Black leader Jeriko One. The tales is not told in the usual manner of flashbacks but rather by employing a ‘new’ technology, jacking. Jacking is a means to relive another’s experiences through a little CD and a player. The full experience is recorded, sight, sound, emotions and feelings. As a good friend of mine, Ed, noted, this makes Strange Days a sequel to Brainstorm, the last movie made by Natalie Wood. Strange Days opens with you literally in the back seat of a car. The men in front are preparing for a hold-up. The voices and sounds enfold you as you get out of the car and proceed with the robbery. It turns out that this is a jack clip, recorded by the robber and being sold on the black market. This provides not only a nice introduction to the technology at the center of the plot but also the subtle changes in the Dolby sound field that encompasses the clips.

The acting in Strange Days is above the typical fare found in such films. Ralph Fiennes is Lenny Nero, an ex-cop that now lives a rather seedy life selling jack rigs and clips to the bored lawyers, bankers and stockbrokers. His ex-girl friend Faith (Juliette Lewis) os now with the former promoter of Jeriko One, Philo Gant (Michael Wincott) Philo is a sleezy film noir staple that adds effectively to the dank atmosphere of the film. Next there is a wonderful performance by Angela Bassett as Mace, bodyguard/limo driver and old friend of Lenny. Bassett is very buff for this role which is very much an action hero role for her. Character actor Tom Sizemore is perfect as Lenny’s ex-cop PI buddy Max. The shadiness of most of these characters is played almost as a forties noir giving a contrast between the end of the millennium and the old crime flicks some of us grew up watching. Filling out this excellent cast is Vincent D'Onofrio (Pvt Pyle in Full Metal Jacket) whose talent for very twisted, scary faces is not forgotten here. Characters ooze in and out of each scene popping up at just the right time. The pace of the movie is such that it keeps you watching and looking for more and more clues to the mysteries.

The direction by Kathryn Bigelow is excellent. Her use of camera angles, lighting and peripheral action is well done and adds lots to the plot rather than detract as many films today seem to do. The writing is by none other than James Cameron (Titanic) and is up there in quality with Terminator 2, The Abyss and True Lies. There is obviously a close understanding between the director and writer since the final product comes across as believable.

The DVD is well done. It would have been nice to have a commentary but the sound is rich and full. I have the THX videotape and the remix to Dolby 5.1 blows it away. The DVD is also THX certified and it shows. The best is when the scene shifts to a jacking sequence. The sound opens up and fills the room. You almost feel yourself rushing into the memory. Strange Days is a good addition to your collection.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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