July 7, 2010

Strange Days - 1995

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writers: James Cameron & Jay Cocks
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Vincent D'Onofrio, William Fichtner

"Memories are meant to fade. They're designed that way for a reason." Before they both rose to fame with Hurt Locker and Titanic, respectively, Bigelow and Cameron collaborated on this film. Former cop Lenny Nero (Fiennes) is now a black market dealer for SQUID devices, which allow the wearer to relive the experiences of another person. In an attempt to regain a connection with former girlfriend Faith (Lewis), he and his friend Mace (Bassett) get tangled up in a case involving a series of SQUID-related deaths which may have greater ramifications than either of them realize.

Forget about Titanic, and definitely forget about Avatar; this is the James Cameron script everyone needs to see. Despite a 2.5 hour runtime, every moment is engaging, the characters are well-developed, and the dialogue is fresh. Fiennes especially brings a humanizing aspect to an otherwise scummy character, and Lewis surprises with her singing ability required by the role. The opening two minutes or so of the film (a first-person single take involving a robbery, which Bigelow discusses for over an hour on the commentary track) makes the film worth watching. I would say this is as good a film as Hurt Locker (albeit for very different reasons), and far eclipses anything Cameron's written that I've seen.

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