Friday, March 22, 2013

Strange Days (1995)

WHO: Kathryn Bigelow directed this after Near Dark, Blue Steel, and Point Break, and before The Weight of Water, K-19: the Widowmaker, The Hurt Locker and the controversial Zero Dark Thirty (which is still showing in a few local theatres).

WHAT: I've never seen Strange Days but I remember when it came out well; I was a college radio DJ at the time and gave at least a spin or two to the title track to the soundtrack, a cover of the Doors classic performed by New York City "industrial" metal band Prong, with Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek playing along. In fact another band's version of the Doors song was originally supposed to be used in the film and appear on the CD. But in the cutthroat world of placing songs on mid-nineties soundtracks to would-be blockbuster films, it was decided that a Sony-signed artist should be given the pride of place on the Sony-released soundtrack, so the Wax Trax-affiliated Sister Machine Gun's version was nixed in favor of Prong. (Their version can be heard on the CD Burn -- if you have a CD player that can rewind from the beginning of track 1, that is). Of course, the movie flopped financially, doing little to help Sony, Prong, or Manzarek. It's only been in recent years that I've begun to hear cinephiles recommend it as a neglected example of pre-millennial science fiction that prefigures The Matrix and other cyberpunk-inflected films.

WHERE/WHEN: Screens tonight only at the Castro Theatre as an almost-midnight movie. Listed star time: 11:30 PM

WHY: We've lived through the Y2K switchover, we've lived through the year 2012, and we've even lived through The Matrix Reloaded (not necessarily in that order). So perhaps it's just the right time to revisit this on a big screen with a charged-up audience. Seeing a movie at the witching hour at the Castro Theatre is always a treat, and certainly not an everyday occurrence. The next movie to play this late time slot at the venue will be on April 19th when Brian De Palma's Carrie makes an appearance, in plenty of time for the Senior Prom. Much of the Castro's April calendar has in fact been revealed on the theatre website, or (in the case of April 25th and a couple of May dates) on the San Francisco Film Society's. Take a look and see what strikes your fancy.

HOW: Strange Days is the culmination of a MiDNiTES FOR MANiACS triple-bill entitled "Mentors Matter"; the other two films in the trio include Rocky III and Léon: The Professional, neither one of them a film I have particularly fond memories of, but perhaps that's all the more reason to re-evaluate them now. All three screen in 35mm prints.

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