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Dune (1984) Movie Retro Review By D.M. Anderson

Dune Review

Director: David Lynch
Writers: Frank Herbert (novel), David Lynch (screenplay)
Stars Kyle MacLachlan, Francesca Annis, Patrick Stewart, Sean Young, Jurgen Prochnow, Everett McGill, Max von Sydow, Richard Jordan, Kenneth McMillan, Sting, Brad Dourif, Dean Stockwell, Jose Ferrer, Virginia Madsen.

Home Remedy

As someone who doesn’t have money falling out his ass, I try to cut corners where I can. This is also probably why my wife seldom sends me to the grocery store by myself anymore, even when armed with a list, because I’ll usually come home with the cheapest shit on the shelves. Whenever I’ve argued there’s no difference between Diet Pepsi and the store brand knock-off, she’s countered with, “Then why buy a Blu-Ray when the DVD is five bucks cheaper?”

Well played, Francie, well played.

While it’s okay to cut some corners at the supermarket, I learned the hard way over the years not to pick up bargain brands of certain products unless I wish to incur my family’s wrath. At my house, it’s Best Foods mayo or nothing. I brought home a jar of Miracle Whip one time and, based on everyone’s reaction when I pulled it from the grocery bag, you’d have thought it was a human head. When it comes to dog food, my wife brought it to my attention that chicken products are bad for Wheaten Terriers, so simple Dog Chow is now out of the question. Have you ever tried to find dog food that doesn’t contain chicken? It’s like looking for one Waldo in a sea of other Waldos, and when you finally do find that bag o’ cluck-free kibbles, be ready to dip into your child’s college fund.

In my house, the same best-or-nothing mantra applies to ice cream, salad dressing, cereal, pain relievers, butter, juice, pancake syrup, lunch meat, cheese and feminine hygiene products.

Regarding the last item on that list, I’ve since flat-out refused to ever buy them again on my own. Not that I’m embarrassed or anything, but I live in a houseful of females, all of whom now endure their monthlies (yes, fear for me). Whenever someone’s cycle would start without warning, my wife used to make the stupid mistake of trusting me to venture to Walgreens for these items with instructions regarding which brand and type. However, there are more varieties of napkins and tampons than there are stars in the heavens. Directions for assembling IKEA furniture are less confusing than the obscure labels and charts plastered on these products, which minutely differentiate one type from another. As a guy with no personal frame-of-reference regarding menstrual maladies, of course I’m gonna pick the cheapest thing which most closely resembles the instructions handed to me. After all, pads are pads, right?

Hence, one of our bathroom cupboards is filled with feminine products purchased by yours truly that no women in my house are willing to use. I suppose exchanging them for the right product was an option, but I’ve since found other uses for them, such as makeshift coffee filters, killing spiders and wiping dust from my precious home theater system. In fact, there are websites which show a variety of alternative uses for sanitary napkins. Seriously.

As other thrifty homebodies can attest, you can save a lot of hard-earned cash by turning worthless items into something handy. Used coffee grounds make great garden fertilizer, Coca-Cola is an effective toilet bowl cleaner, the Nickelback CDs you’re now ashamed to admit owning make terrific retro-hip beverage coasters for your next shindig, and those old dirty pillowcases are perfect for the idiots in your life who’d benefit from a pummeling by a sack of doorknobs.

Then there are myriad home remedies which can cure what ails you. A stick of butter applied to a burn provides immediate relief (unless you’re on fire, of course), snorting a few lines of Drano will clear those sinuses right up, and punching someone in the stomach will temporarily help them forget about that migraine headache. I sometimes suffer from bouts of insomnia, but since this only occurs occasionally, it doesn’t make much sense to spend ten bucks on an entire bottle of potentially-addicting sleeping pills…not when I’ve got my trusty old DVD copy of Dune handy.

Helmed by the perpetually psychotic David Lynch (who turned down Return of the Jedi to direct this), Dune is an all-star trainwreck that bombed in theatres when initially released in 1984, but has since found a sizable cult following (like most of Lynch’s films, actually). It’s based on the classic novel by Frank Herbert, one of the biggest sci-fi douchebags this side of Harlan Ellison. I say this because back in 1983, Iron Maiden recorded a song inspired by Dune and respectfully asked permission to title it after the novel. Herbert’s publicist responded with, “No. Because Herbert doesn’t like rock bands, particularly heavy rock bands and especially rock bands like Iron Maiden.”  Never mind the fact Maiden was huge at the time and Herbert hadn’t written a relevant novel since Dune was published back in 1965. In fact, Maiden’s song, retitled “To Tame a Land,” likely turned more young readers onto this old fart’s novel than the now-legendary Hollywood flop which effectively killed any chance of Dune ever becoming a film franchise.

To say Dune is convoluted would be an understatement. Upon its release, Universal felt the need to provide ticket buyers with a two-page glossary of terms used in the film, apparently forgetting nobody can read in the dark. Unless you’ve actually read the book, the story itself is perplexing enough to make 2001: A Space Odyssey look like Flash Gordon. It’s also bloated with about 12,000 characters to keep track of, their dialogue & actions sometimes making little sense without your book and glossary handy. Speaking of dialogue….it is really fucking bad, especially the overuse of character voiceovers in a futile attempt to clarify what’s going on. As for the performances…they range from low-key & earnest to godawful & over-the-top. The same could be said about the special effects. Except the sandworms, of course. Those things are awesome.

Still, I’ve always kind of liked Dune. Sure, it’s long, slow and hard to follow, but there’s also an ethereal quality to much of its imagery and music which I’ve always found somehow relaxing, particularly during the first half. For me, watching Dune is like receiving a therapeutic massage while new age music drifts throughout the room. Actually, I don’t recall the last time I watched the film in its entirety because it usually lulls me to sleep before the first sandworm even shows up. That suits me fine because Dune gets really stupid during the second half.

All of which means Dune serves a useful purpose in my household. As a teacher, I typically get so used to staying up late during the summer that it’s difficult to hit the sack early on those nights just before returning to work. But rather than rely on synthetic sleep aids, all I do now is pop in Dune, turn off all the nights and nestle into the couch with a blanket and a beer. More often than not, I’m soon zonked and snoring like an toddler on Benadryl.

Regardless of what one thinks of the movie, Dune is often pretty to look at (except for the whole heartplug scene) and the soundtrack is wonderful, the only decent thing Toto ever recorded. If you’re one of those still inclined to write it off as another overwrought Hollywood disaster, might I suggest keeping a copy around as a safe, non-addictive alternative cure for your insomnia? As a home remedy, it’s ultimately a lot cheaper and you’ll still wake up feeling refreshed…probably with the “Prophecy Theme” stuck in your head. 

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Blade Runner (1982) Movie Retro Review by John Walsh

BLADE RUNNER

Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Hampton Fancher (screenplay), David Webb Peoples (screenplay)
Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young

Well, I felt it was finally time to watch a particular cult classic from 1982 with the impending release of its sequel Blade Runner 2048 approaching fast. I have of course heard and read much about the original Blade Runner, but for whatever reason, had never gotten round to seeing it.

I was a little apprehensive of what to expect going in because of its setting, year of release and the tendency for sci-fi films of that era, with a few notable exceptions, to not really age well. I’m pleased to say though that it was visually quite impressive for a 35 year old film and the slightly optimistic 2019 landscape (flying cars and all) was interesting to say the least. Ridley Scott clearly took inspiration from Star Wars in the way he chose to blend the futuristic setting with a gritty, lived in feel.

Story wise, it’s a pretty straight forward, double perspective plot that follows main protagonist, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), an ex-police officer forcibly returned to active service to track down and ‘retire’ four Nexus-6 replicants. Just to be clear, the latter are not smartphones, but instead advanced, bioengineered beings created by the frankensteinian Tyrell Corporation. With just a four year lifespan, they have went awol in search of an extended existence and are essentially given death sentences as a result.

It opens with one such replicant, Leon Kowalski (Brion James) being put through the ‘Voight-Kampff’ test by a Blade Runner, in a rather smokey office environment, to determine whether he’s human or not. The test working by assessing the emotional response to a series of questions. This doesn’t end well for poor Holden (Morgan Paull), who’s quickly shot and killed, kicking off the action in brutal fashion. Step forward the aforementioned Deckard who then begins the unenviable task of tracking them down.

During all of this we have the synchronous story of lead replicant, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Leon for a short while and his beautiful, acrobatic sidekick, Pris Stratton (Daryl Hannah). They track down an engineer by the name of J. F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), who incidentally has a similar affliction via a strange glandular disease, for the sole reason of arranging a meeting with their creator Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel). A meeting which unsurprisingly ends in tears when it’s established there’s no way of extend their short lifespan.

Harrison Ford is a match made in heaven for the role of Deckard. A tired looking man, reluctant to get involved, who ends up deeply conflicted when he develops a relationship with Rachael (Sean Young), an experimental replicant with implanted memories. He’s got the right level of gruffness and humanity, and brandishes his iconic gun with all the swagger and confidence of Indy or Han Solo. He takes a fair beating at times too, often at the hands of his female colleagues and just carries the film with absolute ease.

Likewise, I thought Rutger Hauer was an exceptional villain (if you can call him that). Yes, his character is a bit of a cold, psychopathic, killer. But he has justifiable reasons for this. The oppressive police and government within the world have effectively outcasted him and the others, forcing them underground and leaving them living in perpetual fear of their lives. He’s got a bit of an iconic look going on with the bleached blonde hair and piercing, blue eyes and he plays the role very well. The final scenes with him and Deckard were riveting.

Other noteworthy performances for me, were Daryl Hannah and Sean Young. Pris, something of a manipulative, deranged, acrobatic seductress, had more than a passing resemblance of an 80s Harley Quinn and Hannah was perfectly cast and played the part brilliantly. Young was impressive too as the conflicted replicant Rachael. Her romantic sub-plot with Deckard and the thematic questions it posed brought a refreshing change of pace to the film, which was quite frankly frenetic.

I throughly enjoyed watching Blade Runner and although it’s aged well, there is some dated parts in it, most notably the retro computer screens, but that’s only to be expected and certainly didn’t take me out of the experience. There was some really good performances, excellent cinematography and the plot managed to captivate me for the entirety of the running time. I like the thematically complex nature of the story, which is nearly nonexistent in similar films these days. It questioned the uneasy relationship between humanity and AI, the meaning of life, consciousness and even mortality itself.

It also finished with an excellent, ambiguous ending that left the ball in the viewers court with regards to Deckard and whether he himself was a replicant. I love me some ambiguity in movies, so well done Blade Runner.

I couldn’t possibly finish this review without giving a special mention to that Roy quote. “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain”. I thought that was a beautiful moment and incredibly poignant.

I’m sure most people will have seen this classic, but if you haven’t then give it a shot. It’s a brilliant film.

Rating: 5/5