Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Dark City"

In the comment thread of a previous post about Darren Aranofsky's film "The Fountain" ("Nigel Andrews on Darren Aranofsky"), we referred to another ambitious film with sci-fi elements that got mixed reviews, but was considered a masterpiece by at least one reviewer, Alex Proyas's 1998 film "Dark City". Below is the first paragraph of Roger Ebert's review of it (commenter Sivaram should be forewarned that Ebert mentions "2001: A Space Odyssey" in comparison):

``Dark City'' by Alex Proyas is a great visionary achievement, a film so original and exciting, it stirred my imagination like ``Metropolis'' and ``2001: A Space Odyssey.'' If it is true, as the German director Werner Herzog believes, that we live in an age starved of new images, then ``Dark City'' is a film to nourish us. Not a story so much as an experience, it is a triumph of art direction, set design, cinematography, special effects--and imagination.

As I noted to commenter J.K. in the Aranofsky comment thread, there were a few differences between the director's cut DVD of "Dark City" and the theatrical version. One of them was that, in the director's cut, Jennifer Connelly actually sang, instead of lip-syncing as she did in the theatrical version. The clip below, from the director's cut, features her singing "Sway".


DaveinHackensack said...

Incidentally, Connelly also starred in Sivaram's favorite film, Aranofsky's "Requiem for a Dream".

JK said...

I need to get the directors cut for a replacement. Anything to get around that awful narration in the beginning. Call me a movie snob I guess.

BTW, a film that got totally panned that I thought was decent was "Revolver" by guy Ritchie. Anyone else see this? It deserves some of the negativity directed at it (bad animation sequence, B list acting) but overall I thought it was entertaining. Not as good as Dark City, but entertaining.

While I'm at it, any other fans of American Psycho? That's one of my fav's up with Dark City.

Sivaram Velauthapillai said...

Requiem isn't my #1 but it's one of my top ones... just clarifying ;)

We may have completely oppositie political views, but we seem to share similar movie interests. I saw Dark City a while ago and, I liked it. I liked it better than The Fountain (although I saw Dark City a long time ago so don't remember it very well.) I don't know if I would call Dark City a masterpiece but it's certainly one of the top sci-fi films of all time IMO. Film noir + sci-fi is a good combo and Dark City is one of only two films (in the modern era; not familiar with older films) that has done it well (the other, of course, is Bladerunner.)

While we are on sci-fi, let me throw something your way... have you seen Solaris (either the original or the modern one)? Supposed to be the Russian answer to 2001:ASO. Totally polarizing but considered by some to be a masterpiece.

DaveinHackensack said...


Don't think I've seen American Psycho or Revolver. I liked Ritchies "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels", but it seems like he keeps making that movie. Definitely get the director's cut DVD of Dark City though. Some director's cuts are actually not as good as the theatrical versions (for example, the theatrical version of Michael Mann's "Last of the Mohicans" is better than his cut), but not in Dark City's case.


Correction noted.

I saw the recent version of Solaris starring George Clooney. It was OK -- better than I'd expect a Hollywood version would be -- but the tacked-on ending made no sense, and it cut out a lot of the most interesting stuff from Lem's book (read the book if you haven't, btw. There's a sequence in the beginning -- a review of the literature of "Solaristics" -- which is a clever exploration of the nature of science and epistemology). I only caught a few minutes of the Russian version once on IFC.

JK said...

"Revolver" is Ritchie's attempt at a more cerebral work. I'd tell you more but risk spoiling it. Just something you gotta see before you can talk about it.

Dave I really, really think you'd like American Psycho from what I know of your tastes so far. I'll pound the table for you to see that one.

"Deliverance" is another classic film, BTW.

You guys ready for Boondock Saints II?

DaveinHackensack said...

Was American Psycho by the fellow who wrote Less than Zero?

There's going to be a Boondock Saints II? I didn't see the first one, but I saw the great documentary about the making of it, and how the arrogant auteur basically pisses off all of his friends and pretty much everyone he meets in the film industry.

JK said...

Bret Easton Ellis, yep. American Psycho was a great book as well.

Yes, there will be a Boondock Saints II..unfortunately it won't have Willem Dafoe in it, who was great in the original. I haven't seen the documentary but it's not hard to imagine the creator of Boondock Saints being an arrogant asshole, just going by the movie alone.

Reading the wikipedia entry on BDS, I'm suprised to see it actually got poor reviews from critics when it first came out. I wonder if that had anything to do with Duffy pissing off everyone in the industry. Thank goodness for cult followings.

Bob Guccione said...

I haven't seen any of the mentioned movies but I am in awe of Jennifer Connelly's great rack.