Thursday, June 6, 2013
Watched last night the strange noirish-sci-fi movie Dark City (1998), about a constantly changing urban area (similar to a 1940s-50s New York City) constructed in space that was formed and manipulated telepathically by a dying race of extra-terrestrials, who by using and frequently altering the memories of human beings (possibly former dead bodies, but this is unsure) seek to discover the soul. The infrastructure seems to change nightly during "tuning" by a gathering of Strangers, who also imprint different memories in specific humans to see how they might react to new surroundings and events. A few humans (including a doctor who works with the aliens, played by Keifer Sutherland, and a former detective who appears mentally unbalanced) are aware that the city is always in nighttime mode and that people and places are changing. After a series of murders of prostitutes, another detective (played by the great William Hurt) takes the case and gradually comes to a new understanding of his world. The alleged murdered, who after he leaves his cheating wife is programed by the Strangers to kill, suddenly develops powers akin to that of the alien host, and a conflict is set up between he and his handlers. The photography is very dark, a throwback to 1940s style, but that also informs future films (I think), such as The Crow and Sin City, for instance, which the story seems to foreshadow later efforts such as The Matrix and Inception. The reason I thought perhaps characters were already dead and just reanimated was when people fall asleep during tuning, some are clearly placed in positions where they should die, such as drowning in a bowl of soup or a bath. The test subjects are basically rats in a maze, several times alluded to by Sutherland's characters giant rat maze. The movie was very good. There are some questions though. Why didn't the Strangers fix the crazy detective (did they just want to see what would happen)? Was Hurt's character changed, even slightly during the investigation, or were very small changes and flips of character traits just something that happened with all the telepathy-alterations. If the aliens could so thoroughly and spectacularly change the physical surroundings, and could make people fall asleep with a wave of hand, why couldn't they just imprint memories themselves, and not through some injection? Perhaps the injections just made the process that much more creepy. I loved the shadows and the costumes. Some of the fight scenes could have been made a bit more menacing and scary.