Strange Days - * * * *

Futuristic film noir mystery with excellent performances and thrilling cinematography. The story take place in Los Angeles at the end of the millenium, where civic unrest and racial tensions have hit a new peak. Ralph Fiennes is Lenny Nero, an ex-cop turned black-market dealer of a new technology that can record and playback human experiences. He is obsessed with the past, spending his free time playing recorded memories of his ex-girlfriend Faith (Juliette Lewis), who now wants nothing to do with him. His two friends are drinking buddy and private eye Tom Sizemore, and an athletic limo driver, Angela Bassett. Nero stumbles into trouble when he gains possession of a mysterious recording of the rape-murder of a hooker associate of him and Faith. The illusion of memory playback in the film is achieved with hypnotically long tracking shots. The film opens with such a clip of a robbery gone bad, and it instantly captivates the audience. But Strange Days does not stop there…it complements its cinematography with a chilling portrait of society, and a tangled web of murder. Aside from two stereotypically racist LAPD cops, the characterizations and performances are first rate. Fiennes is wonderful as the flawed hero, and Bassett is strong as the woman who cares for him most. Perhaps the most intriguing angle of the story is its subtle analysis of sex, violence and entertainment. Nero refuses to deal in “blackjack” clips (snuff clips which involve murder or death), even though they are popular. However, the most riveting moments in the film are when those “blackjack” clips are shown.

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