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cyberpunk

jenkins · 28 · 5884

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jenkins

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on: January 13, 2014, 01:28:39 PM
Quote
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
opening line to william gibson's neuromancer, which is a book that helped spawn cyberpunk

cyberpunk (that's what i'm calling tech movies right now, there are other/maybe better names, i like tech noir and it's the name of a bar in terminator), cyberpunk movies i've seen and enjoyed:

johnny mnemonic
virtuosity
electric dreams
her
the net
ghost in the machine
ghost in the shell
hackers
existenz

ones i haven't seen:

wargames
tron
the lawnmower man

^^bet those are good. ones i'm forgetting to mention:

i forget
mmwait, the matrix, i forgot the matrix for example

ok, i've supplied examples to frame the context. this is a genre i in fact love, and imo it's the sci-fi equivalent to space travel for our age, in that the majority of sci-fi movies in the 50s/60s used developing space technology as a foundation for imaginative speculations about the future. the famous quote "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" was quite true, and the space age shift had rippling cultural effects. we went to space back then, we're still going to space, but for us now computers and their implementation into our lives has drastically altered the shape of human existence. the evidence here is self-sustaining, because i'm writing this for a message board and you're reading it wherever you are. we're sharing thoughts and ideas while we don't irl know each other. you mainly use my words to picture me in a physical form, good job your imagination, but really what i look like to you is this: i look like this. this is a selfie i've given myself for the message board: this

for us it's not very wacky. i know you're familiar with computers and the internet because here you are. if your'e older you witnessed the boom in the 90s, and if you're younger you've always had the internet and computers. it's a familiar concept for us, but the full extent of its influence on mankind is so fucking mysterious that there's futurlogy, which is my favorite type of science because it's not actually science, it's a kinda science that knows for sure we live in an age that's so unpredictable our future is unguessable and it requires people who are heavy researchers and thinkers to try and figure out what the fuck is going on. cultural changes happen in our world much more rapidly than they have in the past, and no one any longer knows how to guess what'll happen next

to clarify, it's not a movie with a computer i'm talking about, as there are many and many of those, and it's not a movie in which a computer operates as a plot point, i'm talking about movies in which computers are a central component of story, character, and behavior. positive i didn't list all of them, please remind me of others and/or join the conversation

i'm not joking around, this is my favorite genre. i maybe sound like i'm being jokey, because for example this recent excitement was generated by rewatching johnny mnemonic for the fifth or so time

johnny mnemonic. mhmm. johnny mnemonic is the only feature film directed by robert longo, it was written by the estimable william gibson, stars keanu reeves and ice-t and takeshi kitano and henry rollins and udo kier, a heroin-addicted dolphin, and dolph lundgren plays a jesus-like hired killer. the studio chopped into it, sadly and of course, so cyberpunks didn't appreciate it, longo and gibson were frustrated, reeves was nominated for a golden raspberry, it's not taken seriously, and i like it every time i watch it. it's goofy and fails as a serious movie, but i enjoy the threads of topic and various incorporations of tech ideas and broadening global culture. i think through tech devices it succeeds as escapism, andbut gibson is known for merging escapism and thought, and it's hard to suck thoughts out of the movie johnny mnemonic. which makes everyone hard on the movie. glaring imperfections are easy distractions from appreciations, but you gotta admit that's overlooking the heroin-addicted dolphin a little bit. that's perfect. perfect dolphin. if you forget, the dolphin kills dolph (lol)

i'd like to give credit to spike jonze for creating a movie that's won a golden globe, made many top ten lists, been appreciated by people here, and is centered on a human and a computer. he made the fantastic emotional, he top-teired the genre, and i admire that. please feel free to discuss her, or any computer movie

feel free to hack your brain


Mel

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Reply #1 on: January 13, 2014, 03:28:48 PM
I'm not huge on cyberpunk, yet there is one aspect that is very interesting. It often deals with utopias/dystopias and those provide very rich ground for social commentary. This is itself a wider genre: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dystopian_films

There are some hidden gems there, like "Kin-dza-dza!":



Some time ago I was reminded of book "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream". This is a nice remind of limitation of our imagination - huge computers of building size at the time, when book was written. This can be compared with "Her" and smartphones right now.
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Lottery

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Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 06:12:32 PM
I'm not sure if I'd call Her traditionally cyberpunk. But some of the basic elements are there.

ghost in the shell

The first Ghost in the Shell film had the thing nailed. But I think the show Stand Alone Complex is the the true peak of the series. A bit verbose and heavy on the intellectual moments, it's one of the most interesting complex shows I've seen. It does away with a lot of the cyberpunk atmosphere but I hear the new 4 part mini/movie/series Ghost in the Shell Arise is a return to that sort of thing.

Also let's not forget The Matrix, brilliant, brilliant little thing.

And this looks quite promising:



wilder

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Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 07:25:07 PM
I watched The Matrix again for the first time in maybe a decade a few weeks ago. Shocking how its concept feels so much less scifi than it used to. You could say the same about some of the tech in Strange Days, which seems right around the corner:



Also:



"I tip my hat to any entity that could bring so much integrity to evil."


AI, Minority Report, Robocop, and World on a Wire are other worthy mentions...some of these skate the line...


Lottery

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Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 08:02:45 PM
There needs to be some good new cyberpunk on the market. I've been a huge sci-fi nut all my life and I have trouble getting into a lot of the stuff these days. The stuff we see today just doesn't have the right atmosphere.

The dude who did the Aphex Twin videos was going to make the Neuromancer film years ago but nothing came of that.


jenkins

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Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 08:15:19 PM
I'm not sure if I'd call Her traditionally cyberpunk. But some of the basic elements are there.

i know what you mean. cyberpunk was the term i chose but let's admit, the term cyberpunk is a bit dated. i just mean movies with computers in their narrative foundations

enjoy the mentioning of utopias/dystopias and atmosphere. i agree atmospheres are missing

world on a wire is a great og example. robocop let's count as the most fun thing we can count, total recall as close enough, and the total recall remake as the least good thing we can count and an example of a movie missing its atmosphere. i've never seen ai! seems embarrassing i've never seen ai. of course, already embarrassed because i forgot to mention a stone-cold computer classic: antitrust (rude of me tbh). minority report uses computers for futuristic ads, vehicular travel, homemovie watching, and cop things. for sure topical


wilder

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Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 08:27:05 PM
If we're expanding this topic to include dystopian films, want to toss out Morning Patrol (1987), at the top of my to see list. Atmosphere to spare:



A woman is walking alone through an abandoned city. She approaches the forbidden zone and tries to pass through. Everywhere the Morning Patrol and deceptive traps are watching. The city itself is alive but uncontrolled. Computer voices warn non-existing inhabitants to leave the city. The communication system works... cinemas show films... classic faces of a past era flash across TV screens. She is confronted by one of the few survivors guarding the city. They will come close to each other ; they will try to recall the past. Together they unravel their tangled memory - threads of this catastrophe and decide to penetrate the zone together ; They are linked by the bonds of violence and death since no other behaviour is possible in this kind of world. Is there an end? Is there hope and any future since no person that was allowed through ever returned to tell us whether the freedom of the sea exists. The fugitives encounter increasing dangers... A story of love in this unbearable world... what point can it have?

Full subtitled movie on youtube here.


Lottery

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Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 08:32:31 PM
Spielberg had a whole team of futurists to build the world of Minority Report but I find it such a poor representation of a possible future. Admitedly there's a bunch of ideas that are spot on but from a visual and practial perspective, I find it hard to agree with. AI is more convincing (early on at least).
I'll have to wait until I'm 62 before I'm really allowed to ridicule it.


jenkins

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Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 09:10:54 PM
i'll try to watch morning patrol soon, maybe tomorrow. thanks for the youtube protip

lottery i'd like to hear what you don't agree with about the future world of minority report. good future chat. i remember computers controlled cars, cruise had a sophisticated moviewatching setup, and ads said his name and tailored to his interests. that's what i remember about minority report. was it spielbergian in some way? i'm remembering or imagining wacky guns. positive, cop or government things or something like that were included


Alexandro

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Reply #9 on: January 15, 2014, 02:47:02 AM
the future in minority report is pretty plausible, particularly the lack of privacy in advertisement.
cyberpunk is like hal9000 in 2001, right? like, the idea of conscience shaken by a machine? the idea of "this reality is only a state of consciousness"?
anyway, nice genre.


Lottery

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Reply #10 on: January 15, 2014, 03:00:53 AM
As I said, the ideas were right but the presentation was off. Of course, it needs to be exaggerated to entertain but that's hardly a complaint. I don't find it convincing in that regard.

Her is a particularly sunny (though not entirely positive) look at the future, we seem to relate enough to its that it seems plausible. Is there a date on it? It feels maybe 10-20 years away.

The idea of Hal is pretty cyberpunk yeah but 2001 isn't.

Bladerunner gets called a cyberpunk a lot and fair enough it absolutely nails the atmosphere and mood of it all though it isn't particularly computer/information focussed.
Here's what apparently William Gibson had to say about it:
Quote
About ten minutes into Blade Runner, I reeled out of the theater in complete despair over its visual brilliance and its similarity to the "look" of Neuromancer, my [then] largely unwritten first novel. Not only had I been beaten to the semiotic punch, but this damned movie looked better than the images in my head! With time, as I got over that, I started to take a certain delight in the way the film began to affect the way the world looked. Club fashions, at first, then rock videos, finally even architecture. Amazing! A science fiction movie affecting reality."


wilder

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Reply #11 on: January 15, 2014, 03:37:11 AM
Bladerunner gets called a cyberpunk a lot and fair enough it absolutely nails the atmosphere and mood of it all though it isn't particularly computer/information focussed.

It isn't? I'm not sure how you're reading that angle.

I happened to send these to a friend recently, from Sherry Turkle's book 'Alone Together'. Now they happen to be pertinent to this thread. Bit wibbly wobbly but readable:



I love the way she puts that -- "they escape to whatever time they have remaining--in other words, to the human condition." Is that not the essence of cyberpunk? The fleeing from the machine, the perversion, to nature's original intention?

and further down:




Mel

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Reply #12 on: January 15, 2014, 04:04:08 AM
I remember it was decent and dark (I have seen it under the title "One Point O", not sure which one is used right now):



As for "Minority Report", it has this clinical look (not only everything is perfect clean, but also cold, bright colors are dominating), which is quite overused by sci-fi. I liked the fact that "Her" is using very warm palette (just look at those trailers/posters), which is nice for a change.
Simple mind - simple pleasures...


Lottery

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Reply #13 on: January 15, 2014, 04:24:14 AM
I love the way she puts that -- "they escape to whatever time they have remaining--in other words, to the human condition." Is that not the essence of cyberpunk? The fleeing from the machine, the perversion, to nature's original intention?

I find what you say agreeable. But I was mainly talking about iot not featuring the basic hallmarks, actual computing and processing of information- living in a hyper-information age. But I still maintain the stylistically it more than fits the bill, it in fact informs almost everything that follows.
I find that 'The fleeing from the machine, the perversion, to nature's original intention' particularly interesting (though I'm not entirely sure it sums up the essence of the genre) because it reminds me of the time when I was made to study Bladerunner in reference to Frankenstein, that element still remains throughout. Frankenstein causes a perversion of nature and subsequent tale is the retreat from that action.


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Reply #14 on: January 15, 2014, 07:49:24 AM
Cool thread. Feels like the other side of my Lost in the Wilderness thing what with the absence/abundance of technology. That's a genre I unabashedly LOVE as well, but Cyberpunk I'm not as hip to. A lot of the movies you first mentioned I saw as a kid- Johnny Mnenomic, Virtuosity, The Net, Hackers, Lawnmower Man. I'm glad you mentioned Johnny M because that'd be a cool one to revisit. Can't say much of anything good or bad about the others, it's just been too long. I was introduced to them because my Dad shares your obsession in these type of movies. My scifi knowledge is pretty limited -not my favorite genre, so I can't think of anything current I liked that you wouldn't know about. However, my Dad recently became infatuated with this movie called "Colossus: The Forbin Project" and had to show it to me. It's about a supercomputer that controls the U.S nukes and goes at it with Russia when it's discovered they've made a 'colossus' of their own. It plays with some really interesting ideas of how technology impacts what goes on in the World stage and for 1970, I have to say I was pretty impressed with some of the special effects. This is something that definitely came out on the heels of 2001 as "let's start taking scifi seriously now." It's a really well put together film and not as hokey as one might expect to come out of the time. I can't give you a proper review of it because I was only half watching on a tiny laptop, but see for yourself!


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