Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Through the Looking Glass

Cypher is the best ‘based on a Philip K Dick story’ Philip K Dick never wrote, which in itself is very Philip K Dick. Dick is the man who wrote the original short story that became Minority Report; the novel that Blade Runner is based on (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?); and the novella that inspired Total Recall (We Can Remember it for you Wholesale).

What none of these movies managed to capture about Dick’s work and what Cypher captures perfectly, is the sense of the paranoid amidst the ordinary and the banal. Minority Report Blade Runner and Total Recall are all set in fantastical future cityscapes, whereas Cypher is set in an inane corporate background of press conferences and industry exhibitions.

Jeremy Northam plays bored worker drone, Morgan Sullivan, with quiet aplomb and is understated in his transformation into alter ego Jack Thursby. Lucy Lui is better than she has ever been as flame-haired femme fatale Rita (named in honour of Rita Hayworth, star of Gilda and numerous other film noir.)

One of the things to look at for is the film’s subtle use of colour, which start our almost monochrome and becomes gradually more vibrant as the mystery deepens and the action progresses. This twisty-turny espionage thriller, with a science fiction twist, was wrongly passes over at the time of its original release. But in the wake of Inception it is surely due a second lease of life, especially in light of the recent announcement that writer director, Vincenzo Natali, has just been hired to adapt and direct William Gibson’s cyperpunk masterpiece, Neuromancer.


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