Pre-Millennial Tension: “Strange Days” (1995)
Our TBT is dedicated to “Strange Days” (1995), the “sexy kinetic thriller” and feminist gem which was directed by Kathryn Bigelow and co-written by two dudes, James Cameron and Jay Cocks (insert joke here). The film portrays a perilous time when violence and lawlessness were rampant and technology was used to satisfy society’s desperate quest for escapism and most base urges. Sound familiar?
As leading lady Mace, Angela Bassett is a thing of wonder and beauty. She’s gorgeous, strong, smart, sexy and self-possessed.
Juliette Lewis in “Strange Days”
A raw, pre-Licks Juliette Lewis is Faith, the dysfunctional flipside of Mace: a tragically beautiful hot mess. Both women are doing their best to navigate what many thought would be the ‘end of days’ — New Year’s Eve 1999.
And of course, Ralph Fiennes is….damned fine (even as an oily virtual reality dealer). There are also plenty of hot character performances by thespians who later became well-known faces: Vincent D’Onofrio (where Brooklyn at?); Tom Sizemore, Glenn Plummer (in a brilliant and timely turn as militant rapper Jeriko One), William Fichtner, Josef Summer, Richard Edson and Canadian Michael Wincott.
There’s a lot going on here. Social turmoil, police brutality, technology, the economy, race, America’s general agitation on the eve of the new millennium. This dystopian thriller is smarter and more interesting story than a lot of what we see lately. First off, it’s set in an Los Angeles that actually looks like L.A.: multi-cultural and multi-racial….throughout the film, not just the scenes of poverty or violence. The fact that there is a militant rapper whose gripes with the system are presented as legit seems astounding in retrospect. (The film was released only 17 days after the verdict in O.J. Simpson’s trial.) Last but not least, this film represents the best of feminism — that which shows women as they really are: are equally capable of the best and worst of what it is to be human.
Director Kathryn Bigelow