One Point O {Paranoia 1.0}

February 2, 2006

Year: 2004

Directed by: Jeff Renfroe & Marteinn Thorsson

Written by: Jeff Renfroe & Marteinn Thorsson

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Key Cast Members:

  • Simon J.: Jeremy Sisto
  • Derrick: Udo Kier
  • Howard: Lance Henriksen
  • Trish: Deborah Kara Unger
  • The Neighbour: Bruce Payne

Rating: 9 out of 10


Screencap

There are good people and there are bad people and they’re on their way,
and they want you, Simon…
The bad people can save you, but they won’t…
The good people want to save you but they can’t…

Overview: Every now and then I run across an absolutely extraordinary cyberpunk film, largely forgotten or ignored by the film going masses. More often than not, this film is foreign and never had a decent release in the US (where I’m from). One Point O (called Paranoia 1.0 in the US) is European a film that meets these criteria. Truly, you’ll be hard pressed to come close to finding an immersive film as One Point O. When you consider this was reportedly shot and produced on a budget of 1.7 Million, you begin to understand the enormity of what was accomplished here.  No, you don’t get cool explosions or guns, or fancy CG effects, but you do get an absolutely awesome near-future dystopic story with a biting commentary on advertising and software development, all wrapped up in an extremely immersive, slow paced film.  Everything is subordinated to the mood here, which is emphasized by the color choices and simple score. Unfortunately, I will need to be pretty vague in this review, as the ending definitely has a Sixth Sense type feel to it.

Screencap

One Point O is about a computer programmer named  Simon who works at home in a truly dingy, run down apartment building in a very shabby part of the city. He comes home to find a package waiting inside his apartment, and gets worried as nobody should be able to get inside. He opens the package, only to find that it was an empty box. This happens again and again, each time making Simon more and more paranoid. One top of this, he is late in delivering his the code he’s been working on to his customer. It appears as if his code has become infected with a virus, and worse, he really has a craving for milk!

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Every character in One Point O is quirky and memorable. Udo Kier (Ralfi from Johnny Mnemonic), one of my favorite role actors, plays an eccentric robotics hobbyist who has a nanotechnology-enabled couch that changes colors and cleans itself at the click of a button, and creates a sentient talking head in his spare time (this talking head named Alex has a penchant for making very prescient phone calls). Bruce Payne (Passenger 57, Hellborn) plays a neighbor VR game maker who creates S&M VR porn experiences by acting out the scenes with various partners. Deborah Kara Unger (Fear X) plays a cancer nurse in search of fleeting humanity wherever she can find it. Lance Henriksen (Bishop in Aliens) plays a strange, zen-like repairman who always seems to know what’s going on. Finally, Emil Hostina places a voyeuristic landlord who loves to eat meat. But its Jeremy Sisto who steals the camera – he’s simply terrific playing a normal guy overtaken by extremely weird events.

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The Visuals: Like many cyberpunk movies, One Point O is dominated by a single color scheme – in this case we get a spectrum, from a yellow to pale orange to reddish-brown, with an occasional pale green as a highlight. Pretty much the whole movie (with the exception of the white convenience store which represents the corporation) takes place in those colors. Further accenting the dystopic quality is the continually run-down feel of the place. The apartment building is continually falling apart, as is virtually everything else except for the local drug store. While its clear that advanced technologies are the norm in this world, the people in One Point O have clearly been marginalized. They play with patchwork toys and out of date technology.

Screencap

The cinematography is consistently interesting in One Point O, with many using floor shots with expansive backgrounds.  However, in some cases, they probably go a bit over-board on the camera angles, such as the use of the close-up phone shot of old, which actually took attention away from the story telling.  But again, this is a minor gripe, especially when we include the editing, which for the most part, is also outstanding.  But in watching the deleted scenes, I do agree with the director’s commentary that a few shots probably should have been included, most notably the throw-up scene.

Screencap

The Message: While I can’t go into the actual plot for fear of ruining the experience, I will say that One Point O has perhaps the most biting commentary on advertising and software development you will find anywhere. There is no question who is evil in this movie, even if they are rarely seen. Renfroe and Thorsson take to extremes and then crystallize problems they see in today’s world that form the basis for the story in One Point O. But they don’t state it in an in-your-face way – far to the contrary in fact. The story itself hammers home the message in the starkest manner possible.

Screencap

The Bottom Line: As long as you’re not looking for action or sleak visuals, but instead are looking for original cyberpunk themes done wonderfully well on a shoestring budget, One Point O is for you. One Point O is definitely a movie I would LOVE to talk about in detail but I cannot for fear of spoiling the terrific ending (maybe creating a spoiler thread in the meatspace would be the way to discuss it). The pacing has a slightly repetitive feel to it, but only because the movie progresses in a spiral pattern – the same basic pattern of events happen each pass, but events spin further and further out of control each time around.  But again – go buy this movie (you’ll want to watch it more than once) – you won’t be disappointed.

 

Every character in One Point O is quirky and memorable. Udo Kier (Ralfi from Johnny Mnemonic), one of my favorite role actors, plays an eccentric robotics hobbyist who has a nanotechnology-enabled couch that changes colors and cleans itself at the click of a button, and creates a sentient talking head in his spare time (this talking head named Alex has a penchant for making very prescient phone calls). Bruce Payne (Passenger 57, Hellborn) plays a neighbor VR game maker who creates S&M VR porn experiences by acting out the scenes with various partners. Deborah Kara Unger (Fear X) plays a cancer nurse in search of fleeting humanity wherever she can find it. Lance Henriksen (Bishop in Aliens) plays a strange, zen-like repairman who always seems to know what’s going on. Finally, Emil Hostina places a voyeuristic landlord who loves to eat meat. But its Jeremy Sisto who steals the camera – he’s simply terrific playing a normal guy overtaken by extremely weird events. 

The Visuals: Like many cyberpunk movies, One Point O is dominated by a single color scheme – in this case we get a spectrum, from a yellow to pale orange to reddish-brown, with an occasional pale green as a highlight. Pretty much the whole movie (with the exception of the white convenience store which represents the corporation) takes place in those colors. Further accenting the dystopic quality is the continually run-down feel of the place. The apartment building is continually falling apart, as is virtually everything else except for the local drug store. While its clear that advanced technologies are the norm in this world, the people in One Point O have clearly been marginalized. They play with patchwork toys and out of date technology.

The cinematography is consistently interesting in One Point O, with many using floor shots with expansive backgrounds.&nbsp; However, in some cases, they probably go a bit over-board on the camera angles, such as the use of the close-up phone shot of old, which actually took attention away from the story telling.&nbsp; But again, this is a minor gripe, especially when we include the editing, which for the most part, is also outstanding.&nbsp; But in watching the deleted scenes, I do agree with the director’s commentary that a few shots probably should have been included, most notably the throw-up scene.&nbsp; </p>

The Message: While I can’t go into the actual plot for fear of ruining the experience, I will say that One Point O has perhaps the most biting commentary on advertising and software development you will find anywhere. There is no question who is evil in this movie, even if they are rarely seen. Renfroe and Thorsson take to extremes and then crystallize problems they see in today’s world that form the basis for the story in One Point O. But they don’t state it in an in-your-face way – far to the contrary in fact. The story itself hammers home the message in the starkest manner possible.<p>&nbsp;</p>

The Bottom Line: As long as you’re not looking for action or sleak visuals, but instead are looking for original cyberpunk themes done wonderfully well on a shoestring budget, One Point O is for you. One Point O is definitely a movie I would LOVE to talk about in detail but I cannot for fear of spoiling the terrific ending (maybe creating a spoiler thread in the meatspace would be the way to discuss it). The pacing has a slightly repetitive feel to it, but only because the movie progresses in a spiral pattern – the same basic pattern of events happen each pass, but events spin further and further out of control each time around.&nbsp; But again – go buy this movie (you’ll want to watch it more than once) – you won’t be disappointed.
<p>&nbsp;</p>cyberpunk movie review paranoia

This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Man-machine Interface, 9 Star Movies, Good low-budget movies, Cyberpunk movies from 2000 – 2009 by SFAM.

Nemesis

February 1, 2006

Year: 1993

Directed by: Albert Pyun

Written by: Rebecca Charles

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium

Key Cast Members:

  • Alex: Olivier Gruner
  • Farnsworth: Tim Thomerson
  • Angie-Liv: Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
Rating: 5 out of 10

 


DVD Cover

~86.5% is still human~

 

Overview: Surprise surprise – another movie with Gruner playing a cyborg – this time by Martial Arts cyborg master, Albert Pyun. Like Gruner’s performance in Automatic (1994), Nemesis is also a decent “B” cyberpunk flick. In Nemesis, Gruner does his Robocop impersonation while trying to fight bad guys in the year 2027. In a well done style over substance movie, we get a nice underground war between cyborgs and humans. Throw in a good bit of Escape from New York and Blade Runner knock-off visuals and you have yourself an evening of trashy fun! Again, nothing new here, but the action is actually done well enough that you might want to give it a watch if you’re hankerin for mindless but fun Robocop knockoffs.

 

This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, Man-machine Interface, 5 Star Rated Movies, B Cyberpunk Cinema, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 – 1999 by SFAM.

Immortel

January 29, 2006

Year: 2004

Directed by: Enki Bilal

Written by: Enki Bilal, Serge Lehman

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: High

Key Cast Members:

  • Jill Bioskop: Linda Hardy
  • Alcide Nikopol: Thomas Kretschmann
  • Horus: Thomas M. Pollard
  • Elma Turner: Charlotte Rampling

Rating: 7 out of 10

 


screen capture

 

Overview: Immortel is one of the 3 all blue or green screen movies made in 2004, and is based on graphic novel, the Enki Bilal’s Nikopol trilogy, one of the best cyberpunk graphic novels ever made. Immortel provides us another cyberpunk dystopian future where an all powerful genetics engineering company called Eugenics has wreaked havoc upon most humanoid life forms. While the movie doesn’t make exactly how this dystopian future occurred, the Nikopol Trilogy (1999) relates that two nuclear wars were the primary cause.  Additional contributors to a further breakdown in an already horribly diseased society include the all-powerful, oppressive Eugenics corporation which appears to be trying to cheat death through various modern “vampiristic” means.  Body modification is the order of the day for most of the masses, who are continually getting skin grafts and organ transplants to mitigate the effects of the various natural and genetically derived diseases that impact all aspects of life. 

Interestingly though, in the graphic novel, Biblal set the time in 2023 – 30 years after Nikopol was sent into space for these crimes.   Clearly, the novel deals with an alternate reality to our own time, whereas setting Immortel so far into the future, Bilal seems to indicate that he thinks this quality of cyberpunk future may be further out than he originally thought.

 

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In case things weren’t crappy enough, life gets even complicated when the Egyptian Gods’ Pyramid appears – apparently the Egyptian god Horus is about to be sentenced to death by Anubis for his actions, but he is given a final 7 day furlough (one beat of an immortal heart) first. His decides to use this time to find a special woman, one of a few in the universe who can be impregnated by a God. This will allow Horus to cheat death (yes, cheating death is a pretty common theme in this). He has come to earth because his godly intuition tells him that such a woman has just arrived on earth through void between worlds. To do so, he needs to find a healthy host, but unfortunately, everyone he invades his tainted with disease and pollutants – along comes Nikopol to the rescue.  Twenty-nine years prior to the time of the movie (2095), a rebel named Nikopol had galvanized public opinion against Eugenics, and for this, was sentenced to 30 years hibernation. Through an unfortunate accident, his cryogenics pod transport malfunctions and crashes, spilling his frozen body (minus his leg, which breaks off) out onto a bridge.  Horus finds his body  settles on Nicopol because his body, unlike virtually everyone else alive, has not been corrupted by pollutants and synthetic organs.  Horus repairs Nikopol by transforming a very heavy steel rail into Nikapol’s leg. Now, if Nikapol wants to walk (the leg is quite heavy), he will need to abide by Horus’s wishes – which includes a contant need by Horus to take over Nikapol’s body. 

 

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Horus, the god, and Nikopol the “terrorist” now team up to go in pursuit of a woman with white skin and blue hair (and, um blue “other” parts). It turns out that this woman, named Jill, is very mysterious in that she has no prior memories, and apparently has only been inhabiting her current body for 3 months.  She is guided by a benefactor named John, who appears to be a traveler between worlds.  The story proceeds with Jill being captured and studied by a friendly Eugenics researcher and Nikapol/Horus seeking her out.  Unfortunately, Eugenics has discovered Nikapol’s escape (by analyzing the leg), and have sent genetically enhanced shark-like nasties after him to kill him.  

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Unfortunately, there is too much going on in this movie for it all to be worked out to proper satisfaction. The pacing feels haphazard and rushed, and many interesting threads are simply not pursued to the extent I would have liked. Some scenes simply stick out like a sore thumb, without a real purpose. While I think Bilal chooses the “key” thread to complete his movie, Immortel seems begging for an extended edition type thing, where the extra meat and guts can be properly filled. Instead we are left with many interesting and completely unanswered questions. On the plus side, there is nice chemistry between Kretchman and Hardy – they have some nice love scenes and cool dialogue moments.

 

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The Visuals: Wow, if there was ever a tough one to rate the visuals, Immortel fits the bill. The background scenery and many of the shots are simply stupendous – really some of the best shots I’ve seen on film are in this. The blue-haired chick, Jill, is totally sexy. Yet at the same time, for whatever reason, only 3 of the primary characters in Immortel are “real,” and the rest are poorly rendered CG characters – about even or maybe a step down from Final Fantasy. Worse, we start off with pretty strange CG Egyptian creatures (where the non-polished effects sort of work), and then jump to real ones, and then spend about 20 minutes with only lousy CG ones before returning to real characters again. Interestingly, the CG characters start getting better near the end. Its almost as if they had a separate company do these and they were learning on the job. The Bottom line with the characters though is that I see no reason why they didn’t use real actors – this would have been cheaper and more realistic. This is an example of someone getting a little too cute with the technology.

 

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This is a shame, because again, the background scenery, and some of the shots themselves are simply breathtaking. Especially their use of a the various color palettes are simply phenomenal.  Cityscapes are all done in grey-blue hue, whereas various other shots are either a dark gold-blue tone or a neon green-blue tone. Some of the creatures, specifically the Hammerhead “Dayak” shark creature is phenomenal. When he “oozes” out of the bathtub, EVERYONE watching will get the eebee-jeebees! There is a great chase scene similar to the Fifth element where the police are chasing after the two leads while this incredibly cool Dayak shark sleaks after them along the buildings. Its to the point that I refuse to believe that the DG the company who did this shark is the same one who who animated the poorly rendered people.

 

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The Sound: Immortel comes with DTS sound, which is terrific. Even though this is a French film, the dialogue is in English, so no subtitles (for me) are required, except for in the Egyptian God discussions and the final monologue, which is in French. The score and music choices are absolutely spot on. They continually raise the tone and tenor of Immortel to something interesting and other-worldly. I haven’t searched for the soundtrack to Immortel, but it’s good enough that I
probably will.

 

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The Bottom Line: I wish there was another thirty minutes of story in Immortel to flush out the blind spots. I also wish they had used real actors for everyone instead of the CG characters. Had both of these happened, Immortel would definitely rate 10 stars.  Both the pacing and most especially the CG characters were bad decisions which hurt the movie. But even having these detractors, there is enough of Immortel to make this a MUST SEE for any cyberpunk fan (and for god sakes, get the graphic novel if you haven’t already!). There are many immersive shots, augmented with wonderful sound, that left my jaw hanging (check out page 2 of this review for more screenshots). I also found enough of a story to really enjoy this – and there’s something to be said for leaving an air of mysteriousness to the film.

 

Immortel Page 2: More Screen Caps –>>

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This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, Memory Modification, 7 Star Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals, Alien Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 2000 – 2009 by SFAM.

Cherry 2000

January 17, 2006

Year: 1987

Directed by: Steve De Jarnatt

Written by: Michael Almereyda, Lloyd Fonvielle

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Low

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low

Key Cast Members:

  • Glu Glu Lawyer: Laurence Fishburne
  • Rating: 4 out of 10


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    Overview: Cherry 2000 is about a guy named Sam Treadwell (David Andews) who gets too hot and heavy with his perfect android wife while wallowing in soap suds – unfortunately Cherry 2000 doesn’t take to water well and gets fried. After trying his hand at post-modern dating, Sam decides he needs a new body for his Cherry chip – unfortunately the only place they exist now is in a wasteland ruled by thugs. Sam hires Melanie Griffith as his tough-chick guide to navigate through the wasteland to get his new girl.

    Truly, the majority of the movie is just not that good. In fact it’s worse than not good, and passes the border to unwatchable. The acting is absolutely horrendous, as are the outfits (intentionally though), as are the set pieces, as is the dialogue, as is the pacing, etc.

     

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    The Bottom Line: If you want to see Melanie Griffith’s worst acting performance, get Cherry 2000. But truly, the reason you might want to get this is, aside from the cool fried cyberchick love scene at the beginning and maybe the “select a love-babe” scene, is for Cherry 2000’s most awesome commentary on dating in the future. Dating in the future requires a lawyer (played wonderfully by Lawrence Fishbourne – the ONLY performance in the movie that shined) and LOTS of negotiations. That scene alone, also thankfully right near the beginning, is almost worth the price of the movie.

     

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    Tags: cyberpunk movie review

    Truly, the majority of the movie is just not that good. In fact it’s worse than not good, and passes the border to unwatchable. The acting is absolutely horrendous, as are the outfits (intentionally though), as are the set pieces, as is the dialogue, as is the pacing, etc.
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <img src=”/images/cherry2001.jpg” alt=”screen capture” />
    <p>&nbsp; </p>
    <span class=”iTitle”>The Bottom Line: </span> If you want to see Melanie Griffith’s worst acting performance, get Cherry 2000. But truly, the reason you might want to get this is, aside from the cool fried cyberchick love scene at the beginning and maybe the “select a love-babe” scene, is for Cherry 2000’s most awesome commentary on dating in the future. Dating in the future requires a lawyer (played wonderfully by Lawrence Fishbourne – the ONLY performance in the movie that shined) and LOTS of negotiations. That scene alone, also thankfully right near the beginning, is almost worth the price of the movie.
    <p>&nbsp; </p>cyberpunk movie review

    This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, 4 Star Movies, B Cyberpunk Cinema, Cyberpunk movies from 1980-1989 by SFAM.