The Film Review Corner

Extraneous communication, genuflection, adulation, dissection and admiration should make its way in here.

Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Insomniac » Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:48 am

Taking Lives... Definitely a dismissive head shake. Lame.

Insomnia... No bueno.

Cheech and Chong's Next Movie .. Classic. Space coke.

Maniac... Frodo does bad things. The ending was intense.

Going to attempt Wetlands next. Apparently people blacked out and threw up during screenings so... Should be interesting.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:18 pm

Heh, Insomnia brings me back to one hilarious bad film starring Al Pacino: 88 Minutes. It's so bad it's worth watching for the laughter and tears it will bring you. Another awful film that is so bad it's amazing, The Mirror Has Two Faces starring Barbra Streisand. It's a laugh riot from start to finish, my brother and I had long discussion of what scenes were the funniest. :)
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Insomniac » Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:48 am

88 Minutes... by Odin that was a steaming pile. I think the last Pacino movie I really dug was The Devil's Advocate in 1997? He did Godfather, dog day afternoon, Carlito's Way, and Heat so he gets a pass but his last string of movies is awful. Glengarry too was excellent.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:01 am

He is not my favourite but certainly not a hate-object as De Niro is, his films just aren't my thing, that doesn't make Carlito's Way and Scarface less excellent, though.
88 Minutes made a big impression on me, watching Pacino in such a god-awful film, it's unbelievable to watch an actor to sink to those depths. Amazing. :lol:

He is proof of how merciless Hollywood is for ageing actors, watching actors such as Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton in a romantic comedy is just very hard to stomach (Something's Gotta Give). Good grief, I wish I hadn't seen it. It doesn't matter the body of work or their range, they will spiral down into darkness.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Insomniac » Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:07 am

As a disillusioned teenager I loved Taxi Driver - probably why I had an old army coat and a Mohawk for a time haha. Again Godfather, Heat, and probably one of his most underrated roles Angel Heart are all solid. He gets a golden pass for his work in Casino, Goodfellas, and Raging Bull. I remember you saying you don't like him but he was in some of my favorite movies.

It's kind of a bummer that I have no interest in seeing any of the nominated movies this year outside of Inherent Vice. American Sniper... Yeah, not wasting two plus hours on that drivel, Gone Girl seemed okay and while I like the team of Fincher and Reznor I just have no interest in it.

I'm looking forward to the new Noe and Refn films but that's about it.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby LordLucan » Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:44 pm

Gone Girl is seriously awesome btw.
Check out my debut fantasy novel from Fox Spirit Books, The Hobgoblin's Herald (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hobgoblins-Herald-R-Aston/dp/1910462047). If you've read it, please rate and review it on amazon; I'd be eternally grateful. The sequel, Eater of Names, is out in 2018, so watch this space.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:08 pm

Insomniac wrote:As a disillusioned teenager I loved Taxi Driver - probably why I had an old army coat and a Mohawk for a time haha. Again Godfather, Heat, and probably one of his most underrated roles Angel Heart are all solid. He gets a golden pass for his work in Casino, Goodfellas, and Raging Bull. I remember you saying you don't like him but he was in some of my favorite movies.

It's kind of a bummer that I have no interest in seeing any of the nominated movies this year outside of Inherent Vice. American Sniper... Yeah, not wasting two plus hours on that drivel, Gone Girl seemed okay and while I like the team of Fincher and Reznor I just have no interest in it.

I'm looking forward to the new Noe and Refn films but that's about it.

Angel Heart! That's the other film I liked with him besides King of Comedy. I was never impressed by his role Raging Bull, so he gained weight, only in Hollywood could that be considered a major thing. :roll:

My dislike of De Niro hasn't anything to do with his acting ability, he is a good actor. But considering he got stuck in a stereotype and developed an acting tic (I don't know what else to call it), he should know better. I don't know how much Scorsese is to blame, and it's possible getting typecast was where the money was, if you look at Angel Eyes and King of Comedy that weren't popular. For an actor of his calibre and pretensions, that's unforgivable.

I have been tempted by Gone Girl, Ath didn't have any bad things to say about it in his review, but Finch isn't a favourite, he doesn't do female characters very well, and with the subject on the ancient "women are evil" from a male-oriented director, I have my doubts.

Forgot to add a link to my post about American Sniper, with pictures: :D
http://thebolthole.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=118&start=1320#p73942
And it's nominated for an Oscar, that's priceless!
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Athelassan » Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:22 pm

Birdman is weird, but worth watching. Entertaining, kinda sad, suspenseful at times, gives you something to think about. And good performances all round, especially Michael Keaton, who I haven't seen for a while. And he was an inspired casting choice too, in context.

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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Insomniac » Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:41 pm

In regards to Clint Eastwood, I just pretend he disappeared after the fourth Dirty Harry. Easier that way.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Xisor » Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:32 pm

After a bit too much Star Trek Online this week, I encouraged my housemate to indulge in a bit of Next Generation fun.

We watched First Contact and I was cheerily reminded how much I adored those characters, and how awesome the film itself is. It's somewhat slow, it's knee-deep in Star Trek stuff and it is marvellous in its silliness. Whilst I enjoyed the new Star Trek, it's this less spectacle-driven, steady story that I really enjoy.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Athelassan » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:23 am

Insomniac wrote:In regards to Clint Eastwood, I just pretend he disappeared after the fourth Dirty Harry. Easier that way.

I don't know: he's directed some good stuff, and he was impressive in Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino.

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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:38 am

From watching zero films to a lot in a few days. Starting with the dark.

Scanners (1981):

This is dark sci-fi at its best. Saturday is Horror Club on Showtime and usually they show abysmal b-horror from our era, but sometimes one can struck gold. At first I saw like, what Canadian horror, a Cronenberg film nevertheless, then I saw a young Michael Ironside, you can't beat that.

The story is set in our time, our world considers the scanners, humans with psychic powers, to be a kind of pest and they need to be destroyed. There is an evil corporation, in my eyes also with similarities to "scientific" experiment conducted by the Nazis, it's all very grim and sinister. Considering this is Cronenberg, I wouldn't be surprised it has that kind of dark hints, his stuff is pretty grimdark.
Ironside is absolutely superb in his role as the rogue scanner Revok, he has an incredible presence and projects menace only by doing a few facial movements. He could teach Travolta and De Niro a thing or two about quiet, dignified menace, his character could be a spiritual child of Robert Mitchum's preacher in Night of the Haunter.
Stephen Lack as Vale is also good, the spy scanner, he has an eerie quality in his eyes that is really quite believable when he scans people. Creepy is another way to describe him, he seems vacant which creates ambiguity about his character. Someone calls him barely human and he really does project that.
Super terrific SFX, CGI is a dead fish to these effects, I really miss '80s SFX. The cinematography is timeless, they did their best to play down the fashions of the era, if I hadn't known the year it was made I wouldn't have noticed, it seemed much newer. This is a most important detail and I wish everyone that does sci-fi could remember but alas.
Cinema is all about pictures and angles that create a certain kind of magic and make-believe, and this film had plenty of it, Cronenberg did a lot with very little. The explosion scene towards the end was kind of campy, there was a visible wire attached to a chair. Action now!
The ending is so creepy and gross, my first thought was cannibalism, but not of the flesh. Spooky. 8-)

Next is my favourite subject Sylvester Stallone. Action and drama in ways that only he is capable of. :D
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:45 pm

This film is quite fitting for the Stallone mood I have been on lately. I pretended to not have high hopes, but I had. I have learn my lesson the hard way when watching 2000s cinema, my disappointment is usually 97%.
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Dredd:

The opening scene was embarrassing, part CGI and part, I don't know, down-ridden place in developing country that is meant to look like a futuristic down-ridden metropolis, mega-city that is as big as a mega-city. You know, just because they slap in some CGI and raise a few skyscrapers to give the impression of a futuristic city doesn't make it automatically convincing. I couldn't help but think of the setting in MST3k Escape 2000, it had the stench of an Italian production (I have no idea if this is true). Awful, or should I say dreadful, ho ho.

I was just complaining in my previous review about Sci-Fi that forgets to keep an enduring appeal. Don't incorporate trends from contemporary times into a possible future, doesn't matter if that future isn't far away. If they do, they won't age well, in only a decade from now. It worked for 2001 and Alien, the tone is minimalistic for a reason. In Dredd it can be argued that even if it's the future, it doesn't mean technology reaches every aspect of society.
The same with the soundtrack, using metal is arguably cool but this won't stand the passage of time in the decades to come, a classical music score throughout is a better choice. It's sad that the director puts the movie steadfastly in fad territory and isn't concerned with everlasting appeal, the genre of Sci-Fi is particular sensitive to this. '80s film is often laughable because of trends, time makes fools of us all.

You know what it means when the extras are all dressed like in contemporary fashion? It means the budget for wardrobe was abysmal and all the money went to the Judges costumes. That's not something to flaunt about, it something that needs be worked around so the audience is left with a different impression. It's called Movie Magic. Unless it's part of the plot like in The Matrix.
There were constant pin-points to the budget constrains all over the film: Things happened around the same place, they went in circles, people were filmed from different angles in different scenes in the same places. For an overpopulated mega-mega colossal city it sure was empty, several shots of the exact same place as peanut fillers, to make a point of the Future. It was very distracting, I had feelings of deja vu a lot of times. Life in the Crystal Maze.
When bad wigs pop up then we know we're going some place of questionable quality, bad wigs will always be bad wigs. I wish the director wouldn't have been confused when depicting life in a slum, it doesn't mean the sets and props should be cheap-looking. The mall looked exactly like a mall. Very disheartening to watch for other reasons than social commentary.

The film's directing was nothing out of the ordinary, it's an average action flick done semi-competently, which in my opinion is a shame. The world of Dredd is so much more, it's kind out there crazy, the city could be as much part of the story as the characters, Judge Dredd did much better in order to create a believable setting that didn't scream backyard.
The plot was also very basic, fight and catch the criminals, except the people who caught the baddies were equally bad! Not surprising if one have read the comics, I certainly didn't feel the moral ambiguity because there wasn't much to hold onto, of course the female baddie was a former prostitute, how can one forget. The Judges used cursed words, so we KNEW they were nasty. Soon they'll start smoking and that's when the real vida loca begins. Yawn. I joke about it because the film sure couldn't. Story-telling from two boys in their dad's recreation room, if they weren't I would be disappointed, if one writes clichés then I have stereotypical expectations of the writers.

It lost my attention a lot because I didn't have much to work with visually; there is a reason I love cartoons as they have a lot flashing colours and fast movements, Dredd didn't have much of anything either in acting or visuals, I mean I couldn't look at the Judge's costume because it was a muted black. Really disappointing, their costumes, they looked like copies of SWAT uniforms with Kevlar vest and not let's say, from the future, or anything to make them stand out. This does nothing to create an unique image or make a lasting impression of the Judges, it's only speaks about contemporary cinema; films are littered with so-called menacing people dressed in black, from mediaeval vampires to futuristic robots. So instead of standing out, they blend in with the rest of the less in cinema land. Absolutely fascinating.

The only good thing was the ending. For a few seconds we get a glimpse of what it could be like to be a nameless citizen in a future gargantuan city, all those levels of misery. Perhaps not realistic, I doubt a body can fall from such a height without breaking the spine. It's beautifully shot unlike the rest of the film, this is a shot that can only be done with modern tech. Very Neuromancer in tone. Too bad that scene was the only beauty shot the director got within the budget, at least he got his chance to create a few frames of magic. However, budget reasons is a poor excuse, films with everlasting appeal have been done with much less and with no CGI, take Aliens, Blade Runner and Poltergeist. That's what good directing does, it creates magic from everyday objects (I highly recommend listening to the commentary in the Aliens DVD, so much to learn there).
Since this was such a disappointment, it's fair to say there won't be a sequel, good riddance. Not surprising that the director went on to direct for tv. I don't hate it but it has so much that I object against it's very hard to find it pleasing. But if I have to choose this film and Chronicles of Riddrick, then Dredd it is.

Judge Anderson: I have so little to say about her that most of what I noticed was her appearance.
I don't remember that much from the comics but I'm fairly certain Anderson wasn't a high-school kid. Come on, people. If you have to choose a young actor then try to choose someone that isn't so young-looking, ffs, and someone with more than one dull surprised and bored-teen expression. Her blonde tresses looked an unflattering shade of blonde that suited the character if she was a teen dyeing her own hair. It's a film, get decent hairstylists. Film is about visuals and every detail counts. I'm not even going to dwell in the "women go for the crotch" and the soiled-of-self scene, it demeans us all. Appropriate way of using ones superior psychic power it was not.

Judge Dredd: I'm sorry but Karl Urban hasn't enough chin for his Judge helmet. Neither does he have the presence to reach out with all-encompassing charisma and transcend his character's suit, his costume wears him and that's not quite how it should be, or maybe, maybe the film wanted to say that Dredd is a no-one and there is no suit without Dredd and vice versa.
Whatever one can say about Stallone's performance as Dredd, he had the charisma and presence needed to not be overshadowed by a costume. In cinema it isn't enough to be a decent actor, they have to possess an undefined quality that jumps out of the screen, wearing a ridiculous outfit or not. Urban had a ridiculous way of grimacing with his mouth like a sullen child and not a dreaded Judge, it's as silly as when Stallone was Hasselhoffing. You want to do an Val Kilmer impression then go easy on the cotton-ball supply and take advice from Kilmer, who starred in the fad classic Top Gun.

Urban isn't as defined as Stallone as an actor, if one has seen a Stallone film, they know how he sounds, like Christopher Walken, he has a very distinct speech pattern and accent; we don't need to see his face because we recognise his voice. In cinema all of those things come together to create a package and that package is a film actor. If not then the actor is just a guy in a suit and that's when bad cinema is created and a production spirals down. It's a shame because Urban was much closer to the nasty, heartless Dredd than Stallone's ridiculous notion of creating a noble, heroic Dredd. We get a gritty, which isn't bad, even a down-to-earth guy, but you know then why am I watching this ****, it's supposed to be make-believe, I don't need down-to-earth. I need stuff like an alien that pops out of people's chest or a guy wearing a heavy, gold cod piece for no other reason than flaunting a heavy gold cod piece, THAT creates a lasting impression.

Stallone's Judge Dredd wasn't the glorious making of Dredd into the big screen, but neither did the Judge deserve Dredd (heh) with its chunks of cheapness. In fact it fails the same as the first film because it's bland and forgettable, which is an unforgivable sin in film. Be bad or be good, but don't be forgettable. Judge Dredd on the other hand is all kinds of good and bad rolled into one. That's entertainment. :)
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Athelassan » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:34 pm

Vivia wrote:Judge Anderson: I have so little to say about her that most of what I noticed was her appearance.
I don't remember that much from the comics but I'm fairly certain Anderson wasn't a high-school kid. Come on, people. If you have to choose a young actor then try to choose someone that isn't so young-looking, ffs, and someone with more than one dull surprised and bored-teen expression.

I'm not going to comment on the rest of the review, but on this point: I think there's a tendency as you get older to perceive everyone younger than about 30 as looking like a high-school kid, which isn't necessarily the case. The actress in question was closer to thirty than twenty, and, to me at least, looked it. It does become harder to discriminate small variances in age as you get older and people stop visibly growing but there is still an identifiable difference between seventeen and twenty-five.

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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Xisor » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:53 pm

@Vivia:
Image
Image

Joking aside, it's an interesting and thoughtful set of reviews - an intriguing read. Suffice to say: I massively disagree with respect to Dredd - Urban was perfectly suited to my tastes and it was exceptionally memorable and engrossing. And dazzling for being such a simple film. It's a lesson in not needing to do ludicrous stuff, the old 'less is more'.

Caught some of The Raid too, which is a fairly direct comparison and seems to be very popular with everyone - need to give it a better go.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Insomniac » Tue Jan 27, 2015 12:16 am

Damn.

As a kid growing up with 2000 AD, I hated the Sly Judge Dredd. I liked the new adaptation and am kinda bummed it flopped so bad. It was fun to watch in a 3d theatre. Violent and dark humor. I dug it.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Xisor » Tue Jan 27, 2015 12:41 am

I'd also like to add what must surely be called a mighty niche in films: chin acting.

If you want to dabble, some of my favourites include "Dredd" and "Robocop", but there are a few others.

Also, let's not forget that character who was a true luminary of the genre: Tarka Dal

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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:16 pm

Athelassan wrote:I'm not going to comment on the rest of the review, but on this point: I think there's a tendency as you get older to perceive everyone younger than about 30 as looking like a high-school kid, which isn't necessarily the case. The actress in question was closer to thirty than twenty, and, to me at least, looked it. It does become harder to discriminate small variances in age as you get older and people stop visibly growing but there is still an identifiable difference between seventeen and twenty-five.

Ath

Yes, I know and that's why I checked her age, she was 26 in 2012, that's still fairly young and the face has some of the baby fat. I'm one of those people who look younger, I was mistaken for a by another teen not long ago, not entirely encouraging, lol. My face in my twenties looked pretty much the same since my teens until my face changed in my thirties, my cheekbones are much more pronounced now, and I truly hope I don't have a frozen face looking dull surprised.
However, this doesn't explain the actress's characterless expression. Acting isn't only about getting your lines correct, it's about body language, eyes, voice intonation, especially eyes are very important in cinema and it goes back to silent pictures, on screen, eyes are magnified ten-fold, eyes can also show a maturity than the rest of the face lacks, so if the face is immobile then you better use other tools to convey emotions. This actress had very little of any of these qualities.
As I have mentioned before, Sandra Bullock has one of those face, and she uses her voice and body language a lot. Keanu Reeves is another, he isn't all that bad considering, and he has that special something that pops out of the screen. Michael Douglas once said in an interview about working with Robert Duvall; he was afraid Duvall wasn't acting because he saw nothing when they were filming, but when he watched the taping he was blown away by the actor's subtlety and skill, it was all there on camera.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:35 pm

Insomniac wrote:Damn.

As a kid growing up with 2000 AD, I hated the Sly Judge Dredd. I liked the new adaptation and am kinda bummed it flopped so bad. It was fun to watch in a 3d theatre. Violent and dark humor. I dug it.

I'm not surprised in the least it flopped, but there are much worse films that succeed when they deserve to flop.
Judge Dredd wasn't so much about Dredd than about Stallone living in unicorn land. And I have a review of Over The Top, the hubris is so strong with that one it's surreal. No mountain is high enough for Stallone and it's a NOT a good thing. :lol:
Here is my review of Judge Dredd.

There was dark humour? The humour was kind of weak and I have watched it twice by now. But it isn't surprising, when I lose interest in what I'm seeing my eyes wander to other details to compensate for the lack of enjoyment. This usually means looking at wardrobe, angles and common mockery like laughing at cheap wigs, because of this I like to watch a film many times so I can fully grasp everything, but this is only true for film that fascinates me.
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Re: The Film Review Corner

Postby Vivia » Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:59 am

Johnny Mnemonic:

This one was considered all kinds of poor back when it premiered, but I say time makes fools of us all.
It has stood the passing of time in most way, not 100% fresh nor perfect in any way, but let's look at the bigger picture. It has always held a special charm to me maybe because I have read William Gibson, most of the concepts are known to me, though I see why people would find it hard to follow. Yakuza, flesh mechanics, evil mega-corporations that will eat you and your family, people having all kinds of weird "accessories", mystical AIs inside of the internet (just describing AI as mystical makes me love it), and the usual female bodyguard. I love it all.

It has a most charming cast of actors,Takeshi Kitano as a Yakuza leader, Dolph Lundgren as a zealot, Henry Rollins as flesh-mechanic, Ice-T as a gang leader, Udo Kier as the usual weirdo and a reasonable Keanu Reeves. Pure gold.

The story is slow for the first half, but in all I think the film manages to capture a rather chilling and very possible future. It set in the mega-cities of Gibson, with the rich and the slums, low-tech and high-tech, being exactly what the names says; the high-tech is for the wealthy to beautify and enjoy themselves, low-tech is for the slums, with illegal implants and flesh-mechanics of questionable quality, not to mention dangerous.
Johnny Mnemonic is the most fortunate or unfortunate person carrying an implant, the info is worth millions. Since this the future that Gibson describes, we get an mega-corps that is so evil it employs the Yakuza to find Johnny. Reeves plays a role that suits him perfectly, I tend to think he is stiff, he is cold and detached in order to carry on his job, he isn't bothered by the little things in life, I would say Johnny isn't quite human.
The characters are left rather ambiguous and flawed, there really isn't good or evil, just people who want to survive at all cost in a cruel city. Johnny cleared literally all of his memory to get the space for the implant and his job as a courier could very well fry his brain. Jane, the bodyguard, had done illegal implant work and was suffering from it, yet her market craved more, and that would killed her.
There is also a few moments of depth, Jane wonders how it is to live without having memories and the last download scene also gives a bit to ponder about if one feels like it.

The battle between the low-techs and the Yakuza, was nicely made, both armed to the teeth. The last fight scene got a lot by less; it took place in one room and managed to look busy with a lot of low-tech props. The scene with the final download was impressive to a point, taking place in the same building but filmed from a different angle to give impression of height and drama, very nice. The AI is so-so, the actor goes a little overboard, a lot of the scenes suffer from not having a score, it's very odd to have such a lack of soundtrack.
And lastly, it had Jones. I love Jones! That's high praise considering he was a puppet. His presence gave a lot of food for thought to "the future is crazy and loathsome".
I think the film wins a lot for not trying to catch more than it could chewed, such as trying to give us a mega-city and not having the financial means to do so. The depiction was more fragmented and since Johnny was a hunted man we got to the darker corners of such a city, a dingy hotel, a shady coffee-shop, a subway station, a giant bridge ruin that is left to rot, all signs these were places of something much bigger, most places looked authentic and not like stages.
For a Sci-Fi story it has kind of a happy ending. The happy is questionable considering they existed in an ice-cold future and the characters being what they were.

I went back to read Stephen King, time to do the same for William Gibson.
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