Strange Days

A movie that gives a new meaning to the word punchy, Kathryn Bigelow’s hyperventilating, violent 1995 thrillerentertaining if often over the topis set in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve in the year 1999 and has something to do with snuff tapes (with several nods to Peeping Tom), racial violence, and police corruption. One feels at times that these matters have been worked into James Cameron and Jay Cocks’s script like fashionable teasers rather than as subjects the filmmakers have much to say about. Ralph Fiennes stars as a black marketeer who traffics in virtual-reality tapes, and one wonders if surviving fragments of four or five different script drafts are responsible for his changes of personality every half hour or so. I wasn’t bored at all by this movie, and Angela Bassett’s charisma as an action heroine often blew me away, but fans of Bigelow at her best (e.g., Near Dark) may be put off by the acres of calculation, which don’t always fit with the intellectual pretensions. With Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio, Glenn Plummer, and Richard Edson. (JR)

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