Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Looker

NetFlix
IMDB
My Rating: 6.5/10


This ran on HBO a million times back in the early 80's, but I hadn't seen it since until last night. It was panned when it came out for being too unrealistic and unbelievable, and not as good as Crighton's previous film "Westworld", but I think it was more a case of "Looker" just being too far ahead of its time. It's so cute to think that there was a time when we thought the idea of a massive media corporation using digital imagery on TV to manipulate the truth and strobe/brainwash consumers into buying & voting for the products of their choice was too weird to be believable. "Looker" is an odd duck - It's a slow paced mystery/suspense/science fiction/black comedy satire.

Albert Finney plays a renowned LA plastic surgeon who starts seeing beautiful models turn up in his office with lists of defects to correct - " My nose needs to be adjusted 2mm to the left". The incredible minuteness of these corrections gets his curiosity up, but he's happy to do the work until the models start dying in random ways. This kicks off a mystery involving computer full-body imaging and a mysterious form of "time stopping" used as a weapon.

I thought it was a lot of fun. The story could have been more consistent and tighter, and the Partridge Family girl just doesn't look like a perfect model, but overall it was a good watch. James Coburn and Albert Finney both have great presence as two canny old guys engaging in wary battles of wits. And the flashy thing preceded "Men in Black"s idea by nearly 20 years. Back in 1981, in the world of TRS-80 computer graphics, it may have been hard to imagine replacing television personalities with perfect CGI duplicates, but today's world of bunny suits proves yet again that Crighton was simply way ahead of his class in future prediction (Given Japanese advances in sexbots, does anyone *really* doubt there will be something like Westworld pleasure models one of these days?)

Solid flick, very underrated IMO. The ahead-of-its-time nature is perfectly summed up in this speech by villainous corporate mogul James Coburn:

"Television can control public opinion more effectively than armies of secret police, because television is entirely voluntary. The American government forces our children to attend school, but nobody forces them to watch T.V. Americans of all ages *submit* to television. Television is the American ideal. Persuasion without coercion. Nobody makes us watch. Who could have predicted that a *free* people would voluntarily spend one fifth of their lives sitting in front of a *box* with pictures? Fifteen years sitting in prison is punishment. But 15 years sitting in front of a television set is entertainment. And the average American now spends more than one and a half years of his life just watching television commercials. Fifty minutes, every day of his life, watching commercials. Now, that's power. "

Enjoyed it very much. 6.5/10

Suggested Accompaniment: A glass of sweet wine wine and an ecig/epipe device, preferably with one of the many dessert flavors available, perhaps some kind of caramel or toffee.  It's a techie movie that calls for a techie smoke, making an electronic cigarette an ideal viewing companion.