Monday, May 24, 2010

black rain refrain

Today I watched director Ridley Scott's 1989 film, Black Rain, for probably the fifth time. Black Rain is quintessential visually-indulgent Ridley Scott, its wet-streets-and-neon trademark iconography almost comprising a genre all its own.

Most of my affection for this film is merit-based, but I do admit to a personal fondness for certain 1980s films for nostalgic reasons. After just a few chords of an 80s electronic film score, I'm transported back to my first contact with the film industry.

Although I have no special fondness for Michael Douglas, he did a very good job in Black Rain as the tough NYPD detective barely scraping by. Andy Garcia was perfect as the brash yet charismatic young sidekick, a role he took to a higher level by implementing several of his own smart script embellishments. Kate Capshaw brought cool glamour to the role of a Chicago expat.

The two most memorable performances were, to my mind, those of Ken Takakura and the late Yusaku Matsuda; the former was truly appealing as the quiet, by-the-book detective, and the latter was chilling as the sociopathic would-be Obatsu for the Yakuza.

Hans Zimmer composed the film's distinctive score, a resplendently electronic and percussive work that was perfect for the otherworldly ambience of late 1980s Japan. Jan de Bont was the cinematographer ideally suited to bringing the characteristic Ridley Scott style and vision to life (under apparently challenging conditions).

Once the neon signs are turned off, the fan blades have stopped, and the smoke and rain machines are put away, it's good to remember that nobody can indulge in films like Black Rain without the offerings of solid writers like Craig Bolotin and Warren Lewis.

Second Life photo by Reverielarke Wirtanen

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