three months after deliverydie PostJust in time for Christmas, Steven Spielberg is back with another pack called Ready Player One. Nothing will ever match its strange - and, one might say, unsettling - transition from "Jurassic Park" for "Schindlers List' in a single year, but it's still a giant leap from 'The Post,' a burgeoning liberal anthem in praise of printing, to 'Ready Player One,' a film in which no one gives the slightest hint that he's need or want to read. Written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, the screenplay is based on Cline's novel of the same name, but that's where any connection to the written word ends.
The year is 2045, years after the "Bandwidth Riots," and Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), an orphan in his late teens, is living with his Aunt Alice (Susan Lynch). TheEswith the aunts? Peter Parker has one. James has two before he finds the giant peach. I think nieces and nephews feel a bit separate, lacking the pull of close bonds and therefore more adventurous. Wade and Alice live in Stacks, a slum with stacked trailers in Columbus, Ohio. What society is like in general, where he works and how he eats are topics that never bother the film, although we do see pizzas being transported by drones. All most people, including Wade, want to do is put on a headset, leave their uncomfortable existence, and enter a virtual realm called the Oasis. It's wild, weightless, limitless and devoid of real pain. (If someone cuts you, money comes out of the wound). Any resemblance to a heroin glut, let alone an opioid epidemic, is purely coincidental.
Oasis was created by a scruffy genius named Halliday (Mark Rylance) who died seven years ago leaving behind an annoying game. Anyone can join, and so far no one has, including Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the boss of an evil corporation. The goal is to win three Magic Keys and, after collecting the set, a shiny Easter egg and thus take command of Oasis. Is this the best thing Cline and Spielberg could have imagined? And since we expected Wade to win all along, what has changed since Willy Wonka ceded control of his chocolate factory to Charlie Bucket?
Well, unlike the jolly Mr Wonka, Halliday is dead, but that doesn't matter since he lives on in the form of his digital avatar, a grey-bearded gnome named Give Me Strength, Anorak. Within Oasis, avatars are essential. You would never be stupid enough to reveal your real name, and you can also adopt a new gender, a new body, and even a new species if you're extremely shy. Wade, who strikes me as a bit dull and insensitive for a Spielberg hero, has created an alter ego named Parzival that hints at an incredible passion for medieval German romance. Or maybe Wagner, but Parzival doesn't sound like a knightly tenor. He looks like an extra in a Well Duran Duran video from the 80's. This brings us closer to the holy grail of cinema.
James Joyce once admitted with mischievous pride that Finnegans Wake "would keep the masters busy for centuries," and Ready Player One poses a similar challenge to eminent pop culture scholars. The task of freezing every frame and scanning them for Reagan-era bits and pieces might not take her for a hundred years, but she should have her free time until, say, the April 27 release of Avengers: Infinity War to fill. For example, in search of the first key, players must take part in a street race and race along virtual roads in virtual cars of their choice. Parzival owns a DeLorean from Robert Zemeckis' Back to the Future, a highly obvious homage that gets even more complicated later on when he and another avatar, Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), avoid trouble by implanting a special accessory that allows you to turn back time by sixty seconds. The name of this garbage? Zemeckis Cube.
By far the boldest makeover comes when a group of avatars, led through the oasis by Wade, follow a lead in Halliday's past, it's a long tale, and find themselves trapped in it."the light(1980). Many of his infamous images are carried straight into the new film: the identical twins, the ax opening the door, the elevator opening to unleash a turbulent tide of blood, this time featuring one of Spielberg's most notorious characters sadly sliding and foiling, just for a laugh. I have no idea, firstly, how he got permission from Stanley Kubrick's estate to stage such a crude invasion, and secondly, whether it should be seen as a tribute or an outrage. I suspect die-hard Kubrickians will be watching this with their eyes closed.
There's an attempt to balance these online shenanigans with a physical-world threat in which Sorrento is involved, but the balance between high-tech and sublunar subterfuge is so delicately achieved by Spielberg in "Minority message’ (2002) is almost absent here. Instead, his attention is drawn to the poetry of brands and icons (didn't I glimpse the police box from Doctor Who in the dim light?). Nothing is stranger in this very strange film than the mystical power that pop culture is endowed with; a vital mystery that can only be solved by someone familiar with the works of John Hughes. If Spielberg is nostalgic, it's less for his own childhood (he grew up in the 1950s) than for the childhoods he transformed, for the era so effectively colonized by his films and those of his contemporaries. An old clip in the Oasis archives shows Halliday in a melancholy mood. "Why can't we go back now? he asks, adding, "Bill and Ted made it."
And yet, to be honest, I would pit the whole "Ready Player One" against the scene in "ET' in which Elliott shows his Star Wars action figures to his friend from space: 'This is Greedo, and this is Hammerhead, look, this is Walrusman, this is Snaggletooth, and this is Lando Calrissian, look and this is Boba Fett. Essentially, it does what Wade does, which is to analyze the details of fictional locations and plots, except Wade does it in a dangerously weak dramatic atmosphere, while Elliott has an adoring audience of one; What we focus on is the facial expression of E.T. when thinking about human habits. That intimate calm is alien to the new film, which Spielberg drives so ruthlessly and fills in the blanks with such feverish detail that it seems as if his mission at seventy-one is not just to recover, but to capture the excitement of youth double I saw the movie inIMAX, and a week later I'm still waiting for the safe return of my optic nerves, but it was the meager emotional charge that struck me the most. Tears flow at the end, as in many Spielberg films, but for the first time they seem undeserved. What do they arise from, apart from pure sensory exhaustion? In a final sermon we are told that "reality is the only thing that is real". I wouldn't even go that far.
A meeting between Wade Watts and Charley Thompson (Charlie Plummer), the hero of "Lean on Pete' would be interested. Both are in their teens. Both are orphans and oppressed by a difficult life. And both are looking for a way out, albeit no less virtual and no less emotional than the path Charley chooses. Often it doesn't feel like an option.
First, he shares a home in Portland, Oregon with his father, Ray (Travis Fimmel), a cocky loser who quickly disappears from the scene, leaving his son alone. Charley, who already had a odd job with Del (Steve Buscemi), a local horse trainer, now becomes his full-time or grumpy dog: cleaning the stables, driving the truck, or taking Lean on Pete for walks. Pete, as he is commonly known, is a gentle five-year-old horse bred for short races. When Charley sees him walking down a dirt track while some spectators stand behind the ropes, we see the boy smile for the first time. For Del, however, Pete has reached the end of his useful life and should be scrapped, so to speak: a prospect so bleak for Charley that he runs off one night with a horse in tow.
Not everything about British director Andrew Haigh's "Lean on Pete" rings true. Buscemi is the least grass-fed of actors, destined for the rat race through the city streets, and if I didn't believe in him as a countryman, I believed even less in Chloë Sevigny as the cynical jockey with a set of broken bones. But Plummer, who most recently played the kidnapped John Paul Getty III in All The Money In The World, initiates and ties the film together like an unclaimed soul with just a dollar to his name. When he speaks he tends to look down or to the side because he is not confident enough to look anyone in the eye. The story hovers in and out of danger with Charley, turning into a sad picaresque; As her face becomes hollow and blotchy, we desperately want her to survive. And where is he going? Across the country trying to find her aunt, you guessed it.♦