Author: Matthew Friedman

Days of Future Past in Blade Runner 2049

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is an epochal film. Its arrival in 1982 marked a rupture in cinematic and literary science fiction narratives, and spoke simultaneously to the transnational consumer culture of the Age of Reagan and to the burgeoning punk-inflected spirit of anti-globalism. William Gibson sat in a dark movie theater that summer, about a third of the way through the manuscript of his first novel Neuromancer, watching Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard navigate through the lo-glow in the rainsoaked streets of 2019 Los Angeles, his senses assaulted by holographic come-ons, in search of something that might have been humanity. It was...

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The Vietnam War: Ken Burns’ ‘healing touch’

The only thing you need to know about the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary series on The Vietnam War (PBS) is that it ends with the Beatles singing “Let it Be” a few minutes after Stuart Harriman muses “was it worth it?” Burns and Novick have said that they wanted the series to promote healing in America, and they did, indeed, serve up a comforting balm for the great black wound of 20th century American history. Like so many of Burns’ other documentaries, The Vietnam War treats the personal, intimate tragedies, triumphs, heartaches, and achievements of Americans with...

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