Rough start to the week. And while innocent people being gunned down in Vegas or run down in Edmonton is an absolute tragedy, for me news of Tom Petty's death from a heart attack hits harder. Why is that? Very few of us have ever met Tom Petty (That first Pemby Fest ruled, though, didn't it?) So what is it about us that "feels" the death of a 66-year-old rocker (who left us a huge catalogue of hits to enjoy forever) over the ongoing, escalating acts of violence and evil all around us?
The best explanation I can find is in a tweet that a comic book enthusiast named @Ghouliette put up following the deaths of Prince and Bowie last year. "Thinking about why we mourn artists we've never met. We don't cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves."
But that doesn't mean we shouldn't get to know Tom Petty better. Get on Netflix and check out Runnin' Down a Dream, an incredibly epic four-hour Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers documentary from Peter Bogdanovich (Mask, Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women). Through archival footage, interviews, photographs, home movies and a ton of obscure pieces of music, Runnin' follows the career of Petty right from his teen-rocker roots in Gainsville, Fla., through hit breakout success in L.A., his legal battles with shady labels and crappy deals, his dedication to his music, his band, and his fans (Petty once threatened to name his album $8.98 after hearing his label intended to raise the standard album price to $9.98).
Released in 2007, the doc is not totally up to date, but it still covers most of the important moments. Bogdanovich was a film historian and author before he started directing (in the same era as De Palma, George Lucas, et al), and his attention to detail and ability to let the material breathe truly does justice to Petty's life and career. Runnin' Down a Dream has all the Tom Petty you want right now, perfectly delivered.
At the Village 8, the big news this week is Blade Runner 2049, and early reports are overwhelmingly positive. Set 30 years ahead of the original Blade Runner story, Blade Runner 2049 stars Ryan Gosling as a next generation LAPD Blade Runner sent out into a world on the edge of collapse, to "retire" a fugitive replicant. Of course, he digs up secrets upon secrets, old faces, new ideas and more of that style-over-substance, moody futurism that turned the original 1982 Blade Runner (directed by Ridley Scott, and written by Hampton Fancher from a Philip K. Dick novel) into a sci-fi masterpiece and massive cinematic influencer.
Directed by French Canadian master Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario), Blade Runner 2049 also sees Scott on board as a producer and Fancher back as co-writer. And so is Harrison Ford. Blade Runner 2049 is a solid 164 minutes, heavy on mood and style (which might not appeal to the Crash-Bang! generation), but it's a total visual masterpiece (cinematographer Roger Deakins has 13 Oscar nominations and no wins. If the film performs as well as the critical hype predicts, he will likely get it this year.) This one feels a bit like Mad Max: Fury Road — an excellent sequel to a historical classic that not only holds up, but also updates the awesomeness with new themes, ideas and an expanded view of a beautifully visualized (if somewhat grim) future. What happens when the machines start to feel?
Speaking of grim, Puerto Rico is battling right now, still recovering from damage multiple hurricanes and an indifferent American president tossing rolls of paper towels like swag. Coincidentally, but timely as well, Village 8 is screening Puerto Rico: Treasure Island, the latest in their Passport to the World series, on Friday Oct. 6 at 4 p.m. and Wednesday October 11 at 7 p.m.
And of course, ski season-stoke season kicks into high gear on Saturday Oct. 7, with the premiere of Magnetic, a full-length shred flick shot entirely on and around Whistler Blackcomb. That goes down at the Whistler Conference Centre and will surely sell out. Don't sleep on tickets!