I'm sick of the Cunningham rumors.
March 24, 2001 11:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm sick of the Cunningham rumors. I no longer believe the Neuromancer movie will ever happen. Music by Aphex, in my dreams. Console yourself by listening to William Gibson read the whole freakin' thing.
posted by lbergstr (22 comments total)
Well, I guess if Johnny Mneumonic was anything to go by that's probably a good thing...
posted by lagado at 11:57 PM on March 24, 2001

Hey now, Johnny Mneumonic was a fun little film. Sure, the only thing it had in common with the short story was some character names, but it's still enjoyable.

I want a molecule-thick whip that comes out of my thumb.
posted by cCranium at 6:09 AM on March 25, 2001

I'll admit I used to be completely addicted to Gibson, although that addiction faded as the books became progressively less fantastic and more based in a dull near future. Johnny Nmeonic was a terrible movie, I think largely because you can't base a two-hour movie out of a 25 page story and expect it to be anything but empty, which it was (and I suppose Rollins/Ice-T/Keanu helped that as well). Imagine a Molly the Cat if she'd actually been in the movie, YOW!

However, even if you don't dig this genre, the Difference Engine is one of the most entertaining sci-fi things I've ever read. Waaaay underrated and pretty funny (largely because it seems to not take itself comepletely seriously). Kind of shows that you can slap this cyberpunk thing onto any frame.
posted by foist at 7:39 AM on March 25, 2001

Hmm.. Johnny was pretty bad. Cunningham would have done much, much better though. And I believe after finishing with A.I. he could do almost anything. Hopefully it will be good. And I could only remember two other films having Richard's music in them, pi and 8mm? Have to look it up.
posted by tiaka at 8:08 AM on March 25, 2001

Who's Cunningham?
posted by rodii at 9:13 AM on March 25, 2001

Cunningham is a director of videos, he's done work with most notably Richard D James aka Aphex Twin, and then Garbage and so on, he's done some robotic work that looked so good Spielberg decided to get him to do the part on A.I.
posted by tiaka at 10:34 AM on March 25, 2001

Chris Cunningham also did the video for Bjork's "All Is Full Of Love"--a fantastic video, Bjork as an android, and eventually as two androids making love to each other.
For Aphex Twin he did the videos for Come to Daddy (a perfect, creepy 3-minute-long mini horror film) and Windowlicker (an outrageous hip hop parody), both featuring Richard D James' face superimposed upon multiple characters (feral children in Come to Daddy, black women dancers in Windowlicker).
posted by Rebis at 11:11 AM on March 25, 2001

Right, that's what I've meant, Bjork.
posted by tiaka at 11:20 AM on March 25, 2001

I think Neuromancer may have missed its moment as a Hollywood feature.

When the book first came out (1983 or 1984, IIRC) the novel's alternating settings of cyberspace / artificial intelligence and future-noir-grimy-underbelly would have just been too disjointed -- Hollywood have needed to "explain" the concept of cyberspace far too much to make it work narratively. (Think of how horribly the first mainstream movies with key cyberspace plot elements ... like "The Net" and the first "Mission Impossible" ... mishandled it, and that was more than 10 years after "Nueromancer").

Now, cyberspace is all too real and common, and in the popular mind too linked with nerds and MBAs at the high level, and Grandma's web-page devoted to her cats at the low end, ever to have the sort of characters Gibson put in the game seem to work for the audience.

However ... I think that it could be a great 4 or 6-hour mini. The settings are almost all indoor or amenable to existing and relatively affordable CGI technology, and so could have a production akin to that of the Sci-Fi channel's version of "Dune." It might be better as a project for HBO or Showtime, though, since a lot of the plot elements might have to bowdlerized to be a play on basic cable.
posted by MattD at 11:42 AM on March 25, 2001

I agree, it's work that's been hurt by the banality|success of its imitators. After "The Matrix" (and "Digimon"!) there's little there left to shock the senses. Conceptually, Gibson's neo-noir+"Tron" was pretty much a cliche when it was new—though as a prose stylist, he is excellent—and the real appeal was his ability to invent a visual language for a bunch of what were theretofore a bunch of really abstract concepts. (Did I really write "theretofore"? Anyway.) Plus the fact that it gave a burgeoning generation of nerds a fantasy scenario—cowboys!—that was based on something a little closer to them than Dungeons and Dragons. I really don't know if would hold up that well on film anymore.

Digression: I read Neuromancer the *day* it came out. It was the second? third? release in the late Terry Carr's "New Ace Science Fiction Specials" series. Carr was a legendary editor, and the original Ace Specials was a legendary series, so when I heard a new series was coming out, I was into it. The first volume was The Wild Shore by Kim Stanley Robinson, which I bought and loved. So the next month I went back for volume 2, which I think was Neuromancer (it could have been Green Eyes by Lucius Shepard). I read it and enjoyed it, and kept going. It's hard to recall now, but this series introduced the world to the first work, or first solo work, of Robinson, Gibson, Shepherd, Robert Reed, Carter Scholz, Howard Waldrop, Michael Swanwick, Jack McDevitt, and others. Not all of there were great, but looking back, the SF world often speaks of a mid-80s renaissance in SF, and this series, along with "Cheap Truth", and the flowering of Asimov's, is where it happened.

The fact that Gibson and Neuromancer have come to overshadow the rest of this work so much for the non-SF audience has always bugged me a little, as much as I admire them. In particular, Robinson, Swanwick, Shepherd and Bruce Sterling from that era have really outdone Gibson in their careers, but Gibson is still the closest thing SF has to a household name.
posted by rodii at 12:17 PM on March 25, 2001

Neuromancer, much like Snow Crash, is probably too dark a film for most Hollywood audiences. However, I think that it would be kind of cool to have someone like David Fincher do it as he probably would give it some style. Other people I could see directing that film would be Ridley Scott (largely based on his work with Blade Runner) and the Wachowski brothers (but they're too busy with The Matrix series)...
posted by TNLNYC at 12:19 PM on March 25, 2001

I think Snow Crash would be a better and easier movie to make.

btw, I warn any and all of you against the film version of Gibson's New Rose Hotel. What a steaming s**t sandwich! And it starred Walken and DaFoe. Who'd of thunk it?
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:08 PM on March 25, 2001

I also doubt that the Neuromancer movie will ever get made. There's no need for it in the current market place. It's ideas have been done a hundred times already.
posted by edelstone at 2:41 PM on March 25, 2001

Chris Cunningham @ director-file contains a bio and some video clips of his work.
posted by stazen at 3:14 PM on March 25, 2001

I would have no problem with Neuromancer being made into a movie, unless they decide to change any of the story at all, which has been done too often when books become feature films.
posted by Zool at 3:55 PM on March 25, 2001

Gibson is still the closest thing SF has to a household name.

I think the names Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury, and Heinlein might have a scoche more "brand recognition" than Gibson. Some of those guys are actually still alive, too...
posted by kindall at 4:24 PM on March 25, 2001

Oops, I meant to add "who still has both feet out of the grave." :)
posted by rodii at 4:56 PM on March 25, 2001

It should be pointed out that Chris Cunningham also worked on Mr Kubrick's original A.I. project.
posted by davidgentle at 7:30 PM on March 25, 2001

posted by smeat at 2:13 AM on March 26, 2001

I suspect that Neuromancer will be released right about the same time that the long-promised Watchmen gets screened.
posted by Skot at 9:21 AM on March 26, 2001

I think the names Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury, and Heinlein might have a scoche more "brand recognition" than Gibson. Some of those guys are actually still alive, too...

Cue Simpsons reference: "I also promise to stock our libraries with the ABC's of science fiction: Asimov, Bester, Clarke!" "What about Ray Bradbury?" (beat) "I'm familiar with his work."

Rodii, I too wish Michael Swanwick was mainstream-famous, but I think the key behind Neuromancer's success within the science fiction world was timing -- it was steam-engine time for the motif. On the other hand, I think the reason it's became recognized outside the genre is twofold: one part is the convenience (to academics and writers) of having a work upon which to hang discussion of technological transformation of society and individualism and the other has to do with Gibson's prose virtuosity. If Schismatrix had been the breakthrough work of the Cheap Truth school, I don't think it would have had the same success outside the genre, because as solid a writer as Chairman Bruce is, Gibson's got it over him in terms of flashy prose. (Plus, Neuromancer's got that Hammet vibe, whereas Schismatrix just kind of goes about its picaresque business.)

Has there ever been a good cyberpunky scifi movie other than Blade Runner? Lord knows good scifi movies is a fairly small data set to start with...
posted by snarkout at 9:52 AM on March 26, 2001

Does anyone have anymore links to good books on MP3? Neuromancer was perfect for a slow monday...
posted by Neb at 5:12 PM on March 26, 2001

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