Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Aphids! Aphids!
July 14, 2006 9:56 AM   Subscribe

The first 24 minutes of the new movie of Phillip K. Dick's classic A Scanner Darkly. *NSFW*
posted by crunchland (82 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
If you opt for the streaming version, click on the first item, that talks about an age check.
posted by crunchland at 9:58 AM on July 14, 2006


I tried and failed, so someone should dig up the link for the once-posted prototype trailer for Scanner Darkly done by... some animation studio. It was much darker, more claustrophobic, more paranoid, more uncomfortable, more... PhilipKDickian than this Linklater version seems to be. And it did not have the questionable talents of Keanu. Man it looked cool.

That bein said, I'm still off to the theater this weekend to check this one out.
posted by xmutex at 10:06 AM on July 14, 2006


Does it have any cats?
posted by weston at 10:12 AM on July 14, 2006


Xmutex do you mean This one that was linked on BoingBoing a while back?
posted by subtle_squid at 10:14 AM on July 14, 2006


I just saw the whole thing last night, and really enjoyed it.

One drawback to the whole "trailer remix" contest they used to promote it was that key lines and images from all the trailers I watched really diminished the impact of those moments in the movie itself. Especially considering that the overall tone of the movie is very different than how they portrayed it in the original trailer. Boo.

Still, a pretty great movie IMO.
posted by hermitosis at 10:15 AM on July 14, 2006


Probably better to get it through the streaming link.. admittedly the first link might be a little problematic, but it seemed less confusing than the streaming one.
posted by crunchland at 10:16 AM on July 14, 2006


subtle_squid: That's the one! That's a trailer that PKD would have loved and been terrified by.
posted by xmutex at 10:22 AM on July 14, 2006


the rustmonkey video seems broken. a little bit of hunting comes up with this:

SD_rustmonkey.com.off

which, at a glance, looks like the right-oh. Download it, change the extension to '.mov' and it plays wonderfully.
posted by casconed at 10:23 AM on July 14, 2006


subtle_squid, now you've got me curious... and the link at rustmonkey's down! Anyhwere else to find it?
posted by anthill at 10:27 AM on July 14, 2006


This movie was really good. I'd skip out on the trailers and previews and watch it fresh. (Though I suppose that is the best way to go see any film.)
posted by chunking express at 10:28 AM on July 14, 2006


Wow, that's fantastic, crunchland - thanks! I'm blown away by the visual style of this - as I was by Waking Life.

Argh, I can't decide whether to give in to temptation and watch the rest of this preview, now, or hold off until I go to see the full thing!
posted by terpsichoria at 10:35 AM on July 14, 2006


I saw this movie a few days ago.. I fell asleep twice...
posted by crewshell at 10:38 AM on July 14, 2006


It's good. I saw it a few days ago. Most of what it cuts could stand to be cut, and the plot is made a little clearer, though still not completely obvious. Very faithful, very well done, despite Keanu. Robert Downie Jr. is the soul of the movie.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:40 AM on July 14, 2006


Everyone's always hating on Keanu. I think he did a fantastic job in this movie.
posted by jaded at 10:54 AM on July 14, 2006


Does anyone know the deal behind those financial service (forget the company) commercials where they use a very similar rotoscoping technique? At first I thought they were, um, paying homage to the Linklater/"Waking Life" technique, but it was so similar I wonder if it wasn't actually done by the Linklater team for some cold hard cash.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:56 AM on July 14, 2006


I wonder if the public would ever swallow that black & white claustrophobic style of that little short... and you're not the first person who has said it's a snoozer, crewshell. It's pretty faithful to the book (which I recently downloaded from Audible, narrated by Paul Giamatti), but it's by no means an action-packed blockbuster.
posted by crunchland at 11:00 AM on July 14, 2006


Holy crap I want to see this so badly and I'm stuck for a week in a city where it's not playing! Why such a limited release, why haven't I seen any tv ads for it? arrgh.
posted by zarah at 11:09 AM on July 14, 2006


Why must Keanu Reeves destroy everything I love?
posted by eyeballkid at 11:09 AM on July 14, 2006


If you like Sabiston's roboscoping, check out Lars von Trier's The Five Obstructions. It's a terrific documentary/experiment with a short animated sequence.
posted by muckster at 11:11 AM on July 14, 2006


Heh, roboscoping. His name is Murphy. It's rotoscoping, of course.
posted by muckster at 11:12 AM on July 14, 2006


(I reviewed A Scanner Darkly, The Five Obstructions, and Waking Life.)
posted by muckster at 11:15 AM on July 14, 2006


Ooh, does the movie have the conversation about the giant walking man of hash in the airport?
posted by xmutex at 11:22 AM on July 14, 2006


I saw this a few days ago, and it is awesome. I say this as a fan of both PKD and Linklater. If you like either one, you will not be disappointed.

The other people in my group (including one person who wrote a book about PKD) liked it as well.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:31 AM on July 14, 2006


Did anyone else notice that in the first few changes of the close-up of Keanu in the scramble suit before he talks to the group of straights, he turns momentarily into the likeness of Philip K. Dick.
posted by crunchland at 11:37 AM on July 14, 2006


They seem to have kept a pretty tight lid on illegal filesharing - I mean, through fairly well-known channels.
Is this by virtue of it being made by loyal and dedicated people who wouldn't want to rip it off - sell pre-release copies or whatever, or some kind of code-of-honour in the online community that it would be uncool to devalue a work of one of its core prophets?
Or something far more sinister, too ghastly even to contemplate.
posted by Flashman at 11:47 AM on July 14, 2006


Does anyone know the deal behind those financial service (forget the company) commercials where they use a very similar rotoscoping technique? At first I thought they were, um, paying homage to the Linklater/"Waking Life" technique, but it was so similar I wonder if it wasn't actually done by the Linklater team for some cold hard cash.

There's a Wired article somewhere about this, but there was a shakeup at the production company during the early part of work on A Scanner Darkly, and the head of production/ guy who designed the software (I think he's the guy explaining how it works in the feature on the Waking Life DVD) left/was canned and, when this happened, he took a number of the lead artists with him. They needed work and so they did commercial work. I don't know what companies they did work for exactly, but I always assumed whenever I saw those Waking-Life-ish commercials that it was in fact those artists.
posted by furiousthought at 11:56 AM on July 14, 2006


I thought they were completely ineffective ads. I mean, for the spacey, otherworldly aspects of Waking Life and Scanner Darkly, the visual style makes sense, but just some dude talking about his investments? Completely pointless. (The fact that none of us can remember which financial services company produced them can attest to that.)
posted by crunchland at 11:59 AM on July 14, 2006


crunchland - I'm with you - I spent most of the time watching the details of the animation, not listening to the words - but at least one other person was fond of these ads.
posted by suckerpunch at 12:06 PM on July 14, 2006


_sirmissalot_: A quick Google says the Schwab ads are also done with the help of Bob Sabiston's Rotoshop software and his studio, just as with Linklater's films.
posted by abcde at 12:10 PM on July 14, 2006


Earthlink did a couple rip-off ads during the prodution of 'Waking Life." If I remember correctly, Earthlink asked Flatblack to do the ads. Flatblack wasn't interested (they didn't want to dilute the impact of Waking Life). Earthlink's response was "either you do them or we'll find someone else that will." And I guess they did.
posted by sexymofo at 12:14 PM on July 14, 2006


I can't wait for the Robot Chicken-style ads for Price Waterhouse Coopers.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:16 PM on July 14, 2006


I saw it opening day and thought it blew.

What a waste.
posted by dobbs at 12:30 PM on July 14, 2006


and the plot is made a little clearer, though still not completely obvious. Very faithful, very well done,

What are you talking about? What plot? They turned it into a bunch of people standing around making drug jokes and then tacked on the last 5 minutes from the end of the book in an attempt to pretend the movie was heading that way all along. And having Dick's dedication on the end was so tasteless I couldn't believe they did it.

The book has a tremendous paranoia feel to it. The movie has none whatsoever. The book makes you think that the characters arguments are rational, given their state. The movie makes them the object of mockery (which makes the dedication even more ridiculous).

The only good thing about this movie was the way they did the suit and some of the performances.

Ugh. Save your money, people.
posted by dobbs at 12:35 PM on July 14, 2006


Yah I was all hyped up and ready to go see it last weekend, not realizing that it was a limited release. I checked out the first couple minutes of it here and will watch the rest of it when I get home.

I read the book online somewhere; if this movie doesn't start playing round here soon I'm gonna go crazy.
posted by daHIFI at 12:40 PM on July 14, 2006


If you didn't notice how they managed to work the plot in, you just weren't paying attention. I'm about to break out into spoilers, for those of you who care about that sort of shit.

Spoilers:

The movie is much clearer about the fact that the psychiatrists at the DEA are monitoring Arctor as part of the DEA's plot to drive him into a nervous breakdown, not as part of a set of "routine checkups". The female psychiatrist mentions "little blue flowers" to him every time they meet, in the context of procuring some for Donna.

Since you already know by that point that the "organic component" of Substance D is a little blue flower (something you don't know in the book until the end), the ending, where he picks one of the little blue flowers "for his friends" is more clearly set up than in the book.

Part of the "tremendous paranoid feel" of both the book and the movie is the fact that you have to pay attention to little details like that and place them within a larger structure rather than just waiting for a "big reveal" that will make sense of it for you.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:48 PM on July 14, 2006


Wow, the player sucks. It only buffers when you're playing it, which means you *will* encounter delays if you have a slow connection. They should do it like Youtube, which buffers no matter what , paused or not. Watching the first 24 minutes is going to actually take 30 or 40, because I have to actually sit there and wait for the movie to catch up, rather than just loading it in the background. Wankers.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:04 PM on July 14, 2006


Also, if this wasn't the worst scored movie since LadyHawke, I don't know what is. I was literally cringing during the first 15 seconds of music. Note to Linklater: next time just hire Jon Brion and save us the wannabe wankery.

Pseudophedrine, you hit the nail right on the head. I go to movies to be spoonfed the big reveal. Thanks for making it all much clearer to me. Would you also take a few minutes to explain the subtle use of metaphor in the denouement of Adam Sandler's Click? Email's in my profile. Thx!
posted by dobbs at 1:11 PM on July 14, 2006


Did anyone else notice that in the first few changes of the close-up of Keanu in the scramble suit before he talks to the group of straights, he turns momentarily into the likeness of Philip K. Dick.

Yup. Did anyone else notice the obligatory Alex Jones cameo?
posted by Afroblanco at 1:16 PM on July 14, 2006


Really, folks, the 'PKD is G0D' schtick is only slightly more tired than the 'Keanu is Bill Ted richer than me and gets to fuck beautiful women talentless' schtick.

Get over it. I'm sure he has.

AFAIK, he's a pretty darn decent working actor, who happens to be good-looking enough to have become a movie star. It's not his fault and I think it betrays a certain lack of class to hate on him for it. (Envy, now, though....)
posted by lodurr at 1:27 PM on July 14, 2006


... little blue flower ...

Holy psychoactive flora, Batman!
posted by lodurr at 1:30 PM on July 14, 2006


The book has a tremendous paranoia feel to it... The book makes you think that the characters arguments are rational, given their state.

Dobbs : How do you suppose they could have conveyed these things? What part of the written word is missing?
posted by crunchland at 2:04 PM on July 14, 2006


There's no need for the snarkiness, dobbs. You made a series of statements you didn't back up (it blew, no paranoia, no plot, mockery, etc.) and Pseudoephedrine explained the movie from his pov. It's a fact that there is "no big reveal," not an indictment of your taste. FWIW, I felt the paranoia, did not think the characters were set up for mockery, and thought the plot was gripping. Certainly one of the better movies I've seen this year so far.
posted by muckster at 2:05 PM on July 14, 2006


Pseudophedrine, you hit the nail right on the head. I go to movies to be spoonfed the big reveal.

"What are you talking about? What plot?" - dobbs

Yeah, I guess I did.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 2:06 PM on July 14, 2006


Dobbs: I can't really attest to the quality of the score as I don't remember that part of the film (combination of being engrossed in the film and having to relieve myself from the gigantor-sized soda). The person that wrote the score, however, has a resume that doesn't make him look like too much of a wannabe:

Graham Reynolds is a composer, bandleader, pianist and drummer based in Austin, Texas. Graham works constantly in theater, dance, film, concert halls, and nightclubs. Compositions include four symphonies, two operas, a violin concerto, more than a dozen one movement string quartets and countless chamber music pieces. Graham's collaborative 20-CD Box Set, The Golden Hornet Project was chosen as a "Top Ten CDs Under the Radar" by Rolling Stone.com.

And more...
posted by melt away at 2:07 PM on July 14, 2006


Err didn't mean to add to any Dobbs pile-on, just took to long to write my post.
posted by melt away at 2:10 PM on July 14, 2006


AFAIK, he's a pretty darn decent working actor,

Well, see, you start an argument with that premise and people are just going to tune you out, or laugh.
posted by xmutex at 2:30 PM on July 14, 2006


melt away, you can hear the score (presumably) in the link. It starts with the opening images, sort of trying to put sound to Freck's situation. It sounded very much like a deliberate rip of Brion to me, especially his Punch Drunk Love score--except that, imo, it was a forced representation of the visuals. I didn't need those visuals reinforced and doing so made it seem like Linklater did not have faith in what he'd put on screen. Except that it didn't sound like cheesy heartstring-pulling scores you see in bad HWood epics, it was attempting to do the same thing and failed for the same reasons those drippy big scores do, regardless of the talent of the performer. I was reminded of the scenes in bad comedies where everyone runs around and the score gets all "craaaaazy!"--you know, just in case we can't see them running around, we'll restate it with w-a-c-k-y-! music!

You made a series of statements you didn't back up

Yeah, Muckster, only people who agree with your pov are allowed to express their opinions without 'backing them up' and not get taken to task on it.

How do you suppose they could have conveyed these things? What part of the written word is missing?

Crunchland, I thought the subject was ripe for play in this day in age in America. Unfortunately, I didn't think Linklater took advantage of the times to inflict the movie with any sense of paranoia that was buyable. You've got a gov't with a ridiculous war on drugs, a gov't spying on its citizens, a gov't that is dividing people and turning them against one another and you have a book with these very elements in it and rather than make a film that goes the limit and makes a point, you make something that'll be quickly forgotten. Rather than charge the thing with politics and a sense of big brother (which I felt the book had), you make something that is easily dismissed.

When I read the book (and that was over 20 years ago), I was empathetic to the characters (and found Dick's dedication moving). In the film, I was not brought into the story enough to care about anyone in it. Watching the film, I felt like I was watching me and my friends sitting around shooting the shit. (In fact, two of the people I saw the film with said exactly that afterwards, that they felt like someone stuck a video camera in our shared residence).

A more concrete example of my disappointment: there's a scene in the book where they're about to kill a mosquito hawk (if I remember correctly) and the line, "If I'd known it was harmless I would have killed it myself" occurs. The line is rather significant to the story's theme (and Dick's life). In the film, the line is a throw-away said simultaneously by multiple characters as if it's a given, as if it's "Everyone knows this one!" I think Linklater's understanding (and treatment) of that line is indicative of the problems of the entire adaptation. He lightened it and misreprented it. That's fine, and people are welcome to love it, of course. However, saying that this film is "very faithful" is nonsense, imo, and it's that statement that got me worked up.

I suppose it depends how you view the book. The film, to me, was a comedy that attempted to have dark overtones. The book was dramatic with elements of the absurd. I would rather have seen the latter. People have been trying to adapt the book to screen for years. It's a terrific story. I thought Linklater's adaption (and it'll probably be the only one ever done) a drastic failure. And, as someone who's waited enthusiastically for almost 20 years to see a film of it, the failure is a pretty unfortunate one.
posted by dobbs at 3:02 PM on July 14, 2006


Well, see, you start an argument with that premise and people are just going to tune you out, or laugh.

... because as we all know, there are clear and explicit criteria that allow any reasonable person to judge whether one actor is better than another, and precisely how.

Or put another way: "Your favorite actor can't act."
posted by lodurr at 3:10 PM on July 14, 2006


It wasn't your opinion I objected to, dobbs, it was your dismissive comeback when somebody called you on it. Thx!
posted by muckster at 3:30 PM on July 14, 2006


Dude, I think the guy behind me was filming the screen...
posted by cyphill at 3:34 PM on July 14, 2006


I just got back from seeing it. I am a big pkd fan - have all the books - reread scanner recently. It is a great movie and very faithful to the source (especially considering how his other works have been butchered.) I am hoping there is a much longer director's cut that we can see someday, too.

A note on the paranoia tone of the book vs. the movie. When the book was written, that type of surveillance wasn't possible and was a paranoid fantasy. Now we have been so inured to the fact that it is all possible (without the holograms and scramble suits, of course) that it can't pack the same wollop it did 30 years ago.

The other power of the book is that a lot of it was in shorthand for the druggies in the crowd. The bike speed misunderstanding and the other spaced out conversations were things that could be instantly recognized. They put the same conversations in the movie and, while not always verbatim, were pretty close. I didn't see any mockery in the insane conversations. I didn't think it was a comedy at all.

The casting was great as well. Keanu and Downey, Jr. were perfect and really took the ball and ran with their roles.

Too bad you didn't like it, dobbs. I know what it was like to wait and wait for the other PKD adaptations and be disappointed (I wanted to kill after I saw Minority Report) and I also know that no one can convince you otherwise. Seriously, I hope they will one day make a version of ubik that we will both enjoy!
posted by sciatica at 3:41 PM on July 14, 2006


Pseudo suggested I was unable to grasp the plot and am incapable of paying attention to detail, but I'm the one being dismissive? Please.
posted by dobbs at 3:45 PM on July 14, 2006


I thought the subject was ripe for play in this day in age in America.

You're not the first one to say that as a failure of the film. But if he tried to be faithful to the book, how could he make significant changes to make it more relevant to today? (I noticed in the first 24 minutes, there were lots of minor changes... 18 speed bike instead of 10, which cost Barris $50 instead of $20. The can bought at the convenience store wasn't Solarcaine, like it is in the book. Stuff like that. Stuff I probably wouldn't even have noticed had I not just listened to the unabridged version.) But I completely see your point. I think the movie would be better if it was more of an indictement on current issues instead of the paranoid issues of the 70's. It was a obviously creative decision of the filmmakers not to go down that route.

And I thought it was strange, too, when I saw a recent commercial for the movie that was trying to sell it as a comedy. It literally made my mouth drop open.

I still haven't seen the movie and plan to in the coming week.
posted by crunchland at 3:51 PM on July 14, 2006


Crunchland, what you're talking about is of course a huge thing when people adapt books to film: whether to be faithful to word or spirit/theme. It's a very fine line and one can never please all of a book's fans.

A great success imo, and I'm sure many disagree, is LA Confidential. The book is a masterpiece; the film is a masterpiece. But they are very different. Characters that die in one, live in the other, and vice versa. But many fans of the book, and James Ellroy, the book's author, think the film did a great job at adapting for the screen what is a very complicated yet delicate story.

The filmmakers did not allow the book to constrain them and at the same time paid a great deal of respect to their source. Books and movies are very different mediums, everyone knows that, but it is possible to succeed in both with the same story.

My biggest complaint about Scanner is that it completely lacked focus. There was no central thrust, or throughline, to use a common screenwriting word. It was just sorta There.

I hate generalizations, but in narrative film you generally have two choices: write something plot-driven or write something character-driven. It's near impossible to do both. Linklater did neither--he just sorta shot a bunch of stuff from the book that was "neat" or filmic, rather than digging thru the heart of the book and finding the reason the story must be filmed--the kernel, the thread, the backbone, whatever you want to call it--to do the book justice and give us something big and important.

If one looks at the greatest book/magazines/story adaptations ever done (Grapes of Wrath, The Graduate, Fight Club, Adaptation, Rosemary's Baby, Rashomon, The Vanishing, The French Connection, Dog Day Afternoon, Sweet Smell of Success, The Hustler, The Third Man, Jaws, Requiem for a Dream, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Out of Sight, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, The Exorcist, Eyes Wide Shut, and, hell, Blade Runner, etc.)* and compares them to the adaptations that do not need to be rewatched or even watched once, really (and that list is far too long), one finds that the major difference between them is whether or not the filmmakers stayed true to the spirit of the source even when--hell, especially when--they were were forced to stray from the words. I don't know whether Linklater lacks the talent to recognize when it needs to be done or the balls to do it to a book with such a huge following, but to me, he didn't do it with this adaptation.

* My opinion. Off the top of my head. Feel free to disagree.
posted by dobbs at 4:27 PM on July 14, 2006


And of course, incomplete
posted by dobbs at 4:29 PM on July 14, 2006


They turned it into a bunch of people standing around making drug jokes and then tacked on the last 5 minutes from the end of the book in an attempt to pretend the movie was heading that way all along.

I think that pretty much nails why I felt disapointed by it.

It actually captures the people standing around making drug jokes bits of the book very well, the rest... less so.

Also Robert Downey Jr is pretty fantastic.
posted by Artw at 4:54 PM on July 14, 2006


Funny. When I read Dick's novels in the Seventies (even sitting in university rare-book libraries for the out-of-print ones) I never once thought that people might one day want to make movies from them.

It could be done. There are many books left. Most PKD fans seem to agree that the first (Blade Runner) was the best...although they always leave out Dick's humor. And his obsession with neurotic risky chicks.
posted by kozad at 5:28 PM on July 14, 2006


I'm a PKD fan, and I was looking at my watch 30 minutes in. Have you ever secretly recorded a bunch of stoners and listened back to the tape? It's boring as hell. That's the problem with this movie; it mirrors the hard drug scene too perfectly.

On the bright side, the trailer for Marie Antoinette was quite interesting.
posted by mischief at 5:52 PM on July 14, 2006


My biggest complaint about Scanner is that it completely lacked focus.

I think that was the point. The filmmaker simply didn't carry it off very well.
posted by mischief at 5:56 PM on July 14, 2006


The movie was dead on. People miss the humor in Dick's deadpan style. People like Ridley Scott.
posted by johngoren at 6:03 PM on July 14, 2006


yeah, this was a good movie! i was unsure about some of the changes, such as one fairly pivotal scene being moved towards the beginning of the story. but Pseudophedrine is correct -- it helped to clear up some vague plot points and didn't detract from the original story at all.

and the score was fine! the music accompanying the opening scene was perfectly evocative of waking life's soundtrack, which was nice. keanu was fine! really it was winona ryder that i had a problem with. she didn't seem to put any effort into her performance.

pretty good effort overall. though in a perfect world, linklater's film would stand alongside adaptations by charlie kaufmann and terry gilliam.
posted by jimmy at 9:03 PM on July 14, 2006


I've read the book three or four times this year, and I'm reading it again tonight. Not so much because of the movie, but more because I like the book and most of my books are in storage. I like the book. It's amusing.

I posit that dobbs doesn't like the movie because he hasn't actually read the book recently. It's not a particularly stunning book to begin with.

I watched the 24 minute teaser and I'm glad it's not as upbeat as the original trailer made it out to be. The scramble suit took some getting used to, I'd imagined it differently - faster more pixelated, more "vague blur" and less chimera.

I like the modern/contempprary updates and rewrites I saw, too. To do a completely faithful, line by line and item by item imprint of the book as a modern movie would miss the point and be mostly unwatchable - there needs to be the "superior" surveillance technology angle to set up the paranoia and futility. In the book the can of Solarcaine is 98 cents, in the movie it's three bucks. They didn't have cell phones in the book. The bicycle in the book was a 10 speed racing bike. In the movie, it's an 18 speed mountain bike.

I also want to see how they handle the cephalochromascope, which is never quite adequetly explained other than it being defined as an entertainment device.

Regardless of these mere objects and technological differences, the point of the story isn't just about the paranoia, surveillance and manipulation of Robert Arctor. It's not just about the personality split set up in Arctor - nor the implication that the surveilled, paranoid society mirrors Arctor's split.

The real point of the story is that it's a tale about isolation. Loneliness. And how isolation breeds paranoia, how it breeds escapism through addiction, escapism through unreality - and how these are all symptoms of isolation.

And from what I've seen in the movie sample, this most important point is covered quite well. In Fred/Bob Arctor's off the script speech and dawning realization, in Freck's statement of "I got a lot of problems nobody else has." to the waitress who just blows him off - and that this statement in itself is one that is untrue and isolating - and there's even symbols and manifestations of isolation in Barris' lewd thought bubbles. (Which I think is a great way to handle it - literal thought bubbles. Head movies. Much better than the muddled, endless internal monologues of Lynch's take on Dune. Which I still like, despite.)


"Just fire off the great eleven-cent silencer of our times" *burp*
posted by loquacious at 9:28 PM on July 14, 2006


I posit that dobbs doesn't like the movie because he hasn't actually read the book recently.

We'll have to agree to disagree. Even viewed as a straight narrative film the film fails because, as I said, it lacks focus. I've not talked to anyone who's seen the film and *not* read the book but I imagine most who do will have a big 'Who cares?' response. Reading the critics who panned it seems to bear this out. Every positive review I've read of it seems to come from someone who's read the book. (Though no doubt someone'll come in the thread and tell me I'm wrong and that they don't even know how to read and the film was a masterpiece.)

You're right on your analysis of the book--and that's an accurate depiction of much of Dick's work, no?--but I don't see it in the film; if anything, I felt the opposite.
posted by dobbs at 9:55 PM on July 14, 2006


I'll be going to see the movie tomorrow with 2 people who haven't read the book, and whose only exposure to PKD are the other movies based on his books. I'll let you know how they feel about it. (Fair warning ... both are going mostly because they adore Keanu, so maybe it's doomed from the start.)
posted by crunchland at 9:57 PM on July 14, 2006


dobbs, I think you're trying to place your own filter on the book and the movie. You wanted the movie to make a statement, and I'm not entirely sure that the book complies with the statement that you wanted the movie to make.

I think it would be a tragedy if they were to change Scanner in such a way as to give it a strong, clear, political message. I hate it when people do stuff like that. Granted, we do live in some very troubled times, but that doesn't mean that we should start changing works of art just so that they fit our political agenda.

Yes, Scanner is about paranoia and surveillance. However, it's also about a lot of other things - isolation, drug abuse, and insanity, to name a few. PKD's books are slippery creatures, which is why they are so hard to adapt to film. Any lack of focus in the movie is probably just as present in the book. I'm not even sure that there was a single "point" to Scanner.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:23 PM on July 14, 2006


Even viewed as a straight narrative film the film fails because, as I said, it lacks focus.

Dude, it's a Richard Linklater film. He elevates diffusion and lack of focus to an established, codified religion. It's not something I was expecting from the movie, so that may be why I'm able to tolerate it.

Reading the critics who panned it seems to bear this out.

Yeah, fuck the critics. They're critics because they don't make films. And they hated Bladerunner, too. The only focus I can really pin down in Bladerunner was the artistic direction and violence. The finale is mushy and anticlimactic. The "message" is buried and downplayed. It diverges wildly from the book - and PKD was even on the set helping out. But it's still one of my favorite films of all time.

I'm willing to give A Scanner Darkly a chance and see if it grows on me.
posted by loquacious at 5:17 AM on July 15, 2006


It diverges wildly from the book

You can say that again! Aside from a few character names and soem general character relationships, it bears almost no resemblance to the book at all. Which is probably why Scott very early on started positioning it as "inspired by" DADoES.

It's absolutely Ridley Scott's story, not PKD's. Burroughs (and evidently PKD) helped a little, but no more than a story-crafter's confidantes normally do.

and PKD was even on the set helping out.

Huh. And I'd thought he was dead by then.
posted by lodurr at 5:26 AM on July 15, 2006


Burroughs (and evidently PKD) helped a little, but no more than a story-crafter's confidantes normally do.

William S. Burroughs had nothing to do with the Scott movie. Blade Runner: A Movie is a completely different story and was never filmed. The title is just a coincidence.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:35 AM on July 15, 2006


PKD is a tragedy as an author in large part not because he died young, but because he screwed himself up so badly with speed that he got sloppy. I'm convinced that a lot of the things that fans see in his work as intentional inconsistency -- challenging the nature of reality, etc. -- is really just sloppiness. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a great example: It's riddled with plot holes and awkward language. It would have been a much better book if he'd had, say, Samuel Delaney do a copy-edit on it for him.

(Aside: I've never understood how the Cyberpunks got by so long without acknowledging their debt to Delaney, Disch, et al. There's something about PKD that sucks up the atmosphere. For my money, 'James Tiptree' ("The Girl Who Was Plugged In") is the real god[mother] of cyberpunk. But I digress....)

So many people see the cool ideas; I see the sloppy execution. If he'd been straight, he could have done so much more interesting stuff. Hell, when he was straight (or relatively straight), look what he could do. Ubik is really quintessential Dick, to me, because it shows him at some of his best and his worst: Awkward, postage stamp characterization juxtaposed with what was a slightly shopworn idea even then -- but twisted and prodded until he got something new out of it. But there's still something awkward about the whole project....

Dick is a lot like Bruce Sterling, to me: The ideas are great, but te execution is sometimes second-rate. If the execution were better, the ideas would benefit from teh improved carrier medium.
posted by lodurr at 5:40 AM on July 15, 2006


I had read that Burroughs made linguistic contributions and acted as Scott's sounding board. I'd have to track that down again, but I thought it was from the production notes on the director's cut CD. (Which I don't own.)
posted by lodurr at 5:41 AM on July 15, 2006


Whoops, not a coincidence, just that the Burroughs treatment was based on a completely different novel. My mistake.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:45 AM on July 15, 2006


Huh. And I'd thought he was dead by then.

Well, "helping out on the set" may have been overstating things, but I saw a series of pictures of PKD on the set with Scott. PKD died before the film was released. (Wikipedia supports this.)
posted by loquacious at 6:32 AM on July 15, 2006


Interesting that males 45+ hold the lowest opinions.

After sleeping on it, what hurt the movie for me is that Arctor's disassociation did not seem to deepen as the movie progressed; in fact, his strongest break with reality was the very first scene and subsequent portrayals grew progressively milder.
posted by mischief at 9:44 AM on July 15, 2006


It's a relief, then, to see that his murky Scanner Darkly isn't revamped as an 'as relevant now as ever' frontal strike on surveillance culture, the Bush II American Empire, or any such popular arthouse piƱatas. It's a far thornier, more engaged thing... It is unpretty, it is exhausting in its yammering, yes, but the very fact of its putting forth a vision of a future that's scented with bongwater, revolving around the axis of a sloppy living room, is enough to recommend it beyond whatever splendidly expensive bauble is being trotted out in multiplexes next Friday after next Friday ad infinitum.

--Nick Pinkerton at Stop Smiling

Lots more at the invaluable Green Cine Daily.
posted by muckster at 2:05 PM on July 15, 2006


I just got back to seeing it, and if I'm not spoiling things too much, I'd say that the biggest problem is the way the movie handled the malevolence of Barris ... In the book, this was the cause for much doubt and paranoia. Was Barris trying to poison/sabotage/set up Bob Arctor, and if so, why?

In the movie, Barris was more of a buffoon.

My two friends - neither of whom had read the book or were particular fans of PKD -- both enjoyed the movie. One said she didn't think the movie was trying to be a plotless comedy about the dialog between dopers. The other said he thought the movie was interesting, and only a little dragging in spots. He said he wished he had a remote control to let him fast forward through some of the slower scenes.

As for me, I liked it. I thought it was fairly faithful to the book except for a few glaring omissions, and, as I said, the treatment of whether Barris was really trying to undermine Arctor.
posted by crunchland at 3:07 PM on July 15, 2006


Interesting movie, not mindblowing but thought provoking. It stays with you like a car accident.
posted by any major dude at 4:59 PM on July 15, 2006


I'm vaguely interested in knowing how the story ends after watching the first twenty-something minutes. However, I'm not interested enough to watch the rest of it, cuz Waking Life gave me a frickin' headache.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:51 PM on July 15, 2006


I saw it yesterday afternoon. I liked it a lot. People will talk a lot about PKD and Linklater, but it strikes me as I write this that it's really easy to under-rate Bob Sabistan's influence. Those "Brown Bear" club faces -- and especially how much they resemble the face of that NewPath honcho toward the end -- are probably his direction.

ZachsMind, I'll save you the trouble: A space ship comes down, and everbody dies. (How everyone could fail to mention that change from teh book is beyond me.)

Aside: Does anybody know if PKD knew Chuck Barris?
posted by lodurr at 9:49 AM on July 16, 2006


The movie is scarier than the book. Leaving the theatre, I thought, this makes Bladerunner look like Pleasantville.

I'm glad I saw Waking Life first, otherwise the roboshopping would have made the story even harder to follow than it already was. Still I was fascinated by the parts that didn't get fully roboshopped ... the outdoor scenes on the freeway for one.

Crunchland: yeah, I did notice Dick's likeness in the early scramblesuit shot. See what I mean, it's distracting. People will spend years decoding who all show up in those scrambleshots.

Another win for Linklater. Woody Harrelson (sp?) had all the good lines.
posted by Twang at 5:19 AM on July 17, 2006


One said she didn't think the movie was trying to be a plotless comedy about the dialog between dopers.

Hasn't seen Linklater's early movies, huh?
posted by Twang at 5:22 AM on July 17, 2006


the ending, where he picks one of the little blue flowers "for his friends" is more clearly set up than in the book.

Yes, but the whole thing about the book was that it was layers and layers of discovery -- no one in the book knows that substance d is organic -- they believe it's totally synthetic -- and no one knows who makes it. That's why they have to sacrifice Arctor and send him to New Path -- because the Feds suspect New Path is manufacturing substance d but they don't know how. They also and this is the real sadness of the book) have to rely on Arctor's love for his friends poking through his destroyed mind and identity to compel him, without prior instruction or knowledge, to bring the flower back from the farm. In order for the plan to succeed, Arctor himself cannot know about it.
If they already know the source of substance d, that totally alters the primary motive of at least one major character in the book (Donna) and undercuts the whole point of deceiving Arctor.

If you missed that in the book and need the film to "spell it out for you" then that's not a fault of the book -- like someone said above, it's precisely the obsession with detail that allows the book to perform the function of roping the reader into the paranoia and consciousness of the addicts. Like: the scene with the 10-speed bike. In the book, the characters but a 10-speed biuke but count only 7 gears (5 on one side; 2 on the other). None of them realizes that one set of gears interacts with the other, making 10 gears. Even I, who knew all along that they were not making this connection, felt, for just a moment while reading that maybe I was mistaken and they did have a bike with only 7 gears.
The whole book is about that -- being able to make abstract leaps and see connections between phenomenon -- the reader has to be able to literally change the way she applies herself to the act of reading in order to "get" the book fully. That's the brilliance of PKD, and part of his writing that's hard to get across in film, just because the brain's doing different mental work when watching a film than when reading.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:39 PM on July 19, 2006


like someone said above, it's precisely the obsession with detail that allows the book to perform the function of roping the reader into the paranoia and consciousness of the addicts.

Not sure if you meant me, but that was exactly what I was trying to say here. Thanks for being more articulate.
posted by dobbs at 7:12 PM on August 3, 2006


« Older I liked it better when it was called "WarioWare".....  |  A new kind of hate has come to... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments