Wednesday, July 5

Preview: A Scanner Darkly

Just came back from a Village Voice preview of Richard Linkletters' interpretation of Phillip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly". Major warning about this movie - it is heavily star driven, but somewhat complex in it's communication of the message it is aiming for. It is funny - after watching this movie, I keep flashing back to "Land of the Blind" and how it was a challenging movie for some - but in that movie, the ending was not so clear and Hollywood-like. In this one, it feels like the basic movie is what happens after the first 15 minutes and fifteen minutes before the end of the film - and then someone tacked on an ending that makes sense to bring about the standard Hollywood success/ending.

One thing that struck me about this film was the difficulty in connecting with the characters - while it was terrific seeing most of the actors chew up the story and the scenery, the main gist of the story was not as foreboding as I expected it to be - especially with the "scrambler suits". And - there are a number of intriguing aspects that bear further viewing (which I more than likely will do), but I am not sure people will discover what the reviews and other enthusiasts will say. I intentionally did not read the book before seeing the movie - since I find it is easier to determine the success of the film based on lack of knowledge. Granted, I knew the basic premise of the story (undercover narc seven years in the future on something called Substance D) but I kept looking for the parallels that everyone made out in terms of wire-tapping, automated tracking and loss of civil liberties. There were smatterings of it - but not to the level that would inspire the enthusiasm I have seen expressed from others in the political community. I think the main story was tough to follow - since there are a number of subplots which include (SPOILERS ALERT!):
  • Who makes Substance D? The government? NewPath?
  • Who is Donna? What is she involved in?
  • Who is Hank - Bruce/Fred/Bob's supervisor?
  • Did Bruce have children? A family? Or is it all a sleep/Substance D hallucination?
I was intrigued by the art - very intriguing - but the challenge was such that it kept me from connecting BECAUSE it was so comic book forced. After seeing "Superman Returns" and seeing how Singer has brought back the humanity to comic books (like Spiderman and X-Men), "A Scanner Darkly" suffers from the artistic notion of this filming mechanism. I think I would have connected more fully if it was a more realistic viewing. The only challenge: not sure I would have enjoyed watching the "scrambler suits" in *real life*.

Is it worth seeing? Definitely worth the viewing - but be prepared for some discussions later in the evening as to what was actually discussed/presented. While not as good as others, it was definitely worth the price I paid (which was free).

Tags: A Scanner Darkly, Phillip K. Dick

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