A Scanner Darkly

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Dave Hackman, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. Dave Hackman

    Dave Hackman Stunt Coordinator

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    This movie is a trip. Substance D is a highly addictive drug derived from a small blue plant. The government is cracking down on local users hoping to bring in a big fish.

    Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arctor an undercover agent assigned to scan through a bunch of recorded video on a group of suspected users. This group just happens to be Bob’s roommates who share a house with him.

    Arctor and his boss don’t really know who each other are because every time they meet they are both wearing scramble suits. This suit hides their identity by shifting between approximately a million and a half fraction representations of men, women and children.

    I enjoyed listening to this film. The dialog between the paranoid friends is worth the price of admission alone. Robert Downey Jr. is hilarious as he breaks down his characters paranoia to new levels of ridiculousness. Woody Harrelson plays the part of a clueless junky wonderfully and his bantering back and forth with Downey is quite entertaining. This would be a good movie just to listen to in a car while driving without any visuals.

    The interpolated rotoscoping technique makes the actor’s look like weird 3d cartoon characters. I liked this look because it complements the drug-induced story without overpowering it.

    This dialog driven movie focuses on its absurd characters that are all on drugs. There are no flying space ships and no interplanetary missions. The overall story is good but it’s not for everyone and definitely not recommended for family viewing.

    I look forward to adding this to my movie collection.

    A
     
  2. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    I'll say this for Richard Linklater, the man is nothing if not diverse.

    He can do two of the most poignant romance films in existance, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, one of the most delightful and funny comedies to come along in awhile with School of Rock and then do something like this.

    It looks and sounds interesting, and it's also nice to see Winona Ryder working again.
     
  3. Juan C

    Juan C Second Unit

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    You can legally view the whole first 24 minutes of the film here.
     
  4. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    Any fan of Deckard's quandary in Blade Runner will find much to enjoy in this other P.K. Dick story.

    The rotoscoping style of animaton really works for this film. It gives the story the same feeling I get from computer adventure games -- the sense of another world, but an immediately relatable other world.

    I noticed that the animators even preserved Ryder's "little dipper" mole pattern across her chest! (And I would know that why? Sigh).
     
  5. BrettGallman

    BrettGallman Screenwriter

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    So, I thought this was going to be getting a wide release this weekend? My city is listed on WB's website, but none of the theaters are showing it. So, anybody know what's up?
     
  6. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    I'll be bling buying this one. It should be out by Xmas, I hope.
     
  7. Mike.B

    Mike.B Stunt Coordinator

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    I saw this in the theater with my wife this past Sunday. It was one of my most highly awaited films of the year, and I am pleased to say that I was thoroughly impressed. It managed to even exceed my expectations. Without giving anything away, a few quick thoughts:

    - The animation is amazing and works perfectly for this movie. I couldn't imagine it being done any other way.
    - The acting is great. Downey Jr. was made for this role, and Harrelson, Ryder, and Keaunu are all just right as well.
    - The story isn't nearly as confusing as I was led to believe, based on some cursory reviews prior to seeing it. You do have to pay attention though, and you'll likely have plenty of questions by the end. But it's not hard to follow at all.

    Really, the more I think about it, the more I like it. I can't wait for the DVD and hope that this gets the royal treatment (*cough*Criterion*cough*).

    Could very well end up on the top of my list at the end of the year. [​IMG]
     
  8. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    A Scanner Darkly
    8.5 of 10


    I agree that the roto work was even more applicable here than it was to Linklater's Waking Life. It enhances the film far beyond what it would be as live action with some CGI.

    As for the story, this was one of the most true films to Dick's stories IMO, though I haven't read this particular story. This is not a compliment, at least not in full. Dick's work is both interesting and creative yet also frustratingly abrupt in its shifts and endings. A lot of his stuff feels skeletal rather than fleshed out, and the film versions have typically enhanced what he originally wrote (Total Recall, Minority Report, Screamers, Blade Runner).

    This film is more of that jumpy flow, odd twists and sudden ending (with iffy resolution, as in "was there any?") It leaves a hint of things to come but far less than normal open ended films do.



    Finally there is the dialog, and that's why you go see this film. This is real addict-talk, not some caricature version of dope smoking fools. I don't know how much of this came from Linklater vs the original story, but its as tight as Linklaters other films so I assume he had plenty to do with it. All the actors deliver it well and with such conviction that you have to love it, though of course Woody and Robert Downey aren't exactly strangers to that world anyway. [​IMG]
     
  9. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    I've read the book about a dozen times; it's one of my favourites. The dialogue for much of the film is lifted directly from the book, and what isn't feels exactly like the book.

    If nothing else, this movie is for fans of the novel -- it is about as perfect a visualization of the book as you could ask for. From the moment I heard that this film was being made I began to wish ferverently that the gear-counting bike scene would make it into the film and would come off brilliantly -- it's there, nearly verbatim, and it's wonderful. (It's missing the downbeat ending and overall it's in a different context -- in the book, it's what alerts his superiors that something's wrong with his mind, when he reacts angrily while retelling the story to "Hank".)
     
  10. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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    I saw this today and loved it. The dialog was great, the story was intriguing, and the look of the rotoscoped animation was just spot-on perfect for the tale being told. This is one of those films that you know you'll be able to watch numerous times and find something new in it each viewing.

    Those waiting for the DVD should really make the attempt to seek it out in theaters if it's playing anywhere near you. The film looks stunning and is incredibly immersive on the big screen.

    9 out of 10 stars for me - one of the best of the year to date.
     
  11. JohnMcCallum

    JohnMcCallum Extra

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    Can someone explain a couple things to me?

    1.What exactly was the deal with the hooker to Winona to hooker transformation?
    2.What happenned to Keanu's family? Did he just leave them?

    Thanks.
     
  12. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    1. Hallucination.

    2. Maybe he had a family -- he thinks he did -- but Hank says he didn't. That could have been part of Hank's deliberate attempt to break Bob's mind. I don't think the book is definitive one way or the other.
     
  13. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    Re Question 1:
    But when he was looking at the video recording, it also showed the 'transformation' of the hooker, which led me to believe it wasn't a hallucination.
     
  14. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    He saw it twice while his mind was disintegrating -- I don't think that it's evidence of anything further than the extent of his brain damage, but it's left up to the viewer/reader to decide.

    Note that Freck saw the aphids more than once, and that doesn't make the aphids "real".
     
  15. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    I wouldn't have believed 1, but, if the film is true to the book, the answer is correct.

    I'd have preferred to think that Winona boinked him while disguised as a substance-D junkie, and that her suit malfunctioned a bit during the night. Though that would be a heck of a suit, to simulate nudity that well.
     
  16. CaseyL

    CaseyL Supporting Actor

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    Just saw this film last night. Wow. Totally superb. I agree with the previous comments in this thread about the animation style. It couldn't have been done without it. The addition of the "Thought Bubbles" over the characters heads were excellent. I didn't find the story unbearable difficult to follow, but definatly not a space-out sort of movie. Well cast, totally enjoyable. Enough Humor to lighten the thing up, but not so much to make it campy. Overall the tragedy of the film came through strong for me. I highly recommend.
     
  17. Angela2

    Angela2 Auditioning

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  18. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Is this film supposed to get a wider release? It still hasn't shown up at my local theatre. The first 27 minutes was interesting enough to make me want to see the rest of the film. The animation style appears to work much better for this film than it did for "Waking Life".
     
  19. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    Just saw it and loved it. Not what I was expecting at all, but it had all of the elements of the great PK Dick stories and all the flair of Linklater's films. Great combination of visuals and dialog without a single reliance on either aspect. I was worried that it would come across as a tech demo, but the roto work really enhanced the move.
     
  20. BarryS

    BarryS Second Unit

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    I saw this film today and, like the others, I can't wait to own it. This is truly a film that will be a deeper, more rich experience on repeated viewings. Especially if you're on drugs...

    Rick Linklater is one of my favorite directors, and A Scanner Darkly perfectly shows why. He's ambitious, umcompromising and intelligent. I loved Waking Life and I couldn't wait to see the same technique applied to a Phillip K. Dick story. Man, I can't wait for the DVD. No release date yet though, as far as I can tell.
     

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