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Phillip K. Dick stories, films


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from AICN:

Keanu Reeves will star in A SCANNER DARKLY, based on the Philip K. Dick novel, for Warner Independent Pictures, Section 8 and director Richard Linklater. The project will employ the same technology Linklater used in WAKING LIFE: It will be shot live-action, then animated. Story takes place in the future, where undercover agents change their faces along with their identities. Reeves plays one such officer, and his liberal ingestion of the drug Substance D causes him to develop a split personality.

Another Dick adaptation. I wonder if it'll stick closer to the book than Blade Runner did.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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With casting like this, Linklater's just ASKING for trouble...

from AICN's recap:

Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson and Rory Cochran will join Keanu Reeves in A SCANNER DARKLY for director Richard Linklater.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Wow. I hope to see Robert Downey Jr. in a good role. That guy deservedly gets a ton of bad press, but he is so exceedingly talented. Hopefully the form of the film will combat Keanu Reeves utter uselessness on screen. Waking Life was stacked with bad performances that were thankfully obscured by the ingenious artwork. Maybe that will happen here too.

The parts of Waking Life that were well acted, most notably the Hawke/Delpy scene were so good that the animation just made them that much more intriguing. I am just have a hard time wrapping my head around a hyper-stylized Robert Downey Jr.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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As much as I like to see classic SF finally getting made into films, I'm a little tired of PKD being the sole New Wave author anyone feels is worth tapping into. There were a lot of amazing writers in the '60s who brought literary style and psychological complexity to their work (J.G. Ballard, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. LeGuin, even Brian Aldiss, etc.)--not to mention authors like Frederik Pohl, whose stunningly prophetic 1952 novel The Space Merchants, co-written with C.M. Kornbluth, is one of my all-time favorite works of SF. And not to mention pre-New Wave authors like Alfred Bester, Alfred Bester, and Alfred Bester. (People making their summer reading lists take note.)

And I'm not so sure the style of Waking Life should be considered a transposable aesthetic. Nobody loves that movie more than me, but I think Linklater would probably do well to keep it a unique experiment.

Edited by Doug C
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I would love to see someone take on The Dispossessed or even Dhalgren. Oh and anything by Alfred Bester, Alfred Bester, or Alfred Bester. Early Heinlein, or Farmer.

OR...how about some Harry Harrison, The Stainless Steel Rat is a ready made action hero waiting to be bilked for millions in box-office revenue. I think investors tilt towards Dick so often because of the name recognition, and the ready made state of his narratives. Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report all range from good to classic. I haven't seen Paycheck, Barjo, Imposter, or Screamers because of the bad press. The guy basically writes films as it is though, so they aren't too tough to turn into scripts. Unfortunately, William Gibson is pretty untouchable after that horrible Johnny Mnemonic fiasco, otherwise there is a lot there as well.

The only problem I would have Doug with adapting some of these novels of Ballard, LeGuin, or Ellison for example, is that they really were incredible writers. Something like The Dispossessed would bring you right up to the adage about good books and good movies. What makes one good does not make the other good. I can think of a few Ballard scenes that only occur in actual language. They couldn't occur any way else. But on the other hand, people probably said that about The Naked Lunch and that is a flat-out brilliant film.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Ah yes, I would heartily endorse The Stainless Steel Rat or a really good Gibson adaptation.

Yes, of course you're right about the difficulty of translating such lively and experimental literature into film, but I do wish some talented filmmakers would try.

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(Wow. What a great moment this is for me. I have shared that idea with countless people and have always gotten a blank stare followed by: What is the Stainless Steel Rat?)

Indeed, film-makers should try such adaptations, and Cronenberg has proven a few times that it is worth it.

Edited by (M)Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Duh--Saberhagen, not Harrison! (It has been a while.)

But has anyone seen Soylent Green lately? That's based on Harrison. I watched it as a teenager, but I haven't revisited.

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And it should be good news that Alex Proyas is adapting Asimov (middling writer that he is), but since the trailer makes I, Robot look like nothing more than The 2004 Will Smith Summer Movie Vehicle, it's hard to get too excited.

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Duh--Saberhagen, not Harrison! (It has been a while.)

But has anyone seen Soylent Green lately? That's based on Harrison. I watched it as a teenager, but I haven't revisited.

I have never read any of those Beserker novels. Time to go to the library

I saw Soylent Green last year sometime, and also watched Catch 22 again around the same time as a lark. Both do well to capture the atmosphere that each book establishes, kind of a blend of post-apocalypticism and The Plague. Soylent Green is fairly dated by now though. The crowd scenes are very good, and I actually caught a "making of" Soylent Green thing somewhere and found it interesting to see them do so many of the special effects "in the camera."

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Oh there are a lot of Berserker novels and I haven't remotely been keeping up with them. I remember being fond of a collection of Saberhagen Berserker short stories as a teenager around the same time I was happily reading The Stainless Steel Rat, which is why I confused them. I wouldn't necessarily go out of your way.

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Speaking of dated SF, George Roy Hill's film adaptation of Slaughterhouse Five gave me a lot of pleasure a couple of years ago in a nostalgic, archetypical-'70s sort of way. I'm sure it doesn't compare to Vonnegut's novel, but it's a unique film.

I've also been curious to revisit Fahrenheit 451, which I know Truffaut fans aren't so fond of, but I recall as being quite watchable.

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Yeah, the Slaughterhouse Five film is great. I love the Barbarella moments in it that I am sure Vonnegut loved even though they don't follow the book that closely. It does get the rapid absurdist pace down fairly accurately though.

Truffaut's take on 451 is really under-rated. I am a Truffaut fan, and that one is high on my list of his films. Such a departure from his typical fare, but the film is evidence that Truffaut had the ability to work in several difference voices. I would take this over Alphaville any day in terms of watchability. I think what puts most people off about the film is the really lousy special effects, because the characterizations he gets to a T. (Whatever that strange phrase means.) I would recommend watching it again, it definitely picks up on the cultural and social alienation that Truffaut has dealt with a few times.

We should make a list of these adaptations.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Doug, you mentioned Brian Aldiss; A.I. Artificial Intelligence is based on Aldiss's short story entitled "Super Toys Last All Summer."

I think it's a film that, while it was critically lambasted, definitely deserves another look and attempts to engage in some serious ideas in ways that few other films lately have. And it's fantastic too look at.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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As a ball of contradictions, I think it's a fascinating film, too. But one has to embrace those contradictions and recognize that the syrupy sweet Spielbergianism we're used to seeing isn't, for once, at the services of a compelling narrative. But fascinating it is.

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I really am a fan of Spielberg's take on Minority Report, the screenplay takes some liberties with the storyline, but they are pretty good ones for the most part. Speilberg does capture the glossiness and pace that marks a lot of Dick's literature, and is careful to bring out the thoughtful ironies that are the point of the story.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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I liked Minority Report, too, which had a bit of a Bester feel as well (especially The Demolished Man). Of course, Bester was a huge influence on all the New Wave writers. The last act was weak, but overall it was sleek and imaginative.

Another interesting adaptation of an author I've already mentioned is the PBS production of Ursula K. LeGuin's Lathe of Heaven done in the early '80s. It was the first feature film ever produced for PBS but it was subsequently lost after its broadcast. Only recently was a copy discovered, partially restored, and released on DVD, but it has video "ghosting" and noisy black levels. It's a bit dated, too, but it's still a good swing at respectable adaptation. It definitely held my attention.

The film was remade recently with James Caan but I haven't seen it. Any opinions?

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I am currently reading The Demolished Man, it feels like I am reading something that was written last year.

I have seen both versions of Lathe of Heaven. The PBS one really is a great film, choosing to tell the story without the sort of reliance on special effects that plagued the most recent take on Dune. It really captures LeGuin's moodiness well. Sure, it feels a bit "cheesy" at times, so it doesn't join the ranks of classic adaptations. But it is well worth seeing. The latest adaptation was oddly cast and it really plays down the race issues that are the purpose of the book in the first place.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Very cool, (M)! In terms of pleasure alone, Bester is probably my all-time favorite SF writer (although he never considered himself a "SF Writer"). I couldn't put The Demolished Man down, and I convinced some friends to include it in their reading group a few years back--they really enjoyed it, too. The Stars My Destination and several of his short stories (Fondly Fahrenheit, The Men Who Murdered Mohammed, Time is the Traitor) are on equal standing.

I'm no fan of Oliver Stone, but he has a screenplay based on the book floating around that he has talked about making at various times. John Carpenter has talked about doing The Stars My Destination, but thrown his hands up in despair, calling it "unfilmable." Long OOP, it's just great to have Bester's work republished in the last few years!

That's great that you've seen both Lathe's. I was quite impressed with the original.

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FWIW, I think William Gibson's latest book Pattern Recognition (which is far out fantastic) would be the easiest and most effective of all of his works to film. I would love to see that screenplay sometime.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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And of course, we can't forget Solaris as an adaptation. Darren Hughes forwarded this link to a film listserv we're on, a very recent interview with Stanislaw Lem:

Lem: As for space, it will be the domain of astronomers, astronauts, astrophysics, and so on.

What about Solaris then?

Lem: Excuse me, but this is science fiction.

Then perhaps there was no call to argue with Tarkovsky?

Lem: Frankly, I only saw the second part of his film. Still, Tarkovsky had a message to deliver. And then he had great talent, while this pathetic Soderbergh

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Wow. That is a great little capsule of real-time proof that the switch from New Wave sci-fi to Cyberpunk trends, focused more on information technology and media theory more than interplanetary politics or travel was a prophetic move.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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