Jump to content

A Scanner Darkly


Recommended Posts

I've just returned from A Scanner Darkly, and I'm glad I have a lot of time to mull it over before I write my review.

For the record, Radiohead does make an appearance in the soundtrack, with a song I didn't recognize during the end credits, and a surprise appearance of "Pulk/pull revolving doors."

Scanner suits are really, really cool.

Oh, and before anyone "ahems" me, I figured the film deserves a thread of its own. I know about the Philip K. Dick thread. (If there's an official Scanner thread, I missed it.)

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

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

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Link to the topic on Dick films which Jeff mentioned.

Link to the thread on Waking Life, which uses the same shoot-and-rotoscope animation technique as Scanner.

I personally am of several minds about this technique. I'm not sure what advantages it has over full animation. Even if you want the actors' performances, couldn't they be used purely as reference, instead of as material to be traced? Then you wouldn't have the wavering, distracting look of the motion. But Linklater seems to be uncomfortable with animation in general, so this seems to be his way of keeping artistic control (through the camera), while still getting an animated movie as his end result.

That's just how eye roll.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

So... anybody seen it yet?

Be careful what you say. If you say you find the animation effective, you're just being dishonest.

Movieguide:

Viewers, especially more intellectually and artistically inclined ones, may come to understand why the filmmakers applied animation to the original live action scenes. If they are honest, however, they will also conclude that, ultimately, the animation just doesn't work.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

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

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually told someone after seeing it that they film almost never did anything with the animation that relied on the unique properties of animation, so I couldn't see the point of it -- and then I remembered the disguise-suits that Keanu Reeves's character wears. Okay, THAT was a pretty big part of the look of the film.

Gotta say, though, drug movies just don't push my buttons. Robert Downey Jr. is interesting -- almost TOO interesting, so determined to hold your interest that you begin to tune out -- and Woody Harrelson is pretty darn funny. All in all, though, I'd say this is a lesser Linklater -- not as bad as his remake of The Bad News Bears, but nowhere near as good as Dazed and Confused.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Saw this last night. The animation was indeed not very effective, with the exception of the scanner suit. In fact it was almost pointless except for that single effect. (Edit: That's being too harsh. I understand why it was used. It didn't really make it a better film, though, just different.)

Any scene with Harrelson and Downey Jr. in it was gold. Not having read the book, I'll say that the film took a HUGE swing at about the 90% mark. Completely changed the mood of the film, and seemed to lose most of the audience. It was far too abrupt for the film's good.

Overall it was decent. I've only seen one other Linklater film, which I hated, so this was an improvement. Worth seeing once, but I don't think I'll ever watch it multiple times like I would with a superior film like Minority Report, which I only mention because it was also a Phillip K. Dick adaptation.

If I was into rating, I'd give it 3/5.

Edited by theoddone33
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, there are adaptations and there are adaptations. Minority Report is clearly "based on" the novel, but A Scanner Darkly is a film version of the novel.

Here's my review.

I thought the animation was a perfect style for this story, keeping us, like the characters, caught in a sense of uncertainty as to whether what we're seeing is real or distorted. And while I found the film unpleasant to watch because of the annoying characters, the more I reflected on it later the more I came to appreciate it. I'd like to see it again.

I don't want to speak for Darren, but I know his estimation of the film changed over 24 hours as well. Darren, you there?

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

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

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thought the film was interesting, if a bit boring in a couple of scenes. I will have to go back and look through the movie version of the book to understand some of the last few minutes, as I was a little confused by the discussion. BTW, a couple of the Radiohead songs (One being "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy") are B-sides from the Amnesiac/Hail to the Thief era.

Edited by Clint M
Link to post
Share on other sites
Not having read the book, I'll say that the film took a HUGE swing at about the 90% mark. Completely changed the mood of the film, and seemed to lose most of the audience. It was far too abrupt for the film's good.

That was true of the book as well. It's not that that last chapter or two weren't important. It almost seemed like Dick had tired of writing by that point so he just threw together a few quick scenes.

Not only was the animation not effective, it was a distraction.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just returned from A Scanner Darkly, and I'm glad I have a lot of time to mull it over before I write my review.

For the record, Radiohead does make an appearance in the soundtrack, with a song I didn't recognize during the end credits, and a surprise appearance of "Pulk/pull revolving doors."

Scanner suits are really, really cool.

Oh, and before anyone "ahems" me, I figured the film deserves a thread of its own. I know about the Philip K. Dick thread. (If there's an official Scanner thread, I missed it.)

FWIW, the song at the end credits was off of Thom Yorke's solo album. I think its called Black Swan. I barely caught Pulk/pull revolving doors as it was playing during the movie. The scene where

Woody Harrelson's character is choking

would've been a good time to use 'Exit Music', at least the last part of it :)

I found it interesting that they displayed the 'Authors Note' from the novel as the closing screen in the movie. It liked it because it helps to provide context to what happens in the movie,

specifically what Bob/Fred goes through at the end of the movie, quitting substance D and loosing his mind. It's that struggle that Bob/Fred goes through that is at the heart of the book and movie.

Edited by sel
Link to post
Share on other sites

Not only was the animation not effective, it was a distraction.

Well, at least you're being honest...

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I honestly saw this tonight at The Music Box Theatre with a friend. I really, really liked it. I liked it a whole lot more than Waking Life, but it could be that seeing Waking Life first and already being used to the rotoscoping animation helped me to better adjust to the somewhat demanding mood. I'm thinking that I need to take on Waking Life again. It is certainly slower and more philosophical, but my guess is that it is the better of the two. Especially for us so-called "spiritual" A&Fers.

I really liked the disoriented state. There is a sense of a loss of perception that not only plays out in those who were addicted to Substance-D, but is delivered to the audience as well. I'm trying to figure out if A Scanner Darkly is only a story, or if there is a deeper theme to grab onto. My friend and I reflected on perception and reality, both of which were distorted here. I also thought of identity in relation to perception -- the main character fumbled to know who he was in a maze of mind-altering reality, which seemed more like real life than some might care to admit.

I believe there are loose ends to tie up, and that a second viewing must be in order. There are certain things, especially involving how exactly Donna/Audrey was involved that I just don't get. But the desire to see it again is actually the confirmation that this is a solid work.

-s.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to post
Share on other sites

After seeing Scanner a second time, I'm now more confident in saying that it is a really, really great film, but I'm still having trouble figuring out how to talk/write about it. Michael Sicinski's review is the best piece I've read so far. Steven Shaviro's is also really good. I'm actually thinking of seeing it a third time. I don't know if I've ever paid full price three times for any film.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Having seen it once, I liked the animation, especially the scanner suits. Watching the film made me a little disoriented, and after it was done, I was kind of at a loss to figure out what I had just seen. But, looking back at it, I realized that was the point of it. Meaning slowly comes to you when you go back and try to piece things together. And that's in a way, brilliant. The animation is appropriate for this kind of story, the constantly moving edges make you realize you're not quite in a dream, but there is still something off-kilter in the way you are viewing this. It whets the appetite for a second viewing to tie together all the loose ends.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I admire the film a lot, but I'm having problems comparing it to the book, which, of course, has more penetrating psychological twists and turns. It's a very faithful adaptation, but it's inevitably a condensation, so it's difficult to process the film on its own terms. For instance, the mental splitting between Bob and Fred is much more developed in the novel, where it's clear for some time that Fred forgets that he is actually Bob and vice versa, and PKD has a lot of fun with that. He also sets the story in a very real Los Angeles, citing locations, stores, and products by name (Anaheim, 7-11, Trader Joe's, Solarcaine.) The film, while nailing the sprawl atmosphere of cafes, freeways, and working class neighborhoods, somehow seems less grounded.

Yet it's wonderfully performed and Linklater emphasizes the political paranoia in a pretty deft way, which seems to be one of his biggest concerns with drug use--that to "turn on, tune in, and drop out" makes you ineffectual at changing the word or holding it accountable in any way; you simply become a cog in a wheel.

Did the epilogue seem jarring to anyone who hadn't read the novel?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...
He also sets the story in a very real Los Angeles, citing locations, stores, and products by name (Anaheim, 7-11, Trader Joe's, Solarcaine.) The film, while nailing the sprawl atmosphere of cafes, freeways, and working class neighborhoods, somehow seems less grounded...

Which is something Linklater seems characteristically to do in his films, seeding them with random local references. It is odd that does not carry over here.

Did the epilogue seem jarring to anyone who hadn't read the book

It has been a long time since I read the book, but it does seem this could have transitioned more thoughtfully. I honestly would not have minded another 10 or 15 minutes worth of Linklater translating Dick's beautiful prose sections of this novel into "film." I watched this right after Ghost in the Shell and found myself longing for some extended GinS-like cityscape tracking shots backed by the soundtrack. Regardless, this was a great film and can't think of another that addresses an insider's take on drug addiction quite so effectively.

"...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

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...
  • 4 years later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...