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A SCANNER DARKLY - 2006

SELECT ANOTHER FLICK CHICK MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE FILM CRITICS IN BLUE
J. ThorburnV. AlexanderPolly Peluso
Shannon OnstotJacqueline M

ERICA HECTOR VITAL

"A SCANNER DARKLY" NOT QUITE DARK ENOUGH

By
Erica Hector Vital
Red Rock Review
Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com

ericavital@cox.net
ericav@theflickchicks.com
ericav@lasvegasroundtheclock.com

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

A SCANNER DARKLY
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Starring Keanu Reeves


I need a story. Complexity of director Richard Linklater's graphics aside. Stellar performances by Keanu Reeves as the poster child for existential questions on the malleable nature of identity and Robert Downey Jr. as a drug-addled Lothario, notwithstanding, I need a story.

In this recent conversion from novel to screen, much of novelist/short story writer Philip K. Dick's facility with lacing sci-fi with social commentary which made Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Total Recall so immediate and titillatingly surreal, is lost in the translation from book to arthouse animated film so that what we get from A SCANNER DARKLY is too much commentary, not enough film.

Keanu Reeves is Fred, a narcotics cop buried mind-deep in the war on drugs. Being the ideal narcotics agent has earned Fred the distinction of being one of the chosen few to merit top security use of the identity concealing, Scramble Suit. Screenwriter-director Richard Linklater, makes vivid use of the tools of his self-styled craft of interpolated rotoscoping, overlaying live action photography with high animation. In Linklater's hands, Keanu's feline features are reconfigured into a United Nations of faces, complexions, and genders as Fred shields his identity in a suit meant to protect his cover and his life. As disconcerting as the suit is for Fred to wear, it is just as unsettling for audiences to see. The concept is philosophically rich--who are we; how do we truly define ourselves; does the flesh make the man--but within the framework of narrative film, the kaleidoscopic shifting of animated features, rapidly slipping over the features of the actor is maddening, and intrusive.

 Keanu's Fred is also Bob Arctor, or Arctor is also Fred, as the narcotics agent becomes socially marginalized addict, surrounded by a circle of like minded Substance D deadheads, who in the thrall of the drug, spin feverish yarns of bicycles found, drug pad sabotage, and adolescent intrigue. Woody Harrelson as drug buddy Ernie Luckman is craftily animated and his work here is heartbreaking and real. We listen to the dude in all his surfer boy splendor, hoping to see the beginnings of reason under an endearingly self-indulgent, drug induced paranoia. Though Winona Ryder, as Donna Hawthorne, is the quintessential Lady In Red, a ballsy, unattainable damsel in drug-addicted distress, Harrelson is our soft spot in the film. He and Keanu are drawn so close to the bone there is the sense of seeing more of these actors in A SCANNER DARKLY than we have before, as if Linklater's animated process reveals the nerve and the range we'd seen only glimpses of in other work. Robert Downey Jr.'s helmet of a head, packed with more cunning and angst than a classical Shakespearean actor should have a right to, punches through the screen so that it is not the Scramble Suit that Linklater should promote as the wonder in animation but Downey's brow, the tortured intellect leaping through pen and ink.

Fred's work as a narc is to rein in Bob Arctor and his friends. In the Orwellian war between the Agency and Substance D, Arctor and his crew are public enemy #1. But the precept of Keanu's Fred surveilling himself as Arctor strikes me as more Prince and The Pauper, than Philip K. Dick. This bias is personal. Again, I need a story not a concept and double identity themes frustrate me to the point of throwing myself at the screen.

Much has been made of Richard Linklater's care in staying true to Philip K. Dick's 1977 novel. That loyalty is palpable. As the screenwriter/director adapting P.K. Dick's personal story of tragic disillusion under a government both persecuting and colluding with an enemy drug culture, Linklater is inspired and sincere. The effects of the drug, Substance D, mirrors the effects on society in the 70's, the division of culture, long hairs and Neo-cons sharing one body, one society and warring against itself as drugs are both supplied and eradicated by the same powers that be. It is a war against the self. Prolonged use of Substance D erodes the bridge between the right hemisphere and left hemisphere of the brain, between friends and lovers, between self and self. Never let the left hand see what the right hand is doing. Both the novel and the film are hellbent on breaking the code of identity, or at least daring us to look behind the looking glass of reality and who we think we are.

 In the Philip K. Dick non-fiction, Cosmogony and Cosmology, the novelist says of his work, ". . . I ask, in my writing, what is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives. I distrust their power."

Like Nostradamus, Philip K. Dick and his imaginative, prescient work has been ascribed with having the uncanny power to tell the future. In this adaptation of A SCANNER DARKLY I think he saw Richard Linklater coming.

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

SELECT ANOTHER FLICK CHICK MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE FILM CRITICS IN BLUE
J. ThorburnV. AlexanderPolly Peluso
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