Woah

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No political content here; just wanted to observe that on the basis of the trailer, I'm hyped up to see A Scanner Darkly, which is a film adaptation by one of my favorite directors (Richard Linklater) of a book by one of my favorite scifi authors (Philip K. Dick).

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  1. I’ve read a bunch of Dick novels but none that eventually made it on the big screen. I still don’t get why someone hasn’t made a movie out of the Valis trilogy. Valis is by far the trippiest shit I’ve ever read.

  2. Emme,

    You’ve never seen Blade Runner? It’s technically too short to be a novel, I guess, but still.

  3. Emme,
    Actually, in a greatly changed form “Why Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” made it to the screen as “BladeRunner”>

  4. Damn you eric mattingly for nailing it before me!!! Damn you to hell!

  5. Total Recall was based on a short story or series of short stories by Dick – something called “We’ll Remember It for You – At Bargain Prices” or somesuch title.

  6. I’ve never read androids/sheep and i’ve never seen Blade Runner. That’s pretty strange isn’t it? For someone who read PKD? My favorites of his are Valis and the third book in the Valis trilogy. I forget the title.

  7. I guess I need to lay off the coffee. Oh, and typos are my thing today. The title should have read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? omitting the “Why”.

  8. According the the PKD Trust….

    As many of you have already heard, A Scanner Darkly is being adapted for film, and we are happy to finally share details about it. This project is very exciting for us — not only because of the caliber of talent behind it, but because we believe that it will be the very first faithful adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story.

  9. That does look pretty good. And it’s another case like The Matrix, where a technique most people first saw on a tv commercial makes it into a creative movie.

    A Scanner Darkly contains one uncanny prediction: It was written in the mid-70s and set in the mid-90s, and in the book’s future the Planet of the Apes series has continued into the 25th film or so. At one point, the characters are going to see the whole series at a film festival, “including the last one, where it turns out George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and all those guys were actually apes.” I remember laughing at that when I read the book in the early nineties, and thinking that if the then-dormant Apes franchise had continued that would have been the final-scene reveal in one of the later films. And of course, when Tim Burton wasted all our time with his remake or reimagining, that was the final-scene reveal.

    It’s Dick’s world, all right.

  10. Minority Report and Paycheck were also based on his works.

    I’ve been waiting for this to come out forever. The trailer looks fantastic. I really enjoy Dick’s work. So does Hollywood, apparently.

  11. I heard he held a pretty nasty grudge against Heinlein. Something over a loan Heinlein refused to give him. Anybody else hear about this?

  12. Heinlein gave him a loan, actually (or gift; can’t remember which), and Dick praised him for it in print. Heinlein later refused to give him a second loan-or-gift, but I never heard anything about that prompting a grudge. (Dick did make fun of what he took to be Heinlein’s political views in his novel Radio Free Albemuth, but I don’t think that was related to the loan business.)

    Anyway. A Scanner Darkly is Dick’s best novel, and I’m looking forward to seeing the movie.

  13. I loved the fact that the text on the monitor in one scene is dialogue from Blade Runner.

    I just hope Keanu doesn’t ruin it with his suckiness.

  14. This looks awesome.

    I’m even more excited about V for Vendetta.

  15. “Screamers” starring Peter Weller, was based on a PKD story. It comes pretty close to the source material, but they made some weird changes, and obviously didn’t have the budget they needed.

  16. Has there been a good one since Blade Runner? Most Dick adaptations have been somewhere between horrible and something worse.

  17. “but I never heard anything about that prompting a grudge. ”

    oh ok.

    “Dick did make fun of what he took to be Heinlein’s political views in his novel Radio Free Albemuth, but I don’t think that was related to the loan business.)”

    I thought he also ripped him on his writing style as well. I don’t remember exactly what he said. I just remember reading it in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick. I don’t have the book on me now.

  18. Jason: To my taste, the best is Barjo, a non-sf movie based on Confessions of a Crap Artist.

  19. Emme,

    From what I remember of Lawrence Sutin’s biography of Dick, the fallout between Dick and Heinlein happened when Dick’s wife went behind his back and asked Heinlein for more money. I believe that’s what caused the awkwardness between them. Plus Heinlein, especially in his later years could be kind of tempermental, which I’m sure didn’t help things.

    While we’re on the topic, wasn’t a Scanner Darkly dedicated to Heinlein and his wife?

  20. Tim,

    Didn’t Waking Life predate the commercials using this technique?

    I wonder if the animators went back and enhanced the recorded images to make it appear that Keanu Reeves has more than one facial expression.

  21. “I wonder if the animators went back and enhanced the recorded images to make it appear that Keanu Reeves has more than one facial expression”

    No shit. If this guy ever had to play the role of a retard in a movie all he’d have to do is be himself and he’d win a fuckin oscar.

  22. Dick thought Heinlein was a fascist. He also had this to say in an interview:

    “I’m with the little man. I wouldn’t be with the “superman” characters for all the money in the world. You know, the characters in Ayn Rand and Heinlein who have such a contempt for everybody. Because one day that little man is gonna rise up and punch the superman out and I want to be there when it happens.”

    http://www.philipkdickfans.com/interviews/aquarian.htm

  23. What’s the deal with the animation thing? I’ve seen it before in a commercial, but why are they using it for this movie? Someone who’s read the book – without spoiling anything, is there any reason this style works for the story, or did someone just think it would look cool? Just curious.

  24. Animation like that is cool I guess for a 30 second spot, but I remember being completely annoyed with Waking Life’s animation (among other things). I also think that an animated Keanu is still Keanu, and even more than that, they’ve cast his female equivalent Winona in the flick as well. And as for V for Vendetta, with Alan Moore calling the script “imbecilic,” I don’t have high hopes for that either.

  25. I really enjoy Linklater’s work as well, although it would have been interesting to see the Charlie Kaufman adaptation of A Scanner Darkly make it to the screen.

  26. grumpy,

    Well, the rotoscoping in A Scanner Darkly won’t be as dream-like/fluid/free-floating as in Waking Life, so that should help.

  27. There’s an interesting interview at Filmmaker Magazine with Linklater. Regarding the animation he said..

    “I always visualized it animated. I always saw it with this look. The software has come a ways since Waking Life, and I had in mind a different design altogether, a very consistent graphic-novel look to the whole movie, unlike Waking Life, in which [the animation style] changes. I knew [the animation] would be beneficial when it came to the scramble suit, but on the deepest level, I felt [the animation style] would work because it kind of forces your brain into this space where you are processing [the visuals] both as reality and as something else. I thought that the mind fuck [the animation] is putting on the viewer, whatever that is, would especially work for this story, where the hemispheres of Bob Arctor?s brain are competing. Arctor?s reality is shifting, it?s not consistent, and I thought that this animation puts the viewer in that state. But again, it wasn?t some super-intellectual thing.”

    http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/winter2006/features/schizoid_man.php

  28. “Screamers” was based on a short story called “The Second Variety”. Now when are they gonna make “Flow my tears, the Policamen said”.

  29. I wish they’d make The Man in the High Castle, my fave.

    Unfortunately I won’t be seeing this one. Keanu Reeves ruined Johnny Mnemonic for me, he’s not going to do that to PKD. He can tell his buddy in no-talent Costner that I didn’t let him ruin Brin for me, either.

  30. The idea for “eternal sunshine of the spotless mind”
    in part came from “we can remember it for you wholesale”

    Its funny to think there was some sort of sci-fi authors political fued going on

    I will have to google around a bit now

  31. I haven’t read the graphic novel, or anything about the movie, but the ads I see in Manhattan for “V for Vendetta” look like someone made a movie out of the Peter Gabriel-era Genesis masterpiece, “The Knife.”

  32. Finally bothered watching the preview.

    Keanu + Charles Schwab = Bad

  33. PKD is my favorite author. Got hooked on him way back when I went college, think it took me about 10 years to track down everything he wrote. None of the adaptations have done him justice, although Blade Runner has its moments. A non PKD movie that has a PKD feel to it is The Truman Show. Would love to see The Man in the High Castle turned into a movie, also UBIK and Now Wait for Last Year, one of the lesser novels but one I enjoyed a lot. Incidently, VALIS was turned into an opera by Tod Machover. If you ever get a chance to buy the CD, dont! It sucks bigtime. Look forward to checking out the Scanner Darkly movie.

  34. Someone who’s read the book – without spoiling anything, is there any reason this style works for the story, or did someone just think it would look cool? Just curious.

    The main character is a guy named Bob, a phreak’s phreak who hangs and gets high with a bunch of other heads. He’s being pursued by Fred, a narc who has gone undercover as Bob-i.e., they are the same person. (That’s not a spoiler-you find it out in the first 30 pages.) At one point, Fred gives a speech to a bunch of police brass, but since he’s an undercover guy he has to disguise his identity by wearing a “scramble suit.” The scramble suit consists of a multifaced lens that randomly projects fraction-representations-hair color, eye color, etc-at all angles onto an outer membrane, and changes the fraction-representations every nanosecond, so that every aspect of the wearer’s identity is constantly changing. There are more than a million and a half fraction-representations stored up, and they’re changing every nanosecond, so there is no way to give a description of what the wearer looks like.

    Truthfully, I could never figure out when in the book Bob/Fred is wearing the suit and when he’s not. Nor could I figure out whether the fraction-representations go by so quickly that the identity blurs into some perfect representation of averageness that still looks normal, or whether when you see Bob/Fred he looks like the video for “Black and White.” If it’s the latter, I don’t see how he’d be a very good undercover cop, because people would notice that he’s morphing every nanosecond. I suspect it’s the former, which is a more intriguing idea, and Keanu has a kind of vacant look that might work for it.

    Speaking of which, all you Keanu bashers can go shit in your hats. The Matrix, Speed, and both Bill and Ted movies are three classics in three pretty distinct genres, and they all would have sucked without Keanu’s goofy star quality. Where’s the respect for Point Break? I wouldn’t cast him as Don Corleone, but properly used Keanu can carry a picture and make it look easy.

    But again, it wasn?t some super-intellectual thing.

    How much stigma must there be around the idea of being an “intellectual” that a guy who makes whole movies about people discussing philosophy, who has characters quote long passages from Joyce for no reason, is afraid that people might think he’s an intellectual?

  35. Good point, that last. But perhaps Linklater took to the idea as an artistic hunch rather than an elaborate intellectually-backed procedure; hence his humility.

    Agree also on the Keanu bashing, which so often goes too far. I think some people are just uncomfortable (probably sexually) with certain other people’s good looks and “style.”

    A good art-house film could be made of “The Man in the High Castle,” and “Martian Time-Slip” might be doable, too, even on a low budget. But they wouldn’t be crowd pleasers, which is what Hollywood really wants from Dick.

    My favorite novel of Dick’s is probably “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer,” even with the subliterate eschewing of the subjunctive. I don’t know if it’s really filmable. Don’t care.

    I do not consider Dick to be a master prose stylist. But his creations are often quite good. (Sometimes, as in “The Unteleported Man” and “The Penultimate Truth,” they are quite bad.)

    The biggest problem I have with most of the “Dick” movies is that the Dickian humor evaporates before it gets to screen. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” is a fine little comic novel; “Bladerunner” is a morose exercise in existentialist angst without any humor to speak of.

    The basic “little guy” hero theme is also lost in the films. Harrison Ford and Arnold S. and Tom Cruise just aren’t Dick “little guys.” Keanu? I don’t know. But the ideal for most Dick heroes would be Paul Giamatti. So I can see why it hasn’t been done right. People would stay away from the theaters were Hollywood to really turn one of Dick’s characteristic “little guy” melodramas — with those horribly shrewish women — into a movie. The throngs would NOT be entertained.

  36. Tim, you really think “The Matrix” would have sucked without Keanu? “Speed” and the “Bill and Ted” movies are classics?

    I’m highly skeptical of these claims!

  37. 1) I liked Waking Life, and need to get the DVD.

    2) This looks fantastic.

    3) Ortiz, The Dog Boy, Leader of the Freaks, is alright with me. He usually does a good job, especially in movies where the plot causes a lot of befuddlement on the part of the protagonist.

    4) I’ve always thought that, for the most part, movies based on PKD’s books were better than the book. Feel free to believe whatever you like about my intellectual level as a result.

  38. I’d like to see Man in the High Castle, too, though they’d probably mess it up. Like every other book.

    Blade Runner is so different from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? that the best you can say is that the movie is loosely “based” on the novel the way JFK was loosely based on something that actually happened in the 1960s. However–and this is indeed a rarity–the movie is very good on its own terms. In some ways, I like it better than the novel.

    I think I’ll disagree with Tim on Keanu’s “greatness” (he was a necessary component to all the hits he’s been in? I doubt it), but I will say that he has the sense to take on interesting roles. Good for him. I still can’t believe that he’s been in a Branagh film. Whoa.

  39. Eh, Keanu deserves the bashing. Certainly, it’s a tough enough business that anyone who can keep working gets a certain amount of respect from me, but he should grovel to God every day that he was lucky enough to be in the Matrix. Speed sucked, Bill and Ted were most excellent.

  40. “Because one day that little man is gonna rise up and punch the superman out and I want to be there when it happens.”

    How charming. Was Dick a little man, by any chance?

  41. Hey, I’m a fan of Bill and of Ted. And of Death in Bogus Journey. Almost as good as Mr. Death from the village.

  42. wise ass,

    I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s, he’s a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas–I mean. . . .

  43. Truthfully, I could never figure out when in the book Bob/Fred is wearing the suit and when he’s not. Nor could I figure out whether the fraction-representations go by so quickly that the identity blurs into some perfect representation of averageness that still looks normal, or whether when you see Bob/Fred he looks like the video for “Black and White.” If it’s the latter, I don’t see how he’d be a very good undercover cop, because people would notice that he’s morphing every nanosecond.

    He wore the scramble suit when we wasn’t undercover.

    But the ideal for most Dick heroes would be Paul Giamatti.

    Wasn’t Giamatti in Paycheck? Not a good movie at all, but that wasn’t Giamatti’s fault. Nor Dick’s, for that matter.

  44. I don’t hate Keanu personally, in every interview I’ve read with him he comes off as humble and very likeable. But let’s not kid ourselves about his talent. Every high school has at least one actor as talented as Keanu and most have several who are more talented. I used to call him the Ryan O’Neal of this generation, but really, Keanu makes Ryan O’Neal look like Daniel Day-Lewis.

  45. “Imposter” by PKD was also made into a movie of the same name, starring Gary Sinise and Vincent D’Onofrio.

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