Dicking Around with a Slacker


Via reader Phil Ford, the Austin Chronicle has an interview with Richard Linklater, about his new Philip K. Dick–inspired film A Scanner Darkly, which those of you in Real Cities were able to see this weekend, while those of us in D.C. have to wait a few more days.

Lots of good stuff, but I did have to raise an eyebrow at the contention that one scene would "never pass a Hollywood script committee meeting." If this is just an isolated point about the noxiousness of the script committee meeting, hey, sure. But if School of Rock director Linklater intended a broader jab at "the Hollywood system," it gets tricky figuring out where he thinks he's jabbing from. This is an "independent" film being distributed by the "indie" imprint of Warner Brothers (raising some questions about what, exactly, "independent" is supposed to mean beyond indicating that smart people are supposed to like it), and starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson, and Robert Downey Jr. See also "indie rock" band Modest Mouse, currently signed to Sony's Epic label.

NEXT: Andy Warhol, Union-Buster?

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  1. I would have loved to see a film version of this when it comes out, unfortunately I can’t. The drawing over film style that is used bothers me on a nails on the chalkboard level for reasons I don’t quite understand. Those investment commercials that use it always have me cringing, and i nearly had to leave the theater during a preview i saw for ‘darkly’ (though this was in part sadness from knowing I could never be able to sit through it.

    Does this happen to anyone else? Anyone know why? It’s not just a dislike, but a physical revulsion.

  2. chewy:

    I am the same way. The Schwab commercials go all over me. It kind of reminds me of the rotoscope type animation you used to see in, for instance, that crappy LOTR animated movie.

  3. chewy,

    I loved Waking Life, which was done in the same style. My wife, on the other hand, tried watching it on three separate occasions and fell asleep each time. I don’t think she found the visuals revulsive, but something did keep her from being able to watch it. I showed her the preview for Scanner over the weekend, and she does want to see it. I’ll let you know how she does.
    I do hate the Schwab ads, but I think that’s due to the haughtiness of the characters they used in them.

  4. Funny, I have the opposite reaction. I hate the smugness of those Schwab commercials, but somehow because of the animation I can’t tear myself away from them. I loved “Waking Life” also, but I am a confirmed Linklater fanboy.

  5. Rotoscoping goes way way back btw…


    If i remember right, Disney’s 1937 “Snow White” filmed a real actress dressed up as the chick, and a real prince charming, but the Dwarves et al were all ‘pure’ animation… Bakshi’s ‘Wizards’ featured some cool sections where he took WWII footage and drew horns on the Nazi helmets and blacked out faces, put legs on tanks etc… very interesting effects with a low-budget technique…

    The digital rotoscoping style that Linklater has used is a little more, i dont know… ‘vertiginous’? … which I can see some people having a bad reaction to, if still falling short of the dreaded ‘Pokemon effect’


    Me, I vomit whenever I see Jim Carrey.


  6. My wife, on the other hand, tried watching [Waking Life] on three separate occasions and fell asleep each time. I don’t think she found the visuals revulsive, but something did keep her from being able to watch it.

    Perhaps it was the fact that Waking Life was a dull, self-indulgent wankfest dressed up as a “smart” movie?

    That said, I’m willing to give Linklater a chance at Scanner, b/c I love the source material. Alas, I too do not live in anything resmbling a Real City, so I may be waiting awhile…

  7. Chewy, et al_

    Those Scwab commercials drive me bananas; I want to hunt down everyone associated with the abominable things and kill them. I hate the visual technique, and I hate the “characters” and the writers who dreamt them up. So there.

    I have read “Scanner” too many times to ever risk going to see a film version. I saw a review that said it was a faithful adaptation, but I don’t believe it. The book was much too cerebral to be translated into flashy visuals.

    Best line from the book: “If I’d known it was harmless, I would have killed it myself.”

  8. Oops- “Schwab”

    stupid keyboard

  9. I have a hard time keeping from sounding like Ain’t it Cool News when I talk about this movie. Suffice it to say, I think it’s worth seeing, even if you don’t like rotoscoping. (I mean, it’s 100 minutes long, so at a certain point you sort of get used to it.)

    I liked the trippiness of the rotoscoping, but I can see Chewy’s point. What’s weird about rotoscoping is it isn’t exactly animation and it isn’t exactly film. The photo image and the rotoscope image on which it is based keep flickering in and out of your perception — it’s almost like a strobe effect, a rapid flutter between two frames of reference. Which is appropriate for a drug movie, but which can feel disturbing. I felt a little sick in one scene between two characters in scramble suits (which intensify the strobe effect), though I’m pretty sure I was supposed to — it’s where (spoiler) the true extent of the disassociation between Bob/Fred becomes apparent.

    Any movie that has a scene where Alex Jones gets tasered and hauled off for shouting conspiracy theories through a bullhorn is worth seeing. (The bit right afterward, with everyone continuing on their business and with the bullhorn left forlornly on the street as the only sign that anyone was ever there, is a nice touch too.)

  10. Keanu Reeves and Woody Harrelson? Throw in Costner and you have the Trifecta of Tripe.

  11. P Brooks,

    I haven’t read the book since high school, but I remember it as maybe the darkest of PKD’s books. Even his lighthearted books have a good amount of darkness at the core, and his darker books usually have quite a bit of humor in them, but Scanner left me feeling a lot emptier than the rest. I’ve re-read Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said and The Transmigration of Tmothy Archer a dozen times each, but they are redemptive. Scanner is a downer. I don’t think I could read it again. Maybe a movie is the perfect way to reexperience it.

  12. I tend to think that the term “indie” is more about the genesis of a movie/band/publication than the current status.

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