Archive for October 1, 2006

A Scanner Darkly

Generation X slumped into American consciousness as some bohemian depression that’s deep murky depths could only be dreamnt of as a by product of stereotypes of existential depression (think Gide or Camus). While my generation apparently was summarized by wordy song-smiths, X has always reveled in it’s own depression. Drug attics and willing losers seemed to be the theme and it’s pop manifestations where no better (although pavement and the flaming lips and daniel johnston hinted at a creative subculture the media never seemed to care about until Wes Anderson somehow set them straight). It is funny then to find Dick-ian depression transferred onto the almost dreadfully black world of gen-x, but surprisingly it works. Something in the cast (Robert Downet Jr. Ryder, Reeves, etc) reeks of the “alternative” culture that codified the late eighties and early nineties as does the director too, but the film itself takes Dick’s remarkably morbid worlds and makes out of it an almost believable tale of aging 30-somethings and the identity crisis es that beget their paranoid “edgy” lives.

While A Scanner Darkly can almost be hard to watch, Ryder is a decent actress and manages to overcome twenty some thingness to be a believable dealer, Robert Downey Jr. is always creepy somehow, but as a neurotic and brainy drug attic who likes playing games with his friends he is almost to believable to be true and at the same time oozes the unbearableness of a know-it-all (such as me). Reeves has managed to survive film making’s savages by always being a nice, enjoyable, and often clueless and here he manages to turn a stooge into a character you might actually want to save, Rory Cochrane manages to become a sleaze bag beyond sleaze bags, and Woody Harrelson is an affable, but unfortunately misguided dude. The film is so tightly woven and multidimensional that it’s characters obvious ambivalence to their pathetic addictions becomes unbearable, but that’s Ok this is Dick and often the characters in his worlds are burning the remains of personalities in order to satiate their needs.

I won’t spoil the film for you, but the problem with this adaptation of Dick along with Paycheck is that the epiphany seems ruined. Linklater hasn’t killed dick the way John Woo did, but the condrum doesn’t seem fleshed out enough to let us in the particulars of the situation that drove the characters to make such a morally risky decission in the first place. While it would ruin the ending to know that situation, some rewind and play with the plot leading up the intro would be a good idea. Dick’s pyschological trap and malaise here is preserved acurately, but perhaps the film could have used an extra 10 or 20 minutes of rotoscoped cell shaded scenes to tell us when and why the decission to use a human being as such was made.

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ps. I would kill for a good adapatation of Solar Lottery still my favorite Dick.

October 1, 2006 at 4:46 pm Leave a comment


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