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A Scanner Darkly

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim (jim_) In some ways the animation/rotoscope worked for me and in a few areas it was a distraction. I had no idea how they were going to make some areas of the book into a movie and not do a "robocop 2" kind of thing. I thought that Downey did a great job, I really couldn't remember that character vividly in the book, but it was brilliant on screen. The ending/dedication on screen hit me just as hard as the book.


message 2: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) To give Keanu some facial expression? Just kidding!


message 3: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I'm not a fan of that type of animation actually. I watched the movie, and thought it was interesting, but not a favorite by far. I should probably read the book.

Have you seen Waking Life? It's done in the same style, and it's one of Thomas's (my boyfriend) favorite movies. I think in THAT one, they used that style to create a kind of dream-like quality, because everything is constantly shifting around and moving. Oddly enough, that's what makes me not like it. *shrug*


message 4: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Jun 21, 2009 02:19PM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
I believe it was an artistic decision to give the film an LSD trip reality. I've read the book numerous times and felt that it could have been done without animation: I've certainly never imagined it that way when i was reading it. But it was interesting and masked Keanu's horrible acting to a degree. What would have been more interesting is to start with live action then, as Arctor's mind disintigrates, switch to the rotoscope: the key moment in the novel is when he sees himself on the scanner...and thinks of Arctor as another person.
NOTE: Not that I know what an LSD trip is like...cough...erhhhh..I have to go now.


message 5: by Phillip (last edited Jun 22, 2009 12:57PM) (new)

Phillip Did someone say LSD?...

I like this movie. I'm not sure if the animation is essential, but for me, like some of the other folks that have posted above, it made Keanu (and Wynona) bearable.

But I really like Alex's idea that since the film was originally shot in digital anyway, why not start the film in "reality" and switch to an altered reality with the animation when things start to deteriorate, so to speak.

R Downey Junior was also the high water mark of the performances IMO.


message 6: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 342 comments Mod
Yes, I liked Downey's acting but I always pictured Bruce Dern in my head well before it was ever considered for the silver screen.
On a side note, Todd Snider's new album has a song called AMERICA'S FAVORITE PASTIME about Doc Ellis pitchin' his no hitter in 1970 while under the influence of LSD. Cool song, funny as all hell.


message 7: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Someone pitched a no-hitter while blazing? That's more self control than I can possibly imagine.


message 8: by Jill (last edited Jun 23, 2009 09:09PM) (new)

Jill (wanderingrogue) | 8 comments Alex DeLarge wrote: "about Doc Ellis pitchin' his no hitter in 1970 while under the influence of LSD"

But...how could he possibly know which demonic unicorn dancing with Abbott and Costello while all of them were wearing doctor's scrubs, clown shoes, and viking helmets to throw to?

Not that I'd know about such things either...


message 9: by Phillip (new)

Phillip I saw Keanu acting the part of a unicorn..


message 10: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I like this book a lot, but because I do, I haven't really wanted to see the movie. My son is really into filim making and has actually rotoscoped a few videos, but, like Alex, unless the movie changed from reality(straight video) to LSDity(rotoscoping) I just don't see what purpose it could serve.

As far as Keanu goes, he fits certain rolls simply because he IS so inexpressive. I think he was the right guy for Neo, and I think he is probably, for the same reason, good as Arctor.


message 11: by Matt (new)

Matt | 14 comments Personally I think it (the animation) worked. I think had there been a blend it would have seemed too much like a stunt or gimmick (think THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET; even though I do love that film). I havent seen SCANNER since it was in the theatre, but I do recall enjoying it immensely. Also, the animation worked great in those scenes where the agents were in disguise; I cant recall if those "suits" had a particular name?


message 12: by Tom (last edited Jul 04, 2009 07:04AM) (new)

Tom | 166 comments I'll confess that the first time I saw it I found it very hard to follow. I had not read the novel when I saw the film, which shouldn't be necessary, of course. Part of the problem was the animation, which allowed for some dazzling effects, especially the anonymity suit that Fred/Bob and other police officers wear that allows them to be almost invisible: different faces and body parts are constantly appearing and changing and morphing as you watch. Cool. Unfortunately, it also gets a little distracting. You can get so lost in just watching the anonymity suits that you can lose the thread of conversations. Even worse, you can get so lost in just watching the fascinatingly dreamlike way in which walls shift and move, or the way somebody's hair moves, or the way Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson seem to have been born to be animated in this way that you can lose track of what is going on altogether. That's not really a bad thing. Or is it?

When I first saw it I remember thinking that this film is not at all what I was expecting, which lead me to wonder what in fact I had been expecting. This made me remember that A SCANNER DARKLY is a film by Richard Linklater, who tends to play fast and loose with narrative conventions. Don't get me wrong, his films all have beginnings middles and ends, and they're usually in that order. His films just don't seem to have beginnings middles and ends in the way that most movies have them. It isn't unusual to see a Linklater film and wonder: what was that? Repeat viewings will usually reveal what is going on. Linklater is much more like Mike Leigh than Steven Spielberg. I happen to love Mr. Linklater for that.

Okay. I'll say it because it must be said. The big problem with the film is Keanu Reeves. Even extensive roto-scoping can't save his "performance." You'd think that a character having identity issues and drug problems might play to whatever alleged strengths Reeves possesses as an actor, but no. There is no more embarassing display in recent American cinema of sheer thespic ineptitude than the scenes involving Reeves trying to keep up with Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson. It is like watching Laurel and Hardy and George W. Bush. Music Cue: "one of these things is not like the others..."

Gratuitous swipe:
Of all sad words of tongue or pen
The saddest are these:
"Starring Keanu Reeves."

I've read the novel since seeing the film, and liked it a lot. A whole lot. I think Linklater caught a lot of the atmosphere of the novel, and that's no small accomplishment. I'm not sure, after several viewings and a couple of re-readings, whether the animation was a good idea. The animation ultimately serves to distance me from the characters, where the exact opposite really needs to be happening.

Still, a worthy film by any means. If only they'd gotten anybody other than Reeves.


message 13: by Phillip (last edited Jul 02, 2009 12:46AM) (new)

Phillip I always see Linklater's films multiple times. They warrant multiple viewings to see how it all works because yes, he likes throwing curveballs. I can't think of a Linklater film I didn't like on some level.


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