July 7, 2006

A Scanner Darkly.

Austin Chronicle: A Scanner Darkly Finally, the roundup entry on A Scanner Darkly marking its general release. Marc Savlov, who talks with Richard Linklater, finds it "so trippily in touch with the current cultural zeitgeist that it rattles you to your core." Also in the Austin Chronicle, Raoul Hernandez follows the adventures of Graham Reynolds and his unusual score and Savlov meets up with producer Tommy Pallotta and animators Jason Archer and Paul Beck.

Salon's Andrew O'Hehir proposes that the film "will have particular resonance for viewers of about [Linklater's] age and generational predilections. If Slacker and Dazed and Confused were major cultural events in your life (along with, say, Repo Man and Stranger Than Paradise and Blue Velvet and Sid and Nancy), then this movie is for you."

Andrea Gronvall, who has an excellent paragraph on Rory Cochrane's appearance both here and in Dazed and Confused in the Chicago Reader, writes further on, "As uncompromising and biting as it is, A Scanner Darkly resists indicting those who have too much time on their hands or those who've played too heartily. As Linklater wrote in a 1991 essay, opting out of conventional society for many is a deliberate choice that entails a lot of effort and ingenuity."

Updated through 7/12.

"[Philip K] Dick is one of those, like Kafka and the writers of Seinfeld, who have copyrighted certain aspects of reality; certain moments of the day, they own," writes James Parker in an overview of the writer's imprint in film, music video and elsewhere. Also in the Boston Phoenix, Peter Keough talks with Linklater and, as for the animation, "its fluid, whimsical vertigo doesn't mitigate the grimness, but helped out by a terrific cast it does enliven the whimsy, pathos, mind-boggling paradoxes, and melancholy ironies of Dick at his finest."

Robert Levine has a piece on the process of rotoscoping in the Los Angeles Times, where Carina Chocano writes, "The brilliance of A Scanner Darkly is how it suggests, without bombast or fanfare, the ways in which the real world has come to resemble the dark world of comic books."

In her review for the New York Times, Manohla Dargis concentrates more on the novel than the film; which may be because, as J Hoberman writes in the Voice, this is "the most literal of Dick adaptations and also, in a perverse way, the most literary."

Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle: "For science fiction fans who prefer ideas over laser battles, this is the most meticulous and faithful movie adaptation of Dick's work - and one of the most thoughtful."

Writing in the LA Weekly, Christopher Orr finds Linklater and Dick make for "a peculiar match," in part because "for most of the film, the portrayal of drug use is so... fun."

Cynthia Fuchs at PopMatters: "To the extent that Scanner adopts any conventional form, it establishes Bob [Arctor, one identity played by Keanu Reeves] as the most sympathetic, least overtly frantic of the addicts, by granting access to his worrying about his status - as an addict, a narc, a man losing his grip on any number of realities."

"[T]he best possible marriage of story and style," declares Cheryl Eddy in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Jürgen Fauth finds it "a handsome and mindwarping movie that has cult hit written all over it." MaryAnn Johanson warns that "it takes you to places you know and don't want to know at the same time."

"[T]he film's ideas - on homegrown dystopia, everyday alienation - could only seem inventive to cultural retards," scoffs Armond White in the New York Press. Still, the film "has retro chic going for it; director Richard Linklater may be the most trendily attuned yet vacuous filmmaker at work."

"[T]here used to be a place in the film industry for something like A Scanner Darkly, a film that tells a complex story in a visually startling manner without worrying about how such things will go over with mall audiences," writes Peter Sobczynski at Hollywood Bitchslap. More from Brian Orndorf.

More interviews: Mike Russell's got a terrific talk with Linklater and the AV Club's Keith Phipps meets Robert Downey Jr (he's got a review as well). Downey Jr will be writing his memoirs, by the way; the BBC reports.

The Reeler attended the New York opening.

Online listening tips. RU Sirius interviews Linklater, who's also appeared on the Leonard Lopate Show.

Updates, 7/9: Cinematical's Jette Kernion: "Thanks to this film and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, I now will watch Downey in just about anything." Welcome to the club, Jette! I've been keeping your seat warm for years. All in all: "It's the kind of movie that makes you want to go somewhere with your friends afterwards to discuss it, triggering hours of talk about society, politics, drugs, entertainment, and contemporary filmmaking. See it with a group and make sure the theater is near a good gathering place with late hours."

Among the Cinemarati, lylee: "A Scanner Darkly is a perfect example of a film in which form blends seamlessly with substance rather than merely enhancing it."

Updates, 7/12: Sean Burns in the Philadelphia Weekly: "Linklater's low-key humanism is a bad match for Dick's obsessive, clammy suspicion, and A Scanner Darkly meanders when it should be twisting the screws."

Rob Nelson, writing in the City Pages, disagrees: "What a breath of fresh air this stifling, claustrophobic, boldly uningratiating vision of an American subculture's last gasp imparts to its contrarian core audience. (Call me a hopeless addict: I've seen it three times.)"

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Posted by dwhudson at July 7, 2006 4:44 PM


It's ironic to see Armond White equate Linklater's style with "torture." That's the same word he could hardly bring himself to use in his ROAD TO GUANTANAMO review. Both reviews are hatchet jobs by a right wing ideologue.

Saw SCANNER last night and it is the best, most moving, most political piece of American cinema in a long, long time. I saw it with a Republican who happens to agree.

Posted by: Matt Cornell at July 8, 2006 2:07 PM

Oh Armond, the only "cultural retard" here is... oh, don't make me say it.

Posted by: Wiley Wiggins at July 8, 2006 6:48 PM

Even the novelty factor of Armond White's weekly tirades is wearing off.

Meanwhile, Matt, an interesting comment on Scanner, as it reminds me - somewhat - of Kent Jones's take on Fast Food Nation.

What's amazing in all these interviews is how casual and unassuming Linklater seems to be as he talks, almost always in that same casual and unassuming tone, about projects in just the past couple of years as varied and as duly praised as School of Rock and Before Sunset, Scanner and Nation.

Posted by: David Hudson at July 9, 2006 7:32 AM