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A movie directed by Richard Linklater

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Drug Casualties

  • Feb 1, 2007
  • by
The first thing that strikes you about `A Scanner Darkly' is the animation. Innovative from the first frame, the only comparisons I can come up with is an advanced, artful leap from `Adult Swim' from The Cartoon Network or the adults' version of `The Polar Express'. Easily more fluid than either, the animation at first may come off as unnecessary, flashy, or just plain irritating. But once you get your brain hemispheres adjusted, you realize there is real method to the madness. But, oh boy, what madness. The effect works to have the audience with one foot in solid reality and another in unreality. What `A Scanner Darkly' does is connect with the real life of drugs. (If that isn't a contradiction, then what is?)

With Stephen Sodenheim (significantly of `Traffic' fame) as co-ex producer with George Clooney, the drug world has a new dimension. We start off with Charles Freck who is undergoing a drug psychosis. He can't do anything to get the bugs that are crawling all over him, showering, spraying himself with bug killer, etc. They keep coming back. In the next scene, officer Fred (Keanu Reeves) is lecturing other comrades in their war against drugs. His appearance is morphing because he's an undercover cop who is a living specimen for the latest technology in waging that war. He shares his notes about "substance D," the ultimate, addictive drug of the near future world. Familiarly, it is a flower derivative, and whatever its euphoric traits aren't entirely certain, but its power to hook are unparalleled. Its side effects are somewhat unique (although I'll leave you to the movie to find them) but Charles Freck has already given us clues to their impact. Much of the film goes through the house life of Freck, his ruthlessly cunning dealer, Jim Barris, and their California dude friend (Woody Harrelson). In between we back up, and Fred looks through his scanner into the drug world he's bugged and at his personal life with his girlfriend, Donna (Winona Rider) who is in her own way woven into the web of drugs and illusion.

`A Scanner Darkly' is worth a look for its keen vision of the world it is meant to penetrate. The film also innovates the method and style in which movies are being made. (Mostly kudos are due to Richard Linklater and his "rotoscoping" method.) Sorting out the dimensions of paranoia with the reality of surveillance and the supply and demand of stellar drugs, `A Scanner Darkly' provides an uniquely intriguing movie experience.

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More A Scanner Darkly reviews
review by . January 21, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
The Cast
WARNING: This review contains spoilers!   Based upon what may be Philip K. Dick's most personal novel, the film A Scanner Darkly is an awe-inspiring "science fiction" film directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused and Waking Life). Linklater, who also wrote the screenplay, has done a remarkable job in staying as close as possible to Philip K. Dick's original story. In fact, out of all of the many films adapted or inspired by his work, A Scanner Darkly may be the most faithful. …
review by . November 02, 2008
A Scanner Darkly
To fully understand the movie, you'd have to read the book first. But to fully appreciate the movie, its best to have not read the book and have an open mind to the differences.     The plot: Charles Freck (Rory Cochrane) is covered in aphids. At least he thinks so. Freck hangs out with Barris (Robert Downey Jr.) and Luckman (Woody Harrelson) and Bob Arctor's girlfriend Donna (Winona Ryder).     What Bob's roommates don't know is that there is more to Bob …
review by . March 07, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Interesting story and decent interpretation      Cons: Predictable and the acting was only so-so      The Bottom Line: It is ultimately predictable but the strength of the story (once you get into it) makes the predictability just a minor nuisance.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.      A Scanner Darkly a Philip K. Dick novel adapted for the screen by Richard …
review by . December 27, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Those who criticise this film for lacking in narrative drive are either missing the point or had been expecting something different. It is true that there is very little "plot" here (until the end), and much of the film involves sitting around the house, hanging out with Bob Arctor and his various friends and associates. The majority of the screen time in this film is devoted to establishing an atmosphere (and leaving a few hints about a larger plot) within which the central twist of the story will …
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #99
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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About this movie


Starring Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson
Directed by Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater (screenplay) Philip K.. Dick (Novel)
Based on the novel 'A Scanner Darkly' by Philip K. Dick
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