Monday, July 17, 2006

Previews: "A Scanner Darkly" and "Volver"

The kind folks at aren't just geeks; they're very proud to be geeks and very good at it.

Thanks to them, I can at least get a glimpse of movies like "A Scanner Darkly," which has yet to grace my little corner of the world. Apparently a cartoon about the dangers of the drug culture is too subsersive for our eyes and ears (though we just did get Al Gore's surprisingly addictive "An Inconvenient Truth," so I guess I should keep hope alive.

I loved Richard Linklater's "Waking Life," which debuted his pioneering animation style and just came at you from about a thousand different trippy directions. For those out there who don't know, "A Scanner Darkly" uses and improves on that same style to tell Philip K. Dick's story about the government's war against the extremely powerful drug Substance D. It features the voices of Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Winona Ryder and Woody Harrelson, among others.

Those of you who, like me, don't have access to this potentially great work of art, can now check out the first 24 minutes over at IGN. It will put your computer through a workout (I could hear my old HP weezing, but it made it), but I think you'll find it worth the effort. Check it out here.

"Volver" trailer

When I'm pressed to pick out one favorite director, which I hate to do, the answer nine times out of 10 will be Pedro Almodovar. To me, he just has a signature style that is instantly recognizable, and almost always delivers extremely entertaining flicks.

It really pained me, therefore, when I was so disappointed with "Bad Education," his last flick starring a dragged up Gael Garcia Bernal. The plot, which just kept taking more and more turns, turned out to make little sense at all in the end, at least to me.

"Volver," his newest offering which should be hitting our bigger cities soon, looks like a welcome return to top form. Almodovar has always been at his best when he writes funny roles for colorful women, which he has returned to here.

It features the always bella Penelope Cruz, but also a welcome return from Carmen Maura, his greatest discovery and an impeccable actress. The story about one family's struggles in working class Madrid seems to have an air of magical realism to it, and is as usual for Almodovar filmed in vibrant colors.

Check out the trailer here, and let me know what you think.


Xanthippas said...

My brother saw "Scanner" over the weekend and said it was good, and I'm really looking forward to seeing it when I have some time off.

Thanks for your comment on our blog. I've enjoyed looking around your blog and have posted a link to your blog on Three Wise Men.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks, Xanthippas ... I'm really hoping against hope that Scanner will get a wider release, but it doesn't look likely

Koenig said...

I saw "Scanner" this weekend and enjoyed it a ton. Most of the few problems I had had more to do with the story (I own the book and skimmed it after watching the movie - the film was very faithful) than the film.

I was amazed with the animation and can't imagine it being half as good had it been done live.

Reel Fanatic said...

If you haven't seen "Waking Life," Koenig, I'd recommend it highly .. the animation is in the same style, and it's just a wild ride

themarina said...

I saw "Scanner" over the weekend but I must say I'm disappointed by the weak releasing schedule. It is indeed, as brilliant as the book and it's by far the closes to the book adaptation of any of Dick's works. And yes, the animation is amazing.

Just a note on the animation: the film was actually shot with the real actors and then animated over top. I sort of get the impression from your post that you may have missed that little point. So all of the acting was actually shot in an empty studio and then the animation was done over top and all of the settings were digitally rendered. More info on rotoscoping (the method of animation used) can be found here.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the good word, Marina .. you're right about me now knowing about the animation technique ... Linklater is definitely going places noone has before, and I can't wait until I finally get to go with him

Vasta said...

So my thoughts on Scanner are that if you're not a fan of the PKD novel, you're probably not going to enjoy it as much as the rest of us. The movie is very close to what I think PKD would have wanted out of a movie version, and it was definitely darker and weirder than normal audiences will expect.

That being said, the rotoscopy is a visual treat, and Linklater is definitely pushing the boundaries of acting and animation and the blurring of reality. It can get disconcerting at times (especially since it keeps you distanced through the animation but attached through the recognizable human faces at the same time) but it really is a visual wonder. The score is phenomenal as well.

I mean, it's not an instant classic, but it really is a good movie to watch, particularly if you're a PKD fan. I didn't know it wasn't widely released, it's on quite a few screens here in Toronto.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Vasta .. Mr. Dick doesn't always get the proper respect on screen, so I'm happy, but not surprised, to hear that Linklater got this one right

Linda said...

I knew nothing about the novel and loved this film.

Vasta said...

That's good to hear Linda. Some of my friends that don't know the novel were a little off-put by the dark themes.