If a picture paints a thousand words,
Then why can't I paint you?
The words will never show The you I've come to know.
If a face could launch a thousand ships,
Then where am I to go?
There's no one home but you You're all that's left me too.
And when my love for life is running dry,
You come and pour yourself on me.
If a man could be two places At one time,
I'd be with you.
Tomorrow and today Beside you all the way. If the world should stop revolving Spinning slowly down to die,
I'd spend the end with you.
And when the world was through,
Then one by one the stars would all go out,
Then you and I would simply fly away....
My advice: don't bother with 300. I got bored with the cinematography and special effects partway through the film. You probably already know the storyline, so you're not there for the story. And there are some clinker parts, like the declamations about democracy, which would have worked better if left unsaid. The nekkid wimmin are there for just that reason -- to be nekkid wimmin. And the 6-pack abs -- were they special effects too? I haven't checked -- and leather underwear also get boring, as they do in real life. :) Plus, I paid $8.25 -- the most I've ever paid to see a movie -- for the privilege of seeing 300 at the fairly new theater at Northgate in Durham. Even worse, 300 was probably the best thing showing out of the 10 films there at the time. Meanwhile, the film has been the highest-grossing one in the US for the past two weeks. Blecch. I only went to see this because I was bored, hadn't seen a movie in a while, and liked Sin City. Bad reasoning. Oh well.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that the film doesn't quite
work, and that it drags from episode to episode—some are brilliant,
most merely intriguing—with little momentum.
But that juddery-ness is part of what gives the movie its Phildickian texture. The animation adds to the texture, and doesn't detract IMO. The reviewer thinks otherwise:
Scanner's most striking element, the animation that was so perfect for Waking Life,
works against it in the end. What ought to be a story of failing flesh
and blood stays squarely in the realm of ideas. It's a head-trip that
never gets beneath the skin.
Again, I have to disagree. The animation helps, and is particularly consonant with some of the special effects used. Since the movie is about the construction of perception, it should stay cerebral: the body is unimportant as far as PKD is concerned here. The movie did get below my skin: I felt trippy for hours afterward.
By the way, I love it that all these PKD books are now coming to the screen. Maybe all those closet PKD fans like myself, who read Dick in their earlier years, are now old enough to get movies made, and are making them of books from one of their favorite authors. It's a nice idea, anyway. It's also nice that ASD isn't a bomb. I was holding my breath, as I do for most SF movies with promise. I think Linklater carried out PKD's vision spectacularly.
I just watched A Scanner Darkly. I feel like I took a lot of, well, possibly Substance D. If you don't mind feeling messed up, go see it. I liked it a lot. I don't think I've ever seen such a good adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel. Wow.
Whenever I hear that a science fiction story is being turned into a movie, I start worrying: so many adaptations have stunk. Combine that with Hollywood's current penchant for turning old TV shows into rotten movies -- well, when I heard Aeon Flux was being filmed, I figured it would reek, but I'd hold my nose and go see for myself.
You know what? It didn't stink. It was good: maybe 7 out of 10? Karyn Kusama did an amazing job of using the framework set by the original series on MTV -- quite an accomplishment, as the series was animated, early episodes had no dialogue, and plot was rarefied. But Aeon Flux was never about plot. It was about concept, art, and Peter Chung's High SF Style. Kusama uses sets, costumes, architecture, and special effects all as agents toward that high, artistic style.
Flux fans will be happy to see other characters from Aeon's world. In particular, Trevor Goodchild and Sithandra (the woman whose feet were replaced with hands) both have important roles. Trevor and Aeon's, well, complicated relationship not only comes off, but is given an underlying rationale. Even Trevor's and Aeon's voices recall those of the original series.
Intrigue? Of course.
Tight clothes on Aeon? Why, yes.
Luuuuv? Mmmmmaybe.... If not love, then at least there are decent special effects.
So with these goodies, why is this movie being slammed by the critics? When I first checked on opening day, rottentomatoes.com had the film at 30%; now, it's down to 11%. The studio seemed to sense it coming: they refused to allow reviewers to preview the movie. What's the problem? I think I know. Real science fiction makes demands on the reader or viewer, who is supposed to be able to take otherwise out-of-place referents from the story and put them aright in their mind. An example: If you were watching, say, Thumbsucker, and one of the characters had horribly mis-shapen feet, you'd want to know what's going on. But in LOTR I, II, and III, you're supposed to be able to figure out (or already know) that "hobbits" have feet like that. Similarly with Aeon Flux: when you see that Sithandra's feet look more like hands, you roll with it by finding a place for it in your mind. If you can't do that, then you're going to feel displaced. Actually, you'll feel displaced whether you can deal with it or not, because that's what good SF does. The difference is that those who enjoy SF know and understand the displacement as part of the experience; those who don't understand are just weirded out. Unfortunately, that's a lot of people.
Another reason for the slamming: movies that are stylistically or artistically complicated usually do poorly in reviews. Maybe this is just an extension of what I've explained above, or maybe not. But think of other High Style, complicated SF films. Two that spring to my mind are Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Neither got good reviews originally. With BR, the studio wanted the voiceover added to the movie after they thought audiences were confused and needed help. BR didn't critically survive, even with the changes. 2001 weathered initial criticism better, and is now 22nd on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest U.S. movies. I'm not suggesting Aeon Flux is as good as BR or 2001; I'll let you make that decision. But complicated, highly stylistic, artistic SF movies are hard for general audiences and critics alike. I think Aeon Flux is worth the effort. It's good. Go see it.
I told myself I wasn't going to buy books while I was in Texas. I was wrong: I only bought two and was given one. :) I'm glad I broke my promise to myself: I read the entirety of The Argument Culture by Deborah Tannen while still on vacation. It really speaks a lot to how I feel about US politics right now, as well as how we as people relate to each other; my job (I have this expression about my workplace culture -- "culture of complaint" -- and she has a very similar expression: "culture of critique"); how crappy the news is these days; and a lot of other stuff. I loaned my copy out the same day I got back. I'm tempted to buy copies to send to my friends, but I don't think I'd know where to stop. But do read it if you have the chance.
One of the book's themes is how the media plays up conflict to attract people to the media's products. Despite Dr. Tannen's opinion about the dangers of such manipulation, the publisher plays up the idea of conflict, at the expense of Tannen's message about overall danger Look at the difference between the covers of the previous hardcover and current trade paperback editions of the book, and see if you see what I do.
Went to a matinee of Paycheck today. It's no Blade Runner or Killer, but it's not so bad as I'd been led to believe. A few people in the theatre, including me, exclaimed out loud at some of the good parts. It doesn't feel much like a John Woo film, except for the birds; Ben Affleck only fires a gun a little bit. There's a tad of PhilDickian paranoia, but not much: maybe the storyline's making more sense than some similar stories/movies causes the main character to seem less paranoid. But the film was reasonably competent and enjoyable. Uma Thurman seems more attractive than I usually find her (her character's addition is a typical Hollywood move: she's not in the short story at all, so I guess someone felt the need to add a hot love interest). And we have a typical John Woo theme -- male friendship gone wrong. The movie's ending is quite different from the story's.
It's interesting: while there was the typical Hollywood pumping-up of the (movie's) main character, this is one PKD story where the (short story's) main character is not an inept bumbler.