ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Richard Linklater

Starring:
Keanu Reeves/Fred/Bob Arctor
Robert Downey Jr./Barris
Woody Harrelson/Luckman
Winona Ryder/Donna
PLOT-CRUNCH
Orange County, the future, Big Brother is watching everybody. Junkie Bob Arctor (Reeves) is hired by the government to spy on his naggy drugged fiend friends who won’t stop talking or/and going paranoid. Eu????
THE LOWDOWN
Although I've loved many of Writer/Director Richard Linklater’s previous films (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, Tape, Before Sunset) I can’t that say that I was too pumped for A Scanner Darkly. His last “drawn over real people” opus (they call the technique roto scoping) “Waking Life”, bored me to hemorrhoids…and I just watched the first 20 minutes! But when I saw the Darkly trailer, I felt some hope. The trippy feel appealed to me and it was after all inspired by Sci Fi staple Phillip K Dick's most personal book (or so I was told).

Well 10 minutes into this pool that they called Darkly, the hope sank like a welfare check at the Casino. Now there is a solid story here, if you look close enough and lend a deaf hear to the incessant and self indulgent philosophical/existential/makes no f*cking sense bla-bla-bla that plagued this film. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to ignore the aforementioned cancers, as they were the bulk of the flick. The characters didn’t help matters much either. You know how every party has that loud a-hole ruining it for everybody (that's usually me), well this film had two. Yup, we got two tweaker motor mouths that love to hear themselves talk (Harrelson and Jr.) and on top of that, a coke non-whore (Ryder) who should do less coke and more whoring.

Yeah I was rooting for these champs big time…rooting for them to kick the bucket already so I could go on with my freaking day! Was I supposed to laugh at these people? Care? Feel? Who knows! All I go was "severely annoyed". And that was the film's main pitfall. I mean, Requiem for a Dream managed to make me give a hoot for its drug addicted characters, I cried with them while Trainspotting had me laughing it up! Scanner Darkly on the other end, totally shut me out. I felt like I was hearing endless jokes/conversations that I wasn't in on, hence the humor and the substance went over my head.. 

Only the self-pitying lead ably played by Reeves semi interested me. His “inner searching” made him human and the fact that he didn’t yap away like it was a blabbermouth contest made my day. Sadly he wasn't emphasized upon enough for me.. Thankfully the last 20 minutes or so started to feel like a movie, communicating a cohesive storyline as opposed to a using a semblance of a storyline to converse lots of “far-out", self stroking and vacuous ramblings.. Any other positives apart from that? Sure, I did respect the film's ambition as its peculiar animation application was mucho groovy and gave thewhole a trip-out, arresting look. A couple nifty and well executed ideas kicked in as well (loved that morphing suit) while the fine actors working it provided for some enjoyment. Finally the theme of foggy identity was compelling when I got it and the symbolism that came with it occasionally hooked me in.

Sadly that wasn’t enough to diminish my anger towards the uber pretentiousness of it all and the non-stop the irritation I felt from the constant verbal BS being vomited my way. There was a potentially poignant Sci Fi tale in there, one that could've worked as a statement on society (then and today). But all that was muffled out by high brow bull-crap, unlikable/annoying characters and a knack at NOT letting the main narrative line breathe...the one that interested me anyways. Scan this!

GORE
There was one blown up head gag that worked well early on and some puking, other than that…nada.
ACTING
Keanu Reeves (Fred/Bob Arctor) down-played and efficiently tapped into the somber and confusing state of his character. Robert Downey (Barris) and Woody Harrelson (Luckman) did a WONDROUS job at playing doped losers that happened to aggravate the shite out of me. Winona Ryder (Donna) played Ethan Hawke, playing Winona Rider. I miss the Mermaid/Heathers days!
T & A
We get Winona Ryder’s and some other hottie’s cartoon gazongas. And a don't blink or you’ll miss it “cartoon sex scene" in fast motion no less.
DIRECTING
The film did look good! Stylish angles, potent atmosphere and a clever use of fast motion. Needless to say that the roto scoping application to the images gave the whole an LSD like vibe that I grooved to.
SOUNDTRACK
Shit, I don’t even remember the soundtrack, was there a soundtrack? Beats me! Guess it didn’t make an impact either way.
BOTTOM LINE
Personally I would've liked to have seen A Scanner Darkly again before putting up this review as it is a very unorthodox flick and sometimes a second viewing makes a difference. But alas, I didn't get a chance. If you're big on aloof, self indulgent and existential yapping, have a blast! Personally, I’ll take my Phillip K Dick celluloid via Blade Runner and Total Recall over this type of serving any day. Sure the actors were on the ball, some of the concepts worked and the peculiar animation application gave the flick a deliciously surreal, trip-out feel. Too bad the film's "nature" choked out the story and the themes that did fascinate me (the Reeves character and his journey). Instead of watching this movie, I suggest you smoke a bowl with your friends and philosophize between yourselves. I’m pretty sure you’ll come up with deeper and more coherent stuff than what A Scanner Darkly did. NOTE: I hope there's a Before Sunset sequel on the horizon! Maybe call it After Dawn? I love that shite!
BULL'S EYE
The film was based on Philip K. Dick's own personal drug experiences and was dedicated to the people he lost or got ill due to drugs.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL SCANNER DARKLY SITE HERE

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