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Alex
Posted on Monday, February 21, 2005 - 01:05 pm:   

http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2665143?htv=12&htv=12

yowza..
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 06:00 am:   

Darn semi-colons! Try this.

Yowza is right. Is the whole thing animated?

JK
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Alex
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 06:32 am:   

The whole thing is rotoscoped. Linklater did the same thing in Waking Life, which has near the end a long monologue about PKD--so it's kind of a natural extension.

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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 09:28 am:   

http://movies.yahoo.com/movies/feature/ascannerdarklyqt1.html

Here's a hi-rez version of the trailer that doesn't require registration.

I got chills just watching it. Fingers crossed. Linklater is obviously a fan of PKD's writing. We'll see if he can pull it off...
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Jason Erik Lundberg
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 09:52 am:   

Holeeeeeeeeee....

That looks so awesome. I am way impressed.
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Alex
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 11:17 am:   

If only it didn't have fucking Keanu Reeves in it.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 12:33 pm:   

Getting caught up with liking or disliking actors confuses me -- every good actor, and every bad actor makes good films and makes bad films.

Letting ones personal feelings about an actor color ones viewing of a film just weeds out too many good movies for me.

Example:

Pulp fiction
12 Monkeys
The Matrix
Seven
Fight Club
Just about any Hitcock film with Carey Grant
Out of Sited
O brother where art thou

The list could go on and on, of great movies with actors or actresses who a) suck or b) have a celebrity status that causes knee jerk reactions -- ala "I hate [insert celebrity here], so I will never see a movie with that person in it"


Any actor can turn in a great performance, with the right material, and the right director.

Fingers crossed with Scanner Darkly.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 12:51 pm:   

Well,JL, several of yr movies make my suckiest list, but that's taste, I guess...

Reeves hasn't been good (if good is the word) since his Bill and Ted days.. Admittedly he hasn't worked with great directors, but I doubt that Von Trier could make his delivery other than wooden. There's something to be said for your theory -- Tony Curtiss in Sweet Smell of Success, Guy Pearce in Memento -- but Keanu may be a special case. You have to hide him, bury him in the atmospherics, rather than have him emblematicize same. Rotoscoping may do the trick. but then again it may not.

I just hope Scanner is better than Linklater's last rotoscoping effort, Waking Life, which struck me as sophomoric and tedious. Frankly, I'm not hopeful. I think the last thing the project needed was a director with intellectual pretensions. I much rather see a director who's ruled more by his passion and his eye take it on, so the ideas and the subtext don't dominate, someone who won't do as literal a translation -- I hope I',m wrong.
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Alex
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 01:59 pm:   

Jeremy: It is not true that any actor can turn in a great performance. To turn in a great performance, an actor must be able to act; Reeves has shown no sign of having such ability. Even when he's in an enjoyable movie--I liked Bill and Ted, and The Matrix, and I thought Constantine was fun--he tends to stand out by virtue of his inability to be anything but sort of there.

Lucius: I think you're right about the intellectual issues. Problem is, the only people who are going to want to do a Phil Dick novel as a Phil Dick movie (I exclude the "inspired by" crap like Screamers) are intellectuals by nature. But, like you, I hope I'm wrong both about this and about what Linklater will do with Scanner. I've liked his other movies, by and large.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 02:01 pm:   

I hated Waking Life. School of Rock was funny. I had little hope for this, but the trailer gives me some hope. And Harrelson and Downey seem like characters who already inhabit a Phildickian universe, so that particular part of it is better than I'd hoped for.

Kaufman's retro-hippy future would have been fun to see, though.
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t.
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 02:52 pm:   

Alex: Reeves can act, it's just been a very long time since anyone has seen him do it. I'm thinking of River's Edge (1986 or 87), and I believe that he may have acted a little in My Own Private Idaho, so it's been a good 15 years. Surely he's due to act again any time now.

As for Constantine, he may not have acted in it, but he dragged on his cigarette with the best of them.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - 04:14 pm:   

A bad actor can be used as a piece of scenery or furniture... directors do this all the time, often to good effect. A good director can play audience expectations to further the theme/plot/whatever. Harrison ford in Frantic was a great casting choice by Polanski, because it was against type, for example, and emphasized the emasculated, ineffectualness of Harrisonís character.

Matrix... Keanu was a completely lost... a fish out of whater, who knew nothing about the world he truly inhabited. His Bill and Ted style of acting worked perfectly in this film... he wandered around clueless from scene to scene, and he was realistically clueless.

A good performance is, to my mind, not determined by some arbitrary measure of "good acting", but rather who much and how effectively their performance contributes to the overall effectiveness of the movie.

I once again give you Carrey Grant, in such films as North by Northwest. Hitchcock was the master of using audience expectations to further his aesthetic goals. People EXPECT to see grant as a drunk dilettante... he wasn't a great actor, but it worked, and his performance was great, for that movie.
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Alex
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 08:49 am:   

But why use a bad actor as scenery when you could use a good one? The examples you cite are of people who were engaging performers in a certain type of movie, only put in different roles. But (while grudgingly acknowledging that Reeves wasn't terrible in River's Edge) I don't see how you can do that when the only "type" you're reacting against is a Keanu Reeves-shaped absence.

And as far as "good acting" goes: good acting is that which contributes to the overall effectiveness of a movie (or play). Bad acting is that which does not. Your view of The Matrix is a lot more generous than mine, since the fact that someone is clueless doesn't to my mind mean that that person can play clueless effectively.

Like Marc, I'm looking forward to Harrelson and Downey. And even Reeves; maybe in stroke of brilliance Linklater cast him because he knew he could put him in the scramble suit the whole time and rely on the audience to attribute his lack of affect to the suit. Except I don't think Fred/Bob smokes in the book, so he won't have a Zippo as a crutch...

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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 09:43 am:   

I discount the River's Edge as the work of a child actor, just as I discount DiCaprio's early work. Reeves was less acting than taking direction in a very limited role--he simply had to be a teenager, which he was.

And, of course, Alex;s point about why use a bad actor, is a good one. Imagine Eyes Wide Shut with Daniel Day Lewis or Malkovich, for instance. It would have helped the movie a lot.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 10:58 am:   

Hmmm, Cruise and Malkovich in EYES WIDE SHUT, it does make a whole different film....

JK
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Christopher Rowe
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 11:42 am:   

What I keep thinking about as I read this thread is the Keanu's turn in Branagh's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. You've got Branagh's typical scenery chewing, but otherwise pretty creditable performances from Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, Kate Beckinsale and especially Michael Keaton. It's all filmed in this gorgeous Tuscan light and Emma and Kate looked gorgeous and tanned and it's just generally a bunch of pretty good actors having a pretty good time. (Plus, it's got Brian "King of the Hawkmen" Blessed, always worth the price of a ticket). And then, there in the middle, there's Keanu, being the BAD GUY. But it's great, because every time he has a line, you get this almost indiscernable pause from whoever he's "acting" with, like they're choking back a laugh.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 11:47 am:   

Too true Chris. Like Keanu in DANGEROUS LIASONS. Although that was more like what Lucius points out as a young actor playing a young role: taking direction in a limited role.

I actually liked Keanu in THE GIFT, being a bad guy. But again, the role was fairly reduced, and the character could be wooden and still be effective.

JK
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 12:20 pm:   

Alex asks: "But why use a bad actor as scenery when you could use a good one?"

Because you canít always use a good one. Good actors are hard to come buy, and because good actors may be good actors, they don't get the studious and producers ready to shell out $$$$$$. Celebrities guarantee a certain amount of box office play. Thus, Keanue attached to a project gets Linklaiter the green light to actually MAKE scanner darkly.


I don't like it. I'm not apologizing for it. I'm just being a realist. Most movies made are part commercial enterprise first, and part artistic enterprise. Every movie is a compromise, to some degree or another, because of this dichotamy.

Thus, I UNDERSTAND that the vagaries of the marketplace will cause bad actors to be cast in movies that would be infinitely better, if you just got good actors. And directors who successfully work within the studio system, and/or consistently get funding for their films ALSO understand this, and make allowances for it.

Keanu being keanu, for example. Or Carry Grant being carry grant. etc.

I'm not justifying or saying that bad actors in movies is a GOOD thing, or that it is preferable to having GOOD actors. I'm just saying that a good director can work with the tools he's forced to use (bad actors with box office draw), and still manage to turn in a good, great, or fucking excellent movie.

Thus, my point about not liking or disliking actors. ALL actors, good or bad, are furniture. A good script, and a good director CAN in fact put lipstick on the [acting]pig.

The converse is usually true... A bad script and/or a director will almost universally result in a bad movie, regardless who is acting in it.

And at the end of the day, if you donít care for the star driven studio box-office draw system that makes actors the single greatest determination as to weather a movie gets made or not, then STOP PAYING ATTENTION to actors. Donít go see a movie because of them, and donít NOT see a movie because of them. See a movie because its written by your favorite screen writer, or directed by your favorite director, or shot by your favorite DP.

Thatís what I doÖand if everybody purchased movie tickets like me, Entertainment Weekly would be filled with interesting creative people, instead of vapid pretty faces whoís only creative goal is to be pretty.

:-)
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Kelly Shaw
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 01:09 pm:   

It seems a bit low to be attacking Keanu as a bad actor Ė quite simply, because everyone does it. He's been in too many movies and has too varying a success rate to be written off as a "bad" actor. Almost everyone on this board has enjoyed at least one Keanu performance, be it in The Matrix, Point Break, etc.

Now, I must admit, I land on Jeremy's side of the fence when it comes to viewing movies. What he is expressing is basically the auteur theory of film criticism. The actor is simply a tool of a director or, as Hitchcock notoriously stated, just another sheep.

The greatest films today, in my humble opinion, are by the likes of P.T. Anderson, Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze, Michael Gondry, etc., all of whom are directors who use an actor's persona, both on and offscreen, and shape it into something fresh. Be it Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love, Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums, Nicolas Cage in Adaptation, or Jim Carey in Eternal Sunshine. All great movies, all great performances (though, not all great actors).

Hence (to kill this metaphor) with the proper shepard, a sheep can can be great.
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Alex
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 01:57 pm:   

The point is not whether a good director can make a good movie with bad actors. The point is that a bad actor will almost invariably make a movie less pleasurable than it otherwise would have been. Ignoring the actors in a movie is like ignoring the cinematography or the dialogue. If I'm considering whether to see a movie, the director and the screenwriter and the actors and the subject matter are all factors in this decision.

It's obvious that a name actor can help get a movie made. Understanding this makes no more difference to my enjoyment of a particular movie than does understanding that the movie will only make money if it hits big overseas or has cool DVD add-ons. What matters when I'm in the theater is what's up on the screen, and the actors are an integral part of that. Jeremy's suggestion that they shouldn't be is equivalent to me telling him or Kelly not to pay attention to who wrote or directed the movie. Without actors, a script is sheets of paper and a director is a person with an idea.

And Kelly, perhaps "everyone" says Reeves is a bad actor because, well, he is. He is perhaps a useful persona (although often abysmally cast even in this regard), but that's hardly the same thing. The fact that he has been in popular movies is irrelevant to to the question of whether he is a talented actor.

The auteur theory is bunk propagated by people who resent the popularity of actors. Me, I think actors are often given too much credit for the work of the director/cinematographer/editors/screenwriter; but the converse--that a great actor can be great in an ordinary film--is true just as often.

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Alex
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 02:06 pm:   

btw, Jeremy, congrats on the Iain Banks book.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 02:11 pm:   

I think Nicolas Cage and Elizabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas speaks a bit against your point about auteurs, Alex. Arguably two of the worst actors ever, and Mike Leigh got a credible performance out of Cage and an excellent one out of Shue, who hasn;t come close since. But yeah, the opposite is true. Witness Ed Norton in American X, etc. etc.

Some will argue with me about Cage and bring up Adaptation....Please don't. To my mind Adaptation was simply awful, and Cage beat out Streep for worst in film by a nose hair.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 04:50 pm:   

Thanks Alex. I'm very pumped about Banks. Just have to bust ass to make sure his faith in us isn't misplaced. :-)

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