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Gary Couzens
Posted on Friday, September 08, 2006 - 11:18 am:   

Hi, Hal, to continue our intermittent Richard Linklater conversation...have you seen A Scanner Darkly yet? If yes, what did you think of it?

I saw it yesterday and I thought it worked very well. It seemed to be quite faithful to the novel as I remember it (read twice, but twenty or more years ago), minor updatings apart - even down to reproducing PKD's afterword just before the end credits. The animation was fine once you got accustomed to it - not sure the "scramble suit" would have worked in live action, even as a CGI.

I'm wondering what Linlater's film of Fast Food Nation will be like - as with Scanner, it premiered at Cannes earlier this year.

And are you going to Fantasycon the weekend after next?
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Hal Duncan
Posted on Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 05:03 am:   

Hi, Gary. Yeah, I saw it a week or so back and thought it was excellent. Some of the guys I was with (others of the GSFWC crowd, so not yer anti-genre types, mind) had mixed feelings, and one of them truly hated it... which I found very weird.

For me, the animation clicked in the opening scene with Frek and the aphids. The constantly shifting patches of colour, the saturation of it all, the bold outlines -- all of that gave the movie a trippy look, I thought, like we're seeing it through the eyes of someone on D. It's quite dislocating, unsettling even, but it's meant to be.

I agree about the scramble suit. One of the things I really liked about the rotoscoping was that it prevented the scramble suit from looking like a weird piece of SFX bolted on to a basically naturalistic movie. I think it would have seemed out of place in a live action movie; as it is, instead it feels completely integrated, the constantly changing fragments of faces and what-not linking to the unsettled vibe of the animation itself. So the scramble suit as metaphor for Arctor's disconnection from reality is really brought home by making a visual connection between the scramble suit and "reality as seen by someone on D".

The only downside was Canoe Reeves, as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure Linklater did his best, but you couldn't get that man to act with a fucking cattle prod, so the character's gradual unravelling isn't, I think, as successful as it could have been. My theory -- which is nicked from Gary Gibson, to be honest -- is that Linklater needed Reeves onboard as a Big Name for the green light, and only decided to animate it so he could "draw" the acting on top. Then you get someone else to do the scramble suit voice. Man, I'm just surprised he didn't hire someone else to voice the character completely. Anyway, that long monologue in the middle where Arctor basically tells us where the title comes from? Waaaaaay too long for Canoe to carry. I'm hoping the DVD has a version where it's voiced by the guy who did the scramble suit voice. Maybe he could be less monotone about it.

But, anyway, apart from that, I really liked it. Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr. are just fucking superb. And on the whole I think the movie works pretty well.
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Hal Duncan
Posted on Saturday, September 09, 2006 - 05:04 am:   

Oh, and yep. I'll be at Fantasycon. Neil W.'s coming down too. See ya there, I take it?
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Gary Couzens
Posted on Sunday, September 10, 2006 - 10:08 am:   

I'll be there. It'll be the first Fantasycon since 2000 (when I arrived as an ordinary BFS member and left as Chairman) that I won't be on the Committee - so hoping to enjoy the party as it should be a good one!

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