Monday, July 17, 2006


Despite oppressive heat in these parts, I did venture out to see A Scanner Darkly, Richard Linklater's adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel. It was shot in live-action then rotoscoped into animation, but the actors--Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey, Woody Harrelson--all remain recognizable on-screen, which is distracting at times. (I think it would have worked better with a cast of unknowns, though Reeves is excellent.) Mostly, the trippy visual style works, and at least is a valid attempt at visualizing Dick's tale of identities lost to drug-induced paranoia.

A Scanner Darkly was a movie I actively wanted to see, which is saying something these days. We're more than halfway through the year, and the number of movies I've wanted to see--as opposed to things I saw on dates, or went to as time-killers, or whatever--is alarmingly low. I was looking forward to the Aussie western The Proposition and Robert Altman's A Prarie Home Companion think that's it.

The thing is, back in the eighties and for much of the nineties, I went to a lot of movies. (I had no life, clearly.) I was willing to sit through anything. John Hughes teenpics, Chuck Norris actioners, tragically unfunny Dan Aykroyd vehicles, I've seen a lot. I paid money to sit through Electric Dreams, for crying out loud. Electric Dreams! Lenny Von Dohlen and his talking computer--what was I thinking? (Do I still sometimes finding myself singing the title song? Yeah. So?) And Howard The Duck! (Though to be fair, I think in the eighties there was some sort of federal mandate requiring you to see a certain number of Lea Thompson movies.) And Willow! Kevin Pollack as a tiny sprite? I'm standing in line for that one! (And later, when it showed up on cable, would I watch it again? Sigh...I don't want to talk about it.)

Well, maybe I've just gotten a life, or have less disposeable income, or maybe I've just realized that life is too short. For whatever reason, the idea of spending money and actually seeing almost any mainstream American movie fills me with a sense of dread. And when I actually do see one of the fruits of Hollywood's vine--let's pick at random and say The DaVinci Code--I'm filled with an overwhelming despair that actually makes me think back nostalgically to a time when somebody in Movieland actually thought that what we as citizens wanted was a Lenny Von Dohlen vehicle.

Because, remember, however far it seems, we'll always be together...together in Electric Dreams.