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A Scanner Darkly (***)
Directed by Richard Linklater
Written by Richard Linklater, from a novel by Horselover Fats
A Scanner Darkly
Principal Cast
Keanu Reeves -- Bob Arctor
Robert Downey Jr. -- James Barris
Mitch Baker -- Brown Bear Lodge Host
Woody Harrelson -- Ernie Luckman
Rory Cochrane -- Charles Freck
Winona Ryder -- Donna
Steven Chester Prince -- Cop
Natasha Valdez -- Waitress
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

"It's all right, it's all right, it's all right…"
Only it isn't all right, is it? The drugs themselves are almost as destructive as the war on people who use drugs.
"Keif, Keif, kin oi spend moi hawf on droogs?"
One thing is clear. Everybody connected with this movie has done a lot of drugs. The dialogue perfectly captures the narrow line between irony and stupidity, between mock violence and real violence, between paranoia and real noia.
"And my best friend the doctor won't even tell me what it is I got."
The rotoscoping gives some people a headache, but it is straight (if you'll excuse the expression) Disney rotoscoping, not the trippy animation of, for example, the homeless cat sequence in Allegro non Troppo. The film plays games with reality and identity, but always from a firm grounding in reality. Everybody knows who he or she really is, and so does the audience. There is nothing new agey here, no postmodern nonsense about subjective reality. Reality is real. People who haven't actually done LSD don't understand. LSD, not coke, is the real thing.
"True, very very dreadfully nervous I have been and am, by why will you say I am mad? The disease has heightened my senses, not dulled them. I hear things in heaven and on earth. Sometimes I hear things in hell."
Lots of fun, playful stuff, like the imposter who impersonates the Leonardo DiCaprio character from Catch Me If You Can. Kids used to films that telegraph every punch find the movie dull -- they are on the wrong side of that fine line between too much drugs and not enough.
"Okay, okay so you may experience the odd violent fit of psychotic hyperactivity, but you're a linebacker! Who the hell's gonna know the difference?"
Unlike Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, this movie does not record the almost unimaginable tedium of actual stoned conversations, but entertains the viewer with conversations that really are clever, thus giving the subjective feel of stoned conversation without boring your socks off.

Good movie. In place of credit cookies, we have hash brownies -- a list of all of PKD's friends who lost their health or their lives to drugs. To that roster, should we add old Horselover Fats himself?

Copyright © 2006 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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