This past weekend the spouse and I took in "A Scanner Darkly". This is a movie based on a novel by Philip K. Dick and rendered in rotoscopic form by Richard Linklater, who also made the film "Waking Life".
The film was shot with live actors (Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr, Woody Harrelson, Winona Rider) and then transformed into a cartoonish quality through use of computer posterization and creative elaborations by Linklater.
It is a science-fiction story about the very near future when 20% of the population is addicted to a drug called Substance D (which I interpreted to be as in "D: all of the above"). A narc officer (Reeves) has been working undercover on the survelliance of a drug house in order to discover who is supplying the heads therein with the drug. Unfortunately, he too has become addicted and is in love with the supplier (Ryder).
The narc agency remains anonymous through use of special suits which camoflage the wearer to look like anyone and everyone by constantly shifting personas. The animated interpretation of this concept is quite odd and disconcerting and I don't know if they could have gotten away with in in any form of art other than the one they chose. This also works well to convey the sudden hallucinations of the addicts.
Now, I don't know whether it was because Auntie Dee Dee brought up the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers last week (a much beloved underground comic about three pot heads), but right smack in the middle of it, I suddenly found myself watching what looked like a movie about Phineas, Franklin and Fat Freddy. I mean, OMFSM, would Woody Harrelson make a great Fat Freddy or what?! (And yes, they have a cat!)What starts and ends as a very serious movie is buffered in the middle by the very comedic antics of these three guys going through the drug-induced states of enthusiasm, over analyses and straight to paranoia. I was not expecting to laugh, but I did. It was delightful in a weird sort of way.
Some of the acting is over the top (Rory Cochrane is like a living caracature), but I learned to deal with it by accepting it on the level of a cartoon. The unrealness opened a window onto the skewed perception of the addicted and I think it worked quite well. After all the fun in the middle, the last part sobered me up enough to go back into the real world again, grateful for whatever ability I have to think straight.
Go see it, go go go.
Taste the truth, savor the satire, pass the pasta!
Dona Nobis Pasta