Saturday, July 01, 2006

Secret Doors

I promise not to put too many pictures up here, but I thought I should at least have a go at linking one or two. This is from my research files for Cowboy Angels. It’s the route that field agents use to reach the gate between their reality and ours, located on the 49th Street side of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The two doors open onto a stairway and a freight elevator that give access to a loading platform in Grand Central Station that fell into disuse after the station’s own power plant was demolished following a switch to ConEd as a source of electricity. There’s an unconfirmed story that President Roosevelt, in his specially adapted automobile, was whisked from train to street via the freight elevator when he visited New York.

If you’re wondering about the low resolution, it was taken with my thumb-sized Philips wearable digital camera.

More Dick

Joshua Glenn has a thoughtful piece on the film of A Scanner Darkly and director Richard Linklater over on Slate.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

On The D.

Yesterday to a preview of A Scanner Darkly in a plush screening theatre in Warner Brother’s London headquarters. Director and screenwriter Richard Linklater is clearly a fan of Philip K. Dick’s work; his adaptation of Dick’s semi-autobiographical novel about an undercover cop falling apart under the insiduous influence of the brain-killing drug Substance D, is, some necessary compression apart, faithful to both the text and the melancholy spirit of the novel. It was shot as a live action film and rotoscoped by computer animation to provide a graphic novel look that works pretty well; it’s hard, really, to see how the scramble suit effects could have been done so effectively otherwise. Hallucinatory weirdness is kept to the minimum, although there’s some very subtle distortion here and there, especially towards the end. Given that the story is largely plot-free and packs a lot of dialog, it does sag a little in places, but does its best by Dick's intricate drug-fueled paranoid riffs, is seasoned with some lovely touches of black humour, and the diminuendo ending, containing just a flicker of hope, is faithful to that of novel. Fans of Dick’s work will almost certainly love it, but I fear that its bleak, amorphous plot will have limited appeal to the general public. Keanu Reeves as undercover narc Bob Arctor is basically Keanu Reeves; Robert Downey Jr is a tour de force as the manically unpleasant James Barris; Woody Harrelson and Winona Ryder turn in solid performances, and Rory Cochrane is going to hate being called the new Jack Black.
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