Variety, July 20, 2020: Linklater to Give Scanner "Makeunder" Using Original Footage

"It hasn't held up over the years," admits the sexagenarian erstwhile slacker Richard Linklater, now one of Hollywood's leading directors, speaking of his 2006 film A Scanner Darkly. "I don't know why I let them talk me into using those damn filters for everything," he says. "That digital rotoscoping technique was momentarily cool in the early '00s, but let's face it, it made Winona Ryder look cretinous in some shots. Her features were sliding all over her face. Woody, too," he adds, referring to the late Woody Harrelson, who also played "Munson" in Kingpin.

Film fans agree. "The rotoscoping technique was just wrong for that material," says blogger Joe Chip, who had a brief cameo in the film. "Take the scene where Keanu Reeves addresses the Rotary Club," Chip says. "He's wearing a suit that digitally scrambles his features, masking his identity. It's a dramatic, surreal effect, but the problem is, with that rotoscoping technique, everyone in the room looks like they're wearing a scramble suit."

That scene and others are being re-edited to remove the digital effects except where they're needed to advance the plot--such as in the "hallucination sequences" where Reeves imagines his housemates as giant insects. Other film buffs are ecstatic about the proposed changes. "Robert Downey, Jr. did some of his best work in the picture," says director Arnold Kott. "It was a riff on his creep in Altman's Short Cuts, and you hated to see his talent buried under all that faux-artistic, Photoshop-like filtering."

But others don't think the changes will make any difference. "Linklater and Dick weren't the right fit," says Bruno Bluthgeld, a scholar of Philip K. Dick, whose book the movie was based on. "Scanner was an interesting mistake the way Cronenberg's Crash was. The novels were rooted in their eras, and just as the Swinging London sexual licentiousness of the J.G.Ballard book made no sense in the post-AIDS '90s, Scanner was a tale of the late '60s/early '70s, when a generation came down off a psychotropic high and got gobsmacked by harder stuff. This was an anachronism in 2006, when the drug blight du jour was meth labs in the sticks. And not that it should matter, but the rootless addiction hell Dick went through isn't comparable to Linklater's student experiences crashing on couches in Austin, TX."

We'll know soon enough: the newly scrubbed Scanner is due out in 2021.

- tom moody 7-21-2006 9:43 pm

so you did go see it?
- bill 7-21-2006 10:13 pm

Yes. At one point I tried closing my eyes and just listening to the dialogue but then I couldn't keep track of what was going on.
- tom moody 7-21-2006 10:24 pm

LOVE this review, Tom!
I haven't bothered to see it yet, despite being a huge PKD fan, because of the rotoscoping and because of keanu reeves.
- adrien 7-22-2006 12:36 am

Thanks, Adrien. The "crash pad" scenes are really funny--that's where the Dick/Rick sensibilities come together. But I didn't buy the surveillance stuff or the evil corporations stuff and the basic problem with the rotoscoping technique is just poor drawing--bad foreshortening, a certain stiffness that prevents you from suspending disbelief. It would have been better to hire some Japanese animators and do it anime style if it had to be animated.
- tom moody 7-22-2006 12:58 am

Man, if they start scrubbin' all the old movies in the future there won't be anything left!

actually, why doesn't someone sick one of them experimental filmmakers on that, cut films down to just the bits that are real without no deegital hukus puckus

massive review by the by tom maybe you could do a series of 2020 retrospectives

and did linklater ever make a good movie? we were sitting around wasted watching waking life the other day and my friend says "hey, we can talk just like that if we want to" and then we proceeded to get all cosmic bullshit verbose and it's true, pseudo smarties yammering about their collective ass

- j in jc (guest) 7-22-2006 2:52 am

oh and I saw that rotoscumming shit on an advert for a BANK
- j in jc 7-22-2006 2:53 am

Nice PreReview.
- chrissashley 7-22-2006 7:01 am

Thanks. But I did see the movie, unlike those scamps over at preReview.
- tom moody 7-22-2006 7:17 am

Scamps! You just made my day.
Thanks for taking one for the team Tom. I almost went this weekend, despite my better judgement.
The rotoscoping effect is really in the trough of the uncanny valley. Although, ironically, the lip sync does work better than most CGI.
- joester 7-22-2006 9:46 pm

"Thanks. But I did see the movie, unlike those scamps over at preReview"

Yeah, but you're writing about a version of a film that won't be seen until 2020; isn't that prereviewing, or did you just channel this little piece from the future?
- chrissashley 7-23-2006 3:03 am

No, a preReview is where you review the film without seeing it. Those scamps are quite specific about their meaning! This is a (fictional) preview of a (journalistic) preview, as opposed to a preReview. I want to be very clear about the terminology so their brand is not diluted.
- tom moody 7-23-2006 4:42 am

We at prereview are just happy you killed off Woody Harrelson.
- joester 7-23-2006 10:16 am

I would love to see an Anime version of a PKD story.
- adrien 7-24-2006 8:47 pm

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