Friday, December 25, 2015

Bucket Filler II

Watch List

After last time’s piece on The Man in the High Castle, this one just explores a couple more film adaptations of Philip K Dick’s works. Unlike the last one, these are considerably different in terms of plot and setting, but they are inspired by some book or another.

A Scanner Darkly
This is a movie about the war on drugs, set in the U.S. in the near future, after about 20% of the population have become addicted to Substance D, a powerful hallucinogenic drug. Directed by Richard Linklater, and boasting a star-studded cast, what sets the film apart is the visuals, which is fitting for a movie about a hallucinogenic. It was shot digitally and then animated using interpolated rotoscope, an animation technique in which animators trace over the original footage frame by frame, for use in live-action and animated films, giving the finished result a distinctive animated look, while still preserving the facial expressions of the actors. Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves), Barris(Robert Downey Jr.) and Luckman(Woody Harrelson) stay together in a suburban house in California, with their friends Freck(Rory Cochrane) and Donna(Winona Ryder). They're all pretty much jobless Substance D addicts, the difference being that Arctor is actually an undercover agent, 'Fred', working for the Big Brother-like government, intent on infiltrating the drug's supply chain. The catch is that Fred's senior officer, 'Hank' doesn't know that he's actually Arctor, as the officers wear 'scramble suits' while in the police station, which keep changing their appearances, to protect their identities. Thus Hank tells Fred to step up surveillance on Arctor, having received information that Arctor might be deeper in the drug's underworld than previously thought. This results in Arctor having to play his double role even more carefully, all the while losing his sense of identity, and his (and his friends') paranoia reaching higher levels due to their prolonged use of the drug.
The cast doesn't fail to disappoint, providing some hilarious drug-fuelled conversations laden with conspiracies, and some surreal hallucinogenic sequences, which this method of animation really helps pull off in an interesting way. It's based on Philip K. Dick's novel of the same name, and supposedly stays largely true to it, although I haven't read the book myself. All in all, it is a must-watch, and is quite the thriller, having a couple of plot twists in the end that will leave you thinking about the world of this movie, and how it may not be that different from our world.

P.S. - tangentially related interesting article about the addictions in everyone’s life :

The Adjustment Bureau

I’ll keep this one short. It’s a cute movie really, especially the way the two leads, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt pull it off. The story revolves around a United States Senator who realises that his life, and everyone else’s around him, is being watched and controlled by this rather omniscient agency, called the Adjustment Bureau. The one thing he can’t take, is how they seem to keep meddling with his love life. What follows is a rather interesting movie, almost a pick-me-up for when you need it. Not many plot points anyway, so I can’t speak more without giving all of it away. And hardly any science or well thought of theories here. Just a good story, and some really nice acting. Anthony Mackie too features, and does a good job with his role as part of the Bureau. This one’s based on Philip K Dick’s short story Adjustment Team,  and though it barely has any relation beyond the overall premise, it is quite a fun watch.

Okay, for starters, It doesn’t qualify as a good movie. I watched it when I was really young, and seemed to like it then, and I watched it again recently and it didn’t live up to what it felt all those years back. But anyway, since we are talking about Philip K Dick works here, might as well. From the director who brought you films like Broken Arrow, Face/Off, and Mission Impossible II, comes a movie based on a story by PKD with the same name, that features Batman and Mrs.Marcellus Wallace, all odds against them, with Harvey Dent going bad again. It’s a movie for cheap thrills, with tacky acting and random predictable plot twists, so well, if you have nothing better to do, or do have something but just want to multitask, you might as well watch this one.

(Also if you'll look carefully at the poster, you'll see the line "And the author who brought you Minority Report, and Blade Runner" Well those are two movies that don't need another random review on the internet. Just watch them if you haven't yet.)

Listen and Watch

So over the last couple of days, there have been a lot of Christmas-related and charity concerts, all across the globe, and all over YouTube. But there were two that I found particularly interesting -

Not something I thought actually happened. And definitely not with names like Kygo playing all of his good releases from the year, and MØ telling the world to find someone to lean on. But apart from the two of them, there was an artist I'd never heard of, Aurora, who actually has some real nice songs. Do check the concert videos, and Aurora's channel too, when you can.

Sinatra 100

Celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of The Chairman of the Board, Sinatra 100 had some really nice performances by a whole host of artists, Tony Bennett, John Legend, Lady Gaga and Seth MacFarlane (No really), to name a few. If you haven't heard Sinatra before, do that now, and then head to this. If you have, well head to this either way.

The only official video on YouTube is Lady Gaga’s performance of New York, New York, for some reason. Check it out here.

Random Stuff

Games from back when -

Cartoon Network Summer Resorts -

The First One is Here

3 of them in all, perhaps the most enjoyable treasure hunt/puzzle game like that I've ever played.

Was a pretty big craze then, and spurred sequels too (Viridian Room for one, if you want to check it after).