The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

SCIENCE fiction fans owe Philip K. Dick a debt of grat­i­tude, as far and away the most in­ter­est­ing ex­am­ples of the genre on the big screen have come, more or less, from his pen, with Blade Run­ner, To­tal Re­call and Mi­nor­ity Re­port lead­ing the charge. I say more or less be­cause direc­tors have var­i­ously used and abused the orig­i­nal ma­te­rial to suit their own pur­poses. In A Scan­ner Darkly, how­ever, more ac­tual Dick prose is thrown on to the screen than ever. Al­though this will suit sci- fi purists, the pity of the sit­u­a­tion is that the story comes from Dick’s non- drug pe­riod and it wastes a lot of our time with ironic moral­is­ing. The plot, in which an ul­tra- ad­dic­tive sub­stance known sim­ply as D sweeps through a Los An­ge­les of the near fu­ture, takes a back seat to the pre­sen­ta­tion: an­i­ma­tion based on real per­for­mances, much as imag­ing soft­ware can turn any pic­ture into some sem­blance of a draw­ing. Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arc­tor, an un­der­cover narc who uses and deals D while re­port­ing to his su­pe­ri­ors. At first the an­i­ma­tion has a wow fac­tor be­cause the voices are real and be­cause it looks so, well, trippy. But be­fore long it wears thin and you start won­der­ing why they both­ered. In­ter­est­ing per­for­mances from Robert Downey Jr — whose drug­gie con­ver­sa­tion has an au­then­tic ring of ex­pe­ri­ence about it — as well as from Reeves, Woody Har­rel­son and Wi­nona Ry­der can’t save A Scan­ner Darkly from a de­scent into te­dium.

Ian Cuth­bert­son EX­TRAS: Com­men­taries; fea­turettes A Scan­ner Darkly ( PG) Warner ( fea­ture runs 95 min­utes) $ 39.95 A FERRY packed with par­ty­ing sailors and their fam­i­lies ex­plodes on the Mis­sis­sippi River in hur­ri­cane- rav­aged New Or­leans. Down river from where the 543 charred corpses are fished out, an­other body washes up, that of a beau­ti­ful black wo­man mur­dered hours ear­lier. En­ter Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco and Firearms agent Doug Car­lin ( Den­zel Wash­ing­ton) who is con­vinced that whoever killed the wo­man is also the ter­ror­ist who mas­ter­minded the ferry dis­as­ter. To as­sist his in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the US gov­ern­ment in­tro­duces Car­lin to a new top se­cret, satel­lite- based sur­veil­lance sys­tem that may be able to pin­point the ter­ror­ist or ter­ror­ists. So far, so sen­si­ble. But the satel­lite sur­veil­lance sys­tem turns out to be a cam­era that, via space- fold­ing tech­nol­ogy, can watch the past and even zoom through walls, X- ray vi­sion style, right into peo­ple’s houses. Oh, and it can also trans­port warn­ing notes and, with a lit­tle bit of fid­dling with the knobs, Car­lin him­self four days into the past. The idea of is en­tic­ing, as were the movie trail­ers on the film’s re­lease. If you didn’t catch this film on the big screen, you may be ex­cused for beat­ing a path to the video shop or buy­ing a copy of the DVD. is part of the present wave of films and television shows that em­bed science fiction in a re­al­is­tic set­ting, but in this case think a poor man’s mixed with an episode of Watch­able, but hardly worth the price of a new- re­lease DVD.


Deja Vu

( M) Buena Vista ( fea­ture runs 125 min­utes) $ 39.95

Deja Vu Mi­nor­ity Re­port Lost.

Greg Cal­laghan

Ex­tended scene; be­hind the scenes

Deja Vu THOUGH con­tem­po­rary mu­sic lovers will likely be more familiar with Jeff Buck­ley, fa­ther Tim’s place in the scheme of things should be bet­ter un­der­stood. This DVD com­pe­tently goes about re­dress­ing the paucity of in­for­ma­tion and recorded live per­for­mances. Buck­ley Sr met a tragic end at 28 when snorted heroin in­ter­acted with the al­co­hol and bar­bi­tu­rates al­ready in his sys­tem. Jeff Buck­ley claims to have met his fa­ther just once, when he was about eight, and in a hor­ri­fy­ing co­in­ci­dence he also died young, go­ing for a fa­tal evening swim when he was 30. David Browne, au­thor of a book about fa­ther and son called is in­ter­viewed ex­ten­sively here, as is long­time Tim Buck­ley song­writ­ing col­lab­o­ra­tor Larry Beck­ett. But the meat of the DVD is the string of per­for­mances, from an ap­pear­ance on television show ( the first per­for­mance of the amaz­ing

which proved an even more in­flu­en­tial record­ing when cov­ered in 1984 by This Mor­tal Coil), to a host of Bri­tish and Amer­i­can TV ap­pear­ances, pre­sented in chrono­log­i­cal or­der. The chronol­ogy al­lows the viewer to wit­ness the elder Buck­ley’s as­ton­ish­ing artis­tic growth through seven al­bums, three of which had their ges­ta­tion in 1969, in his short but me­te­oric ca­reer. As­pir­ing song­writ­ers and fans will find this DVD deeply sat­is­fy­ing.

Dream Brother,

The Mon­kees

Song to a Siren,

EX­TRAS: Tim Buck­ley: My Fleet­ing House

( E) Shock ( fea­ture runs 118 min­utes) $ 34.95

Ian Cuth­bert­son

Rare clips; in­ter­views; album re­view by Lee Un­der­wood and Larry Beck­ett; ad­di­tional per­for­mance; short film

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