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The K-Files


Welcome to this latest edition of The K-Files. Although you may not have heard of it, one of the most engrossing sci-fi films since Blade Runner is currently playing at select theatres nationwide.

Director Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly is destined to be remembered as a masterpiece of science fiction filmmaking. And with plenty of conspiratorial and esoteric references hidden throughout--including a cameo appearance by the always controversial Alex Jones--Coast to Coast fans are likely to find something of interest.

You'd better get ready, 'cause here come The K-Files, movie review edition...

:: Special Report ::

I'm a big movie guy--especially those of the sci-fi/action/horror variety. 2006 has been a pretty good year for me thus far, with the Wachowski's big brother epic, V for Vendetta, leading the pack as my favorite film of the year. But for the past 8 months, there's been one movie that I've been anticipating above all others--Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly.

Based off the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name, A Scanner Darkly shows us a dystopian vision of a run-down, near future Orange County. The latest craze hitting the streets is a designer drug called Substance D. That's where drug-enforcement officer Fred (Keanu Reeves) comes in. Determined to find the source of Substance D, Fred poses as Bob Arctor--a user and low-level dealer--in order to work his way up the distribution system. However Fred (who's identity is kept a secret from his superiors for security reasons) finds himself put in charge of surveillance on Bob Arctor. As he is forced to watch himself through police scanners, Bob/Fred begins to lose touch with reality--a side effect of his Substance D usage.

The first thing you'll notice about A Scanner Darkly is its unique appearance. Using a painstaking technique called 'rotoscoping' (which was also used in another of director Richard Linklater's movies, Waking Life), live action film footage is put through computer filters to create a sort of faux-animation effect. The final product is nothing less than stunning. In A Scanner Darkly--a movie primarily about drug-induced brain damage--the animation gives you a real sense of what the characters are going through. It's as if you're watching their lives pass by through the eyes of a scanner, just as Bob/Fred must watch as his twisted reality is replayed for him each day.

At its core, A Scanner Darkly focuses on two primary topics. The first and most prevalent of these is the effect drug addiction and our drug culture is having on society. In fact, the movie unfolds much like an addict's life. In the opening scenes, everything is all fun and carefree. Characters joke around, go on crazy misadventures, and more or less act like children. However, as the plot progresses, the light-hearted atmosphere deteriorates into a hazy world of fear, paranoia, and frustration. Finally, the dramatic climax shows us first hand the mental and physical breakdown of our protagonist. Showing the horrors of addiction every bit as successfully as the book, A Scanner Darkly is a faithful adaptation that stays true to author Philip K. Dick's intended message.

In fact, the movie stay so faithful to the source material that the final page of the book is displayed, word for word, before the ending credits. It's a touching list of the friends Philip K. Dick knew during his addiction days. Every single person on the list is described as either dead or suffering permanent brain damage. That last final bit of personalization has really stuck with me over the past few days.

Although most of the film's message focuses on our developing drug culture, the 2nd primary topic looks at the possibilities of total information awareness, big brother surveillance. This is where the sci-fi portion of the film comes in. In a frightening example of this, a nameless police voyeur sitting in a vast room of computer equipment scans the city for suspicious cell phone conversations. After picking up on key words and phrases,  she focuses in on Keanu Reeve's character talking with Donna Hawthorne (Winona Ryder) about an upcoming drug deal. Using light post cameras, the officer zooms in on both characters, checking their faces against her database. With their names and rapsheets displayed, she then has the option to put out a warrant for their arrest by a simple press of a button. What makes this display even more chilling is that none of the technology involved is even that advanced, and that the basis for such a system is a very really possibility for the very near future.

This is where all the conspiracy stuff comes in. For those who research and keep current on such things, there are more than a few hidden conspiracy references to things like the Illuminati and David Icke. There are also a few not so hidden things. None so overt as documentary filmmaker Alex 'The Bulldog' Jones. In an almost surreal cameo appearance, the outspoken conspiracy theorist uses his trademark megaphone to shout his message from a street corner. For fans of Jones' work (myself included), seeing him on the big screen is like a dream come true. The scene ends fittingly as an unmarked van pulls up and Jones is subdued by thugs in SWAT uniforms before being whisked away.

With a riveting script with a couple of powerful, underlying messages, A Scanner Darkly is as thought-provoking a film as your likely to find all year. And the acting doesn't hurt, either. The ensemble cast of Keanu Reeves (love him or hate him, he nails the role), Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder, Rory Cochrane, and Robert Downey Jr. is nothing short of spectacular. Downey Jr. in particular deserves some kind of award for his portrayal of the scheming Jim Barris. And with a powerful, fitting soundtrack thrown in for good measure, A Scanner Darkly is a true masterpiece for director Richard Linklater.

If you find it playing at a theatre near you, do yourself a favor and see it. It's an experience that you wont soon forget.

Rating: 5 / 5  

Memorable Line: "What does a scanner see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does it see into me? Into us? Clearly or darkly? I hope it sees clearly because I can't any longer see into myself. I see only murk. I hope for everyone's sake the scanners do better, because if the scanner sees only darkly the way I do, then I'm cursed and cursed again. "

:: Dead End ::


Well, that's all for this week. I trust you enjoyed your trip into this shadowy nether-realm known only as the K-Files.

For the latest updates on the world of Khyron, bookmark http://www.khyron.net/. With content updated regularly, you're sure to find your fix for all things entertaining and paranormal. As always, feel free to send any questions/comments/suggestions to KFiles@khyron.net.

Keep your eyes peeled for the next  K-Files, arriving sometime next week. Later.

~Khyron, 2006.


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