Berkeley record store clerk Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) begins to experience strange visions from an entity he calls VALIS that cause him to uproot his family and move to Los Angeles where...
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In the year 2080, the world is connected by a massive computer network. Combiners have developed a process that allows them to merge the souls of human and machine/cyborg, wreaking havoc in... See full summary »
The narrator, "Barjo" (nutcase, crap artist), is an obsessive simpleton, given to filling his notebook with verbatim dialog, observed trivia, and oddball speculation on human behavior and ... See full summary »
(SIRIUS 6B, Year 2078) On a distant mining planet ravaged by a decade of war, scientists have created the perfect weapon: a blade-wielding, self-replicating race of killing devices known as... See full summary »
Berkeley record store clerk Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) begins to experience strange visions from an entity he calls VALIS that cause him to uproot his family and move to Los Angeles where he becomes a successful music company executive. With the help of best friend, science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick himself (Shea Whigam) and a mysterious woman named Silvia (Alanis Morissette), Nick finds himself drawn into a dangerous political-mystical conspiracy of cosmic proportions. The story is set in an alternate reality America circa 1985 under the authoritarian control of President Fremont, a Nixon-like clone (Scott Wilson). Written by
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First production to film at the Los Angeles State Historic Park which had just opened. The park was the former site of The Cornfield, a maintenance yard for the Southern Pacific. See more »
Early in the film, PKD tells his buddy that he just finished his new novel and it will be published in hardcover (a nice change, since his early SF were all published by cheap paperback houses), then in reply to the question of it's subject he says, it's a what if the Germans won WWll premise. He's obviously referencing PKD's arguably most successful novel (it won the Hugo) published in 1963. The film is set in 1985, but since Dick was dead for three years already in this universe, maybe it was an intentional distortion. See more »
Everybody Join the Party (Labor Camp Boombox Version)
Performed by The Good Listeners See more »
I have to defend the actors against the bad reviews. As is often the case, flat and non-compelling acting has a lot more to do with the director and the script than the actor's abilities. In this case, the director and the scriptwriter are the same. Given to a different director, this might have been a compelling story (or not, since I don't find the scifi religious spiritualism remotely interesting, and I find it objectionable on an intellectual basis). I also hold the director responsible for the bad taste (IMO) in the visual effects. While the pink of the book was changed to purple, film student/amateur filmmaker purple glows and lighting (when called for and NOT called for by the scripted action) didn't help sell anything here. In fact, the visuals made the film look decidedly low budget and cheesy.
But is this even a compelling idea for a film? Not in my opinion. It's naive and quite telling of the state of mind Philip K. Dick was in at the point in his life when he wrote the texts this film is based on. In fact, he didn't actually publish this story. He rewrote it as a completely different book. The story this film is based on was published posthumously. Who knows if Dick would have approved.
Overall, the film doesn't deserve the brutal assassination given by some reviewers. It also doesn't deserve the praise other reviewers have given it. It's an amateur effort with poor choices made in direction and cinematography that sabotage the overall result. Even the choice of story to put to film was probably not the best. I respect the desire to honor a beloved author, but no one knows of Philip K. Dick would himself have approved of this. The film adaptation history of his works has been mostly poor. It's a shame. On top of that, unsophisticated reviewers use this film to demean the skills of the actors present in it.
Taste varies, and there's no universal standard, but this film didn't deliver for me. I like slow films. I like subtle acting. I like dialog-heavy content over action-heavy content. I even tolerate low budgets when the filmmakers don't try to sell unconvincing visuals. This film failed to pass my rather tolerant standards for intellectual and slow art movies.
It was not satisfying. It almost wasn't worth my time, if not for sheer curiosity satisfaction ("is this another bad PKD adaptation?"). It was another reminder that resources don't necessarily get divvied out to the best people or the best projects. It's sad and frustrating for a lover of the potential of cinema and storytelling.
If not for the weirdly bipolar reviews, I wouldn't bother to write one of my own. The film deserves a "meh"; not hate or praise.
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