Saturday, April 21, 2007

Flow My Press Junket, the Publicist Said

Caption: Will these glasses that prevent people from closing their eyes be mandatory for audiences of 'Next'?

palmer_eldritch, The Dick-Head's friend from frolix_8, points out that all the "lesser" adaptations have some kind "dodgy chair." Great spotting palmer! Obviously the recurring presence of these chairs implies something deeper, perhaps the producer's feelings of obligation, of "having to look" at the creation over and over, regardless of whether he or she likes it anymore. Adding insult to injury the filmmaker must then tour the land in a concerted effort to coerce people to look at this film as part of a targeted, choreographed and profit-driven marketing campaign designed to saturate the marketplace. Every aspect of the process involves the obligation to look, and more importantly, the inability to look away. Henri over at The Philip K Dick Bookshelf posted a collection of production stills that illustrate the ubiquity of the visual trope.

With less than a week until 'Next' hits theaters, the usual PKD-adaptation articles are hitting the circuit. These aren't really movie reviews but rather articles that summarize Dick's success and ruminate on the sorry state of affairs in America, our duplicitous President and the ubiquitous paranoia emitted from the aerosol spray can of 24-hour news channels.

Nora Young at the, in her article, "Views of the future from a long-dead writer," writes:

"The thorny issue that arises in Dick's stories is what it means to be authentic when the world around us is radically ungrounded like this. Dick's persistent questions -- who am I really, and what do I believe independent of the shifting sands of society? -- feels like our own collective existential crisis, you know, that one we have in between bouts of compulsive shopping."

While I like this article and think Young has some interesting things to say about Dick's work, she writes that Dick wrote 80 short stories and seven novels (instead of the more accurate 300+ short stories and 45+ novels), indicating that she has very little knowledge of Dick's life or work and frankly this kind of glaring factual error makes me skeptical that all her purple-prosed pontificating might be just a bunch of hot air. Young points out the way in which "intrusive technologies" can make people profoundly uncertain. Note to Young: researching your topic on wikipedia or may actually lead to a greater feeling of certainty regarding facts in an article you are being paid to write.

Of course very few writers can resist writing their own Philip K Dick narrative, imagining Dick himself pondering the depths of cinematic depravity wrung from his prolific output, or lambasting Hollywood's pandering to the lowest common denominator. John Patterson writes in his article "Don't Be A Hero" in the Guardian UK:

"Dick might have been the guy to shame Cage out of his laziness by waving in his face the DVD boxes for Gone In Sixty Seconds, National Treasure or Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and warning him that he faced turning 60 one day, making endless ridiculous movies in front of blue screens while clutching to his sagging breast yet another hottie several decades his junior like, well, Jessica Biel?"

First of all, don't underestimate the importance Dick placed upon clutching hotties several decades his junior to his sagging breast. That kind of thing was very important to him! Second, don't make a dead science fiction writer do your dirty work for you. Imagining Philip K Dick returning from the grave to deliver your criticism to a crappy actor for a string of bad films ... well I suppose it's like my wishing that Shakespeare were here right now so he could help me explain to you exactly how self-important you sound.


Matt said...

It blows my mind how often people claim Dick wrote way fewer books than he did. Other popular misconceptions I've heard include Man in the High Castle being his first book, Electric Sheep being a short story and out-of-print, and Dick having committed suicide.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what all the fuss is about guys. This movie is going to be a sure fire winner. I mean first of all there's Nicolas Cage's new haircut, then we got Julianne Moore torturing people, and of course Nicolas Cage with his new haircut using his ability to see the future to dodge lumber and bullets. You don't have to be a precog to see this movie's gonna be great! Just like Paycheck, Impostor, and Screamers!

Anonymous said...

I think we should talk up the next film based on a PKD story, even if it looks crap, and see if the professional journos follow suit.

Anonymous said...

And twenty-five years is 'long dead' ??? Well thanks, Nora. And thanks for rubbing our old faces in it with your surname as well. And it's 'Impostor', btw. :)

Henri said...

The still from the movie Next inspired me to put a new page of movie stills on my site, to illustrate a reccurent theme in PKD based movies

Anonymous said...

Aha! So Impostor does have a dodgy chair! Well, there you go. As symbols go, it's a very obvious, visible representation of paranoia, isn't it? And repression.

Chairs never struck me as being so important in the original stories, though. Reality, yes. Dystopia, certainly. Women's breasts, definitely. But chairs?

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