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Radio Free Albemuth -Movie Review

6 Jun


I only watched this movie after finding it on a random Netflix search, I believe. Worth a watch, especially if you’re a Philip K Dick fan. This is one of those rare science fiction movies that is full of sci-fi trappings without being an action movie in Sci-Fi drag (not that there’s anything wrong with action-based sci-fi…).

I haven’t read the novel Radio Free Albemuth, but I have a feeling this isn’t a straight adaptation. It has elements of VALIS (the Living Satellite that orbits Earth and bombards Phil with secret information in the form of religious experiences, and also the presence of a singer/musician chosen by VALIS to reveal information/spark revolution) and Scanner Darkly (there is a scene reminiscent of the rural prison work camps from the Scanner Darkly novel, but the movie has minimal drug references compared to Scanner Darkly, which is explicitly about drugs, drug users and drug culture).

The thing the movie seems closest to is a novel about Philip K. Dick that I have never read, but have heard about. That novel is “Philip K. Dick Is Dead, Alas” by Michael Bishop. It tells a story “set in an alternative universe where his non-genre work is published but his science fiction is banned by a totalitarian USA in thrall to a demonically possessed Richard Nixon” according to Wikipedia. Everything about that description takes place in this movie, with the debatable exception of demon possession. In Philip K Dick’s world, it’s very common for distinctions between Religious, Spiritual, Technological, Inter-Dimensional and Neurological concepts to be blurred, re-established, and then blurred again.

Philip K Dick has had his work adapted into films time and time again, which raises the question of whether this film adds anything new. After all, we’ve seen Blade Runner, Total Recall, The Adjustment Bureau, Scanner Darkly, and Minority Report. Does this movie have something new to offer? In a word, yes. This movie does a great job of capturing elements of Dick’s work that other film adaptations have removed, namely the narrative complexity that seems to be a hallmark of novels and a hindrance in cinema. Perhaps because of this, the pacing in the film ranges between brisk, slow and non-existent. The cerebral concepts, and strangeness of the plot is what will hold your attention, if anything will. I don’t know that Philip K. Dick ever had a diagnosis, but watching this movie is like a peek into the personal thoughts of an extremely brilliant, creative man, who is also a paranoid schizophrenic.

The production level of this movie is similar to a SyFy Channel Original, but the production values are well utilized for what this is. The esoteric concepts that VALIS reveals are explicated in some very effective 2d animated sequences. The actors involved provide adequate performances from a script that is perhaps hard to grasp on an emotional level. I would have loved to see what a better cast could have done with this material, but it pretty amazing that this film got made with any cast. The best performance is actually provided by Alanis Morrissette, who is playing a character similar to herself. This film may not be for everyone, but I do think those who are suited for it will find a lot to enjoy.


Science Fiction Art Inspiration November 2012 -pt. 2

26 Nov

Here is some more inspirational science fiction art.

Image 1-3: Comics pages from Moebius – Jean Giraud.


Image 4-7 – art by comic book artist Francois Schuiten.

Science Fiction Art Inspiration November 2012

23 Nov

All of the preceding art is by the Belgian comic book artist François Schuiten.  I love his art, but have yet to read any of his work.  Some of his best known works in English are Nogegon, and Carapaces.  The French word for comics is bande desinee, and Francois Schuiten, along with Moebius (Jean Giraud), Philippe Druillet, Caza, Enki Bilal, and Jean-Claude Mezieres, defined the look of science fiction for the European (Franco-Belgian) comics market.

Happy Birthday Jack Kirby -Pt. 2

28 Aug The Cover to Fantastic Four #3 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Today is the day Jack Kirby was born in 1917.  If he was still with us, he would be 94.  Jack is one my favorite artists, and he had a tremendous work ethic, drawing up to four comic books a month, (an unmatched achievement…) while also being a great originator.  He created or co-created Captain America, The Fantastic Four, Galactus, Silver Surfer, The Avengers, The Mighty Thor, Kamandi, The Demon, The New Gods, Mister Miracle, The Inhumans, and the Boy Commandos!  (plus too many more to name)  Here’s a sampling of his genius in pictorial form.

Captain America number one, page 1

Doctor Doom Versus Silver Surfer by Jack Kirby

The Cover to Fantastic Four #3 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

"jack kirby at his drawing desk"

young romance comic book cover

The cover Boys Ranch number 6 by Jack Kirby

Happy Birthday Ray Bradbury

23 Aug

This is for Ray Bradbury, who turned 91 yesterday.  American Classic, and Science Fiction Legend.  Thanks, Ray!

C2E2 Picture.

24 Mar

The Show floor at C2E2 Comic convention

(click to embiggen)

A bird’s eye view of C2E2 comic convention in Chicago.

Lt. Commander Uhura

30 Jan

I found this very interesting.  This is what Martin Luther King Jr. said to Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Lt. Commander Uhura on Star Trek (The Original Series).

”  And at this his face totally changed, and he said “What are you talking about?!” and so I told him I would be leaving the show, because; and that was as far as he let me go, and he said, “STOP! You cannot! You cannot leave this show! Do you not understand what you are doing?! You are the first non-stereotypical role in television! Of intelligence, and of a woman and a woman of color?! That you are playing a role that is not about your color! That this role could be played by anyone? This is not a black role. This is  not a female role! A blue eyed blond or a pointed ear green person could take this role!” And I am looking at him and looking at him and buzzing, and he said, “Nichelle, for the first time, not only our little children and people can look on and see themselves, but people who don’t look like us, people who don’t look like us, from all over the world, for the first time, the first time on television, they can see us, as we should be!  ”