For many a night had I sat alone in my room, believing that the world of filmmaking was on the verge of being forever tainted with the residue of the celluloid shit that mainstream tensil town had released in the past year.  Many times had a envisioned a horrifying future that was held only by the hackneyed.  A place where filmmakers brushed away the criticism of reviews and wet their lips at the sight of profit margins.  My hopes were rekindled with the viewing of writer/director Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly. 

  Keanu Reeves as Robert ArctorFor those who don’t know, A Scanner Darkly is an adaptation of sci-fi maestro Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name.  Linklater used a technique of animation (also used in his 2001 film, Waking Life) that uses real actors on film that are eventually painted over with vibrant and grainy inks.  Linklater uses the technique to bring out a sense of surrealism meshed with authentic character movement.

  By the time the film had brought forth it’s final “fade out”, I was once again inspired.  Inspired to create.  Inspired to share my brand of storytelling with the entire world.  I walked out into the thick summer air with a sense of hope for the cinematic world.  “It’s good to be reminded that there are filmmakers, who still care about true storytelling,” I thought.  I was eager to say that Scanner was the best film I had viewed in a while.

  Many people would probably find this movie incomprehensible, and therefore, not take the time to view it.  There in lies the problem with moviegoers.  They no longer feel the need to “challenge” Themselves.  A wayward youth claims to have no recollection of the world’s history and claims it to be trivial.  An endless array of women who sit in front of their television sets, hanging on the next big Lifetime Movie special, which will probably contain two-dimensional characters and point out any male as a the antagonist.  Young men and women read teen-magazines instead of Chaucer or Steinbeck.  These people keep dumbing themselves down with a lack of interest in culture, so the media dumbs down with them.  It can’t continue to be this way.

  I challenge you, each reader of this mad man’s rants.  Go out and see at least two thought provoking films every month for an entire year.  Start with A Scanner Darkly and work your way through.  Some of you will begin to enjoy the method of thinking that ensues.  Keep artistic storytelling alive.

Robert Downey Jr. as Barris 

– Kyle W. Sutton

Also:  Richard Linklater fans might just have an orgasm over the new Criterion Collection: Dazed and Confused

Once at the turn of the fifteenth century, man lived with the belief that this earth was flat and lead to a dark abyss beyond the deepest pits of torment. At the beginning of the twentieth century that same earth, which proved spherical, had very many far corners that were still unknown, unmarked, and deeply feared. Many men wondered what awaited them beyond their modernized world. These men entertained the ambition of exploring these vast and unknown regions. They were the last true adventurers of this globe.Merian C. Cooper

During the coming of the mainstream motion picture industry one of these gentleman decided, with the help of his filmmaking partner, to embark on a journeying with a lovely young woman and a Debrie16mm Camera. The man was Merian Caldwell Cooper, the partner Ernest B. Shoedsack, the film was the 1925 box office hit, Grass. With their “natural drama”, which chronicled the migration of the Bhakitari tribe to a freshly vegetated area to feed their starving livestock, they revolutionized filmmaking and allowed common-folk to experience the dangers and mysteries of distant lands. They achieved the same success two years later with the Academy Award nominee, Chang, which took place in the jungles of Siam. These films set a standard for filmmakers and explorers. The mainstream documentary was birthed.
The world has quickly evolved and the mysteries that Cooper unraveled have become only a memory. Without mystery in the far corners of the earth, the documentary can only be taken somewhere else. It is a dream of mine to see an entire “natural drama” from a place beyond this earth. We have often been fed images of deep space explorers, but none have proven so brave as to set out to do something unthinkable and perhaps extremely dangerous with a camera in tote just for sheer entertainment.

Grass (1925)Perhaps that time is coming, and soon. With scientific progress, we are moving ever so quickly towards unraveling the mysteries of Mars. Maybe then, the next natural drama is to be held. There was once a time when discourse of this type was once held as science-fiction. Fortunately, it is no longer that way. A goal of this sort could be achieved within the next turn of the century.

I once heard the 20s and 30s described as, “the last age of mythology and exploration,” Perhaps the twenty first century can prove this statement wrong. There beyond the gulf of space is still a universe, vast and mysterious, awaiting to be discovered. It only takes one man to scratch the surface of this potential. Who will it be?

Do consider that question carefully…

– Kyle W. Sutton