The Dinglehopper

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Radio Free Albemuth opens Friday!

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image Radio Free Albemuth, the latest Philip K. Dick screen adaptation opens  this Friday, June 27th. Unfortunately, it will only premiere in ten theaters across the United States: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, Chicago, Phoenix, Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and New York.  International dates will follow and the film will be available on digital platforms. The project was initially shown at film festivals where it received enthusiastic accolades from science fiction fans.  Philip K. Dick aficionados embraced it as the most faithful reproduction of the source material yet.  Inspired by the positive response, the principals decided to Kickstart a limited theatrical release. Radio Free Albemuth began as a novel attempt to explore Dick’s gnostic theophany which was rejected by his publisher.  He later wrote the story into the VALIS trilogy, wherein a movie with a similar plot was planned.  The original book was published posthumously.  Now that’s a movie.  Sounds a bit like a Phil Dick novel, doesn’t it? I’d call myself a PKD fan, I guess.  But it’s complicated.  Most of what I like about his work is the stuff, the people, that it influenced.  William Gibson, Grant Morrison, Rudy Rucker, even Patrick Rothfuss.  With Dick’s own work, I tend to be enthusiastic through a couple books but find the third infuriating. He wrote dozens of novels and short stories.  I’ve been through that cycle many times.  For that reason, I came to Radio Free Albemuth fresh.  I found it tight and engaging despite a point of view switch about half way through.  There are echoes and germs of persistent themes in his other works, but I think it stands on its own. I’d recommend it as an introduction to Dick’s catalog.  Given the fan enthusiasm for the upcoming film, I’m willing to be reckless and recommend it, too.  Clarity and concision are rare descriptors for his work.  When people tell you to read the VALIS trilogy, they’re asking you to hurt yourself.  I’m not kidding. Dick’s books have proven difficult to translate to film.  I know this is a common refrain for all books, but there are exceptions.  The gearhead endorsement here is a plus. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is, on the whole, better than Blade Runner.  Now, before you indulge that knee jerk reaction, listen quietly.  I own five versions of that movie.  I’ve read several books on it in the dark corners of a university libraries.  I’ve read Burroughs’ Blade Runner, you know, for completeness’s sake.  And while the mood and some of the imagery from the film is fantastic, I’d say I think about Mercerism more often than tears in rain.  It sticks. The opposite is true for A Scanner Darkly.  The book will twist you inside out.  You’ll get a feeling for how being the protagonist feels.  That’s great.  And terrible.  The ending, in the book, is great; and terrible.  The rotoscoped movie gives you a better sense of who’s who and what’s what and the valuable distance.  You can evaluate the situation rather than the individual consciousness.  The movie was a triumph.  It sticks. This one seems like it’ll benefit from some detachment as well.  Here’s the trailer.  Check it out and let us know what you think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovH_-mQxCok

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