The Bayley Film Club: Richard Linklater

Wrapping up week 6 themed by Richard Linklater! We took on board an animated film from 2006 based on a book and a raw-picture with just three actors shot in a motel room (2001).  #thebayleyfilmclub


Director: Richard Linklater

Film 1: A Scanner Darkly

Film 2: Tape

A Scanner Darkly

Author: Agsy E Drapinska

Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 2
Retrospect: 4

Score: 9

‘A Scanner Darkly’ is one of those cool films that, at some point in time, everyone was talking about. I was very curious about the animation itself, as I read Linklater explained the use of rotoscoping by its link to his own experiences of lucid dreaming. The technique is a traditional cel animation that originated from tracing film frame-by-frame. Linklater filmed ‘Scanner Darkly’ digitally and then animated it. The final effect is honestly some of the most interesting ones I have seen. 

Continuing about the good stuff, I cannot avoid mentioning actors starring in the film: Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr., and Winona Ryder – all really good here. 

Watching ‘A Scanner Darkly’ can make you feel a bit dizzy though. I assumed that this was a desired outcome, due to the fact that the film is telling us a story of a world where a very addictive drug is ruining lives. Some parts of the film were quite confusing to me and I had to pause several times to gather my thoughts and exchange opinions of what I thought was happening – was that bit real or was it just another hallucination endured by the red-tablet-drug, known as ‘D’?

As the story proceeds we wrap our heads around what is going on – a very addictive drug is being produced and distributed in America. The society is being intensively monitored and one government organization known as ‘New Path’ has put up a fight against the ‘D’. Using surveillance measures and secret agents it tries to penetrate the network of drug dealers, get contacts high on the ladder and make an attempt on implosion – destroying it from the inside.

This already seems like a good headline but honestly, if that was it – I would be disappointed. Fortunately, the history evolves further and the last 20 minutes or so, bring a significant turnout. 

Without revealing too much, I would just like to add that ‘A Scanner Darkly’ nicely wraps the drug-dealing environments in a conspiracy theory with multiple levels to be revealed. The final scenes, seem to be a little of a stretch for the theory, but surprisingly everything pays off –  and do we not all, love a happy ending?

Too bad that the ratio was not 50:50 instead of 90:10 in the film’s duration between the ‘drug-dealers-hunt’ and ‘conspiracy-theory-reveal’ parts. You need to wait a bit for the story to get up to speed, but to make the wait more enjoyable you can delight yourself in all the crazy dialogues between Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr.


Author: Agsy E Drapinska

Anticipation: 3
Enjoyment: 5
Retrospect: 4

Score: 12

‘Tape’ surprised me when it turned out to be a psychological-game-kind-of-film. I was expecting something dull and simple, instead, I got an exciting story with tension bundling up with every minute which doesn’t stop until the very last moments. 

The way ‘Tape’ is filmed, reminds more of an amateur video rather than a professional production but that is the point. With this trick, the viewer becomes more of a participant and not only an observer.

The story revolves first around only two characters, friends from high school, Vince (Ethan Hawke), and Jon (Robert Sean Leonard) whose paths cross again due to Jon’s film premiere happening the next day. At first, it seems that Vince came all the way from California to Michigan to support his friend, and yes, they have some unresolved issues but as it often happens – the time that passed and familiarities which come with knowing someone for that long are overweighting the fact that you are completely different people now, and have nothing in common. 

The whole narrative changes when a silly conversation leads to a serious confession. A confession that just got recorded on tape by Vince. We realize then that his agenda is something completely different, he’s less of a sociopath that we initially assumed (or maybe not?), and he is actually following a precisely prepared scenario. The following scenes involve hopeless Jon trying to regain control of the situation, but he’s back in high school now and all his attempts are doomed to be unsuccessful. His rational approach is something that Vince predicted, so the game continues. The entry of a third person – Amy (Uma Thurman) – comes with an even higher tension into the ready-to-blow-up motel room, because of the romantic and not-so-romantic history between her and both men. 

The third chapter begins when our trio is finally complete. Vince, after the warm-up with Jon, is absolutely confident of his position as the one who holds all the cards. What a huge mistake it is that both gentlemen, too busy focusing on themselves,  underestimate Amy, assistant of a district attorney. It takes her literally minutes to figure out the situation. Without them even realizing, she becomes the puppet master and punishes them in a way that she sees fit. 

‘Tape’ is a story about guilt, crime, punishment, selfishness, control, friendship, growing up (or refusing to do so), sexual consent, blurring, and crossing the lines… All in a small motel room and with just three actors, which performance was remarkable. Definitely a film worth watching!

A Scanner Darkly

Author: N A Tonge

Anticipation: 4
Enjoyment: 2
Retrospect: 3

Score: 9

Based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ addresses the impact of drugs, surveillance, and trust during a scaled-up version of the war on drugs, set in a dystopian California controlled by a ‘big-brother’ government. 

The story’s main character is Bob Arctor, an addict of a drug called Substance D, however, Bob is also Fred, an undercover detective spying on Arctor’s group of drug-abusing friends. Because of his voluntary use of Substance D, the left and right sides of Arctor’s brain are unaware of each other, leading him to forget who he is supposed to be. The Fred portion of the main character is forced to conceal his identity from his supervisors for his own safety. No one knows exactly who Fred or Bob is, including Arctor. 

If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure who Fred or Bob or anyone else in the film really was and I admit that I still can’t! The confusing nature of the film is reflected in my low score for enjoyment, which was also based on thee film’s animation – I’m aware of the accolades Linklater was given for this technique, but I just thought it looked like a Nickelodeon cartoon. ‘A Scanner Darkly’ did not make a lasting impression, which is reflected in the length of this review – I just can’t really remember what happened. Nevertheless, the final third of the film focusses around a semi-religious ran re-hab center producing the Substance D drug itself peaked my interest, warranting another watch. 


Author: N A Tonge

Anticipation: 2
Enjoyment: 4
Retrospect: 4

Score: 10

On the occasion, I return to visit the folks, the choice of what to watch on the TV arises. As we scan the myriad sky network, we inevitably pick an old episode of ‘Only Fools and Horses’ as our televisual feast for the evening. You’ll get no complaints from me, but at some point, one of those lovable cockney rogues will come out with a non-PC line, which will undoubtedly raise a ‘’…you couldn’t write that nowadays…’ from someone in the room. 

Seemingly shot on a handheld camera, the sort that your parents used to record Christmas morning with – ‘Tape’ (2001) is a picture that ‘’…you couldn’t film nowadays…’ It’s very ‘Gen X’. 

‘Tape’ takes place solely inside a seedy motel room, where the memory of a supposed rape is deconstructed. The sound I tend to make when a conversation involves discussing the boundaries of sexual consent is ‘…well…errrrrr…’’! Shamefully often depending on the company at the time. 

The majority of ‘Tape’ follows a conversation between Vince and his more successful and socially liberal friend, filmmaker – Jon, in which Vince tactically attempts to get Jon to admit to raping his girlfriend of 10 years ago, Amy. The conversation blurs the lines between rape and consent, with Jon eventually admitting to what he believed to be a commitment of rape, and soon realizes that Vince recorded the whole confession. 

It is soon made clear that Vince cares less about the alleged rape than it does about his own jealousy over not having taken her virginity. 

Once Amy arrives at the hotel room, Jon apologies for his part in the mistake, however, Amy does not acknowledge a rape, asking Jon if he would have admitted and apologized for such a thing if Vince had not previously recorded him doing so – in fact, Amy even admits to loving Jon at the time. So was there a rape just because Jon thought there was? 

The claustrophobic and un-cinematic nature of the film put refreshing limitations that focus on sexual politics around the subject of consent and the emotional consequences for those involved with a sexual assault. 

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