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John Alan Simon
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About the Movie
From sci-fi author Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly) comes his most prophetic thriller to date. It’s 1985 in an alternate reality and Berkeley record store clerk Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe, Perception) begins to experience strange visions transmitted from an extra-terrestrial source he calls VALIS. He uproots his family and moves to Los Angeles where he becomes a successful music executive with a secret mission to overthrow the oppressive government led by US President Fremont (Scott Wilson - The Walking Dead). With the help of his best friend, sci-fi writer, Philip K. Dick himself (Shea Whigham - Boardwalk Empire, American Hustle) and a beautiful, mysterious woman named Silvia (Alanis Morissette - Weeds), Nick finds himself drawn into a conspiracy of cosmic, mind-shattering proportions. Although it might cost them their freedom or even their lives, they join forces to expose the dangerous truth about the corrupt regime.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 11
- Fresh: 4
- Rotten: 7
- Average Rating: 4.4/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Rotten: A quaint labor of love blinkered by fidelity to an outdated text.
Fresh: The pic operates successfully as a study of enlightenment and a straight-ahead conspiracy thriller.
Rotten: It's easy to glean why this unapologetically niche film nearly died on the vine.
The best Indie Political Science Fiction Movie of 2014
From my review on Bleeding Cool:
John Alan Simon’s movie adaptation is a true labour of love, a small movie with big ideas that faithfully fallows the novel and its preoccupations with mysticism and fighting totalitarianism. Alongside Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly, it’s the only movie that faithful adapts a Philip K. Dick novel. It also feel like the novel in its evocation of 1985 and its dystopian atmosphere. It does have minor alterations: the main characters in the movie are still in their vibrant 30s instead the most tired middle-age of the novel, and Simon relocates the story from Orange County to Los Angeles because that’s where the music industry is based, and it makes more sense to have the main character move there when he starts working as a music executive.
There’s an elegiac feel to the movie, not only because it’s a story about the friendship between a man changed by a mystical, extraterrestrial experience and his sceptical best friend, but also that it’s the kind of independent film that’s in danger of dying out in light of studios only producing blockbusters and the internet chipping away at traditional ways of watching movies. It’s also more overtly political in its commentary on surveillance, the loss of civil rights and the need to resist. When I first saw the movie at a special screening last year, Edward Snowden hadn’t happened yet, and what a difference a year makes in the way that places this movie square in the center of the zeitgeist, becoming even more timely now than when I first saw it. It’s also a movie that evokes Los Angeles as a state of mind, one of my continuing obsessions.
This is Science Fiction without the need for hundred-million-dollar budgets, explosions, shootouts or major special effects. It’s all about ideas and how they can create a whole different world and state of mind just by context. It’s one of the essential movies of the year, and to see it in a theatre if you can is a show of support for not only this type of independent movie, but for the theatrical experience. Simon has accomplished the challenging task of bringing Philip K. Dick’s provocative and chilling vision and sensibility to the screen with terrific performances, especially Shea Whigham from Boardwalk Empire as Philip K. Dick and Alanis Morissette as a kind of slacker Joan of Arc co-conspirator. If it’s not at a cinema in your town, you can catch it On Demand. You need to see this movie.
Fantastic PKD adaptation
Fantastic PKD adaptation by John Alan Simon and crew. Whigham is terrific as is the entire cast. I've seen it twice. Highly recommend.
Not a knockout, but lands a few really good sucker punches!
I’ve been a PKD fan forever, so I had high hopes for this movie. Its been on the verge of release for several years, and I am tickled to have finally seen it.
Its not a knockout, but for a PKD fan like me it has a few really good sucker punches. It is the first PKD movie made that has the flavor of a PKD book - or that even remotely understands where Phil was coming from. Its very low key - most of the dialogue is delivered in whispers. There is a conversational tone that the film lifts right out of PKD’s book - revealing the story by letting you eavesdrop on Phil's kind of intense thought during basketball games, dinners, business meetings, spousal arguments and dentist visits. There is no furious action, but there is a constant and rapid undercurrent of danger and paranoia that Phil would have loved.
I give this four stars - because as a fan, I wanted more! I hope that in the near future we see a VALIS miniseries!
I suspect that I will have more to say about it when I've watched the movie a second or third time.