TOTAL RECALL: CFQ Spotlight Podcast 3:31

We Can Remember It for You, But It's Gonna Cost Big Time: Colin Farrell's internal world gets rocked in TOTAL RECALL.
We Can Remember It for You, But It's Gonna Cost Big Time: Colin Farrell's internal world gets rocked in TOTAL RECALL.

What is reality? What is identity? How long can a soul survive when one’s perceptions and one’s self are subject to electronic editing at a moment’s whim? These and many other fascinating questions are raised and almost immediately dropped in TOTAL RECALL, director Len Wiseman’s retelling of the Philip K. Dick tale of an ordinary working Joe discovering his own secret life courtesy of  a recreational brain reprogramming service. The story was previously brought to the screen by Paul Verhoeven, with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring, but does stripping the film of Verhoeven’s camp, satirical outlook and bringing in Colin Farrell as a more credible protagonist automatically mean the scenario regains the challenging, visionary paranoia of the Dick original?
Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons come together to explore thematic opportunities offered and missed in this latest remake, as well as dissecting the appeal of the film’s post-apocalyptic world and evaluating whether the core concept of the Rekall memory implant system makes any sense to begin with. Click on the player to hear the discussion.


'Total Recall (2012)' – Latest Trailer

“For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid, even though he’s got a beautiful wife who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life – real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man as he finds himself on the run from the police.”

Starring Colin Farrell, Bokeem Woodbine, Bryan Cranston, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bill Nighy.
Directed by Len Wiseman, from a screenplay by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback. Based on Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.” totalrecall_remake
Due in theaters August 3rd from Columbia Pictures.

'Total Recall' Trailer

“As the nation states Euromerica and New Shanghai vie for supremacy, a factory worker begins to suspect that he’s a spy, though he is unaware which side of the fight he’s on.”
 Starring Colin Farrell, Bokeem Woodbine, Bryan Cranston, Kate Beckinsale.
Directed by Len Wiseman from a screenplay by Mark Bomback, James Vanderbilt, Kurt Wimmer, based the Philip K. Dick story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.
Due out August 3rd, from Rekall Productions and Columbia Pictures.

'Prophets Of Science Fiction' Premieres

PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION debuts on SCIENCE this Wednesday, with Ridley Scott (ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER) serving as host and Executive Producer.
 Via Press Release:

“For years I have been fascinated with the connection between creative inspiration and scientific progress,” said Scott. “Often there is an attempt to separate the worlds of art and science, when in reality the two are inseparably linked. I am thrilled to work with SCIENCE on PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION, which will be the definitive exploration of science fiction’s ability to spark real-world genius.”
Each episode of PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION focuses on a visionary sci-fi figure whose spark of imagination changed our reality. The premiere episode explores the celebrated author, Mary Shelley. Widely credited with creating the science fiction genre, Shelley’s seminal work, Frankenstein, provided a springboard for the future study and development of organ transplantation, cardiac defibrillation, electric batteries, and many other modern advances.
Using iconic movie clips and cutting-edge animation, each episode of PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION features a bold future-forward on-air look that is consistent with Scott’s big-screen legacy. Scott and his group of cinematic and scientific experts, including famed director, Paul Verhoeven, and renowned theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku, dissect the genius of Shelley and other science fiction titans; such as George Lucas, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, Phillip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, and Robert Heinlein.
ProphetsSciFi_RScott“Sometimes it takes a true genius to clearly articulate the genius of others. This is what makes PROPHETS of SCIENCE FICTION such a singular project,” said Debbie Myers, General Manager and Executive Vice President of SCIENCE. “Having the brilliant Ridley Scott as the on-air guide for this journey enables the series to illuminate the one-of-a-kind inspiration that transforms science fiction to science fact.”

Premieres Wednesday, November 9th , at 10:00 PM (ET/PT) with MARY SHELLEY.

“Mary Shelley set out to create a monster–along the way she created a masterpiece.
In 1816, teenager Mary begins stitching together a patchwork of ancient legend, modern technology, and personal tragedy- giving life to her novel, Frankenstein – and the genre of science fiction.”

Who Owns 'Adjustment Bureau' Rights?

adjustment_bureau_1Variety reports that the estate of Philip K. Dick filed suit against Media Rights Captial, director George Nolfi and producer Michael Hackett on Thursday October 28th, charging  that the company and individuals named  did not honor  their agreement to pay a share of the returns from THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU.
The lawsuit contends that the production made the claim that Dick’s short story The Adjustment Team, the basis for the motion picture, had actually entered the public domain, and thus was not due any share of the profits. Furthermore, the filmmakers then called for a return of previous payments for the film rights to the story.
The filmmakers (who have not offically commented) allegedly made the claim that the initial publication of The Adjustment Team in the short-lived (and long defunct)  Pulp Magazine  ORBIT Science Fiction  in 1954 was never renewed, and so lapsed into the public domain.

ORBIT #4, 1954
ORBIT #4, 1954

However, the Philip K. Dick Trust argues that Dick’s literary agent, the controversial Scott Meredith, did not inform the author or pass on the payment from the publication to the writer, and that the actual copyright to the story dates to its publication in 1973’s The Book of Philip K. Dick, a collection of his short stories.
Not being a lawyer, I can’t comment on the merits of the suit. However, to my understanding,  this subsequent publication would have been well with the then current 28-year copyright protection status of the story.
I would also tend to believe that the only rights granted to a magazine in that era would normally be for “First North American Serial Rights’ of a story, and not film or other ancillary rights.  However, some  publishers did at times make demands for additional or even all rights to the fiction they purchased.
Interestingly, the suit also contends that an anonymous user changed the Wikipedia page on the short story to indicate that The Adjustment Team was in the public domain, just days after MRC made its claims.

Dr. Michio Kaku & Prophets of Science Fiction: New York Comic Con 2011 Podcast

Connecting the Line Between Point A and... What's Beyond Z?: Dr. Michiou Kaku embraces the future in PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION.
Connecting the Line Between Point A and... What's Beyond Z?: Dr. Michio Kaku embraces the future in PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION.

When Ridley Scott executive produces a cable series focusing on how the visionaries of science fiction helped pave the way for our actual future, you might expect episodes speculating on a world where chest-bursters and replicants run riot. Instead, PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION — debuting on the Science Channel on November 9 — looks into what such fertile minds as Mary Shelly, H.G. Wells, and Isaac Asimov got right and wrong in their predictions (although we’re crossing our fingers that a scheduled episode on Philip K. Dick will take a welcome turn towards the dark).
Participating in the series is Dr. Michio Kaku, who, in the series’ debut episode, will be exploring how the dreams (or nightmares) of Ms. Shelly’s Dr. Frankenstein are coming true in today’s laboratories. I managed to wrangle a few minutes with the good doctor, and the conversation both put the lie to the prevalent contention that no one saw the Internet coming, and gives pause for thought to people who were hoping that recent discoveries at the CERN reactor could pave the way to faster-than-light travel.


'Total Recall' Remake Casting & Details

Bryan-Cranston-Breaking-BadAccording to The Hollywood Reporter,
Bryan Cranston (BREAKING BAD) is in serious talks to play the villain in Columbia’s remake of TOTAL RECALL.

Based on Philip K. Dick’s We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1966, the story was the inspiration for 1990’s TOTAL RECALL, directed byPaul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Colin Farrell is set to play the lead, Douglas Quaid (Quail in the original story) in the remake  to be directed by Len Wiseman for Columbia Pictures.
In the 1990 film the storyline used the story’s tale of a man who has memories of being a secret agent on Mars, amping it up to an actual or imagined adventure on Mars.
 The remake will forgo any trips to the red planet in favor of a futuristic spy thriller that sets Farrell real or imagined secret agent in New Shanghai against Cranston’s possible role, Vilos Cohaagen, head of the combined nations of Euromerica, intent on an invasion of the smaller country.
 Byran Cranston will still get a trip to Mars in Walt Disney Pictures’ Edgar Rice Burroughs-inspired JOHN CARTER OF MARS.

The Adjustment Bureau: CFQ Spotlight Podcast #7

adjustment-bureau wide

Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski don their Fedoras and go door to door, exploring the ins and outs of fate and free-will in their free-wheeling examination of THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, writer-director George Nolfi’s combo of paranoid science fiction and romantic fantasy, inspired by Philip K. Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team.” Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star as star-crossed lovers, whose blooming romance is threatened by a mysterious group calling themselves “The Adjustment Bureau.” Their task: to keep peoples’ lives on the path laid out for them in the grand design, pushing them back on track whenever chance or free will leads them astray. Is this a brilliant conflation of speculative fiction and popular film-making, or is THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU a great idea ruined by focus group alterations? Listen in for the grand debate – and hold on to your hats.

Paycheck (2003) – Blu-ray Review

When the topic of “What was John Woo’s worst American film?” comes up, there are two secure camps: some will tell you without hesitation that it’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II and others who’ll say PAYCHECK. MI2 isn’t quite Woo’s fault, beyond accepting a job with an actor-producer-control freak actually calling the shots, which leaves PAYCHECK, a crushingly dull experience that attempts to do to its audience what Uncle Joey Nichols tried to do to young Alvy Singer – mollify him with a shiny object long enough to sneak away.
Using Philip K Dick’s short story as a carpet upon which which star Ben Affleck can chase and be chased throughout whichever Canadian city was doubling for America when the film was made back in 2003, PAYCHECK casts Affleck as reverse engineer Michael Jennings, who is hired by companies to break-down the technology of competitors while isolated in a lab for periods up to several months. Once the job is finished, Jennings memory is erased to the point when the job began and he collects a large – wait for it – Paycheck! Jennings’ next job, which lasts for three years, finds him in the employ of old friend Rethrick (Aaron Eckhart), the president of a Microsoft-like corporation. The problem is, after Jennings’ memory has been erased and he expects to receive payment, he learns that he has forfeited his shares without explanation; all he has to show for the last 3 years of his life are a group of innocuous everyday trinkets that he had mailed himself prior to having his memory blanked, including sunglasses, lighter, ring, hairspray, etc. Before Jennings can reach Rethrick for an explanation, he’s captured by federal agents (including Joe Morton and a pre-Dexter Michael C Hall) and accused of treason. Jennings affects an escape, thanks to the unusual objects he had sent himself, and joins forces with Rethrick employee Rachel (Uma Thurman), with whom he had shared a long relationship that was erased along with his memories. Together they discover the project that Jennings had helped to develop: one that the FBI wants him in jail for and Rethrick wants him dead for, a machine that enables the user to see into the future.
Not long after his celebrated move to America, John Woo found himself in the unfortunate position of being marginalized by his own imagery – all of Woo’s trademark stylistic flourishes are present here, save perhaps the ubiquitous flying doves. By 2003, the sight of mortal enemies standing toe to toe, pointing guns in each other’s face with geometric precision, had moved well beyond trite and was now comfortably ensconced the basement department of DTV potboilers. This leaves PAYCHECK in an unfortunate position; watching the film marching joylessly through the rote narrative sections is tedious and relieved only by the ridiculously hyped-up action sequences that turn a software engineer into an unstoppable fighting machine or expert motorcycle operator. Inconsistencies like these would be a better film’s undoing, but there is so little emotional investment in the characters that by the time Affleck and Thurman have the customary tearful “Don’t you dare leave me, Michael!” during the final action sequence, the result is embarrassingly humorous, though not as funny as Affleck and Eckhart strangling each other with glowing compu-cord straight off the set of Quark.
Many people will tell you that the best actors are the ones that allow the audience to enter inside the character’s emotional or psychological curtain. Affleck, on the other hand, guards that entrance while reclining in an easy chair with a shotgun across his lap. We’ve had this experience before while watching surfing documentaries; we can certainly appreciate a well executed maneuver (and Affleck is quite funny when first incredulously eyeing the items he mailed to himself), but otherwise, we have no frame of reference and experience no vicarious thrill.
Thurman tries hard in a virtually non-existent role; indeed, the screenplay could have written her character out with only minor alterations (we don’t think – and would be happy to hear otherwise – that her character even exists in Dick’s short story). Poor Eckhart was still dripping with the misogynistic Brill Cream that roles in two Neil LaBute films had left him with, and is only now finding roles that show his considerable range. Also look for the usually interesting Colm Feore as an assassin who’s hated for window glass and concrete hallways seems to get in the way of his job. Interestingly, Jennings’ friend and assistant, Shorty, is well played by Paul Giamatti, in the last role prior to his breakthrough in Sideways. We’ve heard that Giamatti is a fan of Philip K. Dick and is currently playing the author in a biopic called The Owl in Daylight. Anyone looking for insights into Dick’s work is advised to save the two hours that are required to view PAYCHECK and wait for Owl to be released.


Paramount’s Blu-Ray idsc of PAYCHECK presents a bright, colorful 1080p image that definitely improves the viewing experience. The film is 6 years old, but the Blu-Ray plays like that of a just-released picture, and the Dolby TrueHD is equally good. Fans of the film – and we will not debate their judgment here – will certainly want to upgrade from the SD-DVD.
All special features from the original DVD have been ported over; they include 2 commentary tracks, one by director John Woo and the other by writer Dean Georgaris. There are also 2 EPK-style documentaries, one focusing on the general production, featuring the usual on-set cast and crew interviews, and the other on the impressive stuntwork. There are also a collection of deleted and extended scenes.
However, like other recent Paramount releases, PAYCHECK‘smenu structure is frustrating. Commentaries, languages, scene selections and subtitles can be accessed via the standard Blu-Ray popup menu, but to get to any of the other extras you have to go out of the film and back to the home screen, willfully ignoring one of the format’s nicest perks.
After the non-performance of PAYCHECK, Woo directed an unaired pilot for a revamped Lost in Space series and supervised a videogame called Stranglehold, a semi-sequel to Hard-Boiled -which utilized much of Woo’s Hong Kong action style and reunited him with Chow Yun-Fat as Inspector “Tequila” Yuen. Since then, however, he has returned to Hong Kong, where he just finished the sequel to the extremely successful period epic Red Cliff, reuniting him with another Hard-Boiled star, Tony Leung. It might sound odd, but as a longtime (and hopefully, future) fan of Woo, we hope we never returns.

Blade Runner on the big screen – The Final Cut

You can say what you like about Los Angeles, but we have Hollywood, which means we have the movies – and lots of movie-lovers to go with it; consequently, there are actually a handful of theatres, even in this era of home video, that continue to offer repertory and revival programming. This results in wonderful opportunities to re-experience movies on the big screen, where they were meant to be seen. A recent example of this is the “Final Cut” of BLADE RUNNER, which I recently saw at the New Beverly Cinema in L.A. Of course it was interesting to note how this (presumably last) version of the film stacked up against its predecessors, but I could have done that on DVD (or even, heaven forbid, on Netflix Instant Viewing). The real joy of the experience was once again seeing the sights of 2019 Los Angeles splayed out larger than life before my eyes, filling not only the screen but also my brain with an overwhelming rush of visual input that few films ever match. Continue reading “Blade Runner on the big screen – The Final Cut”