Wednesday, July 27, 2011

You may have seen his work, but do you know his name?

We watch a lot of movies in our house. A lot. Makes sense: I work with books and Mike works with movies. Last week we got in Adjustment Bureau and I have to say that I was really kind of blown away. But then I saw who was behind the original story and it clicked.

Philip K. Dick is very well-known amongst science fiction fans and readers. Amazingly, I've not READ any of his work to date. But I've seen most of the movies inspired by his work. (Actually, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is in the TBR and Mike has read a few of the collections.) PKD is the man behind the stories that inspired Blade Runner, Screamers (one of my favorites), Total Recall, Minority Report, Impostor (another of my faves), A Scanner Darkly, and The Adjustment Bureau (we'll just forget about Paycheck and Next, shall we?).

In the midst of a slew of disappointing recent releases at the box office, I was genuinely impressed with Adjustment Bureau. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a young politician at the top of his game until a scandal loses him an election. That same night, he meets Elise Sellas, played by Emily Blunt, who inspires him and remains in his thoughts for months to come. Then a series of events brings them together once again... But there is a higher plan for Norris and a group of people who will stop at nothing to keep him and Elise apart.

It's a thoughtful movie about choice vs fate with a good bit of action, but also a surprising mix of humor that was unexpected based on the trailers. I loved the casting in this film as well. Who doesn't like Matt Damon? I find he has a great range, but really fell for him with his Bourne portrayal. Emily Blunt is also a big favorite in my house. I also really enjoyed Anthony Mackie and John Slattery in this movie.

I'll note there are some similarities between the Adjustment Team and Fringe's Observers, but I'm not sure that either are or aren't inspired by Dick or by one another (are the Observers based on Dick's "Adjustment Team," are Harry Mitchell (Mackie) and Richardson (John Slattery) inspired by the Observers portrayal in Fringe at all? Who knows? I won't pretend to. I will say that Adjustment Bureau is a movie I highly recommend this summer. A sleeper hit of sorts that I enjoyed immensely.

As an aside, I mentioned Screamers and Impostor are two of my other favorite adaptations of Dick's work. Most would say Blade Runner, which is fantastic, but I think these other two have been unfairly overlooked and would love if someone rents them based on my suggestion.

Dick has an enormous body of work and there are a ton of rumored projects in various stages of talks and production. And of course, there's the original source as well. Reprint editions of the novels and collections of short stories remain immensely popular in bookstores. If you're really driven, there's also a Library of America collection available -- almost 3,000 pages of selected works at your fingertips! (BTW, there are a couple of current collections with "The Adjustment Bureau," a Pantheon hardcover from 2002 titled Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick and a Citadel paperback from 2001 The Philip K. Dick Reader.)


Icedream said...

Great post! I can't wait to see the movie, as with my books I am ever behind. I love that you highlighted Philip K. Dick. I'm a sci-fi fan and Dick is one of my favorite sci-fi authors. Of course I usually prefer the book to the movie and I hope this post gets more ppl to read Dick's books. (Tell them to read Harry Harrison and Arthur C. Clark too LOL)

Becky LeJeune said...

I'll have to check out some myself. I've tried Arthur C. Clark in the past (the very distant past). I'm pulling out some Bradbury for this summer as well.