Radio Free Albemuth (2014)
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John Alan Simon
John Alan Simon, Philip K. Dick
Jonathan Scarfe, Shea Whigham, Katheryn Winnick, Alanis Morissette, Hanna Hall, Carol Avery, Tom Beyer, Nancy Linehan Charles, Joseph Cintron, Frank Collison, Mason Vale Cotton, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Richard Cox, Jonathan Eudowe, J.G. Franklin, Lindsey Ginter, Ashley Greene, Malek Hanna, Rosemary Harris, Bruce Hensel, Hugh B. Holub, Elizabeth Karr, Matt Letscher, Michael Lovern, David Madison, Kevin McCorkle, Angela McEwan, Joel McKinnon Miller, Kenny New, John Prosky, Joseph D. Reitman, Gene Richards, Bob Ross, Will Rothhaar, Lee Ryder, Holly Sherman, Rich Sommer, Julie Warner, Isaac Wilson, Scott Wilson, Gregory George Frank, Brett Hunt, Jon Tenney
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We Won - Didn't We?
Favorite Movie Quote: "Come to the Party"
The year is 1985. CDs were just being introduced to the public. President Ferris Fremont (Scott Wilson) is in his 15th term, and he has a vendetta against a subversive group of radicals whose goal is to overthrow the oppressive regime of the government. Nicholas Brady (Jonathan Scarfe, PERCEPTION) is a small-time record store co-owner, who doesn't want his life, so he packs up his wife (Katheryn Winnick, "Vikings"), and heads to Los Angeles. Fast forward a few years, and Nick contacts his best friend Phil (Shea Whigham, "Boardwalk Empire," AMERICAN HUSTLE), a sci-fi writer of pulp fiction to come down from Berkeley for a visit. Here he reveals that he was instructed by an extraterrestrial entity for the purpose of helping make things right for Earth.
From the mind of Philip K. Dick (BLADE RUNNER, MINORITY REPORT, A SCANNER DARKLY) comes a tale of oppression, subversion, and extraterrestrial intervention. Nick has been instructed by the Vast Active Living Intelligence System, or VALIS, to set into motion a plot that would get him and all his friends arrested, incarcerated or executed. The Freedom Act seems like littering laws in the Fremont Administration. Citizens are spied on, agents of the government, as embodied by Vivian Kaplan (Hanna Hall), of the Friends of the American. People, a vigilante political watchdog group, impose "Interrogation Statements" on whomever does not conform to the government's ideology, and are not above using whatever tactics necessary to fulfill their agenda.
As a writer, Dick (who is the fictitious "Phil" in the story) has a vision of dysfunctional societies. In this world, the U.S. won the war on Communism, or so they thought, but could have never imagined imagined their worst nightmares the society they now live. The entire tale is told by Phil, even though Nick is the protagonist. Singer Alanis Morissette is Sylvia, another person as an agent for VALIS, and provides the necessary exposition for Nick to piece together his cryptic responsibilities.
As films go, this is a very disjointed, high-concept as it gets. Many very scary concepts are brought up, with many allusions to Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. As a side note, the time frame of the film is the same as the Zack Snyder-directed film WATCHMEN, where a multi-multi-multi-termed Richard Nixon-like president runs the country on his own agenda, and the people are not the better for it. Unlike other dystopian visions of society, it is the aliens that are the good guys, helping humanity get out of their mess, as they have been doing since civilization began. And for a very linear storyline, there is so much going on in this film, that explaining it would only confuse the issue even more, or spoil the entire film for those who have not read the book. What this reviewer came away from the film is that the delusional people are sometimes the only sane ones.
On my personal rating scale of with "5" being drop everything and see the video now; if you're female, bear the producers' children and "0" being burn down the theater, murder the staff, and violate their dog, this movie earns a "3.5," using my Patented Bell Curve for Independent films. RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH is a nightmare; what happens when you scrape the underbelly of civilization, of polite society and the government that is supposed to serve and protect them.
RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH is rated "R" for some language, drug use and brief violence. Yet, for a sci-fi flick, it does not have the explosions, frantic action, or CGI we've come to expect from our sci-fi. What the film has is much, much more - a story, with characters who are not forgotten the second you walk out of the theater. Expect to be challenged; this is a thinking person's sci-fi, much like the other works of Philip K. Dick.
RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH stars Jonathan Scarfe, Shea Whigham, Katheryn Winnick, Alanis Morissette, Hanna Hall. Written by John Alan Simon, based on a story by Philip K. Dick, and directed by John Alan Simon, the film opens to wide release June 27, 2104.
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