July 4, 2014 Documentary Marathon

For years now, my Fourth of July (Independence Day) tradition has been to watch intellectual and political documentaries (none of that sappy human interest stuff for this occasion!). Films I’ve re-watched in past years include Fahrenheit 9/11, Outfoxed, Bill Maher’s Religulous, and others. I started more serious and then ventured into more bizarre…

This year I’m keeping some brief notes as I watch the documentaries. Here we go!

Page One: Inside the New York Times

  • love the WikiLeaks stuff. one of the best documentaries I watched within the past year was all about this: We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks
  • haha Andrew Ross Sorkin didn’t meet his deadline!
  • I feel a sort of knee-jerk love for The Times, but the discussion about how they botched the pre-Iraq War (under George W Bush) coverage was a disaster. I forgot about the whole Judith Miller mess…
  • David Carr worked in Minneapolis! (and hit rock bottom there..)
  • I love how much this documentary is making me think about media and journalism. I love Katrina vanden Heuvel (edior of The Nation, but I also love Gawker, which she hates. I can see both sides!
  • I love ProPublica
  • I love the dark humor and cynicism of journalists. some of my favorite parts of this documentary are the casual conversations happening in the news room.
  • the whole thing about Zell taking over the creating a frat culture within the leadership of the Tribune is very scary.

Overall I loved this documentary! Makes me nostalgic for when I worked on my college newspaper. And made me realize how my current job is less and less about journalism.

The Central Park Five

  • My coworker Emeri recommended this one to me! We have extremely similar tastes in documentaries
  • I think this is my first Ken Burns experience
  • The 80s version of New York introduced in the beginning of the film feels so different from the New York I’ve visited. It’s easy for me to forget it hasn’t always been this way.
  • Too many times do I see this story of police intimidating and interrogating people in order to put together the story they want.
  • I can’t help but wonder if the police are aware of these kids’ innocence… I’m pretty sure they are completely convinced they are guilty, which makes me even more depressed.
  • Grrrrr Donald Trump!! What an asshole!
  • Grrrrr Pat Buchanan!!
  • Whoo Al Sharpton!
  • The troubles the guys have after getting out of prison make me so frustrated. I can’t say I blame the guy who goes into the drug dealing business. it’s the only job that won’t discriminate against him.
  • I love the scathing reflection by the historian toward the end.
  • Though at the end of the film the civil case by the innocent men against the city, i’m glad to say that City Controller Scott Stringer approved a $41 million settlement.

Michel Foucault: Beyond Good and Evil

  • I’m going into this without any idea of what it is. I was thinking I wanted some sort of academic documentary so I just searched for Foucault on YouTube…
  • Btw: Although I’m pretty familiar with his philosophies, the only books I’ve read by Foucault are from the History of Sexuality series (The Will to Knowledge, The Use of Pleasure, The Care of the Self)
  • I would say that after Zizek, I consider Foucault to be the most influential philosopher on me.
  • Foucault’s fiend who wrote the short story “The Secrets of a Man” possibly about Foucault: HervĂŠ Guibert
  • Looks like there is an article on JSTOR about this Guibert story and Foucault
  • I’ve always loved the Ship of Fools imagery as well.
  • Hahahaha Camile Paglia is not a fan!!! I’m not sure what it says about me, but I love both her and Foucault and somehow see a way to synthesize their ideas
  • I’ve also heard theories/rumors that Foucault intentionally caught HIV/AIDS in order to experience/study what it was like to have it.

American Experience: Silicon Valley

  • Curious to watch something about the tech field…
  • It’s cool to think of business driving such innovation in science. It doesn’t feel that way as much now. More about profits…
  • Whoa I did not expect a connection to the space race. I love it!
  • Wow! Because women had better dexterity (they thought because of needlework), most of the chip-assemblers were women!
  • Ahhh I forgot how it started: the military market…
  • Really cool to see how the whole start-up culture was created. These early silicon valley companies really shaped the industry. They remind me of Microsoft today in many ways.

20 Years Of Kompakt – The Pop Documentary

  • I love the Kompakt record label (based in Cologne, Germany). I download pretty much every single the label releases.
  • Yes, this is basically a promo for the label!
  • I wish for the music video part they matched the video with the song rather than just showing the visuals
  • Happy 20th Birthday Kompakt!

My favorite Kompakt release is Total 6. I love the songs “The Difference it Makes” by The MFA, “Tell Me About It” by Superpitcher, and “Action” by The Field. My favorite Kompakt artist is The Field.

Project Nim

  • I always wish we could communicate with animals and have them tell us what they are thinking!!
  • “It was the seventies…” !! yes!
  • … wow. they are pretty weird…
  • Oh my this is less about a scientific experiement and more about human drama!
  • The chimp takes puffs off a joint?!
  • If Nim is as human as these scientists think, the poor guy must have major parental issues.
  • You probably shouldn’t watch this if seeing animals in pain disturbs you. I can barely make it…
  • Like for example, the chimps who knew how to sign… once they were locked in cages for medical experiments, they signed “out” 🙁
  • Very much reminds me of Black Fish — we drive these poor animals insane.

And that concludes my 2014 documentary marathon!

Song Listing for Jay Z’s Made in America

Made in America
I couldn’t find the list of songs from Jay Z’s film Made in America so I decided to watch the credits sequence and list ’em out (trying to remove all of the non-features [e.g. background, score] music). Mostly this is so I can make a playlist for myself…

  • Jay-Z – 99 Problems
  • Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kanye West – Run This Town
  • Jay-Z – Murda Murda
  • Passion Pit – “Take a Walk”
  • Janelle Monae – Victory
  • Janelle Monae – Tightrope
  • Run DMC & Aerosmith – Walk This Way
  • Pearl Jam – Better Man
  • The Hives – Take Back the Toys
  • D’Angelo – Devil’s Pie
  • D’Angelo – Chicken Grease
  • The Dirty Projectors – Offspring Are Blank
  • Santigold – L.E.S. Artistes
  • Odd Future – Rella
  • Miike Snow – Pretender
  • Skrillex – Right In
  • Skrillex – Bangarang
  • Rita Ora – Facemelt
  • Rita Ora – Poison
  • Rita Ora – How We Do (Party)
  • Kontraband 215 – Back 2 Basics
  • Jill Scott – He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)
  • Jay-Z – Empire State of Mind
  • Q Department – Entropy
  • Run DMC – It’s Tricky
  • Pearl Jam – Corduroy
  • Jay-Z – Public Service Announcement
  • Jay-Z & Kanye West – Niggas in Paris
  • Jay-Z, Kanye West, Frank Ocean – Made in America

If you find this and notice I miss something, let me know! Great music, great documentary!

Wicked Game


You know a song is good when: 1. It was featured prominently in a movie by one of your favorite directors; 2. It was remixed by one of your favorite DJs; 3. It was remixed by another up-and-coming DJ who has been doing awesome work lately. Such is the case with Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” The dark and haunting song is undeniably great.

I’m sure I first heard the song on alternative radio back in junior high or something, but it wasn’t until I saw David Lynch’s Wild At Heart that I realized how great the song was. “Wicked Game” plays during a great part of the film as Sailor and Lula drive across the country at night. Sailor is opening up to Lula about his past and we’re treated to total Lynchian flashbacks as well as Lula seeing her mother as the Wicked Witch of the West. The song is perfect for both the eerie drive across the desert as well as uncovering Sailor revealing his dark past and Lula connecting it with her disturbed childhood.

Then of course there is the music video for “Wicked Game” which has been called one of the sexiest videos ever:

(Also worth noting: David Lynch did a Wild At Heart version of the video [it’s on the DVD] that is kind of cool/promotional, as well.)

Then a few years ago I come across a remix of the song by Trentemøller. His “Dubby Games” remix highlights the darkness in the original by adding some cool echoes and reverb.
Chris Isaak _ Wicked Game (Trentemoller Businessman Dubby Games Remix) by elodienelson

And now recently the “up-and-coming” artist Soul Clap comes out with their own remix. Unlike Trentemøller’s darker mix, I feel like Soul Clap highly the dreamy and disco-y aspects of the song. I’ve only had it a couple weeks and I’m already in love.
Wicked Game Edit by Soul Clap

So there we have it — a great song in so many aspects and forms.

Trailers That Are Better Than The Movies

I love movie trailers. I’m one of those people who actually enjoys seeing the trailers before the movies. Sometimes it’s the excitement of getting a sneak peak, sometimes it’s the fast-paced editing and strange juxtapositions, and oftentimes it’s the great music.

Last night I watched the movie Nine and thought, as I often do, “Wow, the trailer for this movie was way better than the actual movie itself.” Not to say that the movie (or any of the movies in this blog post) are bad, but the trailers themselves were just really great or represented the movie in a way that I would’ve prefered over the actual movie itself.

Here are a few that I can think of off the top of my head right now:

Men Who Stare at Goats
Don’t get me wrong — I actually liked this movie a lot. But the trailer is just great. I’m sure a huge part of it is Boston’s song “More Than a Feeling,” but the trailer really sets the movie up to be way more funny and trippy than it actually is.

Watchmen
Again — I totally love this movie. One of my favorites. But the trailer for it is so incredibly awesome. I’m pretty sure a huge part of what makes the trailer a success is the Smashing Pumpkins’ song “The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning” (a slower remix of their song “The End Is The Beginning Is The End” from the film Batman & Robin). The trailer also has some great fast/slow editing and sets the movie up to be way more epic than it was.

Nine
This trailer is just total fun. The trailer, at least, made me expect the film to be really fast and flashy — but it wasn’t. Most of the musical numbers were a bit more subdued. My two favorite songs from the film were “Be Italian” and “Cinema Italiano.” They were the two main songs used in the trailer: the music from “Be Italian” and the excitement from “Cinema Italiano.” For example, the scene showing the main character Guido spraying champagne everywhere was from “Cinema Italiano” and lasted maybe 2 seconds in the movie itself.

Burn After Reading
Another great film that was slightly misrepresented by the trailer. The trailer makes the movie seem a lot more fast-paced and funny than it was. The movie, in fact, is a bit darker. This is also another example of music making me love the trailer even more — Elbow’s “Grounds For Divorce” is in this one.

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
This trailer was so great because it was so highly anticipated. I remember when it came out while I was in high school people would analyze every second of it for clues about what the first new Star Wars film was going to be like. There was nothing spectacular about the trailer itself — it was the excitement about the what the trailer represented. In the end the movie was pretty bad (my least favorite of all Star Wars films).

So those are my best examples of trailers that are better (or vastly different) than the movies themselves. What am I forgetting? Admitedly trailers aren’t as memorable as the films themselves, so I’m surely missing a lot.

Great Moments In Juxtaposition

Just finished watching Wong Kar-Wai‘s Happy Together again and the end reminded me of something I love in film: taking a really happy song and playing it against a really depressing scene.

Two moments immediately came to mind, though I’m sure there are many more (and would love input from others):

First, of course, is the end scene of Happy Together. Without spoiling much, it”s just a very lonely time in the movie and Danny Chung’s cover of “Happy Together” by the Turtles with its happy lyrics and tone makes the loneliness of the film that much stronger.

The first time I encountered this happy vs. sad juxtaposition was Michael Moore‘s Roger and Me. Toward the end there is a scene where Moore shows the economically depressed Flint, MI and plays it against the Beach Boy’s “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”

Granted, both “Happy Together” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” have a slight sadness to them, the way they work with the scenes in both films takes the tiny bit of melancholy and multiplies it by a thousand.

Revisiting A Hole In My Heart

One of the reasons I love the fact that I’ve kept this blog going for over 4 years now is that I can go back and read things I wrote before and see how my thoughts/perspective have changed.

A very recent example: I re-watched the movie A Hole In My Heart — which I still consider to be the most graphic, violent, sexual, and disturbing film I’ve ever watched. Although after I first saw it I never would’ve expected that I’d watch it again, there was something about the movie that has stuck with me all of these years. Now that I feel like I’m dealing with some of my own personal darkness, perhaps I wanted to see an example of utter darkness on film? I’m not sure.

Anyway, when I watched the movie during SIFF in 2005, I found the film to be an exploration of taboos and highly sexual behavior. Now I see the film as an examination of broken people who all seemed to have traumatic things happen to them at a young age.

I still find the film very challenging and I’m still not sure it approaches either of the meanings in a clear and meaningful way (I also found the film much more exploitative this time)… but I do find it interesting that I saw it in a such a different way this time. (And I realize that this isn’t a new idea at all — the idea that the way you see films [or anything really] changes depending on time was expressed very well in a scene in 12 Monkeys [or at least that’s when I was first really exposed/grasped the idea]).

…On a more upbeat note, while watching the film this time I managed to find the name of the crazy poppy song that plays early in the film. Turns out that it’s “Floorfiller” by the A*Teens.

Why I Didn’t Like Slumdog Millionaire

Jamal on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in Slumdog Millionaire
Last night I finally got around to watching Slumdog Millionaire — the best movie of 2008 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I was pretty disappointed with the movie (though not for the reasons I expected) and perplexed as to why so many people thought it was such a great film (maybe commenters here can help shed some light on it’s greatness?).

First, some history of me and the film: I absolutely love the director: Danny Boyle. I love Trainspotting, I was one of the few who liked The Beach, I was one of the few who went back and watched Shallow Grave, I liked 28 Days Later, and I absolutely loved Sunshine. When I first heard that he was behind Slumdog Millionaire, I was totally interested in seeing it. Before it opened widely, it was playing at the Harvard Exit theatre — one of my favorite small theatres playing independent/”art house” films.

Then the movie started getting all sorts of Oscar buzz and everyone and their mother felt the need to see it and I became a bit disinterested. (Which happens often — once everyone loves something it loses its appeal to me…) And then at the 2008 Academy Awards Slumdog Millionaire cleaned up and left The Dark Knight behind — and I very strongly feel that The Dark Knight was the best movie of 2008 and I’m still overly bitter about the fact that it didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture…

So finally last night I saw the film. Based on the fact it won an Oscar and word-of-mouth reviews I’ve heard from people, I was expecting some overly romantic sentimental movie. Everyone called it the “feel good movie of the year” so I was expecting non-stop feel-goodness — and I know I’d hate that.

But in ultimately, it was really only a “feel good movie” for the final 10-15 minutes of the film. Mostly it was a very artistically-shot flashback-heavy movie with a great soundtrack. But that describes a lot of the movies I see every year… so, again, I’m not sure what made Slumdog Millionaire so exceptional.

My thoughts on some specific aspects of the film:

Soundtrack: Danny Boyle has always been a master of creating a great soundtrack for his films:

Likewise, like everyone else, I loved the “boys on a train” scene with M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” in Slumdog Millionaire. And the rest of the soundtrack — I don’t know if it’s “traditional Bollywood”-like music or what — really added to the “authentic” feel of the movie.

The Love Story: I expected the film to completely center around the love story. People described the film as “they [Jamal and Latika] keep trying to find each other but never connect.” Actually, they did keep connecting but then they’d split up for whatever reason (usually related to Jamal’s brother Salim). And yeah, at the end when they did the “feel good” reunion and dance it did feel like they made some love connection, but I didn’t feel the big pay-off that I expected.

But the more interesting question for me is: Why were they so into each other? As kids, I cannot imagine that they had a terribly romantic connection when they first met — if anything, I would expect them to have a brother/sister relationship. The fleeting moments they had together hardly gave them enough time to fall in love in any meaningful way. I know it’s a movie and all, but for “The Best Movie of 2008” I expected a more nuanced approach to love.

The Cinematography: Yeah it was artsy and cool, but the whole look-and-feel of the film reminded me of early Wong-Kar Wai films (e.g. Chungking Express, Fallen Angels, and Days of Being Wild). It was cool and all in Slumdog Millionaire but I have a feeling that a lot of people saw “cool camera techniques” for the first time and thought it was innovative? Or maybe it just worked really well for this movie? Anyway I didn’t think it was anything special but I feel like it’s part of what made the movie such a success?

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?: Incidentally, I’m reading The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America by Dr. Drew so the fact that Jamal wanted to be a celebrity by being on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? so that Latika would see him struck me as very real.

Conclusion: In the end, I expected to hate Slumdog Millionaire because I thought it was going to be an overly dramatic love story with a little bit of rags-to-riches thrown in for extra sentimentality. In the end, what I felt I got was a decent movie that wasn’t terribly groundbreaking or extra great in any way. If I were to be able to vote for the Best Picture film and The Dark Knight wasn’t an option, I probably would’ve gone with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (for the huge scope and special effects and whatnot) for Best Picture. (But really I still think The Dark Knight should’ve won…)

So where am I wrong? What did I miss?

FWWM on Blu-Ray

A deleted scene from FWWM
Dugpa.com has some news about the possible release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me on Blu-Ray. The short version: it’s not “in the cards at the moment” but there is a good chance it will at some point.

As Dugpa notes, this is basically our last chance to fight for the infamous deleted scenes for a long time. This has been a movement I’ve been involved with since DVDs first arrived on the scene. There are all sorts of complications around ownership and getting the scenes to DVD-quality would require some restoration efforts and involvement from Lynch himself. We almost got the scenes on a French special edition of FWWM but it didn’t quite happen.

Seriously: I very much want to see these scenes. I urge you to send feedback to Warner Brothers. For reference, here is what I told them:

i believe that you now own the rights to twin peaks: fire walk with me. this is one of my favorite movies (one of lynch’s best, in fact) and i’d love to see it on blu-ray… and i’d love even more to see the infamous “deleted scenes” that we’ve been fighting for (around the world) for years now.

i’m a huge fan of the work you did on the matrix collection (i had it on dvd and now have it on blu-ray). and i’m VERY eagerly awaiting your box set for the 1990s batman films. and of course i have batman begins and the dark knight. and once you release the alien quadrilogy on blu-ray, you know i’m replacing the dvd set i currently have 🙂

so i’d love to see your commitment to putting out great discs for the sci-fi/fan community and think fire walk with me would be a great addition to your already awesome catalog.

thx

I thought it’d help to show I support Warner Brothers releases and am already looking forward to stuff they have coming up. I also wanted to stress the fact that they already have made concessions to the “fan communities.”

So yah, please join me in trying to get this awesome film on Blu-Ray with the elusive deleted scenes!

io9’s Best/Worst Sci-Fi movies

I love io9, but I cannot say that I agree with much of their Best And Worst Science Fiction Movies Of 2008 list.

Here are my reactions:
Best

  1. Wall-E — I didn’t like this movie because I felt it was too heterocentric (Wall-E as man, Eve as woman), the ending was too happy (I wished that the Earth was totally dead or the humans got into a big war or something — i.e. something more realistic), and I forgot why else. You’d think I’d love a movie about robots, but Wall-E definitely didn’t do it for me…
  2. The Dark Knight — It should be #1 AND #2. I loved this movie too much.
  3. Synecdoche, NY — I didn’t see it yet so no comment…
  4. City of Ember — Despite my new interest in steampunk and my desire to see this movie, somehow I missed it in theaters… I’ll hopefully like it, though.
  5. Iron Man — This movie is lucky it came out before The Dark Knight. I re-watched both movies within the last week and The Dark Knight is so much better. I loved Iron Man when it first came out, though, so I suppose #5 is an OK place for it.
  6. Sleep Dealer — I saw this movie during the Seattle International Film Festival and really liked it. I’m very interested in the idea of virutal work in place of real work and this movie touched on it a bit.
  7. Cloverfield — I thought this was a fun movie and would probably put it a little higher?
  8. Speed Racer — Had I managed to catch this at IMAX I probably would’ve liked it more… but seeing it on my “smaller” big screen TV probably didn’t do the movie justice. That said, the story was pretty lame considering the Matrix guys did it.
  9. Teeth — I didn’t see.
  10. Let The Right One In — I do not get the appeal of this movie. I actually pretty much hated it. Not only was it slow (which is OK sometimes), but it just felt dusty (which might be OK sometimes?). Plus I didn’t think the story was anything great. If I were to rank the year’s #1 vampire-related events, I’d say #1 is True Blood, #2 is Chromeo’s remix of Vampire Weekend’s song “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance”, #3 is Twilight (at least it was sort of fun), and #4 is Let The Right One In. Sorry Sweden; I usually love you, but…

Worst:

  1. Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull — I actually liked the movie! I’ve been a long-time Indiana Jones fan. But my favorite is Temple of Doom which I know isn’t a “fan favorite” either. While this is probably the worst of the Indiana Jones movies, it’s certainly not horrible or the worst sci-fi movie of the year. Also: I liked the alien thing at the end!
  2. Hancock — Again, I know I’m in the minority here, but I loved Hancock! I saw it twice in the theatre, even. What most people complain about (the fact it was a superhero movie sometimes and a comedy other times, etc.) is what I loved the best. The genre-hopping made it interesting. Plus, the camera work, like all Peter Berg movies, was really frantic and realistic. This movie would definitely make it in my top 10 best list.
  3. Doomsday — No idea, I didn’t see this…
  4. X-Files: I Want To Believe — Yea, this movie was a bit too religious for me. I missed the aliens and whatnot. That said, it wasn’t as bad as I thought and wouldn’t be on my worst list.
  5. Jumper — Finally a movie I agree with! This movie was pretty bad. It could’ve been so much better/darker/more interesting, but it just didn’t go there. I was really looking foward to this movie then terribly disappinted when I finally saw it.
  6. The Day The Earth Stood Still — I haven’t seen it (yet)
  7. The Happening — I heard it was religious so forget about it. Plus, like most people, I’ve been disappointed with every M. Night Shyamalan movie since The Sixth Sense.
  8. Meet Dave — I haven’t even heard of thsi one…
  9. Space Chimps — Yea right…
  10. The Spirit — I haven’t seen it, but I can tell from the trailer that it’d be a bad movie.

Maybe during the next week I’ll try to come up with my own list, but seeing the io9 one, I just had to respond somehow.

Repost: Vanilla Sky Critique

Jobie and I rewatched Vanilla Sky tonight. I haven’t watched this movie for well over a year. There was a time back in 2003 when I was obsessed with the movie and watched it over and over again. During that time I posted a few things to my old blog “Out of Control.” Here are some postings from August 27, 2003: “My day of Vanilla Sky Madness!”

How I first watched the movie:

last night i re-watched the movie vanilla sky. i hadn’t watched it for quite a while, and it was nice to remember how much i love that movie. so for the remainder of the day, i will be obsessing about it. writing reviews of scenes, thoughts i’ve had after the fact, thinking about the music, trying to find academic papers on it, researching various theories about what happens. it will be fun times.

to kick off the day, i have two tidbits to offer:

first, how i got the movie… my mom had actually bought it because she loves almost famous (also directed by cameron crowe). i believe we were at sam’s club when she got it. anyway, that afternoon i was cooking something for dinner (this was last summer when i went home for a week) or making a cheesecake or something and i asked her if i could watch the movie even though she hadn’t opened it. she said sure. then i borrowed my sister’s new laptop (which had a dvd player) so i could watch it while i was cooking. i loved the movie so much that i convinced my mom that we should trade dvds, since i was going to sell her blue velvet anyway since i got the special edition. so she said yes and the movie was mine…. i’m not sure if she ever did buy a replacement or watch it. sad.

the other piece of information i wanted to share is that one of the songs toward the end (i cannot remember exactly what scene it’s from) which isn’t on the soundtrack is called “ladies and gentleman we are floating in space” by the band spiritualized. the most memorable lyrics (for me) are when they sing, “i could still fall in love with you/i will love you till i die, and i will love you all the time.” it’s just a really soft and relaxing song.

so there is a start for today’s vanilla sky madness.

Roger Ebert’s review and my thoughts on that:

checkout roger ebert’s review of vanilla sky. even though i’m not a huge ebert fan (mostly due to his trashing of david lynch pre-mulholland drive), this review is decent, and he even suggests that the entire movie is fabricated in david’s head. i think most audiences will be happy with “technical support’s” explanation that the splice happened after the night at the club before the movie turns overtly surreal. but ebert seems to think (and i agree) that even at the begining of the movie, david is dead and everything is part of his lucid dream. i think that’s a pretty gutsy suggestion for a mainstream movie reviewer to make, so i complement ebert on that. sometimes i think he’s just a stupid movie reviewer, but then i realize he’s actually pretty academic about stuff (for example, once a year he does this scene-by-scene disection of a movie with a bunch of film students. in the past they’ve done movies like pulp fiction and even mulholland drive).

also, ebert’s article reminded me that at least three somewhat successful movies (vanilla sky — obviously, mulholland drive, and memento) all came out around the same time and, as ebert describes it, “Requires the audience to do some heavy lifting. It has one of those plots that doubles back on itself like an Escher staircase. You get along splendidly one step at a time, but when you get to the top floor you find yourself on the bottom landing.”

interesting, no, that all of these movies do a complete 180degrees at the end and once you watch them the second time it’s an extremely different experience. more so than other movies, i think. i wonder what it was that was going on in american culture that spurred these three stories to simultaneously develop…

My “big deep analysis” of it:

so two ideas that have been rolling around in my head that were re-emphasized by watching vanilla sky is that the movie could be read as a critique of psychology and psychoanalysis in particular in addition to a a critique of film genre.

first, the psychology. most of the story is told in the context of a psychoanalytic discussion between david and his psychiatrist (dr. curtis mccabe). as foucault has taught us, confession is a privileged way of acquiring “truth” in western society, so because david is “confessing” to a “doctor” the audience is lead to believe that everything he says and understands is true — well, we know this is obviously very wrong, thus questioning the value of confession by “deranged” (which is mccabe’s diagnosis of david) people.

in addition, however, mccabe makes numerous comments (mostly early in the film) about how he’s not a “shrink” and “not all psychiatrists believe in studying dreams.” yet despite these claims, he does ask david about his dreams and toward the end of the movie suggests that david cannot tell the difference between dreams and reality. hmm, seems our “psychiatrist” is confused.

so i guess for those reasons it seems to be saying, “hmm, psychology is fucked because it buys into the confession of deranged people and it claims to be about more than dreams yet it’s still hung-up on them… and even when everything is a dream the psychiatrist is the one who argues otherwise, spouting conspiracy theories.” so a critique of psychology? i think so.

also, the movie seems to critique the genre-ization of film. until the end of the movie, vanilla sky comes off as a psychological thriller. the first time we watch the film, our theories as to what is happening are constructed within the context of the thriller genre: are the seven dwarves involved in a conspiracy? is julie somehow a body double/doppelganger of sophia? is david deranged enough to murder his girlfriend?

but then at the end of the movie it turns into this sci-fi movie about cryogenics (body freezing). this forces us to completely understand the movie in a different way. we ask: could this really happen? is he dead or alive? is this a dream or reality? (obviously some questions between the sci-fi elements and the thriller elements overlap).

then, and this is my favorite part, at the very end the movie is framed as “the ultimate love story.” first, david learns that sophia visited his wake and that she (something along the lines of) “also remembered what it was like to fall in love in an evening” and we find out that david’s “splice” occured at a moment so that in his lucid dream (assuming that the “technical support” explanation is true) he could live happily with sophia (until his dream turns into a nightmare). also, it is the impossiblity of their being able to live as lovers (“i’m frozen and you’ve been dead a hundred years”) that causes david to chose life rather than his lucid dream at the end — in hopes that he can hookup with sophia again “when we’re both cats.” love, it seems, is the ultimate drive of david’s lucid dream and thus the whole movie (or at least half of it).

so there ‘ya have it. vanilla sky as a critique of psychology and film genre.