mad in pursuit journal
5.26.02 Reality Bending
Why do movie producers think that making a bad movie longer will then make it Important? I just finished watching Vanilla Sky (Tom Cruise, directed by Cameron Crowe). Last night I switched it off, but decided to force myself to finish it this morning because one of the reviewers referenced Sixth Sense, the code phrase now for "he's already dead!" I wanted to see the twist.
Unlike the Sixth Sense, I don't want to rewatch it to piece it all together with my new insight. All it will tell me is that this was a jumbled fucked-up cryodream. In the "making of" featurette, the players talked about the many layers of meaning. Sorry. It may have been a philosophical self-indulgence on their part, but for me it was only painfully long. Plus, I have the added burden of never finding Tom Cruise to play a sympathetic character -- from Jerry Maguire to Eyes Wide Shut, I never for a moment believe in his vulnerability.
Mulholland Drive (written/directed David Lynch) did a much better job of turning reality inside out, even though that left me dazed and wondering what the point was.
Maybe my problem is that I'm missing the point. Maybe the point is that there is no point. Maybe our Anglo narrative-drive culture is, in fact, absorbing the Hispanic influence arising from our south: La vida es sueño... y los sueños, sueños son. It's a line I learned in high school, from a 17th century Spanish playwright, Calderón de la Barca. Sueños: dreams, sleep, illusions.
Or maybe the strong narrative line showing the hero conquering adversity is the illusion we cling to. Maybe the reality is that most of us wander through life in a state of anxiety asking ourselves, "What the hell is going on here?" And maybe modern physics leads us to fear -- or long for -- a parallel universe or two that might suddenly intersect and change everything.
Between the first and second halves of Vanilla Sky, I watched Natural Born Killers (written/directed Oliver Stone, 1994). Okay, now here is some narrative-shattering mastery at work. A post-modern Bonnie and Clyde, where we are all complicit in the corruption and then, narcissists, are thoroughly entertained by ourselves.