The Queasy Dream

I had a very intense dream last night, after watching I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE and it may have had somewhat of an influence. However, I can faintly see pieces of the Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle in there as well. Weird, weird, weird, right? I had to write about it once I woke up, trying not to forget the details. It felt very cinematic. So here’s what I remember. Enjoy!

I’m walking in the rain. It’s foggy and I can’t quite see in front of me. Everything is a grayish-white haze, but I hear a truck coming up from behind me. It passes and stops just ahead of me. An arm swings open the passenger side door. Uneasy, but cautious I step forward. As I see the driver, I’m suddenly calmed because I recognize the man.

(I’m going to leave actual names out here, because this individual is someone I know in real life. In this instance, I shall call him John.)

I smile at John as he smiles back, asking if he can give me a ride. I shrug my shoulders and say, “Sure why not, I’m probably walking in circles out here anyways.” I climb in and we drive off. At some point we’re sitting in traffic. Cars are at a standstill. John mentions he had a dream about me. In his dream he says we had kids together. Instead of being freaked out, I ask what our kids’ names were and if they looked more like me or more like him. He laughed.

At this point I’m staring out the windshield and notice this massive truck that says “wide load” on the back of it, violently swaying in a very unusual way, like something is trying to escape. Suddenly the sounds of a chainsaw surge and it’s coming from the truck up ahead. People are starting to get out of their cars. Whatever this thing is, it unleashes complete havoc and people are all reacting in various strange ways. Some people are being sliced in half, some are being sucked out of the stratosphere, some our just floating in mid air, and people’s heads are exploding. John gets out of the truck and projectile vomits himself to death. Other people are smashing themselves against the cars as if radiation or whatever has scrambled their nervous system, brain motor function. They can’t control themselves. I get out of the truck, trying to figure out what to do next but suddenly my vision starts to fade along with my hearing. I feel like I’m going to faint, but I don’t. It’s like I’ve magically transported or (perhaps teleported) to the next scene. I’m in a strange laboratory. The lights are flickering. The power is being conserved in someway or maybe it’s on it’s last leg of generating electricity. I don’t know. I’m with a group of people like it’s some tour, except we’re heading to a weird platform and who do I see in a lab coat, with glasses, and a beard? Pierce Brosnan. And he’s no James Bond but some kind of obsessed scientist working on a something that’s clearly having an affect on humanity?

(Here’s where I see the Cat’s Cradle motif or perhaps how I’m currently envisioning the character of Felix Hoenikker being portrayed. It’s manifesting in my dreams. Strange, right?)

Brosnan is so encompassed with his work, all of his workers and followers treat him like he’s this glorious God, who in fact is playing God but is oblivious to the consequences it’s having on people. I make some correlation here that whatever he’s creating is destroying humanity against it’s will and I apparently say this out loud. He stares me down, with a dead silent stare. He hands over this mini fetus type thing to his lab aide, who’s actually Charlize Theron from Aeon Flux. I get the stare down from her too. She carefully takes the fetus thing and enters this tank full of what appears to be animatic fluid. I say something like, “I’m not even going to ask what she’s doing with that. This place is baddy.”

At this point, Brosnan takes me by the wrist angrily and nearly drags me down this eerie, damp hallway, doesn’t say a word. I’m freaked out. We get in an elevator and head down. I’m trying to figure out how to save myself from this creep, but am too scared to move. The elevator doors open and we walk into this enormous room that stretches what seems to be for miles. There are several rows of each of these mini fetus creatures all in fragments, some are assembled, some are missing parts, but it’s like a skewered assembly line. Brosnan pushes me into a seat in front of some fetus parts. As I look closer, I noticed their all made out of clay, with tiny bones. Brosnan sits besides me and says I’m going to show you how to sculpt their skeletal framework. At this point something sounds like it’s breaking through the walls. It gets louder and more intense. Pieces of the wall start to break apart, followed by pieces of the ceiling come crumbling down, like it’s an earthquake or we’re about to be taken over by something beyond our control. I start to get up, because I wanna run for my life, but Brosnan sternly shouts, “Sit down, it’s about to be finished.”

THE END.

Moral of the story, don’t read Cat’s Cradle before bed especially when your mind is so heavily absorbed in it because you’ll wake up in a cold sweat, with a headache. This is probably the most intense dreams I’ve had in a long while. It also felt very cinematic that I had to quickly jot it all down and share. This may prompt me to write an X-Files spec script.

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You Have Nothing To Fear: THX-1138

The brilliance behind George Lucas’ 1971 THX-1138 is how he creates a “subconsciously disorienting mood” which exposes us to old school special effects with expressive sound design amplifying the functionality of a dystopian society going down an attenuated hopelessly bleak path where all human emotion is oppressively regulated through none other than subversive technology. Lucas’ is giving us a glimpse of how the world could be and not necessarily showing us how things actually work in that world. It’s THE FUTURE!!!

A secluded society functioning underground without the companion of emotions, nature, beauty, the sun, and utter sensation of wonder has been skinned from humanity while working under the guise of a nuclear assembly line. And let’s not forget about the endless onslaught of propaganda that distracts them from their miserable existence. Which oddly feels like it resonates to today’s heavy usage of social media, data analysis in advertising, constant news coverage of what’s the latest “fearful” trend all while dismantling the line between reality and fantasy. Isn’t it obvious, the world is slowly inching its way through the waiting room of a psyche ward? However, if you’re not heavily medicated then I suppose there is some hope for you and your escape through the dizzying chaos of 2017 which is now 2018. Pat yourself on the back for surviving, you’ve survived another frustrating obstacle, but don’t take a break yet, get ready for the next wave of uncertainty to hit.

The precursor to THX-1138, Lucas’ short student film, ELECTRONIC LABYRINTH THX 1138 4EB (1967) proves to be jarring in it’s claustrophobic nature but also intriguingly enough was produced by Navy students in the Navy workshop of USC. All in all, the film follows a man escaping a futuristic labyrinth while under surveillance which eventually becomes the full feature length THX-1138.

Lucas’ got lucky being astutely strategic along with the aide of an advisor seizing an opportunity to teach Navy students about filmmaking while taking full advantage of the Navy’s resources of unlimited use of color film, lab processing costs, film equipment, and perhaps even access to certain locations. Amazing how things fall into place.

So as everyone has handed over the keys of their humanity to machines!!! EVERYONE. Especially when you hear the repetitive statement which more so feels like a brain-washy command…

“For better efficiency, consumption is standardized.”

Wait, does consumption feel like some form of mind locking slavery? In the Lucas universe it applies to all…

Okay, with exception of Robert DuVall who outstandingly hones his role as THX, while sticking it to the man by being a nonconformist and by the way, Walter Murch believes, THX is homonymous with SEX and his mate LUH with LOVE. Aww how sweet and the irony of being detained, and charged because you give in to your own bodily desires completely alters their lives but also gives them the opportunity to reclaim their lives. This story rules and I’m totally reminded why I admire sci-fi movies. And apparently, (I don’t know if this is an accurate fact or not) Lucas’ named the film after his San Francisco phone number. Genius.

With that being said…

The sound montage by Walter Murch is so sublime it’s practically a crime. If you decide to rewatch the film after reading this, pay extra close attention to the sound effects, the texture, the atmosphere, it’ll subtlety feel like you’re being sedated. Just let your head float on a pillowy cloud which I kind of equate to the sensation of experiencing a sound bath. Try it sometime. Just try it. And was anyone else laughing at the sequence of the Mark 8 student and instructor off screen analytical, monotone dialogue, while being oblivious to the torture of THX spasming out on the floor twitching and screaming like a dilapidated contortionist? The dialogue was so blasé and unsympathetic it was comedic.

“I just punched up one and I’m opening…”

“That’s it now, watch that reading, what the needle on five. This knob is loose.”

“Don’t let it get above 4.7”

“What if you put up a dual display?”

“That’s funny dissolution happens at 4.5.”

Some interesting things to point out in this world is the camera direction in how it’s up close, personal, and very accentuated in the white limbo room’s wide shot scenes, where THX and LUH are naked and getting poked and shocked like livestock being wrangled to their imminent death. Eeriness also lies in those long shots of THX walking through the corridors, the comedic elevator scene, or how about the naked hologram erotically dancing in the living room and of course the electronic glowing Jesus head in the closet which is actually a famous painting by a German painter, Hans Memling. And yet, these are all set pieces of the future and it’s disturbing to fathom now, but I can totally see those things becoming a futuristic trend maybe by 2137, especially when we’re currently on the precipice of toying with AI technology. Oh dear.

I have so many thoughts about this film and the possibilities of numerous theories and new insights especially since this was made in 1971 and we’re in 2018. You’re not always going to need the fancy CGI effects to tell an original story, but as long as the message pierces through all of that, then I suppose it’s really something the mind can play with and question while managing to be entertaining. I feel like so many films today fail to make us question things. Isn’t that a shame? The day we lose our curiosity and just accept whatever the status quo is is the day humanity surrenders to the one’s who dominate and execute their power by using the status quo as a bargaining chip. It becomes an infiltrated game of chess, ah yes the game of life, hijacked by the powers at be. Scary.

Ultimately, man creates a society where emotions are abusively controlled and individualism has been struck down like a dove from the sky. But you know, humans will always have the intrinsic impulse for freedom as long as they keep resisting and fighting the future, there will be a sense of purpose instead of being force-fed a faded idealism that’s meant to be construed as being “for the greater good”. Often times, it’s our perceptions that sway us to believe we’re doing the right thing, when the right thing can be so distortedly subjective leaving most in questionable waters, squealing for a life jacket. But don’t worry the chrome robot policemen will keep you safe as long as you don’t fuck with them and you take your meds, you’ll be just fine.

Alas, I suppose we should take solace in knowing:

Consumption has been standardized.

Let us be thankful we have an occupation to fill.

Prevent accidents, and be happy.

Drips of Melancholy: UNDER THE ELECTRIC CLOUDS

I’ve been meaning to post this since Thanksgiving, but looks like New Year’s Eve will have to suffice. Last one for 2017.

HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYONE!

After subscribing to the streaming service Mubi two months ago, UNDER THE ELECTRIC CLOUDS or known as it’s Russian title POD ELEKTRICHESKIMI OBLAKAMI was the first film that instantly caught my attention. I know they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I sensed it be a film that would cerebrally enchant my inquisitive brain and it was drenched with melancholy, so I could not and would not resist. It’s a drama but borders more along the sci-fi genre in my humble opinion, yet most mainstream audiences may consider it disjointedly unfathomable which is fairly harsh considering the fact it’s a classic existential film. I wish, I could have seen this one on the big screen as it’s heightened strength lies within the gorgeous cinematography as much as it’s cryptic, atmospheric and ambiguous nature. And one shouldn’t be surprised as it did win the Silver Bear Award for such an achievement at the biggest film festival on the planet.

Directed by Aleksei German Jr. the narrative is chopped up into 7 different episodic stories. Every character’s life in some fashion or another is connected to this half-finished edifice somewhere in Russia. The heirs of this building are not sure if they should sell off the land or keep it. While one character, a laborer who seems aimlessly lost because one he’s foreigner and two he doesn’t speak the language and, after construction has been halted, he awakens one morning on a frozen seashore to a screaming woman being murdered which is as jarring of a scene as it is hypnotizing. This of course happens within the first 15 minutes of the film, which will make you sit up right in you’re chair for a brief instant or at least I did. Majority of the film is intricate, much like ballroom dancing which paints it’s impressionistic aura quite swiftly. It’s like a mood that passes through you, perhaps even hauntingly stays with you like an ominous shadow twirling in the limelight in the depths of your subconscious. Maybe. Too much? Probably just me, then. I was totally bewildered, once the credits rolled.

The other characters include the architects, the real estate lawyers, the junkies, and the hostage all linked to the essence of this building which leaves one to question its significance. Personally, I believe the building represents the future, creation, legacy, and hope, which all have been torn to shreds by the doom and gloom and fanatically obsessed “superfluous of men”. Alas, the opening quote may have hinted at what the scope of this film might be about and whether you agree or disagree it’s all subjective, isn’t it? We’re all somewhat destroyers of our own creations. We create what we destroy and destroy what we create and life is all one big merry-go-round.

What really gets my brain churning is this dystopian, illuminating world encompassed by a dense blanket of fog which has a sustainable presence in every episodic story with different characters all trying to figure out what to do with themselves. You see it’s 2017, and Russia is teetering over a black hole, or what I like to describe as being in a state of suspended animation. The world as it once was, is now freefalling like a green 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible. Guess what movie that’s from? Go on, guess.

Every character is left stranded, attempting to make sense out of their existence knowing they’re on the brink of another world war. It’s almost what I imagine what the waiting room to purgatory must be like, awaiting your fate direly. Things have gone horribly wrong. Each character is on the dividing line of hope and despair, with limited resources now becoming scarce. This is what I imagine happening when all technology is obliterated and know one can operate without the life support of their smartphone or Facebook feed. You have to rewire and learn a new or perhaps old school way of surviving. You can’t always Google the answer, folks.

My favorite episode in this film, is in the fourth chapter titled, “Land for Construction”. Here we have Nikolai, who’s some intellectual reduced to the occupation of being a tour guide in a museum that’s essentially on it’s last leg of existing. There’s a severe contrast here, and maybe even irony to his profession, as a scholar and tour guide dressed in a Hussar costume preserving history that’s on the verge of being torn town by the imminent presence of a new skyscraper. There’s always going to be two kinds of people in this world, one who desperately holds history on a prevalent threshold and those who want to demolish it to the ground, when all in all we need history to bridge the past to the present. The dialogue is thought provoking and I really feel I have to watch this several more times to fully grasp everything but, the one line that stuck out is when Nikolai confesses to his friend, “Lately I’ve been feeling tiny like I’m on my own palm…” I could go on and on with that statement but, I’ll save it for another blog. We’re all tiny specks in unfathomable size of a universe.

On another note, I’ve read some other reviews and some believe “UNDER THE ELECTRIC CLOUDS is the film BLADE RUNNER 2049 was attempting to be” (Yikes!) which surely made me stop and ponder. I still haven’t seen the newest BLADERUNNER so I can’t form much of an opinion on that yet but I’m kind of glad I viewed UNDER THE ELECTRIC CLOUDS first, which will certainly influence my mindset when I do finally watch BLADE RUNNER.

Personally, I found this film somewhere between Tarkovaky’s SACRIFICE and fragments of T.S. Elliot’s “The Waste Land” because ultimately it’s questioning what it means to be human when all seems to be lost. As Alexander (from SACRIFICE) says, “We wait for something. We hope, we lose hope, we move closer to death. Finally, we die.” It’s poetic and inevitable as we face life head on through trials and tribulations, through scorn, love, hardship, loss, and the list is endless. Again, the only guiding light is an unfinished building dissolving away in the background and it’s as if the sun has died and everyone is mourning it’s loss. It’s elusive, it’s ethereal, and the essence of just being human while harboring questions of the here, the then, and the future. It’s like we’ve forgotten how to breathe, when overwhelmed with the onslaught of emotions, and uncertainty of the future. This film is magnetically, thought-provoking on so many levels, it’s still difficult for me to describe it in so many words. I mean, I’m not even scratching the surface here. I am captivated by it’s brilliance so much as it delicately rattles that circumspect cage I hide out in from time to time. I adore it’s ambiguity just as I wrestle my own thoughts against the unexplainable and perhaps the unattainable. Have some patience, there’s subtitles, and please watch this film, it’s remarkable.