Vanilla Sky (2001)
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Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee, Kurt Russell, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton, Alicia Witt, Johnny Galecki, Michael Shannon, Ivana Milicevic, Shalom Harlow, Oona Hart, Jhaemi Willens, Delaina Mitchell
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All Head, No Heart
Favorite Movie Quote: "Oh, because for a minute there I thought we were talking about wearing a mask!"
Three of my favorite films are Blade Runner, Seven, and The Usual Suspects, films that, while generally well received, are rather polarizing. Whichever side of the spectrum I find myself on in cases such as this, I try really hard never to say the magic words, "you just don't get it". Because when someone says it to me, not only is it seldom true, it makes me want to punch the speaker in his or her baby-maker. So that there's no confusion about 'getting it' let's break this shiznet down. Now, if you haven't seen Vanilla Sky yet and you read something here that ruins it for you, that's really your fault.
Rich and slightly arrogant David Ames (Tom Cruise) breaks it off wih his weekend kitty, Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz), clarifying to her that she was more or less nothing more than weekend kitty. Ames then attends a party where his best friend and writer Brian Shelby (Jason Lee) introduces him to dancer Sofia Serrano (Penelope Cruz). If I remeber correctly, Shelby's sweet on Sofia and all three people know this, so David and Sofia promptly bang. Julie (oh, we aren't done with her just yet) discovers this 'betrayal' and responds the way most stalkers do towards their 'other', she drives them both over a bridge,
1. Killing herself and leaving him with a fairly bad facial disfigurement, David becomes a shut in, refusing to face the world at all, running his company from behind a computer. A mask is suggested with a mixed reaction, but ultimately David comes out of hiding to go see Sofia. She's polite enough, but in the time between the accident, David's recovery, and the time it took him to screw up the courage to come see her, Shelby moved in to Sofia Town. David does what any self-respecting man would do, he feels sorry for himself, gets drunk, makes an ass of himself, and passes out in the street.
2. Sofia comes to him the next morning (still on that street) and helps him get his immediate shiznet together. They begin spending time together and poor Shelby is kicked to le curbo. A new plastic sugery fully restores David's facial features and he and Sofia seem to be in pure bliss (but a movie can't end like that). David starts seeing reflections of the disfigured face, meets a weird dude (Noah Taylor) in a bar who says, "you can change the world", and eventually Sofia is Julie (She's back!). In a bit of a craze, David kills Julie/Sofia and is put on trial, his shrink, McCabe (Kurt Russell).
Unable to face what he's done (kill Sofia) David's wearing the mask again, while McCabe tries to divine Ames' brand of madness. I can't remember how they come to this, but McCabe takes David to a place that offers to cryogenically freeze people, giving them a 'lucid dream' while asleep. David believes he's figured it out and screams for tech support. The weird dude shows up and takes David to the roof during which time he explains 150 years have passed, that David entered the facility the morning after passing out on the curb, but there's been a glitch with his dream. They can fix his dream, or David can open his eyes in the now, everyone he knows dead and completely broke. To prove his commitment to leaving the dream (and as a rather basebat-like metaphor), David must jump off the roof of the building. He does, flash of images, his eyes open. Credits.
The point of the movie is, in a nutshell, ignorance is blissful but false, reality is terrifying but beautiful. You choose: head in ass or out of ass.
I took the time to type up the whole story because 1 and 2 are the two most likely starting points of when the dream begins. Other theories are that the whole thing is a dream or possibly a book being written by Shelby. Whatever. Personally, I think making your story's reality this up for grabs given the film's theme is in and of itself pointless, i.e. shouldn't you just be accepting the movie for what it is rather than what you'd have it be?
This is the central problem for the two most tragic characters David and Julie, assuming they are real of course. Julie, a stalker, cannot accept what she means to David (piece of ass) so destroys her life, nearly taking him with her. David, in turn, cannot accept his disfigurement, or his loss of Sofia to Shelby, a man who either is or at least is perceived to be a lesser man. David then essentially ends his own life and begins living with a phantasm of the woman for whom he had affection, Sofia. He essentially ends up killing her in the visage of Julie, a woman that killed herself in part because of how he treated her, showing perhaps his finally realized guilt.
With all this complex mental humpty-hump, most of my friends think I love this movie, but the fact is I'm luke warm on it. The film's ultimate point, to me, was made with out the end game twist mind screw and really just serves as the super-sweet happy ending. Wouldn't we all like to live again with the knowledge of our life's mistakes? That's basically what David gets at the film's conclusion, right? And doesn't that kind of defeat the message of the flick itself? Part of dealing with reality is accepting that are consequences for your actions. If you believe David's waking up 150 years later with no money and no friends then he's suffered some consequences, but if you buy into any of the other interpretations he gets off scott free.
I guess I just find the whole exercise a really carefully constructed masterpiece that, while it engages me intellectually, never engages me emotionally, something Cameron Crowe (Say Anything, Almost Famous, Jerry Mcguire) has never failed to do - until now.
Regardless of where my head's at, my heart's just not in it.
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