I went to see Vanilla Sky last night. The theater was over half full, maybe 2/3, and I guessed its popularity was not up with some of the others, like Oceans 11.
I got there early to be sure of getting a seat, because I did not know how it would be. In those theaters, there seems to be a running stream of ads and trivia stuff on the screen before the previews begin. And in the background there is something called "Movie Tones" or "Movie Tunes". It is a radio station just for theaters. Instead of the old-time popular classics, they play the top-40 shit.
So there I was, already irritated. Then I started getting annoyed by the soudn of people chomping popcorn! Usually this is not a biggie for me but perhaps my mood was edgy. Did I tell you my father hated the smell of movie popcorn? He loved going to movies but got really upset about that smell, as well as about the loudness, the volume, of the soundtrack. He didn't think much of having much music at all, having grown up without it, mostly.
The movie started well. But we quickly discovered we were seeing a dream and I started to get suspicious. Was this going to be an "It was only a dream" movie?
The script includes many complications, things to figure out, so we are left there wondering. It could have been like The Usual Suspects, or Memento, smart and intriguing, but it wasn't. I don't know what the problem was, although I feel pacing was part of it. I don't normally stress about a film goign too slowly but this one seemed to slug along to make some kind of point and then flash to something else...something wrong there.
Tom Cruise, I think, was the bright spot. His character is a guy who has it all - looks, wealth, power, and youth. He enjoys any woman who interests him, but doesn't seem to get serious. We see him in his bedroom with many mirrors, pulling a gray hair, smiling smiling smiling. But there is more than that. As he goes through the changes in store for him, he faces the loss of looks and possible loss of power and I for one believed it.
I got to thinking that intelligent attractive male actors often want or need to make films where they face their attractiveness square in the face, and face its loss as well. I sense that they may feel a real need to do such parts. I would guess this would have been what interested Cruise.
You would probably have found the two main females just fine to look at and more. I did not find either all that interesting, and was irritated by one of them, Sophia. Again, though, maybe I was just in the mood to be irritated. She spoke with a soft Spanish accent, moved her full lips in all the suggestive ways, was small, a dancer, forever broadcasting her thoughts on her face. To me she was more a male fantasy than a real human. But of course the Cruise character falls for her big-time and remembers something she said, "Every minute is a chance to turn it all around". Such deepness. Wish I'd said that...
I took away something else instead. While Aames (the Cruise character) is examining his life and trying to figure out what to do about a particular situation, he realizes he may have to "learn to become an asshole". In some ways he already is one but that is only on the surface. Fundamentally he is a good person who treats others well. The phrase stuck with me, though. I even jotted it down in a notebook while sittign there in the dark. I wonder if it is even readable.
I think the benefit in seeing this film is in having it to talk about with someone else. I feel like it is a film with promise that was never reached, potential. So there are aspects of it to talk about - characters, actions, direction, editing. I would recommend it on that basis.