Sunday, January 31, 2016

In Dreams

Year 8, Day 31 - 1/31/16 - Movie #2,232

BEFORE: Programming Note: Tomorrow is February 1, and while I'm giving over the month to films about romance (sorry once again, Black History Month...) Turner Classic Movies is running their annual "31 Days of Oscar" programming, and they've copied my idea of linking films with actors.  Beginning at 6 am, tomorrow's line-up is: "Gigi", which links through John Abbott to "The Merry Widow", which links through Una Merkel to "Broadway Melody of 1936", which links through Paul Harvey to "Calamity Jane", through Doris Day to "Billy Rose's Jumbo", through Stephen Boyd to "Ben-Hur", through Jack Hawkins to "Lawrence of Arabia", through Alec Guinness to "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and through James Donald to "Edward, My Son".  Wow, someone uses even more obscure links than I do!  

But, it's a good test to see how far I've come - I've seen 4 out of those 9 films, and two of those were part of this project, so roughly, I've seen twice as many "classic" movies now as I had before.  I'll try to keep score during the next month, and I'm not interested in adding much to the watchlist - of the five films tomorrow that I haven't seen, not much interests me.  But if you've never seen "Ben-Hur" or "Lawrence of Arabia" or "The Bridge on the River Kwai", it's a fine time to start bingeing on TCM.

One last Robert Downey film before I kick off the February chain.  This one sort of slipped through the cracks when I did serial killers as a theme, I only picked it up when I needed to fill a place on a DVD with "The Judge", and I knew I'd be covering this actor.  

THE PLOT:  When a stranger kidnaps a girl, Claire Cooper dreams about the man but Detective Jack Kay ignores her concerns. But when her daughter disappears during a school play, she learns that her visions were actually premonitions and she is connected to the killer through her dreams.

AFTER: I didn't really get this one, it didn't speak to me, and I think part of the problem stems from someone not understand what the audience wants out of a movie, if that makes any sense.  Sure, there's a fascination with serial killers, but I think we only want them to be successful, up to a point.  They're not sympathetic characters to begin with, but the more success they have, the more anti-heroic they become, logically, unless they're killing other serial killers, like on "Dexter", or they're already incarcerated, like Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs".  With tricks like that, at least the audience can relax, knowing that justice, or at least ironic justice, will eventually be served. 

But here, there are no such promises, so the killer is free to kill again and again, moving on to the next little girl.  It's not a happy situation, especially when the woman who's having dreams about these killings is something of a Cassandra, either no one believes her, or she's unable to interpret the meaning of her dreams until after the next crime is committed.  Meanwhile, her dreams are getting worse and they even start happening in the daytime, when she's not even asleep.  This also puts the audience in a terrible position, because now there can be no certainty over what's real and what's imaginary.

So there's a heavy buy-in here, you have to believe not only in mental powers but the ability for two people to be connected, and that there's some kind of similarity between the power of precognition and the twisted thoughts of a killer.  OK, maybe there are still things not known about how human brains work, but that doesn't mean that a screenwriter or filmmaker can make them work however they want, however it's necessary to make the story work.  It's another case of "Because movie, that's why."  

NITPICK POINT: OK, so a girl gets killed - and the woman who claimed to have foreseen it is not taken seriously, and she says this case is connected to another disappearance upstate, although the police don't seem to agree.  She then gets moved to a mental hospital where?  Upstate, of course - and no one sees the implication of this?  Unless the cops were using this psychic woman as bait to track down the killer, which doesn't seem like they have her best interests at heart.  

Again, it's what's necessary to move the plot forward.  What do you suppose the chances are that this woman would be put not only in the same mental hospital that the killer was once in, but in the exact same room?  Chances are astronomically against that, unless some kind of divine providence is at work.  So there you go, mental powers, useless prognostication, God and the afterlife, all rolled up into one big ball of nonsense and futility.  This is really not how I would choose to spend my time, all things considered.

Also starring Annette Bening (last seen in "The Face of Love"), Aidan Quinn (last seen in "Practical Magic"), Paul Guilfoyle (last seen in "Amistad"), Stephen Rea (last seen in "Angie"), Dennis Boutsikaris (last seen in "The Bourne Legacy"), Margo Martindale (last seen in "Nobody's Fool"), Katie Sagona.

RATING: 3 out of 10 fairy tales

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