Big Jim did not enjoy

The Onion recently ran a feature entitled "Inception’s inception? 38 stories that take place largely within dreams",42967/

Partly out of my love of Nolan's most recent film, and partly out of my total fascination with dreams I decided to check some of these out. When I say "fascination" with dreams, I don't mean that in the way most people do. I have fairly severe sleep apnea. For those who don't know that means that I stop breathing when I fall asleep. Mine is fairly severe and, if untreated, I have what is called an "episode" every 15-30 seconds. That means that I fall asleep, in less than half a minute I stop breathing and wake up. Now, I don't fully wake up, but I am pulled back from the deeper, important levels of sleep. Because of that I never entered REM or delta sleep, so dreams seem like some type of urban myth to me.

Last October I got a CPAP machine so that I can keep breathing while asleep and get the important, restful, dream filled sleep all you bastards take for granted. So I am just now becoming exposed to the phenomena. Don't get me wrong, I don't have really vivid dreams with all that Freudian imagery people talk about, I still think that is bullshit. But, because I have never really experienced them, I find the very idea of dreaming to be an odd concept.

With this in mind, I decided to check out some of the movies from this list just for the hell of it. There were several of these that I was very familiar with. I know "The Prisoner" episode, "A,B,&C," "The Cell (wow, a serial killers mind looks like a mix between a Tool video and the video to "Losing My Religion," by REM!!)", "Dreamscape," "Nightmare on Elm Street," but there were some of the less mainstream ones that I was interested in.

I started with Jake Paltrow's, "The Good Night," and am a little pissed that I did. What you have here is a movie, presented as a comedy, that has no likeable or sympathetic characters, no real motivation for any of the action, no catharsis, no interesting action, no character development, and almost no funny moments. It's the story of Gary, (played by Martin Freeman, an actor I discovered on the original Office and have liked over the years) a musician from a one hit wonder 80's band who is reduced to writing jingles for the company run by former band mate Paul(Simon Pegg, you know how I feel about his past work). He is in a dying relationship with Dora (Gwyneth Paltrow, doing her brother a favor I believe) who has apparently had it with him. Not only does she not appear to love him, but she doesn't even seem to be able to stand him. There is no part of this man's life that does not suck.

Then he starts having repeating dreams about a beautiful woman, Penelope Cruz, and starts studying lucid dreaming in an attempt to be able to live fully in this dream world. He later discovers that Cruz is actually a model he has seen in countless advertisements. Paul, as a favor to Gary, hires he for a campaign. This, I believe, was meant to lead to some climactic moment where Gary realizes something about his love for Dora and his need to create his own music again and learns to really live life. I don't know what the intention was, all I can say is that if the intent of this film was to do anything other than run for 93 minutes and make you laugh about 4 times, it was a total failure.

This is a mess of a movie. The performances are fine, the cinematography is nice (it has a very gritty feel to it), but it felt empty. I think I was supposed to see a person trapped in an unhappy life who finds a wonderful escape in his dreams, but I didn't really see this. What I did see was a kind of unlikable guy who has given up on himself, accepted a loveless relationship, sold out his music while bemoaning being unable to create the music he wants, who makes a dream world made up of leftover pop culture images and attempts to use lucid dreaming to have sex with an idealized woman. He doesn't try to better either his real or his dream world, he just wants to cheat on his girlfriend without any physical evidence.

Almost everyone goes through "rebuilding years," where their life comes off the tracks, everything sucks, and to quote Kipling, you,"watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools." Most people have these periods which are punctuated by the desperation to start again and the actions towards starting again. That passion was absent from this film. Paltrow simply asks too much of the audience by presenting a character like this and then expecting us to care about the quality of his sex dreams.


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