Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
What a collision. Vern and Michel Gondry. Can’t wait to see how this goes:
THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP
I saw THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP which is the new Michel Gondry picture that comes out in September. It was the closing movie at the Seattle International Film Festival here. Michel Gondry was there to briefly introduce the movie, but didn't do a question and answer session. Which is good because the first question probaly would've been, "what was that all about?"
Here's the "where I'm coming from" paragraph, I'll keep it brief. If you're not into Michel Gondry then throw a grain of salt on this one, because I like every movie the guy has made. Yes, including HUMAN NATURE. I was the guy in the theater who was embarrassed because he couldn't stop laughing and nobody else could start. To this day I think people didn't give it a fair shake because they only had BEING JOHN MALKOVICH to compare it to. I honestly believe there will soon be a mass re-evaluation around the world where people decide they like HUMAN NATURE after all, now that they like Michel Gondry. If this does indeed happen then everybody has to buy me a Pepsi or something.
DAVE CHAPPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY is probaly my favorite movie so far this year so it's impressive that Gondry has another one already done. And sure enough, it's a good one.
SCIENCE OF SLEEP is sort of a surreal romantic comedy about Stphane (Gael Garca Bernal), a Gondry type who falls for his neighbor and tries to start a relationship with her. They have alot in common because they're both very creative and goofy, but it's awkward because he's more of a weirdo than she is. Although he passes as a normal adult human with a boring job, he has some Pee Wee Herman in him. He keeps bringing her inventions such as a time machine that can go only one second into the future or past, or glasses that make reality 3-D, even though it already is. The movie depicts these devices as if they actually work so it's sort of up to the audience whether to take it literally or not.
But also the movie is about dreams. According to his mom, Stphane doesn't know how to tell the difference between dreams and reality. We see alot of the dreams and they're based on old amateur super-8 shorts, so the world is made out of cardboard and intentionally fake looking stop motion animation. But these things also appear in his "real" life sometimes, so his mom must be right. In his dreams he has his own TV show, on a set made out of cardboard and foam, and he does a cooking demonstration to explain how dreams are made. This is not something I've seen in a movie before, although there's a couple out there I haven't seen yet. They definitely didn't do it in any of the Nightmare On Elm Streets.
A buddy of mine was frustrated because he wasn't sure what was supposed to be real and what was supposed to be fantasy, but I don't think you can really look at the movie that literally. It doesn't really matter. The point is when he and his girl turn on the sink they both see animated cellophane coming out instead of real water. And he can call her on the phone from a dream and describe it to her. So they're on the same wavelength.
If you can't accept that (and I know some of you can't, because I saw the talkback about the upcoming Gondry movie where Jack Black's magnetized brain erases all the videos and he has to star in a remake of RUSH HOUR) then I urge you to sit this one out. It's not worth the stress. On the other hand, my buddy really liked the movie, despite it sometimes infuriating him.
As you can probaly guess by this description, SCIENCE OF SLEEP is the first movie Gondry has written on his own. When you see it you will realize yeah, when you subtract Charlie Kaufman from the Gondry movies, this is what you get. It reminds me more of his music videos than his other movies. It's even weirder than the Kaufman movies, but more whimsical. If you thought AMELIE was too whimsical, this one will make you cough up blood. But somehow it wasn't too cute for me. It works. Be sure to wear two belts if you don't want your pants charmed off. I don't know if your socks are necessarily gonna be knocked off on this particular one, but the pants are certainly in danger. I guess to be safe you should watch for the socks also. It's definitely a movie like you haven't seen before.
The tone is more upbeat than the Kaufman movies, and it doesn't depict humanity as being as ugly as Kaufman seems to see it as. But there is definitely some anger and hurt at times. I guess Gondry did make up the concept for ETERNAL SUNSHINE after all so he's not all, uh, sunshine.
The movie is alot more about gimmicks and clever ideas than his other ones are. I mentioned AMELIE and it's really not the same kind of movie, but it does give you the same idea that he must've written down ideas in a journal for years before he put them all into this script. It's obviously a very personal film to Gondry and also a showcase of his talents and obsessions. If you enjoy his work you're probaly gonna love it, but I don't think as many people will have a personal attachment to it as they did to ETERNAL SUNSHINE. That had pretty universally relatable business about break ups, this one is a little more geared toward people who see the world like Gondry does.
I should probaly warn, if you are a scientist and you are hoping that this will contain information about the latest sleep studies, you will probaly be disappointed. Other than that it's real solid though, I'm glad I was able to see it.