Thursday, August 5, 2010
Dreamed last night that I went to see this movie about people who can insert themselves into your dreams at the early show at AMC in Times Square with Philip K Dick. Dick was not happy; he said he couldn’t decide whether the director was stealing from The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch or using this movie as an audition to direct the film version, which has been optioned by MGM, which means it’s in development hell like the next James Bond movie. “It’s like a time warp out there in Hollywood,” Dick says. “When they tell you your project is currently in development, you can figure on not hearing anything for two months. And when they tell you you’ll hear from them next week? Make that six months. And when you’re dead? Forget about it.”
The movie starts with a neat little escapade where what you think is reality turns out to be a dream within a dream. Dick predicts this ten seconds into the film. “Sub-basement to basement,” he says, almost immediately. “If reality is the ground floor, then we’ll only know we’re actually in the real in world at the very end. And maybe not even then. It depends on if the babe is around.” The babe, in this dream within a dream, is someone who deliberately thwarts the main character’s desires, like a homicidal anima. “Suicidal, actually,” Dick says. Me, I’m initially thinking it’s a rival dream thief, but given that she’s played by Marion Cotillard, I’m going with either ex-girlfriend or dead girlfriend. “Dead girlfriend,” says Dick. “Ten bucks says the hero gets trapped in unreality. Or doesn’t want to get out. Or there is no reality. It's just his head. He winds up making reality out of his worst nightmare. He wakes up in what he thinks is the real world and there's the dead girlfriend, alive and waiting for him. There is no reality." "Dude," I say, "this is a caper movie. No way a caper movie ends like that, not even a quirky dream caper movie. It’s too Zelazny.”
Roger Zelazny, who’s stealing my popcorn from the row behind me, leans in and says, “Ten bucks says the hero gets lost in dreamland and can’t get out.” “You mean like in Dream Master?” I ask. “No,” he says, “like in that crappy movie they made out of Dream Master. The one where somebody’s trying to kill the president.” “You mean Dreamscape?” “Yup.” “That was based on Dream Master?” “Yup,” says Zelazny. “I wrote an outline based on my novel and sold it to Fox, but because I never wrote an actual treatment or a first draft, my name was never in the credits. Fucking Hollywood.” “I agree,” says Dick. “I don’t think Hollywood’s that bad,” I say. Dick turns to me and pulls out a gun. “You need to wake up,” he says, and shoots me in the face.
When I wake up, I’m sitting next to Marion Cotillard in a half-empty tabac on the Left Bank. She speaks French, but I understand what she’s saying because she has subtitles that automatically appear under her chin. “It was déjà vu, that movie,” she says. “For one thing, it was exactly the same part I had in Nine, except that in this one I didn’t have to dress up like a Victoria’s Secret model for my big number.” “Thank God for that at least,” I say, and she agrees by clinking her wine glass with mine. “You were the heart of that movie,” I tell her. She thanks me. “This one too,” I add. She smiles at me and I melt. “You are totally making a career out of that, too, by the way,” I point out. “I know,” she says, “I’d be three for three right now if Public Enemies hadn’t sucked like a family of vampires.” “Yeah, that was a waste of digital tape, huh?” “About as warm as a popsicle at the South Pole.” “And this movie would have been the same way without you in it.” She mutters something that her subtitles say is “[Demurs inaudibly.]” “Although when you think about it,” I go on, “you were in it even when you weren't around because of that Piaf song.” "Did you like that?” she asks. I nod. “I loved that,” I say. “Why did you love it?” she asks with a sweet little smile. I melt again. “Because every time it played, I thought of you winning the Oscar for playing Piaf five years ago.” “Two years ago.” “You sure?” “Positive.” “I could have sworn it was five,” I say. She shakes her head sadly. “Time moves more quickly down here,” she explains. “How quickly does it move on a film set?” “Sacred blue,” her subtitles say. “It moves like a turtle with four broken legs.”
She points to the set, where Leonardo DiCaprio is standing in a wading pool surrounded by divers. The director is going to shoot a series of close-ups of him in the van while he’s underwater, and it is actually going to happen sometime between now and the end of the month, but while he’s standing there, Marion and I have another glass of wine, share a cheese plate, and bitch about how impossible it is to translate Moliere into English. I give her some impromptu alexandrines and she laughs. This gives me enough false confidence to ask her if she's free for dinner. She smiles again. In the distance I hear “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” start playing. Everybody looks up into the sky. Except Cotillard, who stares at me and takes my hand. “You need to wake up,” she says, and leans in for a kiss.
When I wake up, I’m fighting Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a hotel corridor. He’s dressed like one of the leads from Quadrophenia; I’m dressed like Lawrence of Arabia’s stand-in. “Great fight sequence,” I tell him, kicking his legs out from under him. “Thanks,” he replies, bouncing off the ceiling and dive bombing me. “And that moment with Ellen Page,” I say, leaping out of the way and doing a bank shot on the far wall to land on his back. “You like that?” he says with a grin, kneeing me in the chin. “Best moment in the movie,” I say, grabbing his ankle as I fall away and swinging him like a shotput. “Even better than this one?” he asks, grabbing a doorknob to anchor himself. He swings his leg up to the ceiling like a whip; I hit the ceiling hard, then fall and hit the ceiling again as the corridor rotates around me, then fall through the giant stained-glass roof of the Poseidon ballroom, and everything goes black.
When I wake up I’m in bed with my high school sweetheart. We're staring up at the ceiling, which is the street we grew up together as seen from above. If I reach out, I can just touch the top of her house. “You need to dream bigger, darling,” says Tom Hardy. I turn around; he’s in bed with Elke Sommer circa 1965. Elke pushes Hardy off the bed and crawls over to me. “When are we going to see Inception again?” she asks, nibbling my ear. “Inception!” cries my high school sweetheart. “You told me you were taking me to see Inception!” “Don’t take her,” says Elke, “she’s married and looks like her mother these days. Take me. As long as there’s a copy of Shot In The Dark, I’m always 24.” She points to my high school sweetheart. “When she was 24, she was married for 2 years.” I turn to my high school sweetheart and start to say something but before I can speak, she says: “I knew you’d rather have her than me!” and slaps me in the face.
When I wake up, I’m having dinner with Christopher Nolan. “What just happened?” I say. “I just planted the idea that my movie is the best thing you’ve ever seen,” he replies. “You see, between the way you worship Elke Sommer circa 1965 and your high school sweetheart, I can pretty much use them to implant anything I want into your subconscious and you’ll think it was your idea.” In the background, I hear Edith Piaf singing about how she has no regrets at all anymore about anything. “And that’s my clever way of making you think of Marion Cotillard even when she’s not around,” says Nolan “Can you think of a clever way to make me think I’m not in my day job?” I ask. “No,” he says. “For that, you need to wake up.” "How do I do that?" I ask. Nolan points to the bottom of the blog entry. "See that MP3?" he says. "Click on it and you'll know exactly where you really are."
He walks away, leaving me to sit there waiting to get to the end of the blog entry. Eons pass. Continents rise and fall. The sun turns red. The human race evolves into a species with actual intelligence. Then Edith Piaf starts singing again, and Tom Hardy comes in dressed as a waiter and hands me the check. “You need to tip bigger, darling,” he says, and disappears.
Mind Heist - Zack Hemsey