Wild Palms – Dream Carefully

Wild Palms is one of those TV Series, along with Twin Peaks – and Hannibal to cite something more recent – that I particularly fashioned because of theirs disturbing, hypnotizing concepts and developments. And actually, Wild Palms has the same kind of atmosphere palpable in David Lynch‘s two seasons complex thriller. 

Bruce Wagner, the brain behind this mini-series, collaborated with Oliver Stone in order to produce his creation, and this is not to ignore.
Anyway, risking to sound too pretentious, I believe Wild Palms is a TV Show that only cinephiles could appreciate in its whole, and might never forget like one couldn’t forget Inland Empire. It has complex dynamics, and a listing of art references, being the exquisite centenary wine touching the lips of an oenologist, of a thirsty cinephile. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 4.17.19Truce poetry. Wild Palms is divided in six parts; the pilot, “Everything Must Go” / “The Floating World covered part 1 and 2, and was directed by Peter Hewitt and Keith Gordon. We are directly introduced to confrontations such as reality and dreams, technological advance and religion, violence and mystery; Cronenberg and Lynch. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 12.57.43Harry Wyckoff (James Belushi) is our guy, he’s married to Grace (Dana Delany), has two children; a boy, Coty (Ben Savage) and a girl, Deirdre: what a perfect nuclear family. 

Harry is a lawyer, and a successful one, and until he ran into Paige Katz (Kim Cattrall), his first love, everything was almost okay. Catalyzer. Harry is introduced by her, to senator Tony Kreutzer (Robert Loggia), leader of the Synthiotic, a religious sect (parallelism with the scientology), who happened to create a revolutionary visual technology; the Mimecon; allowing to project holograms, later used in television where the news, movies, TV shows etc would happen in your living room, bedroom or whatever.

The most exciting thing, is the mini-series’ construction, as a dream, with strong blinding lights in background and blurry halos, and it emphasizes a lot on that, and technology of holograms, focusing then on perception and visual accessibility. Wild Palms is really pointing out what our eyes might see, what we can observe, how we can distinct reality from imaginary and illusions, and maybe what we can experience, like a drug experience, from those.
The character of Senator Kreutzer wants to take his technology to the next level, and enter people’s dreams, in order to conquer our unconscious, an unknown, and un-flagged territory, letting madness and ferocity burn him from the inside. 

Eccentric characters, threatening world(s), voyeurism and obsession of power, everything is basically set in the pilot. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 8.08.12Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 4.50.48Part III – “Rising Sons” directed by Kathryn Bigelow

In this episode, you are more informed about the “Fathers” and “Friends” opposed, almost-political, teams, the dictators/the totalitarians, ordered and neat and the revolutionary, scattered, and ferociously courageous. 
Obviously, Kreutzer is one of the Fathers, they are recognizable by the tattoo of a palm tree on their hands. They are vicious, perverse, they kidnap their enemies’ kids and replace them by theirs. This highlights the double connotation of the word “father” which primary meaning looses its status. 

Thus, a crucial element must be evoked here, the rhinoceros; indeed, this animal appears in Harry’s dreams, it is an image that is used by the Fathers and the synthetic church, and here the symbolism is taken from Eugène Ionesco‘s play Rhinoceros, in which people turn into rhinoceroses. It is reminding the dictatorial aspect of the Fathers, wanting to impose their power to the population, and for that has to use the control of the mass and the establishment of a kind of uniformity. 

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Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 3.26.21So, Wild Palms openly plays on references, metaphors, visual spectacles and the essence of originality and fine and unique core, is centered in the script, and of course, its transposition into images. 

Part IV and V that aren’t together, but I am only discussing something in part IV. “Hungry Ghost” and “Hello, I Must Be Going” directed respectively by Keith Gordon and Phil Joanou

I was chocked, and it isn’t quite the right word to describe my reaction when I saw “MAPS TO THE STARS” written with capital letters on a white wall in part IV. 
The cronenbergian technological advances cited in Wild Palms, reached the extent of being predicative; of Cronenberg’s new movie. The connection between those two pieces of art is more than relevant, this coincidence was extraordinary well placed. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 3.59.41But this is only an anecdote. Then, to wrap up, Wild Palms is a great mini-series, that would have been an outstanding movie or a revolutionary TV Show of a dozen of seasons, because of its potential, and possession of its looking-like infinite resources. It is an experience, a cinematic experience, a dystopia mixing economy, politic, religion and development. A dystopia that mixes our past, present and future. It’s an exhaustive work, translating a meticulous study on symbolism in art.

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Her – If Love Was Conceived By Apple

It’s been a while now, since I saw a moving and beautiful love story on screen.

Spike Jonze offered me the possibility to re-experiment the joy and tears of a marvelous romance. Her completely overwhelmed and affected me.
Choosing Joaquin Phoenix as the poetic protagonist, heartbroken, having a hard time opening himself to other women, was the best investment Spike Jonze could do. This actor embodies sweetness, fragility and instability, he made those emotions, adjectives, physically visible. After watching Walk The Line, and reading the plot of Her, you can only think of Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly.
He writes letters for people based on souvenirs they send to him, and lives a bit by procuration. One day, as he was out, he bought an Operation System, which is basically giving your computer a voice and a false consciousness.
And, also choosing Scarlett Johansson‘s voice, as Samantha, the OS 1, was a fine choice. She doesn’t get on your nerves, and she makes you want to see her physically (even if you know the actress), it gets you deeper into the film, and make you share the frustration of both characters.

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That is what the movie is about. Set in a near future, where people are wearing 1980’s clothes, everything is computerized, wireless and you don’t need no keyboards anymore. Virtual love is in the chore of this world.
It is raising the issue of dating websites being more and more popular, but also the issue of anti-sociability, because of this growing technology preventing people to have physical interactions. It is futuristic but simultaneously it speaks to us by being already half implemented in our lives. And after directing movies made where people fall in love with robots, E.Ts or monsters, filmmakers deal now with falling in love with a simple voice. We could fall in love with Siri for exemple. And this is why I had to make the link between Apple and Her. Raising issues, but also opening the door of love and its incredible and vast possibilities.

The power of Spike Jonze is his exciting capacity to hypnotize the spectators and allow them to identify themselves to Theodore’s character, to truly get him. We empathize with him, we understand every emotion, feeling, behavior he has. And we fall in love with his story just like he falls in love with Samantha.
What could be seen as marginal, odd, appears to us, as normal, even obvious. Thinking, even for a second, that Samantha could be the one, is a proof of our implication into the movie, and how fast we adapted ourselves to the situation. A situation that contains familiar tones to everyone of us.

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The poetic evolution of the movie and of Joaquin Phoenix’s character, is the strength of Her. Theodore is leading us with him in this journey of love, he explores a new thing, a new possibility. The magnificence of the film, is its naturalistic tone, its naive sparkle, and the dialectic side of it, because, Theodore is rediscovering his world, rediscovering and learning about love, just like a child or a teenager would do.
Finding out about a new way of love, is exciting and even though we should be careful with it, he throw ourselves into the unknown and pray for the fall to be soft.

Her is a modern love story, that seems so close to what could happen nowadays. Let yourself be blown away by this romance, and don’t even try to hold your breath.