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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Atonement – A reconciliation with loss.

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I dedicated my afternoon watching 5 episodes (75min each), of a japanese TV series.

Shokuzai, which biblically speaking, refers to God’s forgiveness was directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cult, Bright Future), an adept of japanese horror genre, who took a step down, and adapted this novel written by Kanae Minato, into a TV drama.

In a nutshell, the story is about a five little girls who, one day were in a playground, when a man came and ask one them to help him fix a fan (how the hell a 10 years old girl is supposed to help with those things?!). She followed him, but was gone for too long, that’s why her friend went to check on her and found her dead body.

But the story is especially about a mother, who will never forgive children from refusing to help arrests the one who took away her daughter, and the consequences of that tragic event.

Kurosawa structured his episodes just like chapters of a book; the four first focusing on each girl and what they become 15 years later. They appeared to me powerful and captivating. We are entering their lives, and observing their evolution knowing their similar trauma, and the different effects it had on them depending on their environment.

Kyôko Koizumi, performing the mother named Asako Adachi, exudes a palpable coldness, so attractive, that you admire her, despite her questionable behavior towards the girls. She imposes herself as their tormentor, and required from them, to pay for playing mute during the investigation of the murder of her daughter, Emiri. Her anger provide her a partial control of herself, hiding some dark side and insanity.

The whole drama shows how one event can have different effects on the people experiencing it. It shows the hardness of loosing a friend, a child; the hardness of feeling guilty, and how trauma on children leads to a dysfunction in the mental system.

The atonement, is therefore, not about receiving the forgiveness of a mother they betrayed against their will, but about reconciliation with the guiltiness they were feeling the whole time and the perpetual seek of freedom.

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Shokuzai, is a great piece of work, that shows indirectly the japanese state of mind in the 70’s and which exposes a bunch of values and psychological portraits interesting to learn about.

The human psychology is big sea, and you’ll never know what fishes you will catch.