Apr 20, 2010

Are you a figment of Leo Di Caprio's imagination?

'Have you ever had a sneaking suspicion that you may be a figment of Leonardo di Caprio’s imagination? Cinemagoers are beginning to wonder. First we had Shutter Island, the events of which may or may not have been taking place inside the actor’s troubled head. Arriving soon in cinemas is Christopher Nolan’s Inception, in which Di Caprio plays a dream thief who plucks secrets from the heads of sleeping tycoons — “an Existential heist movie” according to its maker which plays out in the confines of the human mind. Later this year, Darren Aronofsky will release his latest mind-bender, Black Swan, a psychological thriller in which a ballerina played by Natalie Portman may or may not be imagining the existence of her closest rival. What’s with this sudden burst of solipsism at the movies? Has Descartes Principia philosophiae become the latest bedside reading in Hollywood? Or is it just a case of clever-clog directors retreating into their hi-tech bunkers? The theme has long found favour with the more paranoid, druggier corner of the sci-fi world: Fassbinder’s two-part TV movie, World on Wire (1973) featured a techhead played by Fred Stiller who becomes convinced that the world he inhabits is in fact a computer simulation; Philip K Dick’s Total Recall and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, later Blade Runner, both turned on the notion of implanted memories that are more real than the real thing. Such mazy imaginings have been given a new vigor by the ever-greater encroachments of the internet: with more and more of our daily lives spent with our heads glued to a screen, the possibility that we might permanently disappear into it, like Alice through the looking glass, has come to tantalise us. The Matrix flipped through alternative realitites with the agility of someone taking their new browser for a spin, spearheading a wave of movies in which reality turned out to be if not a complete chimera, then certainly an optional extra— Nolan’s own Memento, Richard Linklater’s Waking Life, Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The internat has premanently altered our sense of cinematic space, punching through the fourth wall into infinite, Escher-like regress, through which the camera is now free to rush, although as the Matrix sequels made clear, too many wormholes in the space-time continuum can turn filmmakers brains to swiss cheese. For every Matrix, there is a Vanilla Sky, or an eXistenZ, films in which an intensely cultivated interest in alternative reality acts as handy cover for a dramatist’s inability to establish any kind of reality in the first place. If it all turns out to be a dream, then who can complain about illogical plots and unbelievable characters? Moreover, if I turn out to have been a figment of Leonardo di Caprio’s imagination all along, have I foregone my right to a refund' — my first post for the Daily Telegraph's film pages

No comments:

Post a Comment