30 June 2005 | jpschapira
What dreams are made of...
Some movies only work if we let ourselves carry away by them. They present a surrealistic imagination world that comes from the mind of their creators. They are hard to watch, especially when they mix real characters that live their lives sometimes awaken, or inside one big dream or their own dreams.
Axel Blackmar (Johnny Depp) is a dreamer, and an unusual example of personal choices. His parents died and he went to New York, to work with fish. He could have sold cars with his uncle Leo (Jerry Lewis), but he's there, talking with that monotonous voice about what he does. Maybe it was a simple dream, where an Eskimo catches a fish with two eyes on the same side, and tells his kids to go out with their dog so he and his wife can
And the kid with the dog allow to see an orange balloon that seems to go from Alaska to New York, where Alex sleeps in a truck. "Wake up, Columbus", the words of his mother and Axel's hope to find something in the land already discovered by that man.
Alongside fish flying through the air, we join Axel to be the best man of his uncle's wedding. With his friend Paul Leger (Vincent Gallo), the untiring chats go from movies to philosophies about cakes, pies and bananas. Paul is an actor: "I'm having a great performance on Friday", he says. "It's an audition", Axel says to humiliate him. The truth is that it's not even an audition. This stuff lived by Axel is a story for us, but is a personal rediscovering and rethought of decisions in life for the character. When he sees Elaine (Faye Dunaway) he feels something strong, but doesn't know how to call it. Days later he becomes the lover of a woman decades older than him. Elaine's daughter, Grace (Lili Taylor) is also there, and it doesn't goes long until Axel finds himself in a crossroad between the heart of two women, that as he describes them, are "too similar and big to be in the same world".
David Atkin's story and screenplay comes plagued of phrases that could come out of a lunatic's mouth, but they fit in the film's context and twist your head at maximum. "I've got to climb
It's a long way to the moon"; "I'm gonna live forever until I become a turtle
They have infinite lives", besides scenes of well known movies in crucial moments. And what music (Goran Bregovic)! And what editing (Andrija Zafranovic)! And what cinematography (Vilko Filac)! And what director! Known for his originality, recognized director Emir Kusturica puts his own signature to his movie, collaborating in the story he must have dreamed a little to; giving life to the dream with his flying camera, full of unexpected turns and in love of its surroundings. What he achieves is greater words, although not everybody could understand it, and, for that matter, appreciate it.
And his actors
Jerry Lewis in a total comprehension of his character, and so involved in his work that you wouldn't believe it. So incredibly likable in one of those roles we never give much importance to. Faye Dunaway
Wow! She got to work with some of these actors later, but here, as an old woman in character and, with respect, in person, she maintains that virtue of creating uniqueness, with her laughs, smiles and way of saying things. Lili Taylor was the most interesting character here. The silent daughter that could be crazy but no one can really tell. With imagination and freedom, Taylor makes her character believable and not as overacted as it might be. Vincent Gallo, who I respect mostly as a director and as an actor that does what he wants, the ability he has had to choose his roles is visible here again; as he shines without lights to help him. A wonderful performance his fans shouldn't miss.
How can I explain? I've said it a lot, surely, but I will repeat it. He's like a magician, but not with the cards and the hat and the tricks. He is with his face, his looks, his way of talking, his perfection of movement
But it's not really something technical: "in the acting world, Johnny Depp is a magician". I'm sure he still has plenty of that for us, but here is where he let us know first.
In one scene, Vincent Gallo's character Paul, an actor, requests that no one touches his face, because it's important. "Do you think they touch Brando's face? Do you think they touch Pacino's, De Niro's? Do you think they touch Johnny Depp's face? I don't know then, but not know; and if they did before, they shouldn't have.