is the little things that matter...
Mulholland Drive, another film from this stellar
year, Vanilla Sky's descent into delirious
madness seems controlled and directed in order
for the audience to arrive at a specific answer.
Both films are fantastic in the way they lose
the viewer to speculation and deep thought about
the intricacies of the plot.
However, Mulholland Drive, even though a very
successful film, seems destination-less and for
that matter answerless. Vanilla Sky appears to
answer all the questions that are posed in its
first 120 minutes in the final act. But
appearances are not what they seem. This film
will leave you pondering its message, and for
that matter its questions for hours, maybe days
after the viewing.
think the best way to differentiate the feeling
of watching both films is this... Mulholland
Drive leaves no answers, Vanilla Sky leaves
many, all varied and probably all correct.
We fall into the seemingly idyllic world of
David Aames (Cruise), who runs the publishing
empire left to him by his father. His wealth,
his toys and his love life all rival that of our
playboy dreams. He has everything... except an
appreciation of true love. His best friend (Lee)
repeatedly asks the question... "How can you
taste the sweet without ever tasting the sour?"
Julie, his "fuck buddy", as she is called by his
friend, is played supremely well by Cameron
Diaz. They enjoy each other's company very
often... sometimes four times in one night. But,
perhaps unbeknownst to David, she is developing
feelings for him, feelings he doesn't share.
During a party at David's apartment, he is
introduced to Sofia Serrano (Cruz) a dazzling
young thing that he falls for instantly. They
flirt, they connect, they decide to go to her
apartment. David resists his normal urges,
probably because this is the first time he
actually cares about the girl he's with. She is
a sensible, down to earth sort and he calls her
the "last guileless girl in New York." He spends
the platonic night in her apartment and leaves
the next morning only to find, waiting outside,
a denial consumed Julie is stalking him.
The resulting car ride, as is evident in the
preview, ends with a stunning wreck as Julie
intentionally drives off a bridge. This frozen
moment is where everything changes in David's
life. She dies, his face is disfigured, and the
descent into delirium begins. I will not explain
in detail the events that follow, but sufficed
to say they are extraordinarily scary &
confusing, thoughtful & important. This is where
film starts posing questions... questions of
David and of us, the viewer.
The acting is very good. Tom Cruise is becoming
a perennial Oscar contender and should be
considered here. The chemistry between Cruise
and Cruz is palatable and sweet. The intimate
connection between them will not be lost on some
fans who may harbor resentment toward them for
the break up of Tom and Nicole. (Which, if I may
say so, is quite ridiculous.) The director,
Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous), has said of the
two leads that he was delighted in the way he
caught them falling in love on camera. That is
either very true or it is fabulous acting... or
a little of both.
The film moves along at a brisk pace always
throwing us a new bone to pick at. We find
ourselves questioning what we are watching;
reality, dream, both, neither. Crowe always
paints a picture with his scenes, but here, if
you pay close attention, especially in multiple
viewings, you will find that those pictures are
There are many scenes that are quite stunning,
most notably the opening 10 minutes where we see
David drive through New York during rush hour
completely alone. He ends up in a desolate Times
Square in one of the more amazing logistical
shots I have ever seen. Also note a final shot
of New York City, near the end of the film, that
is equally stunning, and due to recent events
the skyline has a poignant touch.
The resolution comes to us in the final fifteen
minutes. We finally find out who everyone is.
The friendly psychologist (Russell), Julie and
Sofia, Ellie, and another mysterious man who
shows up on occasion. It will all make sense to
you by then... sort of.
I must make a special note to the magnificent
soundtrack. Cameron Crowe, no doubt due to his
musical background, specializes in this under
appreciated aspect of filmmaking. Almost Famous
also had a great selection of music that
enhanced the film significantly.
Mulholland Drive worked because it made no
pretense that it could be 'figured out', and for
that it was brave. Vanilla Sky does try to
answer that which is posed and still we are left
with a rather vague concept of what we watched.
I felt like I understood the themes, but I was
left with more of a notion than a concrete idea.
But perhaps I am criticizing that which makes
the film so good. My brain hurts!
Among many other things this film comments on
the pop culture society we live in, it ruminates
on the ethereal nature of true love, it places
much importance on the little things we do and
the consequences of the choices we make. Vanilla
Sky is a bold film with tons of ambition, a
quality I truly appreciate in films today
because it is so rare. Want to exercise your
mind? Well here is the treadmill.
Written by TC Candler
this may, in fact, be much better than a B-
film. However, I have a hard time justifying a
higher grade for a film that I simply haven't
fully integrated yet. Perhaps, as time goes on,
this grade will increase...however, for now,
I'll say this is a slightly above average film
with some mind-boggling parts leading to a
confusing, yet entertaining whole.
Ingenious, brilliant, and altogether
Although one of the most critically lambasted
movies of it's year, "Vanilla Sky" is good...no,
great. The entire cast excels, and
writer/director Cameron Crowe creates a vivid
atmosphere and storyline; things that are not
important turn out ot be important, and the
important aspects of the story matter none.
To tell you the story would be taking the fun
out of everything. It's almost impossible to
describe. Tom Cruise is a rich snob with a
"girlfriend" of sorts. He meets a nice woman
(Penelope Cruz) and the next day his life is
What can I say other than brilliant?