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Vanilla Sky (2001)
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Review Date: December 07, 2001
Director: Cameron Crowe
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Producers: Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner
Actors:
Tom Cruise
Penelope Cruz
Cameron Diaz
Plot:
David Aames is a great-looking rich guy who's casually sleeping with one of his friends named Julie, until one day, he meets the girl of his dreams. Having fallen in love overnight, David is confronted by Julie in the morning and steps into her car for a ride. Big mistake. Blaming David for leading her on, Julie gets increasingly agitated as she drives and suddenly veers the car off a bridge. That's at about the 25-minute mark of the movie. Who survives? Who gets disfigured? Who dreams of love and more? See for yourself...
Critique:
What's the opposite of an artist "selling out"? Check out what Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe have to offer in this movie and you'll have your answer. Here's a brilliant film set in modern times which grabs you by the head, shakes it all about, asks you to ask yourself some questions, feeds you the scenarios, offers different solutions, gives you love, mingles in hate, slips in the guilt, approaches revenge and downloads sorrow, leaving you with a mélange of emotions, set against the backdrop of a painting, meant to be understood, demystified and appreciated. Well, color me impressed because this flick had me by the balls pretty much the whole way. It's got a great look, it's filled with good-looking people, it offers little Timmy Cruise in top form, Jason Lee as the best friend we'd all love to have, Penelope Cruz as the cute honey-bunny and Cameron Diaz as the psycho babe, all twisted within the puzzle of the story that takes place in the mind. So does my review make much sense up to this point? If not, well...this movie might not be the one for you! In fact, early reviews of this film have been quite extreme in opinion: you either love it or you hate it. My own personal tastes in film have always been all over the map, but a good solid mystery stroked with plenty of mind-fuck details have always been at the top of my list (see LOST HIGHWAY, MEMENTO, FIGHT CLUB...) and this movie gives us just that and more. It doesn't offer any easy answers up front, it does provide for many interesting scenarios and along with its gripping story, gives us Cruise, his rich-boy lifestyle (the Spielberg hug scene-- "Happy birthday, you son of a bitch!" was priceless), and plenty of blossoming confusion. Add that to themes of love, identity and the appreciation of one's life, and you've got a bunch of cool topics mixed into a big-ass jar of pop-culture and cinema.

I also really liked the way that Crowe, as per his usual style, packed the flick with plenty of hip tunes, and utilized the camera to his benefit on more than one occasion (the one sequence featuring the continuous overlapping of pictures and songs over a period of thirty seconds or so, was one of my favorites). But in the end, this movie also has a solid message, it explains itself quite clearly and offers an extremely unexpected, yet so ideal, twist in genre (I won't say more than that but I really had no idea that this film was going there-primarily because I consciously ignored everything that I heard/saw about this movie before seeing it (and you should too!)). I honestly couldn't wait to see the movie again...immediately after! I think I see enough 1-2-3 flicks a year to be able to appreciate a new form of movie every now and again, and this picture takes you for that very cool ride, the one which I was ready to take and enjoy. In the end, the moral of the story, like many others in this very depressing year for yours truly, was to appreciate every minute of your life to its very fullest, and God knows that's a reasonable theory to ingest. This film isn't for everyone, but it's definitely for me and I can't recommend it enough to anyone who enjoys guessing, talking and debating movies, even days after having seen them. I'd also like to thank both Crowe and Cruise for taking this bold step in their respective careers and for giving audiences enough credit to be able to decipher meaning and understanding from a film, rather than to spoonfeed them with automatic solutions. Surreal, mysterious, engaging, clever and most of all, entertaining, this film has rightfully earned itself a place in my top ten list of the year. This baby took me for a loop and I had a blast the whole way!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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