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April 28, 2005

What Dreams May Come

1998.USA.Ward

1.5 / 4.0

I passed up the chance to see Vincent Ward’s What Dreams May Come when it came out in theatres because, at the time, I disliked Robin Williams and thought the trailer looked like the stuff of weepy, overwrought melodrama. However, my views on Williams have since changed, and after seeing Ward’s earlier effort Map of the Human Heart listed alongside Jacques Tati’s Playtime on the programme of Roger Ebert’s latest Overlooked Film Festival, I decided to give the film a chance. My enthusiasm was further bolstered by an article on Ebert’s spiffy new website in which the renowned (though ever more lenient) critic calls Vincent Ward “a true visionary” and What Dreams May Come “a grievously overlooked” film. For a film geek, I was pretty pumped.

The story of What Dreams May Come, once it actually kicks in about halfway through the film, is set mostly in Heaven and follows the adventures of Chris Nielsen (as played by Williams in one of those roles that reached its peak shortly after this film, in the dreadful Patch Adams and Jakob the Liar) as he tries to find his wife (Annabella Sciorra), who has ended up somewhere in Hell. All the smart dead people tell Chris that it’s too dangerous to go traipsing around in the Devil’s half of the afterlife, thus raising the stakes and making it “so” much more heroic when he eventually does anyway. Conveniently, the rest of Nielsen’s family (a son, a daughter who I thought was a son, and a dog) is dead too, so they’re around periodically, giving advice and waxing on about spiritual and philosophical issues. It all creates a fabulous atmosphere of laughable gloom, doom and hope that Williams captures well by making his eyes wide and watery and spouting lines such as “Boy, I screwed up. I'm in dog Heaven,” after finding his dog, and “I found you in hell. Don't you think I could find you in Jersey!” after finding his wife. Thankfully, some of the serious themes addressed by screenwriter Ron Bass are expressed so damn badly (“Sometimes, when you lose, you win.”) that they make the forced, corny lines sound a whole lot better.

In the film’s defence, the special effects are pretty and evocative of many famous works of art. Hieronymous Bosch is an obvious inspiration, for example. And there are many more that anyone interested in painting will have fun picking out. Some of the images are quite beautiful (until Ward violently cuts away from them to one of countless close ups of Robin Williams’ face) and imaginative film copies of classic works. In this respect, What Dreams May Come is to art historians and art history students what Sin City is to comic books nerds.

Perhaps needless to say, I was disappointed with What Dreams May Come. I was keen on liking it, but quickly realized that it was not only far from being the overlooked gem Ebert deemed, but also close to being what my gut reaction had told me to expect, all those years ago. The ending of this film is as manipulative a doozy as you’re likely to find on any given shelf of a video store (and I do mean even if it shares a wall with a Shyamalan flick). And the whole thing tastes strongly of soap. On the whole, the weird tension between Bass’ Hollywood-esque script and Ward’s quasi-arthouse manifestation of it make sure the film fits in neither category (your choice as to which is Heaven and which is Hell) and instead push it into some place in Purgatory where bad films with noble intentions and interesting ideas (like the overall premise of this film) go away until people like Roger Ebert bring them up and naive filmgoers like me get suckered into watching them.

25 Comments:

Anonymous Scott said...

Is there a worse major actor today (or yesterday) than Cuba Gooding, Jr.? When the "twist" involving his character is revealed towards the end of this movie, I wanted to vomit.

8:14 pm  
Blogger Quack Corleone said...

I'm completely with you on this. Cuba Gooding Jr. makes me rethink wanting to watch films that he's in.

And for supporting players, Pruitt Taylor Vince (the bald psycho in 'Identity') does the same.

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Anonymous dreams said...

How to Make Your Dreams Come True

Of course not all dreams are pleasant and making them come true can be worse than being trapped inside a cosole horror game.

But some dreams are produced by our deeper minds and are our inner-most desires, often disguised in some strange way.

However, there is another kind of dream and that is the kind we are consciously aware of and we have them during the daylight hourse and are often just fleeting thoughts.

You know the kind. "I wish I was on a world cruise enjoying myself rather than being stuck here in the factory or behind a desk." Yes, that's also a dream because it has it is a desire that has sirfaced into our conscious minds and is something we wish for at an unconscious level.

Of course, making those kind of dreams come true is more than not virtually impossible. For example, to wish to win the lottery may never become reality in this lifetime.

However, some dreams can become reality as so many graduates of my Hypnotherapy Course have discovered.

I decided three years ago to give thousands of 'dreamers' the opportunity to fullfill their dreams and ebcome a therapist. So many people want to help other people overcome their illnesses and mental blockages to life that their only stumbling block was the cost of training. I know of hypnotherapy courses costing as much as £7,000 (more than $11,000) and training in other forms of Alternative Medicine costing as much. To become a Doctor (M.D.) can cost as much as the purchase of a house.

So, with my teeth firmly gritted together, and a determination I have no known for years, I set the goal to help at least a thousand people make their dreams come true by reducing the cost of Hypnotherapy Training so it was within the reach of almost anyone in the World.

I passed that goal having had more than 1,400 students enrol and over 800 graduate.

So in helping others make their dreams come true, I made my own dream come true and at the age of sixty-nine years of age, I am proud of that.

Why don't you take a look at what I mean at: htttp:/www.dreams2reality.co.uk

Thank you for reading this,

Robert Shields

6:39 am  
Anonymous dream said...

Hi There Quack Corleone how you going? I was sufing blogs for information on dreams and I came across yours. while What Dreams May Come wasn't exactly what I was looking for, It was most interesting. I can see why I found your page when I was looking for dreams stuff. Thanks for the read!

12:21 am  
Anonymous dream dictionary said...

I was out searching for dream dictionary related information, when I landed on your page. Quack Corleone you have some good stuff there. While What Dreams May Come wasn't exactly what I was looking for I enjoyed the read Thanks. So I'll continue on looking for dream dictionary, see you again some time.

11:48 pm  
Blogger The Robert Shields College said...

Make Your Dream Come True - I Did!

Of course not all dreams are pleasant and making them come true can be worse than being trapped inside a console horror game.

But some dreams are produced by our deeper minds and are our inner-most desires, often disguised in some strange way.

However, there is another kind of dream and that is the kind we are consciously aware of and we have them during the daylight hours and are often just fleeting thoughts.

You know the kind. "I wish I was on a world cruise enjoying myself rather than being stuck here in the factory or behind a desk." Yes, that's also a dream because it has it is a desire that has surfaced into our conscious minds and is something we wish for at an unconscious level.

Of course, making those kind of dreams come true is more than not virtually impossible. For example, to wish to win the lottery may never become reality in this lifetime.

However, some dreams can become reality as so many graduates of my Hypnotherapy Course have discovered.

I decided three years ago to give thousands of 'dreamers' the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and become a therapist. So many people want to help other people overcome their illnesses and mental blockages to life that their only stumbling block was the cost of training. I know of hypnotherapy courses costing as much as £7,000 (more than $11,000) and training in other forms of Alternative Medicine costing as much. To become a Doctor (M.D.) can cost as much as the purchase of a house.

So, with my teeth firmly gritted together, and a determination I have no known for years, I set the goal to help at least a thousand people make their dreams come true by reducing the cost of Hypnotherapy Training so it was within the reach of almost anyone in the World.

I passed that goal having had more than 1,700 students enrol and over 800 of whom have graduated.

So in helping others make their dreams come true, I made my own dream come true and at the age of sixty-nine years of age, I am proud of that.

Why don't you take a look at what I mean at: http://www.hypnotherapy-training.info

Or visit the following forum: http://www.hypnotherapy-training.info/forum.htm

Thank you for reading this,

Robert Shields

10:29 am  
Blogger Robert Shields said...

Although using hypnosis is not the right thing to do with everyone who has a psychological problem, it is, never-the-less, sometimes effective where other approaches have failed.

Although most hypnotherapy trainers make the use of hypnosis sound mysterious, the simple truth is that the application of hypnosis is simple.

There are hundreds of good books on the market that will teach you how to hypnotize, but, and this is the problem, those books do not show you how to deal with the many problems hypnosis can help you with.

In the most simple terms, the mind consists of the conscious part that is known to us and the unconscious part that is largely unknown to us.

The conscious part is very tiny and much weaker in comparison and in a war between the conscious and the unconscious, the conscious may win battles, but the war will always be won by the unconscious.

That is why most of our psychological problems are so difficult to deal with.

Many smokers, for example, would like to stop smoking and save themselves some money and be healthier, but their efforts to stop are mostly temporary (battles won) and they continue to smoke (the war is won by the unconscious) regardless of the consequences.

Hypnotherapy is a fascinating subject and well worth studying.

Why not pay a quick visit to my site at: http://www.hypnotherapy-training.info and learn more.

Thank you for reading my contribution.

Robert Shields

6:19 pm  
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