Posted March 24, 2013 by Alex Moss Editor in Features
 
 

Mind Movies


This week sees the release of Danny Boyle’s latest film Trance.

This week sees the release of Danny Boyle’s latest
film Trance.
James
McAvoy
plays an art dealer who has ‘forgotten’ where he hid a priceless
painting. Not to worry,
hypnotherapist Rosario Dawson is on
hand to delve into his subconscious to extract what information she needs to
locate the loot. With this
in mind, or lurking some where in the back of it, FilmJuice Editor Alex Moss
takes a look at films that deal with the darkest recesses of our psyche, or
more specifically films that take place in character’s subconscious. WARNING: Due to the nature of many of these
films this feature may contain SPOILERS. But with the right machine we can
probably help you forget them.

Inception
From the brain of
Chris Nolan, he behind Memento and
the Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception is the ultimate in subconscious
thrillers. Taking place
predominantly in the dream of cooperate honcho Cillian Murphy, Leonardo
DiCaprio
’s Dom Cobb, and his team of dashing dream experts including Joseph
Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Ellen Page, must plant an idea into Murphy’s head
and make him believe it was his bright spark all along. The advantage they have is Page’s
architect can manipulate the dream world anyway she wants. The bad news is Cobb’s traumatised
psyche has a habit of throwing trains, deadly assassins and murderous, dead
wives into the mix as they delve deeper and deeper into the mind’s repressed
memories. Nolan’s imagination
knows no bounds and Inception perfectly captures the idea of an exciting dream
state while constantly pulling the rug from under your feet with a new twist.
Mind Melting Moment:
As
Gordon-Levitt tries to hold off a group of security guards, the dream level
above sends his sleeping form over a bridge meaning he loses all sense of
gravity in his new realty. Cue one
of cinema’s most inventive fights, in zero gravity.

Solaris
Whether you’re a
fan of Andrei Tarkovsky’s original
or Steven Soderbergh’s George Clooney starring remake, Solaris
is never anything less than a brilliant head scratcher. Journeying to a remote space station
orbiting the planet Solaris, Dr. Kris Kelvin discovers that the remaining
crewmembers have become reclusive and determined to remain so. Kelvin’s confusion is further
compounded by the appearance of his wife, who just happens to have killed
herself many years before on earth.
It seems that Solaris has a mind of its own and is able to read people’s
unconsciousness so conjuring physical manifestations of what it finds
there. The only problem is; the
memory of a person is often an idealised version rather than an accurate
one.
Mind Melting Moment:
Unable
to deal with the trauma of being alive again, Kelvin’s wife begins to fall back
into old habits and kills herself.
While that should be hard enough for Kelvin to stomach he is then forced
to witness her come back to life.

Open Your Eyes (Abre Les Ojos) And Vanilla Sky
The Spanish
original and Cameron Crowe’s
music-fuelled remake both deal heavily in dreams and the way in which they can
be perfect one minute and nightmarish the next. When a rich playboy is badly disfigured in a car crash his
world flips on its head. Desperate
to be with the woman of his dreams Sofia, played in both the original and
remake by a too-cute Penelope Cruz,
he finds his scars soon heal. But
his mind is broken and before long is seeing a former lover’s face in place of
Sofia’s. Arrested for murdering
Sofia he tries to understand what could have happened by talking to a
psychologist, only to realise that his life is not at all what he thought it
was.
Mind Melting Moment:
Determined to understand what happened, our protagonist finds
himself atop a building, ready to jump and being told by a mystery man that
everything he sees is a dream.

Mulholland Drive
From Mr.
Subconscious himself David Lynch,
Mulholland Drive is a deep and very disturbing journey into the mind of a
wannabe movie star. Lynch of
course uses this as an excuse to throw barded insults at the Hollywood system
but it is nonetheless a terrifying and chilling insight into a fractured mind,
hell bent on fame. One minute Naomi Watts is a bubbly, happy-go-lucky
girl helping a Hollywood star get her memory back, the next a midget producer
is forcing Justin Theroux’s director
to cast a specific girl in his latest picture. Throw into the mix nightmarish sequences involving homeless
men and Cheshire Cat smiling OAPs and there’s enough here to not only give you
an insight into Lynch’s imagination but to truly rattle your own.
Mind Melting Moment:
Almost
every other scene here makes your jaw drop in terror and confusion but the
scene in Club Silencio, where nothing is quite what it seems, perfectly
conjures the power of the mind and the empty, hollow fakery of Hollywood.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (Main Picture)
Relationships can
really get under your skin, or in Jim
Carrey
and Kate Winslet’s case
stick like a thorn in the mind in Michel
Gondry
’s Eternal Sunshine. So,
in order to get over their failed relationship, Jim and Kate head to Lacuna
Inc. A company that specialises in
erasing parts of your memory, which is akin to a heavy night drinking,
apparently. But, as Jim’s memory
of Kate is slowly removed, he sees their relationship in reverse and the good
times outweigh the bad. Desperate
to cling on to anything he can, he and Kate run through his head in an attempt
to find one memory to hide Kate away or never remember her again. Filled with brilliant moments of
surreal humour, Gondry explores the idea of memory and the way in which
everything seems a little rosier in hindsight.
Mind Melting Moment:
Desperate
to avoid their time together being erased, Carrey’s character tries to hide in
a memory of his childhood, before he met Winslet, only to find that she is cast
in the role of his mother’s friend in a memory from his youth. Still, it could have got all Oedipal
and she could have been his mother.

Total Recall
Based on Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It
For You Wholesale”, Total Recall sees construction worker Doug Quaid, played by
Arnold Schwarzenegger, head to
Recall, a company who specialise in memory implant to make your mind believe it
has been somewhere on holiday. But
Quaid wants more than the usual package and opts for the ‘Secret Agent’ deal. Before long he’s being chased by bad
guys, getting the girl and, hopefully, saving the day. Paul
Verhoeven
’s brilliantly over-the-top ‘90s action-fest plays with all manner
of conventions and never lets you settle as to whether Quaid’s life is actually
happening or if it’s all part of the deal he paid for. Either way it gives us a great insight
into Quaid’s unconsciousness, even if it does show that he wants to kill his
wife, pull the arms of cooperate stooges and fantasise about women with three
breasts.
Mind Melting Moment:
Being caught by the bad guys, Quaid is shown a video
of himself. But himself is not
him, he’s Hauser, a man whose mind was wiped in order for Quaid to infiltrate
the mutant rebellion on Mars.
Seriously, what?

Shutter Island
It’s that man
DiCaprio again. But this time he’s
not off in dreamland but visiting the titular island which houses Ashecliffe
Hospital for the criminally insane.
DiCaprio is Teddy, a war-ravaged U.S. Marshall who travels to Shutter
Island to locate a missing patient.
But along the way the doctors of the island, who include the always
sinister Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow, seem reluctant to help
him with his investigation.
Furthermore, poor Teddy keeps having visions of his dead wife, played by
Michelle Williams, while his partner
(Mark Ruffalo) is far from
helpful. Shot by Martin Scorsese with a brilliantly
gothic lens and based on Dennis Lehane’s
novel, Shutter Island is a mind-bending descent into a trauma-riddled
mind. Like Inception it concludes
with just enough ambiguity to let the audience decide whether Teddy grasps the
reality of what is really going on.
Mind Melting Moment:
Flashing
back in time we see what really happened to Teddy’s family. It’s one of the few scenes that forgoes
the gothic undertones and is all the more gob-smacking as a result. It also gives new meaning to ‘family
picnic’.

The Cell
One of those
films that gives credence to the term “style over substance”, The Cell is a
disturbing journey into the mind of a killer. Jennifer Lopez
plays a child psychologist who has a nifty device that allows her to enter the
mind of her patient. When Vince Vaughn’s cop needs to find out
where a catatonic serial killer’s latest victim is, she has no choice but to
delve into his warped subconscious.
And then it all goes a little
bit trippy, as this killer has images of himself as a king ruling a seriously
messed up world in which a younger version of him is Lopez’s only hope of
getting through to him. From Tarsem Singh, the man who gave as the
equally surreal The Fall, The Cell
is a visual feast that brings nightmarish visions to life, including Jennifer
Lopez as a Virgin Mary figure in one sequence. Bet that’s not something you thought you’d ever see, in your
dreams or nightmares.
Mind Melting Moment:
Entering
the killer’s mind for the first time, Lopez finds a beautiful horse only to be
pushed out of the way as glass slides down cutting the horse into Damien Hirst
like segments with the heart still pumping inside.

Identity
At first Identity
seems like your run-of-the-mill murder mystery. Ten characters randomly end up at a motel during a
torrential storm only to find themselves being picked-off one by one by an
unknown killer, presumably from within their midst. But, inter-cut into the narrative is the death row hearing
of Malcolm Rivers who suffers from multiple personality disorder. What soon transpires is the people in
the motel are all personalities within Rivers’ mind and the only way he will be
cleared of murder is if he manages to kill off the personality responsible for
the killings. Identity plays with
the conventions of the murder mystery to fun levels while always keeping you
guessing as to who the true killer is.
Arguably, anyone who manages to conjure personalities such as Ray Liotta, Rebecca De Mornay and John Cusack probably has more than just
the one screw loose.
Mind Melting Moment:
By the
end most of the personalities are dead, the killer presumed dealt with by the
heroic John Cusack. That is until
the final two characters meet in a ‘safe’ place.

Pan’s Labyrinth
Perhaps a
controversial decision to include this film on the list as the subconscious
element is open to interpretation.
Set in Fascist Spain of 1944 a young girl, Ofelia, moves with her mother
to her stepfather’s home. Her
stepfather is a ruthless captain in the Franco army and, unable to deal with
the trauma she witnesses, Ofelia finds herself transported to a fantastic world
in which she is a lost princess trying to find her way home to her father, the
king of the Underworld. Directed
with a decadent lens by Guillermo del
Toro
, Pan’s Labyrinth is war through the eyes of a child who would rather
escape nightmarish creatures than behold the horrors that humanity is capable
of.
Mind Melting Moment:
Having to perform a variety of tasks for the Faun,
Ofelia finds herself in the lair of the sinister Pale Man. Noticing he has no eyes, other than
those on the plate before him, she dares to eat from the forbidden feast only
to anger him and cause this terrifying apparition to pursue her.

Trance is in cinemas from Wednesday 27th
March


Alex Moss Editor

 
Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com