Thursday, January 8, 2009


SCIENTIFIC FACT LEARNED: If my dreams altered reality, everything would be made of boobs. EVERYTHING.


A dreamy Senator Kelly, a less-shaggy Kahless, anti-psychiatry fodder, lamp-head aliens, production design by Radio Shack (no, really!) a fine-looking lawyer Mama, un filme de PBS, and a whole mess of hippy trippiness.

More details here.


Working schlep George Orr (Bruce Davison) is having problems sleeping and coping with his dull life in the Portland, Oregon of 2022, where poverty is rampant, global warming has destroyed the environment, and the government has taken control of everyone’s lives. (Eyes darted upward, clearing throat, nervous tie pulling.) Anyway, Orr’s been taking drugs to suppress his dreams because he believes his mind is altering reality as he sleeps. The government forces him to seek therapy where he comes under the care of sinister shrink Dr. Haber (Kevin Conway). Haber confirms that Orr’s “effective dreaming” abilities are all-too real and plots to control him through a device he created called the Augmentor, healthy doses of psychobabble, and a variety of Vulcan nerve pinches. Realizing he’s being used, Orr seeks the help of lawyer Heather (Margaret Avery) to investigate Haber and soon falls in love with her. When Haber puts Orr on the Augmentor, strange things start to happen and reality is unraveled with unpredictable consequences. When the doctor asks him to dream of a world not plagued with overpopulation, a deadly disease is unleashed that wipes out billions. When Haber commands him to eliminate racism, everyone on the planet is transformed into a light shade of gray. When he tells him to bring peace to the world, an alien invasion unites the world’s nations in a cosmic war. Irony, you get the gist. As Orr uses his powers, Haber in turn becomes more influential and wealthy. He soon realizes that he can harness Orr’s powers and puts himself on the Augmentor, but Orr is harboring a deep, disastrous secret that may well transform the universe into a living nightmare.


The Lathe of Heaven, a 1980 adaptation of author Ursula K. Le Guin's novel, was PBS’ first made-for-TV movie. It hadn’t been rebroadcast or put on video until 2000. This new DVD is a lousy video copy because the original print had been lost or otherwise was inaccessible. That’s about all I knew before seeing this film. Yet despite a low budget, poor sound, and picture quality issues, the film is a solid, thought-provoking head trip of a movie. There is no laser-blasting action, no alien gut-munching, no robot foreplay, and no sexy space maidens. In the true tradition of heady science fiction, the plot revolves around the interaction of ideas and the exploration of human values, politics, and, to an extent, spirituality. Swishy enough for you? Good. Because if you are looking to watch something that will make you ponder about your life, examine where you are in the world, and think twice about seeing a psychiatrist, it’s this film which draws from excellent performances, innovative concepts in the writing and plotting, and a thoughtful and lingering interpretation of the human condition.

Plus it had a hot black chick.

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