There's been a distressing trend of late in both film criticism and fan response to movies. People say they want smart, daring films that try new things and don't treat viewers like idiots; yet when such a film comes along, these same people are only too happy to tear it apart using any available flaw in the film's logic. Every truly daring film has logical flaws and internal inconsistencies. That's just what happens when you create an original world from scratch.
Even monumental classics like Blade Runner or the original Star Wars are riddled with such plot holes, but perhaps they were released in a simpler time when viewers weren't as ready to put movies under a microscope in order to find things to hate. What people often miss is that a film's sense of atmosphere and the ideas it conveys can be far more compelling than whether or not those things are executed in a completely logical fashion. In the spirit of enjoying movies for their overall effect, we present a buzzlist of Top 5 Films That Run On Dream-Logic:
Prometheus (2012) – Ridley Scott's sci-fi epic drew a lot of flak for unanswered questions. Critics seemed to miss the fact that this is a horror film about human beings trying to understand the incomprehensible. Both H. R. Giger's set design and Dan O'Bannon's screenplay for the original Alien were based on H. P. Lovecraft's tales of ancient godlike extraterrestrials whose designs are so far beyond the human scope that to catch a glimpse of them would drive a human insane. Prometheus is a surreal nightmare of images and moments, not a realistic series of events.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – This film has been picked apart by detail-obsessed viewers. What they're missing is that Nolan's trilogy is more a grand absurdist opera than any kind of rational story. One would be foolish to expect an abundance of logic from Greek mythology, Wagner's Ring Cycle, or – well, a comic book; it's more about fantasy spectacle and emotional themes. What the trilogy does is show us a distorted mirror of our insane world in the Age of Terror, with beautifully urgent things to say about how we can accept and use our fear for constructive purposes.
Cosmopolis (2012) – This story about a rich man falling from grace onto the streets of Manhattan has been called cold, confusing, and pointless. You could say the same about Eliot's The Waste Land. For those willing to take Cosmopolis on its own terms – lyrical dialogue; non-traditional pacing and structure; purposely murky character arcs – it's a thrilling experience. A film of shifting tones and humanity-as-insect-hive strangeness, it presents our multi-layered social reality as a mandala of obscurity frustrating our attempts at comprehension. Plus, Robert Pattinson can really act.
Looper (2012) – Director Rian Johnson claims that it all makes sense, but even a cursory viewing of Looper will reveal that certain aspects of this time-travel drama simply have to be taken on faith. After all, it's not the mechanics of who-killed-which-version-of-who-when that we're concerned with, it's the emotional motivations of the characters and their changing perceptions of morality. Spacetime may be an organic whole with its own way of doing things, but the power of the film comes from the people struggling to understand their place within it.
Source Code (2011) – Duncan Jones' follow-up to the sublime Moon makes very little sense when you examine it closely. Its view of parallel worlds and fluctuating time periods that may or may not exist in the minds of various characters owes a lot to Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys; and like Twelve Monkeys, Source Code weaves the madness into a surprisingly simple story about people trying to correct the mistakes of the past. The cast is excellent, and you don't have to fully buy the film's narrative conceits to be moved by its emotional drama.
These are just a few recent examples; the list goes on. None of this is to say that screenwriters should be excused for bad writing, but it is to say that films don't have to make sense in every detail to be great works of cinema. Next time you're in a darkened theater about to witness the latest highly-anticipated cultural event, ease back on the nitpick throttle and enjoy the experience as a whole. Be kind to your movies, and they'll be kind to you.
Check out Buzzine's Top 5 Films That Run On Dream-Logic on our Amazon Listmania!