Sunday, December 13, 2015

DREAMS REWIRED: Luksch, Reinhart & Tode's poetic & amusing look at communication and technology down the decades

The talk seems all about "now," and yet the visuals of DREAMS REWIRED offer up the past in all its bizarre splendor. The movie in question is a new documentary that wittily combines mankind's need for communication and entertainment with poetry, technology, philosophy, history and marketing. Add to this a splendid narration from none other than Tilda Swinton, who reads the cleverly allusive script with her usual panache, and you have a recipe for very smart art-house entertainment.

As written and directed by the trio of Manu Luksch (shown at right), Martin Reinhart (below, left) and Thomas Tode (further below, right) -- with some help in the writing department from Mukul Patel -- the documentary is immediately charming and challenging, as it plies you with information -- along with funny, unusual visuals -- so fast that you dare not blink. A collaboration of Austria, Germany and the UK, the doc's visuals -- even though they have most to do with movies, television, telephones, wireless and the like -- come
not from the usual Hollywood-laden archives of most American documentaries. No, these arrive in large part via Europe and the UK and so offer us Americans a distinctly different look at a subject we thought we knew all too well. All of this is also quite different in ways too varied and bizarre to describe in detail (which would ruin their surprise, in any case), and they impart not only a smart visual sense to the film, but a lot of humor and even occasional grace, as well. They also make quite a good match for the sometimes odd but always on-target narration, as voiced by Ms Swinton, whose
lustrous yet highly intelligent voice lends itself well to the often telling, wide-ranging implications of this tale of communication, entertainment, marketing and societal behavior. Dreams Rewired, you see, is not content to simply offer up a little history and a lot of fun, along with reams of archival photos coupled to a smart narrative that manages to be both thoughtful and poetic. It also wants to challenge us rather fiercely to put all this together and run with it to a genuine conclusion.  Unfortunately, it does not always make this so easy to manage.

For whatever reason (perhaps because some or even much of the archival material was itself undated?) , the filmmaker have seen fit to leave out any dates entirely. Consequently, my spouse and I found ourselves too often wondering (aloud or to ourselves), "What year was this?" Also, the film seems to go back and forth in time, covering the same technology but in perhaps different eras. (Television seems to rear its head as a "new" attraction multiple times.)

And yet, so unusual and imaginative are the visuals (and the use of these) and the ideas that constantly bubble up throughout the 85-minute movie, that I suspect you'll be happy to give it a pass regarding its odd time-line.

If only for the chance to see that early "cell" phone whose wires evidently had to be wrapped around a fire hydrant (something metal, at least), or the chic woman's garters that concealed an early form of radio, or a scene from an early (probably Russian) sci-fi movie (above), the wealth of fun to be found here -- and then somehow dealt with -- is extraordinary. (Snippets of over 200 films are said to have been used throughout the documentary!)

Dreams Rewired, released by Icarus Films, opens for its world theatrical premiere in New York City at Film Forum on Wednesday, December 16, for a one-week run; in Houston at 14 Pews on December 17, and in Chicago (at Facets Cinémathèque), Los Angeles, (at Laemmle's NoHo 7) and Santa Fe (at The Screen) on Friday, December 18. Click here, then scroll down to the correct movie to see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters.

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