Waking Life (2001)
Genre: Animation Drama Fanstasy Mystery
Starring: Wiley Wiggins (Love and a .45; Dazed and Confused), scores of philosophers, scholars and scientists.
Directed By: Richard Linklater (A Scanner Darkly; Fast Food Nation)
Overview: A young man's dream explores the universe and the meaning of life, as he encounters thinkers, scientists and philisophers.
Acting: I haven't seen What The Bleep Do We Know?, but I have watched a good fair share of documentaries with experts in rock music and science (or people who generally should not be on camera). The magic about this is not only that these people philosophising look completely natural, while having pleasant conversations in coffee shops and bars instead of studios, but this actually enhances and complements those people who are much more animated... pardon the pun...
Cinematography: Rotoscope is what you call this type of animation. Most people think it's cool because it was used in that 80s A-Ha video "Take On Me", but I think it's cool because it's rare to see this kind of animation. Some call it cheap tracing, but even Lars Von Trier liked it in The Five Obstructions, and he's a tough sell. I wasn't sure if this style would end up bothering me when considering A Scanner Darkly in theaters, but I'm certainly convinced. It's gorgeous, and it definitely goes beyond tracing.
Script: This isn't the kind of movie you can just sit and enjoy, veg out and make out to. It's thought, life, afterlife, universe, dream, consiousness and morality. This is deep and meaningful, something that will really get you thinking, intelligent stuff. It's one big philosophical discussion, wrapped in an enigma, fed to a riddle, belching out a mystery, kind of like a burrito. And burritos are delish!
Plot: Sure, the story is thin. It revolves around some young guy who realizes he's in a dream because weird things are going on. Then we move on to the "I'm trying to wake up and can't" stage. This film is far less documentary than other films with thinkers and scientists, because it's about a person exploring, but he's really not searching to find, he's just a vehicle for momentum, so it still works.
Mood: This is nothing like the standard Saturday night movie. I've seen a few films that look like dramas that are just people talking about a subject and usually they're really boring. With Waking Life, the subject is fairly new (to a layman like me anyway) and the style of film really spices up the discussions, which, in themselves is interesting. This has something for everyone, and kids who start watching just because it's a cartoon, might find that they got suckered into a really neat learning experience.
"And then, man, the universe, man was like POW! And totally like... Man, wow, man."
Overall Rating: 84% (A Life Enhancing Experience)
Aftertaste: I think this is the first time I've ever recommended a movie be watched in parts. For a film that's only 100 minutes it seems really long, in that awesome way. There's a lot to take in and it's good to take a break half way through and leave the rest till tomorrow, just so you and your guest can enjoy talking about the ideas that are being iterated through all these different perspectives. Don't see this alone, it's the kind of movie you watch with friends who like to discuss new ideas. This is the kind of film that will make you want to pick up Spinoza and Kant, or at least Philosophy Rocks. This was great, a nice layman's introduction to life, thought, and philosophy.