Deluxe Version available on BitTorrent
MPAA Rating: NR
Directors: Daniel Patrick Carbone, Josephine Decker, Lauren Wolkstein, Frances Bodomo and Lily Baldwin
Run Time: 77 mins
There may be nothing worse than being subjected to an elaborate recounting of someone else’s dreams, when people tumble their way through words and memory piecing together some sort of nonsensical narrative as if these nocturnal brain activities illuminate the world around us. They usually do not and their recounting is nothing more than belabored words strung together, emitted into the face of another to test the thresholds of their boredom and patience. But then again maybe I am simply jealous of other people’s dream accounts because of the fact that I have not remembered a dream in quite some time.
Either way, the thought of those unfortunate incidences being translated into cinematic interpretations as they are in the omnibus film, collective:unconscious, gave me considerable pause; and by pause I mean unadulterated disinterest. Although, the talent assembled for this project was enough to diminish that initial disinterest to the point of apprehensive curiosity since the directors tasked with approximating these dreams are all interesting talents. The mere suggestion of new work from the likes of Carbone, Decker, Wolkstein, Bodomo and Baldwin is enticing enough to overcome any aversion to dream-telling.
One must be able to move past the pointlessness of the threading device, talking-head trance induction interludes which quickly prompted regret and anxiety within me for downgrading that disinterest to curiosity, in order to fully appreciate the short film parade that awaits before them. Like any omnibus film project some sections are more interesting or compelling than others as the styles, content and quality differ across the duration; although, surprisingly, I wouldn’t label any of the installments as outright duds. Each one at least contains some aspect worthy of merit or note which is somewhat rare given to what we have come to expect with the influx of anthology films over the past few years.
The visual aesthetics for the films range from the grayscale black-and-white cinematography of Daniel Patrick Carbone’s Black Soil, Green Grass to the worn veneer of VHS replete with visual inconsistencies employed in Frances Bodomo’s Everybody Dies!. All possess some type of visually-appealing construct: the aforementioned; the camera roving through the performative dance piece like an amusement park ride that is Josephine Decker’s First Day Out; the reflected light of mirrored images of a nursing mother in Lily Baldwin’s Swallowed or the jittery takes of that same body pulsating, heaving milk from her inner depths like a modern reimagining of that subway scene in Possession. While, Lauren Wolkstein’s Beemus, It’ll End in Tears delivers some visual comedy with a mustachioed gym teacher emphatically crab-walking with considerable skill and determination as the camera slowly encroaches on his class’s apocalypse-readying regimen.
Even though, most of the categorical aspects of the films differ in one way or another there does reside a main thread through all five of the films; there is a darkness within them, each one containing some pessimistic-slanted vision of the world (the grade of which varies but slanted still). We are ushered through a dystopian landscape where sleep isn’t the cousin of death but it’s identical twin to the audio of the incarcerated to the end of the world onto a demented game show incorrectly titled Everybody Dies! (because white kids get cookies while black kids get shoved into the abyss) before finally settling into the interpretive dance of motherhood downsides.
Every segment has some amount of negativity attached to it, whether that negativity speaks to the current state of society or is merely a coincidental conjuring from the minds of five independent filmmakers is unknown but having that negativity filtered through copious amounts of imagination and creativity is definitely encouraging.