Awake & Dreaming: Thank You Dad!

"It's like I'm being prepared for something."

5 years before this movie came out, I almost died from a rare disease in a hospital where I experienced a lucid dream while under anesthesia. 12 hours after viewing this movie for the first time, my father passed away peacefully at Hospice. It was not shock or sadness that I felt, but something intangible and profoundly new. Something very different. It's nothing anyone can prepare for when you lose the person you've been closest to your whole life. It was as if my brain changed in that instant and I could feel a whole new empty nothingness that to cry or get angry, felt wrong or it wouldn't be enough. Somehow I think my dad knew I should see this movie before he passed away. And he waited until I came back from seeing this movie to move forward or simply just expire. So to say that I'm biased strongly to love this movie would be an understatement. I think I was looking for some familiar method to deal with something bizarre as death. I hadn't been to therapy or tried medication at this point in time to help mediate my depression, but movies were better than both combined and my dad knew this about me. He insisted that I go see this movie WAKING LIFE that I had an advance ticket for. I think hearing all of these people echo some of my own thoughts or re-frame them in an interesting way, was comforting and gave me the intellectual college dorm experience I craved at the time. I probably podcast because I still want to have these conversations whether they are about movies or to carry on the tradition of how I socialized at the video store I worked at. And it allowed me to come to terms with what I was about to see firsthand 12 hours later. In a way, I had hoped that maybe death would be a series of conversations like this. A protracted dream. Years later, I would think of this as Linklater's far more inviting and amicable take on something akin to INTO THE VOID.


A middle finger to pretension and possibly objectivity, Linklater respects the individual and what they have to say so much, it's possible that he forgets that he's making a movie because he's so engrossed in what they have to say. So why not let some scenes go on too long or have some folks like Alex Jones or other quirky characters have their say. That guy on the bridge who mentions Lorca is a bit much for me, one of the few featured that if I ran into randomly, I might run away as opposed to engage with him. Surely, the director doesn't agree with all of these perspectives or wrote every single word they say? He is credited as the sole writer though, so I wouldn't be surprised. Linklater is a geysar of intellectual conversations that are right up my alley. I'm sure I'm not alone in finding each moment of this endlessly fascinating, not in terms of its existentialist diatribes, but the presentation on a visual level and the curiosity these animators and Linklater bring to the forefront. It's also incredibly assured with how music is sporadically used. I'm biased because it's one of my favorite scores to listen to, independently of the film. I remember watching this movie with someone who said it was preaching its philosophy but I don't get that sense. Linklater lets scenes wash over you with distinctive character qualities and lets their ideas breathe to where that they leave up to your interpretation. In a way, the way ROOM 237 dissects the subjective experience of watching a movie, WAKING LIFE dissects the subjective experience of analyzing life, reality, dreams and everything in between. It is not just an experimental exercise but a universe I enjoy coming back to. You might say I'm a dreamer. Maybe these are my people, or I find solace in their words due to how they helped me cope with the biggest loss of my lifetime. Not to be dismissive, but if you do find this boring or pretentious, there's a strong possibility that we can't have conversations for the long haul. Simply because I live for these bigger questions without easy answers accompanied with the lack of small talk, over-analysis, speculating on the meaning of our own individuality and what happens when we dream or die. I love to dream and this film captures the joy I experience when trying to figure out why I dream or why I experience those holy moments in life that are akin to watching a great movie. This is a great movie and each time I watch it, I have a holy moment that is hard to describe. Oh and that brief shot of the black cat on the TV kills me every single time.  GRADE: A+

"Everyone knows that fun rules."

James Laczkowski