Sunday, July 17, 2016

More on Scarface, plus a dream

I had to revisit it again to find out how I felt about it, but Scarface - which screened last night at the Vancity Theatre - may well be the greatest picture ever made about the American dream: about the psychotic zeal and aggression required to succeed, about the people most likely to buy into it, and about the ultimate hollowness and ugliness of "success" once you get to the top.
I was ambivalent about watching the film again, having seen Tony Montana transformed into a sort of hero by a hip hop culture that apparently misunderstands that Montana's tale is a cautionary one. I didn't know what sort of audience it would draw, how they would behave; indeed, at least one person laughed inappropriately and loudly throughout the film yesterday, so it was a reasonable concern. I also know there are people out there who still accuse De Palma of "wallowing" in ugliness in this film. I think he does anything but; it's as quintessentially American a movie as Citizen Kane - and a much, much more enjoyable film to watch, by me. Might be De Palma's masterpiece. It screens again July 29th at the Rio Theatre.

Meantime, I had an odd dream last night that actually relates to my classic "recurring dream" structure, in which I am lost in an unfamiliar place, trying to find someone for whom I am responsible, who is in great danger. In the typical pattern, I keep getting distracted - either by other requests for help or by the appearance of a record or bookstore or such. It always ends in despair: not only can I not find out where this person is, but I can barely keep the goal of my initial quest in my head. I wake up in failure every time. Last  night, it was a bit of a different story: I was leaving a late meeting at the ESL school where I've been once again working (as in reality), trying to get to a Kid Congo Powers concert somewhere in Vancouver. On the way, I have a brief detour at a magazine stand, chatting with the owner, finding a copy of the new issue of Big Takeover which (once again, as in reality) has the first part of my big Kid Congo interview in it. I get on a bus, but the address - 3835 Scotia, which appears to be, in reality, somewhere in the vicinity of Kingsgate Mall - is unfamiliar to me; the bus driver doesn't know where it is; a young passenger who I ask just teases my befuddlement; and my cellphone proves no help, no matter what I do. I'm on the bus heading past the Burrard Inlet towards Port Moody, frustrated and lost, and it's getting on 11:30; I've been looking for the venue since 10pm, and surely at this point the concert is almost over? Around this time in the dream, I give an enormous, sputtering, multi-tiered fart onto the thigh of the kid who had mocked me - him yelling in disgust at me, me feeling satisfied at my revenge. It was loud enough and long enough that when I woke up beside Erika, still sleep-fogged, one of my first questions was, "did I just give a really long, loud fart?"

Never found Kid Congo, never got him the magazine. It kind of interests me how the dream changes elements of the classic pattern I experience. It's the first time in recent memory - in years, really - since I've had a dream with this structure, at least so that I can recall it. But here, no one is in danger, and the idea of "responsibility," of having to rescue a fragile person who depends upon me - has been greatly diminished. I'm just a guy trying to bring a magazine to a rock concert, and my failure is of no great consequence.

It's a little depressing, actually. 

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