Vanilla Sky is an american remake of OPEN YOUR EYES, the second picture by the young spanish gentleman Alejandro Amenabar, who also did THESIS and THE OTHERS. After the movie I was saying to a gal that the ending was kinda different on the original, and the guy next to me was saying the same thing to his friend. Except he was just getting out of OCEAN’S 11.
Everything is fucking remakes now, huh? The above took place in Seattle, Washington, where as we speak the Dreamworks company is hard at work on an unneccesary remake of (the) RING. History has not been kind to american remakes of foreign pictures. Even when you get the same guy to remake it – like with THE VANISHING or NIGHTWATCH – the movie will piss everybody off and the director will be forgotten forever.
Well I didn’t like VANILLA SKY as much as OPEN YOUR EYES (which, by the way, I didn’t like as much as THESIS) but it is surprisingly good for an americanization of a spanish picture. The director is Cameron Crowe, who always does the pictures about what music people listen to when they’re falling in love. It shows improvement in the filmatism in my opinion. It is a very good use of sound and music, and cinematographing. There are some subtle touches here and there and more emotion in the character that Cameron Diaz plays, the woman Tom Cruise casually dates who goes nuts on him and tries to kill him. In OPEN YOUR EYES she was more of a nut, here she makes a pretty good point about even if you make it clear you’re not serious about this woman, when you fuck her you gotta realize it means something to her. Come on, don’t be an asshole Tom Cruise.
In some ways this is an unusual character for Tom Cruise to play. Mainly because he wears a halloween mask. But I guess he did that in EYES WIDE SHUT too so, maybe that’s his new thing. But in other ways it’s the same old shit from him. He plays a rich prick who drives a ferrari and owns Maxim magazine. This guy is such a rich prick that he has a hologram of John Coltrane to entertain at his parties. I mean jesus tom, how can you do this to John Coltrane? At least do it to Louis Armstrong or somebody. I don’t know what’s worse, that he’s a minstrel for Tom Cruise, or that he’s a space age minstrel for Tom Cruise. I didn’t love supreme that. But anyway.
So of course he runs into some difficulties. He gets his face completely mauled in a car accident, and then it’s a trippy psychological thriller and what not (like OPEN YOUR EYES) with some LOST HIGHWAY type identity confusion (like OPEN YOUR EYES). And the point is, can this rich piece of shit redeem himself?
(Why are movies so interested in saving the souls of rich guys anyway? From Citizen Kane to Ebenezer Scrooge to Nic Cage in the fucking Family Man. Everybody wants to save the soul of a rich guy. Is it because we wish we were the rich guy, and don’t want to see ourselves in movies? Or is it because we think real rich guys don’t have souls, and we fantasize about changing that? I really don’t know.)
Penelope Cruz reprises her role as the love interest, but here they cutified her. She wears funny clothes and says wacky, unexpected things and she puts her hand in the virtual John Coltrane and giggles. But most of all she says little wise things out of the blue so that Tom Cruise can repeat them at the end when he realizes how truly wise and significant they are. Camerone Crowe must have real different taste in gals than I do, because the women he paints as godesses are always kinda annoying to me. I realize that the relationship with Cameron Diaz almost ended in a murder-suicide, but I liked her kinda spunk better than Penelope’s. I woulda stuck that one out, gave it a second chance.
Jason Lee is pretty good. FINALLY, a chance to really stretch out, in a breakthrough role as the funny best friend.
The story twists and turns and ends up pretty much the same place OPEN YOUR EYES did, but with about ten minutes of classic american style explaining. Don’t worry, we won’t let you go home not sure what happened.
But what makes it all interesting to me is that as the movie starts to explain itself, it starts unraveling this theme of pop icons infusing themselves into reality. Images from movies and album covers recreating themselves in your life and your dreams. Your dreams basing themselves on pop art based on the dreams of the people who made them. This is an appropriate theme for an uneccessary remake.
Overall not bad. Definitely see OPEN YOUR EYES, then maybe see VANILLA SKY if you’re still interested. Unless you’re just doing it to find out what the title means. It doesn’t mean shit. sorry.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.