Waking Life (2001)

(In theaters, January 2002) In words, it sounds like an interesting concept; a film shot in digital video is then re-worked (painted-over, essentially) by artists so that it becomes an animated film. It works even better when considering the subject matter of the film, a series of loosely-connected (or totally-disconnected) vignettes/musings on the nature of reality, dreams and life. It could have been good. But the way it’s presented on-screen, it’s just a pretentious mess. Everything I needed to know about Waking Life, I learned from reading cheap science-fiction. (Including Philip K. Dick, who’s explicitly referenced at the end of the film.) While I could tolerate a lot of mid-brow philosophy, what I can’t stand is oodles of cheap nauseating animation. Here, the backgrounds float in all directions, the perspectives don’t make any sense and what’s worse, precious little is made of the possibilities of animation; most of the film is a series of talking-heads. And not very pretty talking-heads. I’ve seen better rotoscoping in cheap Japanese animation. The animation is Waking Life is fast, cheap and out of reasonable control. Combine this to the bla-bla-blah nature of the subject, and the combination isn’t pretty. I briefly dozed off during the film and scarcely noticed any difference, which is pretty ironic.

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