This past weekend I saw a movie so great, so ahead of its time, so brilliant, that I had to keep pausing it and running over to my laptop to write about it, to reflect and to dream and wonder what I will do now, as a filmmaker, now that this has been done.
The film I refer to is SCIENCE OF SLEEP from Michel Gondry. Mark my words, this film will one day be regarded as highly as CITIZEN KANE and LA DOLCE VITA and PERSONA as a benchmark in art cinema, that is to say, art cinema that is accessible to the layperson and trenchant regarding genuine issues of its days and it elevates one’s perceptions even as it captures the way we really think, the way we see, etc., in short Gondry has re-created and perfected “instantaneous cinema” in a manner that takes the dreams of the 1960s New Wave and art house movements and fully realizes them. One day SLEEP, along with the tremendous ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, will be regarded as one of the true masterpieces of the new century.
If people hadn’t become significantly stupider since the 1990s, SCIENCE OF SLEEP would have been a titanic hit, changing the entire landscape of cinema the way PULP FICTION did. Instead it’s a slow burning sleeper which I have only now gotten around to seeing. Need I even mention that Leonard Maltin could only give it **1/2?*
So instead of a PULP FICTION, SLEEP will merely have to bide its time and become a classic in years to come, like WIZARD OF OZ or IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Gondry should already be hailed among the greatest directors in “the canon”- Indeed I would put him among any top 3 in the history of cinema. But why is SCIENCE OF SLEEP not revered and hailed and embraced? a, Michel Gondry is French and the new wave is “over” to the extent that no one translates Cahier du cinema for American critics anymore, b) The film takes place in Paris and mixes Spanish, French and English together with the whole “babel” effect done in such a manner as may make Americans confused (Is this in English or aint it? and C) the love story is too “real” to be the romantic comedy the ads seem to suggest – ultimately, through Gondry’s post-modern, fractured narrative style, the central romance fails and succeeds at the same time, it’s reality vs. dream and ultimately if you get hung up on “is this really happening or not?” you miss the point.
The point, my dears, is cinema. Godard once decreed Nicholas Ray to BE cinema, let me dare reverse the direction of the cross-Atlantic kudos for monsieur Gondry.