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Issue 3, 2016




  • Zero-hour contracts made redundant

  • Surprise, new contracts!

  • Balcony catastrophe leaves two students seriously injured at Six60 gig

  • Trumped for Cash

  • Know your Mind, on your laptop, at home.

  • Can we stop talking about it now?

  • Doing our Bit

  • Lizzie Marvelly Interview

  • Humdingers

  • Features


    Are you often left wondering what your dreams mean, and if they could provide guidance in your real life? Use the following chart to see which archetypal dream yours fits into, and unlock the secrets hidden in your REM sleep cycles: Pregnancy To dream that you are with child signals destruction, chaos, and insane depression. […]


  • The Lost Language of Dreaming

    My childhood mornings consisted of rolling out of bed and straight to the table where all eight of us in the family would sit for breakfast. I would narrate my dreams of the night before and then mum would interpret them for me. As I got older, I learned to do the same, and so […]


  • Insane in the Freud Brain

    Sigmund Freud was an Austrian psychologist, neurologist, and professional dream interpreter. He was born on May 3, 1856 (he’s a Taurus) and died in 1939. Freud lived a varied and interesting life: he was involved in a ménage à trois with his wife and her sister, he pioneered an entire field of academia, escaped the […]



    Are you often left wondering what your dreams mean, and if they could provide guidance in your real life? Use the following chart to see which archetypal dream yours fits into, and unlock the secrets hidden in your REM sleep cycles: Pregnancy To dream that you are with child signals destruction, chaos, and insane depression. […]


  • The Lost Language of Dreaming

    My childhood mornings consisted of rolling out of bed and straight to the table where all eight of us in the family would sit for breakfast. I would narrate my dreams of the night before and then mum would interpret them for me. As I got older, I learned to do the same, and so […]


  • Insane in the Freud Brain

    Sigmund Freud was an Austrian psychologist, neurologist, and professional dream interpreter. He was born on May 3, 1856 (he’s a Taurus) and died in 1939. Freud lived a varied and interesting life: he was involved in a ménage à trois with his wife and her sister, he pioneered an entire field of academia, escaped the […]


  • Arts and Science

  • Conversations of Fragility

    Cauliflowers, stiletto heels, handbags, teddy bears, and telephones are only some of the hundreds of cast objects that dangle from the walls inside the Dowse Art Museum.

    Chinese contemporary artist Liu Jianhua paid a visit to New Zealand to exhibit Transfer, which includes his most recent installation Square (2015), and Regular Fragile (2002) which was exhibited at the 2003 Venice Biennale.

    Trained as a ceramicist in Jingdezhen, China, Liu’s best known work is in porcelain; creating a link between his personal history and the medium’s significance in China. The way he employs ceramics and porcelain challenges the traditional techniques of Chinese ceramic production. The history of porcelain production goes back nearly 2000 years and became a symbol of China’s technical and industrial superiority.

    Regular Fragile is composed of 1500 porcelain replicas of banal, daily items, that privilege appearance and symbolism over function. Objects are selected by Liu at random, each object supplying a connection with the viewers through their familiarity and/or emotional attachment.

    When entering the gallery, you are first drawn into the corner of the room where the objects almost touch. They then disperse outward creating a more breathable composition. Hanging from almost invisible threads, on examining the objects more intimately, you notice their fragility. The delicate nature of the ceramic material elevates their being into something precious, worthy of holding on to. But their fragility highlights our tenuous attachment to the things in our lives; and by cluttering the installation through the use of repetition, the work begins to represent the amount of stuff we accumulate—sometimes without even noticing.

    Liu’s work has been interpreted in relation to China’s rapid economic development and industrialisation. Many consumerist goods that are produced in the world today originate in China, due primarily to low labour costs. The concept of value is evident through his work, as he has transformed mass produced items and abstracted them with a material that is highly regarded in the world. Value is also enhanced through their insertion into a gallery context. Where once these objects were produced and sold within a consumerist society, they are now valued through the art system, and consumed instead for cultural reasons.

    Spectacular and subtle at the same time, Liu Jianhua has produced a work that provides a platform for viewers to connect to the things that surround them in their day to day lives. Things that generally go unnoticed, or are taken for granted, are highlighted, their vulnerability made apparent. They may be simple, banal objects that we see on the kitchen bench or in the living room, but they take on a greater importance through Liu’s work.

    Transfer is open until July 10 at the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt.


    What’s on

    Have a beer at the opening of Rupture/capture at Enjoy Public Art Gallery. Celebrating the work of artist in residence, Johanna Mechen.
    March, 16 at 5:30pm, 1/147 Cuba Street.




  • Catfish: the TV Show

    I wasn’t allowed the internet until high school but when I was 11 my friend showed me how to make a Hotmail account. It was 2003, and being 11 I used my email address to leave comments on Linkin Park fan-sites. One week I got an email from someone claiming to be the cousin of Chester Bennington, lead singer of the band. He said he saw one of my comments online and could tell I was smart and he wanted to get to know me. I was thrilled! I told my mum and she thought that was “so neat.” Fast forward three emails and he’s sending me detailed graphic personal massage fantasies, and all the photos he had sent me of Chester came up on the first page of Google. He was a stranger, and I had been catfished.

    In 2010 the documentary Catfish was released, and it coined the name of something so many have experienced since the birth of the internet—being tricked online into thinking you are talking to someone you are not. While the validity of the original film is questionable, it’s entertaining and intriguing, and is a full exploration of what catfishes are, and it has spawned an incredible MTV reality series of the same name. Original Catfish-ee Nev Schulman is joined by co-host/cameraman/silver-fox Max Joseph (director of last year’s ill-fated EDM drama We Are Your Friends), and the show is now in its 5th season of crazy batshit drama. As is the nature of catfishing most of the stories do not have happy endings, but the show never outright wills for a negative outcome, and more often than not you get caught up in Nev and Max’s lovelorn optimism.

    The most recent episode focuses on 40 year old single grandmother Jeanette—a show first!—whose story had been submitted by her concerned daughter, Shuntay. Jeanette has been talking to 27 year old Derick, a forklift driver from Atlanta who just so happens to look like your average Instagram fuckboy. They’ve been talking every day on the phone for a year and Derick expressed a desire to start a family with Jeanette… but his webcam is constantly broken and they’ve never actually met. Shuntay, a mother herself, enlists Max and Nev to help her mom meet and find happiness with Derick; but the chances seem slim, and even slimmer when a quick reverse Google image search reveals the person in Derick’s photos to be a seventeen year old high school senior. This is revealed to a horrified Jeanette as copies of her text conversations are superimposed over her crying—“I love you baby.” “Went to the mall today and saw the perfect ring ;).” Sickly sweet guitar pop with very literal lyrics about broken dreams plays in the background.

    As Jeanette weeps in her garage, it hits you how messed up this whole situation is and makes you wonder why anyone would manipulate a stranger like that. It’s important to note a lot of catfish are the first to contact the show because they think being on the show gives them a second chance to explain themselves, and maybe, just maybe, they can keep the relationship they’ve established. Most are genuinely remorseful, have zero self esteem, and thought that they had to lie to find love. But as Jeanette laments after finally meeting the real Derick (no spoilers), “didn’t I deserve to know [who you were]?” It’s true, real love can conquer all, but there’s no real love in sending a forty year old grandmother pics of a teenager and saying it’s you.


  • Sweet Child of Mine


    Sweet Child of Mine was performed as part of the Fringe Festival this February. It was a returning hit from the Melbourne Fringe that playfully and earnestly asked, what is the point of art? 

    Performed by Bron Batten and her father James, Sweet Child of Mine explored the perils of being an artist, and the cross-generational judgement and cultural stigma associated with creative industries such as theatre.

    It was brimming with classic Fringe elements: dance, comedy, audience interaction, a messy set and raw, and honest dialogue. The performance also contained improvisation and scripted pieces; all refreshingly uncontrived.

    The show opened with documentary footage of Bron’s family, sitting on the home sofa. They shared their honest and amusing thoughts on Bron’s work as a theatre practitioner. Her mother Linda echoed a common perspective toward contemporary theatre, asking “what does it all mean?” Through imaginative dramatic conventions, Bron challenged and embraced this view.

    We were impressed by the pair’s bravery throughout the show. Bron danced through the space in white underwear. She rippled and surged to the ground, with curly red hair strewn across her face; an enchanting dancer to watch. Any questions of the dramaturgical purpose were later clarified, when the dance was later revisited. This time it featured a fantastic spillage of bright blue paint, which Batten drenched herself in.

    From the dry dad jokes to the hilarious unscripted tangents, James was uncannily similar to every father out there. He even allowed the audience to question him after a spiel on Bron’s growing up. The audience interaction with James and Bron had the audience in fits, and perhaps more importantly, feeling comfortable. The audience were almost treated as friends in the Batten’s family home.


  • Sail away with the Owl and the Pussycat

    It was a night of warm romance at BATS theatre when Whangarei’s Company of Giants, under the direction of Laurel Devenie, presented a whimsical rendition of the classic poem by Edward Lear. As we entered the theatre space and took our seats, we were serenaded by original love songs arranged by musician, Adam Ogle. The actors were dressed in an eclectic hotchpotch of olden time clothing.

    Ogle’s abilities on guitar, mandolin, and double bass were the perfect ignition for magic, and the sounds reflected the mood. The detailed set was strewn with suitcases and fairy-lights; a glowing atmosphere of warmth and happiness. It prepared the audience for the participatory nature of the pantomime-esque style of the piece.

    The poem was set in Whangarei which made for effective satire, easy comedy, and created familiarity with the New Zealand audience. Devenie produced an incredibly grounded yet fun rendition of a classic child’s tale.It was encouraging to see young children and their grandparent’s being simultaneously engaged by the piece.

    The animal characters are performed in a physical, enigmatic, and thoroughly committed. Mataara Stokes as the Pussycat, prowls between the audience and performers, offering a sensuous and thoroughly self-absorbed feline figure. Tomasin Fisher-Johnson’s as the Owl flitted about earnestly, and offered a sweet harmony against the predominantly male voices. Lutz Hamm pulled incredible facial expressions and commanded a strong presence from start to finish as the narrator. Finally, Anthony Crumm as Piggy-Wiggy was bashful in both an endearing and humorous manner.

    There is always the temptation to fall into over-explained silliness when dealing with a younger audience; Company of Giants did no such thing. The Owl and the Pussycat was an eloquent yet adorable piece, and it left my heart smiling.


  • Ravenous Man goes to Sufjan

    Sufjan Stevens has made a mixed bag of albums. He’s not your cookie cutter artist; instead each album is loving crafted with it’s own unique flavour and texture. It was with this in mind that I was so interested to attend his recent performance at the Michael Fowler center. Carrie and Lowell, his most recent dish, is not one I’d expected him to tour with. It’s so personal, almost rustic in comparison to his previous works, with a subject matter so emotional that I figured it would have been too difficult to perform live. 

    Boy, was I wrong. I wasn’t expecting him to drastically alter his base ingredients to a degree that achieved such a fulfilling performance. With a scant five member band (comprised of the members who I lovingly named the hermit, egg, cutie patootie, James Blake-ish, and Suffy), each with a vast array of talents (switching seamlessly between piano, guitar, drums, synths and horns), they managed to create a large wall of sound—at moments I almost forgot that this was originally an acoustic-guitar based album. With free jazz breakdowns, a ten minute synth-based noise segment, it was made very clear, very fast that Sufjan had added some special sauce to this set that was definitely not on the album.

    The initial question I asked myself though: did his set need to be this way, or was it simply adding erroneous sauce to an already amazing dish? I found Carrie and Lowell to be so moving on a personal level that initially I was put off by how drastic the alteration was. It was not at all what I was expecting, and my initial reaction was shock. I came to the gig expecting to be weeping (as the tissues in my pocket will attest to), but instead I was treated to a powerful, electronic, experimental performance. While it was still a moving experience, it felt as though it had lost some of it’s personal touch, and it didn’t feel quite as impactful as I was expecting.

    But I wasn’t disappointed. After the initial shock wore off, it became clear that this was the best way to present the album in a live format. It gave the audience something to move to, something to listen to. It was moving that Sufjan was willing to change something that no doubt caused him a lot of pain to make, to help make this concert a more enjoyable experience for those who had decided to come and see him.  

    Sufjan’s performance was like a burger with bacon on it. Sure, the burger doesn’t necessarily need the bacon, and its inclusion definitely changes the taste. Some will think this change is good, some will think it’s bad. The truth is it’s objectively neither, it’s just different. And change is something we shouldn’t be afraid of or reject. We should appreciate it for what it’s worth. If you came into this concert without knowing anything about Sufjan, you would undeniably have had a great time listening to the performance. If you came wanting to listen to Carrie and Lowell, you might have felt slightly disappointed, but I implore you to think otherwise. Sufjan’s offering was one of the most heartfelt, honest, and enjoyable performances I’ve seen from an artist in a very long time.



  • Shakey Graves Interview

    You’re here for Auckland City Limits and a couple of sideshows. Do you find touring enjoyable or is it quite laborious?

    It’s a horribly taxing experience and there’s a thousand ways to do it. I’ve been touring for going on three or four years now and have a certain love/hate relationship for it in ways I manage on my own. The worst parts of it are being away from your family. I think for every day you’re on tour you need a day to not be on tour.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

    That seems fair, but probably very hard to manage?

    *laughs* I mean, that’s the sane way to do it. That would be the most ideal.

    It’s been 18 months since you released your sophomore album And The War Came, has there been a lot of momentum building in the time since?

    It’s really been building since its inception. It’s just been one step at a time for the last ten years.

    And I guess that’s reflected in the fact that the industry is so hard to break into. How did you chip away at it?

    Y’know, a nice blend of idiocy and confidence. My family’s all performance based people so it’s not uncommon to take stuff like this seriously. I’ve always tried to find a nice blend of how to monetise it enough to where I can focus on it and take it seriously. I think everyone also gets into the mentality of if you wanna do something like this you wanna be at the top. The top can mean a thousand different things, and sometimes the top can be too far from what you want. I think when you make music you want people to listen to it to do it justice.

    So how did you fall into the Americana genre?

    It’s just what happens when I play music. When I started playing guitar the people I really focused on were singer/songwriters. People that had a lot of influence on how I play guitar are folks like George Thorogood, John Prine, Tom Waits, Neil Young. I feel like this is a golden age if you can treat it right. The old mindset of the way music was bought and sold in the industry—record labels and everything—is in flux right now. It’s been a long time since there has been such a self-opportunistic, prosperous time to create your own content.

    That’s really cool to hear because a lot of people are super down about that—about being able to build your own brand through the internet.

    I mean, I think it’s just paralleled by culture. Ten years ago you couldn’t find quinoa anywhere and now it’s in most food stores. Now it’s like, “what kind do you want?”

    Most New Zealanders haven’t made it to your part of the world [Austin, Texas], so I’ve got some stereotypes I’d like to run past you to confirm or deny their validity.

    Yeah, yeah, hook me up.

    Number one—football is life?

    That’s not too far off base. I’m not a huge football fan, but I watched some of the Super Bowl. It’s just like how we don’t play cricket here, but the last time I was in New Zealand the Cricket World Cup was on and I loved it. You might be totally tired of it by now, but I was like “fuck yeah cricket, this is awesome.”

    Ooh yeah the most recent tests with Australia weren’t so flash.

    Well at least you’ve still got the All Blacks.

    They’ll be dominating for a very long time.

    That’s what they’re saying. I didn’t know any of this shit until I went to New Zealand for a week and I was like “ohhh, it’s all about the All Blacks.”

    You assimilated immediately.

    I’d just sit around and drink wine for nine hours and watch sport. It was great.

    Stereotype number two—do you drive a pickup?

    I own a pickup truck, but I don’t drive it all the time.

    Do you exclusively drink iced tea and beer?

    Uhh no. Iced tea is great, it’s very much a Texan institution, but there’s different types of tea. In parts of the South like Georgia and Louisiana it’s a lot more of a sweet tea which I hate, but unsweetened iced tea is definitely a classic. It’s plenty caffeinated, you can drink a whole bunch of it. There’s also so much beer to be consumed. People make fun of Americans for their beer choices cause it’s all so light, but the last thing I wanna drink is a Guinness in the middle of summer. You drink stuff that’s kind of like carbonated water and you drink it all day long, forever. And then you get fat and you die, it’s great.



  • Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia


    Developer: Climax Studios

    Publisher: Ubisoft

    Platform: PC, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One


    Bolshevik Russia, 1918. The Tsars are held captive by the Bolsheviks, and the country is in turmoil. Nikolai Orelov participates in the Order of Assassins, which has been playing cat and mouse with the Templars for centuries. But for no longer! Orelov is determined to leave Russia, which means giving up the creed. Of course, the Order isn’t happy about this. Consequently, he must complete one last task or his family will not escape. As we accompany Nikolai on this mission, we are enveloped by a magnificent and symbolically charged environment.

    Russia is designed with artistic flare, adopting a 2.5D appearance with careful rendering of character physiognomy. The Russian setting portrays Western archetypal associations of the country to get us familiarized; 1900s style trains remind us of the importance of the Trans-Siberian rail. The Russian cityscape is ornate architecturally but coloured a drab grey. Communist red bursts from the landscape behind, illustrating tensions between individual and state, freedom and oppression, wealth and poverty—dichotomies that really were evident in the aftermath of the October Revolution.

    Maneuverability is limited due to the 2.5 scheme. Navigation through the cityscape requires a deliberate problem-solving but also the ability to adapt reflexes to fit moments of insane difficulty. In addition to Nikolai, one has the opportunity to play as princess Anastasia. She possesses the additional ability to utilize helix powers, which are fabled to be possessed only by some assassins—according to many reviews, this is one of the few positive features of Russia.

    The 2.5D Chronicles partially follow 2D aspects of Nintendo games. Kind of like the Goombas in Mario, the sight range of guards is delineated for the player, emphasizing the need for stealth. Some might call it stupid, but the Chronicles hinge on this artistic revamp of old video game techniques. 2.5D allows you to switch plains, but that’s about it. It’s resulted in some awkward gameplay, and as most note, that isn’t good enough.

    One lamentation is that the Chronicles make assassination tedious. But I have to ask: were you paying attention in Assassin’s Creed I? It’s exactly that. Aside from climactic moments in cutscenes, that’s really all Assassin’s Creed (A.C.) 3D plots amount to: one assassination after another, a few interrogations, perhaps a rescue. Yet, many loved it. The issue is that Russia lacks peripheral plot, it isn’t easily accessible. You start the game in medias res. There are no fancy movie-cuts apart from the propaganda art-styled opening, which gives us little on the story. Instead, emphasis is on the visual spectrum; and it just so happens to overwhelm immediate plot.

    Given this, it seems that Ubisoft’s A.C. team, which is composed of individuals of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and beliefs, tried to underline the concept of culture as the basic thematic structure of the A.C. world. Bifurcating difficulty throughout the Chronicles generates surprises that are actually more realistic than pre-set difficulty levels. The scrolling screen puts cultural and social aspects on exhibit, and the sheer fact that Chronicles highlights three non-Western cultures stipulates that setting is of utmost importance here. Chronicles was the A.C. team’s attempt to emphasize the point of the animus and its powers of synchronization. I think they did a fair job. It’s not the most rounded thing ever, but how much better can you get than Black Flag or Unity? It may be the only A.C. game to be released for a while, so I think it’s time that fans cool off and be happy with what they have.  


  • A History of New Zealand Women


    Author: Barbara Brookes

    Publisher: Bridget Williams Books



    What better time to take a look at this groundbreaking book than during Women’s History Month. Barbara Brookes’s much anticipated volume charts the lives of New Zealand women in all stages from Polynesian settlement, through colonisation and the World Wars, to modernity. Through all the significant developments and events of our nation women have not just stood on the sidelines, but have acted and influenced, although though they have not necessarily been recognised. For the first time our history is told through the lens of women, and there is much to be discovered and inspired by.

    The years of research that Brookes has poured into her work is immediately evident. At nearly 500 pages, peppered throughout with photographs, illustrations, and artwork, the production of such a volume is no small feat. While analysing the social and economic progress of women through New Zealand’s history, individual stories have been brought to the fore. Some of these stories, such as Kate Sheppard’s and Jean Batten’s, we know well; others, such as Lady Mildred Amelia Tapapa Woodbine Pomare, who established a Māori soldiers fund in 1915, and Arapera Kaa, one of New Zealand’s first bilingual poets, will be new discoveries for many readers. One of the most apparent features of this book is the equal attention paid to women of both European and Māori heritage—despite enormous differences in culture and tradition, the desire for equality for women is a unifying cause.

    What also stands out, after looking at how far we have come since first gaining the vote in 1893, is what is still left to be achieved. Issues such as equal pay, female representation in Parliament, the treatment of rape victims, and changes to abortion laws, all feature in later parts of the book and ask the question of how we can alter the course of history. It’s up to both men and women to look at these issues and to enact change. Encouragingly, there is already traction. All in all, A History of New Zealand Women is an important book that we can all take something from, it deserves a prominent place on our bookshelves.


  • The Portable Veblen


    Author: Elizabeth McKenzie

    Publisher: Fourth Estate



    The Portable Veblen is one of the more curious novels that I’ve read of late, and one that I went into with utterly no idea of what to expect. It’s an anomaly, covering a hodgepodge of topics such as: squirrels, mental illness, the medical industry, marriage, and post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.

    The setting is Palo Alto, California, part of the tech frontier known as Silicon Valley. At the heart of the novel is Veblen Amundsen-Hovda, a nature-loving and anti-materialistic hospital administrator (named of the Norwegian-American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen), and her fiancé Paul Vreeland, a neurologist. Paul is developing a medical device for use in battle zones that will help to decrease brain trauma in soldiers, and is running as far as he can from his hippie parents and his mentally-handicapped brother, who he believes is out to ruin his life. Veblen, meanwhile, is distrustful of anything to do with consumerism, stressed from a lifetime of dealing with her needy and hypochondriac mother, and believes that a squirrel in her neighbourhood is communicating with her. When Paul secures a deal for his device with a large pharmaceutical company, their relationship is thrown into disarray.

    If that sounds like a lot to process, you wouldn’t be wrong. There is a lot going on in this book, which has been described as a “Silicon Valley novel.” McKenzie is commenting on the clash between the old world and the new, played out in Paul’s desire for wealth and notoriety, and Veblen’s emotional crisis caused by trying to align her simpler values with those of her fiancé. Veblen idolises her namesake, and there are repeated references throughout the story to the anti-capitalist ideas of Thorstein Veblen. Although educational, this does slow down the pace of the novel, but there were enough sparks of wit and poignancy to keep me reading. Ultimately, this is a surprising and ambitious story about 21st-century dilemmas.


  • Dreams in Film

    “I know you said dreams sequences are for f**s, but I think it could work, don’t you?”

    Although the above quote is offensive, Martin McDonagh’s film Seven Psychopaths provocatively points out that the presence of dream sequences in films has been played out. They stretch back to Dorothy discovering that, actually, she was still in Kansas (anymore). However, the reason people still talk about The Wizard of Oz isn’t because of the impact the revelation that it was all just a dream had, but rather because it is remembered as the first feature film to be released in full colour. This pivotal technological development was echoed through the narrative structure of the film; the dream sequence became the vehicle for featuring a groundbreaking development. The creative freedom offered by the world of dreams has lead to the kind of filmmaking that would go on to leave a lasting impact on both viewers and even cinema itself. So here now are some examples of dreams in films, and films about dreams, that we most appreciate, because:

    “We all gotta dream, don’t we? …Oh [and] by the way, I don’t think they like being called f**s anymore”

    —Christopher Walken, Seven Psychopaths (2012)


    Inception (2010)  ★★★★

    Director: Christopher Nolan


    Released in 2010, the movie was destined to be a box office success with a blockbuster cast including Leonardo Dicaprio, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Caine. It was directed by Christopher Nolan, and had music composed by one of the greatest cinematic composers of all time, Hans Zimmer.

    The movie focuses on Dom Cobb (Leonardo Dicaprio), who has the ability to enter people’s dreams using military hardware. An ability that leads him into corporate espionage where its application in stealing secrets is invaluable.

    Cinematically this movie is outstanding. Nolan utilizes every available tool at his disposal to keep the viewer transfixed and constantly guessing as to what is a dream and what is reality. For example, in all the early dream sequences Nolan uses a disproportionate number of medium and close up shots compared to establishing and long shots. While this does not seem strange at the time, it is only when Cobb and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) return to the real world that we understand as only then we see the first panoramic shot, the train crossing the bridge. While this seems like a fairly straightforward concept to differentiate between dream and reality, Nolan utilises it so well that the viewer may not even realise it is happening.

    Throughout the movie Nolan pushes one main idea—what is reality? Due to the constant switches between different layers of dreams and reality, the viewer is kept on their toes trying to decipher the mental state of Cobb, the movies chronological timeline, and, as shown in the infamous final scene, whether any of the movie was real in the first place.

    Only a director such as Nolan is able to take a viewer’s perception of reality and warp it in such a way that they are left questioning not only whether the characters are dreaming, but whether reality itself is nothing more than a dream.


    Total Recall (1990)  ★★★★

    Director: Paul Verhoeven


    Total Recall is probably one of the more ridiculous entries in Schwarzenegger’s oeuvre. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating film that encapsulates director Paul Verhoeven’s over the top violence and dry, macabre sense of humour.

    It’s full of goofy acting and elements (some of which are more backwards looking in hindsight—the three breasted sex worker), and also a pretty funny dream sequence showcasing asphyxiation on Mars’s surface. That’s not to say that the movie is overly clever; these ridiculous aspects only make it more memorable.

    Inarguably, it’s the strength of Total Recall’s ludicrous premise that gives it its charm. Schwarzenegger is a sort of average Joe in a future where life has become tedious to the point where people feel the need to implant memories of trips/vacations/fantasies they might never have had.

    After Quaid (Schwarzenegger) goes to the company Rekall to have the memories of a secret agent implanted in his mind, he discovers that he actually is one, and consequently a corporation on Mars is out to get him.

    The movie’s absurdity can be justified by the suggestion that it is all just a memory, or perhaps a dream. It’s possible to ask; was Quaid really a secret agent the whole time with amnesia who was compromised when he went to Rekall, or is the rest of the film the implanted memories in his head? The film doesn’t give us any indication of it being one or the other, and in this way it is much more compelling.


    Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)  ★★★★★

    Director—Hayao Miyazaki


    Hayao Miyazaki’s 2004 film interpretation of Dianna Wynne Jones’ novel of the same name contains an excellent example of a well-executed pseudo-dream sequence, that is both surreal and operates as a moment of reveal.

    When used well, dream-sequences can enhance a movie-going experience. However, if done without subtlety, lacking in proper dream-like atmosphere and tone, or too on-the-nose, this narrative device can really ruin a film. It’s interesting to note that when they’re in books, dreams usually impart information to readers in a (supposedly) veiled manner to further the plot. 

    Set the night after Howl has flown into battle, the dream sequence firmly establishes Sophie’s acceptance of her feelings for Howl. During the scene, she dreams that Howl returns home, having turned himself into a monstrous bird. Sophie, reverted to her younger self, tries desperately to find out how she can help, only to be cruelly turned away by Howl, who exclaims, “you, can’t even break your own spell!” This is the first (and only) time in the film that viewers hear him acknowledge Sophie’s curse. When Sophie tells him that she loves him (also for the first and only time), Howl claims that she’s too late and flies off. As the dream ends Sophie is isolated in the darkness, old once again.

    Not only are important declarations made in the dream, Miyazaki skillfully employs tone to create an excellent pinch, that reminds the audience of characters’ motivations and flaws. Howl is vain and prideful, unwilling to receive help from what he determines to be an ineffective source; while Sophie, though filled with desires, is too late to act upon them. These are Sophie’s fears, that her love for Howl will never be realized, and that he is in grave danger. As we see later in the film, the dream is a catalyst for Sophie’s action, she becomes a strong motivator.



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