after life

images11.jpg I love this movie. It came out in about the mid-1990s, when I met only about four other people who dug it as well. My friend Alex J. came with and fell asleep, so he is not among them.

After I read NY Times profile on the filmmaker — whose dad’s alzheimers led him to become obsessed with the idea of memories — I was intrigued (you know, b/c I’m obsessed with the nature of memories, since I keep losing them and for a host of other reasons.) The story is just about what happens after you die — the after life staff informs a room full of people that they have passed away, apologizes for their loss, and tells them they get to choose one memory to spend the rest of eternity in. People pick childhood moments, most frequently. There’s one guy whose life was so miserable that he couldn’t come up with one except for this time when he climbed underneath the back porch and got sucked into the darkness.

But aside from the memory schtick, the thing I really love about this film is its inherent theatricality. How do I explain this? Yikes. Well, in films, very often it seems to me that when you have a character who lives in the past, you literally show them in like a 1950s costume with period hair and costume and fuzzy lighting. Or if you have the past and the present interact, you might put some kind of funky lighting on the past guy. In theater, you just put two actors together, tell the audience what’s happening — and it just happens. It’s magical. (That’s right, I used the word magical.). Adn by magical, I mean, the use of mundane ordinary objects, people, and situations that suddenly transcend reality into a more profound existence.

In the flick, there’s a 20-year-old actor who plays an angel guide to a 60-year-old man. Once they get to talking, they realize they were in love with the same woman and that the younger guy is actually older than the old dude. (Yikes, did you follow?) Or the way they created the infinity memories, the after life staff literally served as a film crew — one man remembered riding on a train as a boy on a summer day. They got an old train car and rocked it back and forth, sprayed water on a boy on the train to create sweat, and filmed it. In that case, a regular film set became…an altering of consciousness.

Does any of what I’m saying translate? Not sure, but you can always rent it for yourself. I hope it’s as good as I remembered, but I don’t really know. I might find it super slow now…so maybe it’s better for me to stick with my memory of it.

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