Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

Nightmare on East Roy Street

I had a dream.

Not an uplifting, inspiring, visionary dream like Martin Luther King had. No, it was just the same sort of blurry glimpse into my twisted soul at night that my dreams usually tend to be.

And no, this isn’t one of those flow-of-consciousness things passing as a dream like I wrote about the Cannes film festival two weeks ago, which was basically my way of writing about something without having to bother actually organizing my thoughts. No, this was an honest-to-gosh dream that I had while actually sleeping.

The good thing about the dream was that, in it, I was at the Seattle International Film Festival. The bad thing about the dream was that I was in a queue.

Now this all has firm grounding in reality. The Seattle International Film Festival is indeed going on right now. And, at any film festival, one does spend a fair amount of time standing in queues.

I suppose this dream was really just a variation of a dream that I have been having all my life. You know the one. At some point after I had finished my formal education, I regularly had the dream where final exams were going on and I couldn’t find the room where my most important exam was being held. Another variation that plagued me for years was the one where I suddenly realized that the final exam for one of my classes was coming up and I had neglected to attend any of the lectures or do any of the reading. This was always an extremely panic-inducing dream for me. I take comfort from the fact that the experts say that it is mainly good students who have this dream. I also take comfort in the fact that, as far as I can remember, I never had the dream where I showed up in class in my underwear.

As the years passed, the dream that did plague me mutated. At some point I dreamed that I had an extremely important meeting at the corporate behemoth that I worked for and couldn’t remember or find out which conference room it was being held in. That didn’t seem to be progress at all, but rather a step backwards. But, after more time passed, the dream mutated again, this time in a way that I did see as progress. In the new version, I was not in school or at work but at the Seattle International Film Festival. Now the crisis was that there was a movie I was really desperate to see (no doubt the only screening it would ever have) and I could not remember or find out in which venue it was being projected. Now, that is something worth agonizing over, even in one’s sleep.

This latest dream was a further variation on the same dream. This time I was in a ticket queue for ages. I’m pretty sure it was the ticket window at the Harvard Exit cinema on Capitol Hill. When I finally got to the head of the line, I couldn’t remember which movies I wanted to collect tickets for. I searched for the printout of my choices, which I always (in real life) carry around with me during film festivals, since I can never keep track of these things in my head. Finally, I found it, as the sea of people behind me was becoming ever more impatient. I told the ticket person my choices, and she immediately informed me that there was a conflict. Sure enough, my second movie was scheduled to begin before my first movie was scheduled to end. What did I want to do, she wanted to know. I couldn’t think. Which movie was I going to give up? I couldn’t think. The sea of people behind me was becoming ever more restive. What was I going to do? The panic increased. Finally, mercifully, I woke up.

I could spend some time trying to analyze what this dream means, but I think it is self-explanatory. My inner psyche spends a lot of time worrying about whether I am in the right place or not. But beyond that, it is clear that I am missing my favorite film fest. To skim the list of movies currently showing at the festival is to cause depression in those of us who are not there. And it’s not just because I think the rain might be warmer in Seattle than it is in the west of Ireland. My only solace is that I have seen a tiny handful of the movies screening at this year’s SIFF: Garage, Boy A, the Irish short New Boy, plus some older movies, 1968’s Romeo and Juliet and 2000’s Sexy Beast. And there are others that I could have seen, which have already played on this side of the Atlantic, if I was any good. But those are just a drop in the bucket, given the tons of movies in the SIFF schedule. I tend to focus more on the many movies I will probably never see because I am not at SIFF or the fact that I could have seen a wonderful movie like Son of Rambow nearly a whole year earlier if I had been at SIFF a year ago.

Better to focus on things that I can actually look forward to. One is the Galway Film Fleadh, which is coming up in just a few more weeks. And then there is some interesting news out there concerning some of my favorite television obsessions. The most tantalizing is a report on the putative new Dark Shadows movie. A web site called reported some third-hand information that screenwriter John August (scribe on Charlie’s Angels movies and some Tim Burton movies and director of The Nines) is simultaneously working on Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam for Peter Segal and (here’s the really exciting part) the Dark Shadows movie for Tim Burton(!) and starring Johnny Depp.

Now, this could be a match made in heaven. If anybody could possibly give Dark Shadows a successful reboot, it would be Tim Burton. No one has a better touch for fantastical dark material. This could be good. Unless he decides to do it as stop-action animation. Would Depp be a better Barnabas Collins than Ben Cross was in the ill-starred 1990s TV primetime revival? Undoubtedly, but that is not saying much. The question is whether anybody besides Jonathan Frid can really be Barnabas. I’m willing to give him a chance, as long as he won’t try to play him as Keith Richards. But there is no chance of that. But I don’t want him to play him too much like Sweeney Todd or Edward Scissorhands either, which is more of a possibility. And I suppose that we will have to have Helena Bonham Carter as Barnabas’s strange sidekick, Dr. Julia Hoffman.

There is also some interesting news about Doctor Who, but I think I will reflect on that next time. If I’m not asleep.

-S.L., 5 June 2008

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