THE DREAM FACTORY: Starring Anna and Henry
Release date: 10/01/2001
In this too-whimsical revision (some would say travesty) of classic cinema, Chaplin's Tramp yells "Cut! Cut!" and Charles Foster Kane gets his sled back. The action starts on Christmas Eve, when two children search for the answer to a riddle that will reveal their Uncle Paul's gift: "Legs as sharp as blades./ Sometimes for grown-ups,/ But mostly for children./ What am I?" When the siblings venture a guess, he offers a clue: "You'll just have to go up to the attic to see for yourselves, my little rosebuds." Anna and Henry open a mysterious trunk and magically plunge into the phantasmagoric "dream factory" of moviedom. They land in Ben Hur's chariot race, meet Weismuller's Tarzan and arrive at the Odessa Steps in time to save Potemkin's baby carriage. "I don't like stories with sad endings," Anna says, missing Eisenstein's point entirely. Sortland and Elling (previously paired for Anna's Art Adventure) create a meandering, down-the-rabbit-hole fantasy that, in fact, includes a visit to the Disney-animated Mad Tea Party. Elling captures the flicker of celluloid in his smudged black-and-white and oily Technicolor paintings, which blur stars' features (Marlene Dietrich lingers in one spread) and make unlikely juxtapositions (D.W. Griffith directs Singin' in the Rain).
Budding cineastes likely will prefer Edward Sorel's witty homage The Saturday Kid to this haphazard montage of allusions and illusions. All ages. (Oct.)