Carolyn and I rented another film last night. That’s two in a row, and I have to say that it’s been a welcome change from the nightly binge sessions which have caused us to rapidly deplete our entertainment regimen. It’s been a long time since film has called to me as it did in high school when I wrote my first DS9 spec scripts for Lolita Fatjo at Paramount Pictures. But the feeling is new again, so who knows where this might lead?
First, I will start by conceding that if you don’t like Nicolas Cage, or if you are on the fence about him, you may not like this film. Cage plays himself, but with a fictitious family, and an “every man’s dream” CIA recruitment debacle that nearly derails his career. (Not really. Suspension of disbelief is also important with this film!)
Carolyn was quick to point out the irony in a movie that centers around what is essentially a megalomaniac who shares the screen with other actors who are nearly all, at present, more famous than he is. Arguably. I love Nicolas, so clearly I disagree with that statement. But my wife does have a good point. His ultimate fan boy in the movie is played by Pedro Pascal, also known as The Mandalorian. His agent is played by Neil Patrick Harris. His CIA handler? Tiffany Haddish.
I’m not suggesting that if you compared any of these stars’ IMDB pages to Nick’s that they would have anywhere near the depth or breadth. Carolyn also pointed out, as I was searching for the inspiration for his bad boy alter ego in Unbearable Weight on his filmography, that I was “[…] going to be doing some Sam Jax scrolling” to find what I was looking for. And she was not wrong. The fact that it wound up being from a single appearance on an obscure talk show in 1990 called “Wogan” made my search a complete waste of time, in the end. But that is neither here nor there.
The movie gives a Nicolas Cage fan like myself exactly what we want. Nick’s ego, and constant self-verification as the world’s most important cultural savant ever (read with an appropriate level of sarcasm and/or facetiousness), along with action, well timed but not overdone comedic relief, and the most memorable lines ever uttered from the depths of a drug fueled, waking lucid dream. (I have no proof of this. I am assuming.) Yet somehow, Cage makes me believe that the older, “now” version of himself has in fact grown and matured. Even Hunter S. Thompson could never convince me of THAT!
As a founding investor at Legion M Entertainment, I have a vested interest in the film “Mandy.” I loved that film, and instantly recognized it as a cult classic. My wife did not like it so much. With that said, I was grinning ear to ear when the chrome axe that Cage forges in Mandy makes a cameo appearance at the height of tension between Cage and Pascal, the super fan concedes and opens a locked door that the CIA has ordered Nick to gain access to. The hidden vault is filled with Nicolas Cage movie memorabilia, and the two haggling over a statue of the actor was a particular high point in the movie for me.
I won’t say any more about the plot, because I don’t want to spoil any surprises. I will just say this: Nicolas Cage entertained the shit out of me last night, and kept me in a good mood until I went to bed. That’s a huge “W” in my book!
Last night my wife Carolyn and I finally got around to renting All Things Everywhere All At Once after mentioning that we should do so several times as a result of the trailer popping up in our queue. The movie was very entertaining, and we love Michelle Yeoh as Captain Philippa Georgiou in Star Trek Discovery, so this film was a good fit for us right out of the box.
With that said, I couldn’t escape the sneaking suspicion that not only had I been aware of the subject matter of this movie for years, but that I actually wrote a logical “proof” for an infinite universe one night while bored on the mid watch at JICPAC. I showed that proof to an Air Force Officer who worked on the watch floor with me and had previously worked at Nellis AFB. His response was only, “you mistake congruent points for equal points.” Which is true, but only in a finite universe. In an infinite universe, they are one and the same. But I’ll get to that…
Shortly after showing that AF officer my proof, two things happened. First, he quietly told me to do a Boolean search for “Bell Laboratories + Roswell + new technologies.” Essentially, many “new age” technologies can be traced to BL over a very compressed period of time, shortly after the alleged UFO crash in that famous New Mexico town. His search string did not disappoint. Titanium. Lasers. Microchips. New alloys. And more. The second thing that happened was that my hard drive was “accidentally” wiped by the system administrators downstairs in our IT department.
But I have a surviving hard copy, and have recreated it digitally for safe keeping. My proof was a 4-5 page (I’d have to dig it out to be sure) bulleted list of logical progression from a single point out to an infinite multiverse. I would later learn, by watching a video by one of my favorite thinkers, Rob Bryanton, about the concept of Humans as more than a single strand of time-bound frames. A string of “nows,” essentially adding up to a movie (frame upon frame) of our lives.
Instead, we look much more like a root structure, with many branches and, eventually, an end to each branch. We are not able to see our whole selves at any given time, because we are locked into experiencing these “nows” as the illusion of a persistent flow of time, one frame at a time. Beings from a higher dimension (5th, 6th, etc., would see us all at once).
These roots branch out into their own universes, or iterations, if you will. This is what people refer to when they use the term “multiverse.” There is a potential for infinite iterations, but you could never, ever, ever experience them all in a single human lifetime, and many of them die out (end, like the roots mentioned above) while others go on. We branch out like that until we can do so no further. And then, essentially, we die.
I’m not smart enough to tell you what that means, to die. But I can tell you that I have much less fear of it now that I have a larger field of view on this amazing and beautiful existence that we happen to be sharing right now.
Anyway, back to the movie! Everything, Everywhere, All At Once did a fantastic job of explaining this, and demonstrating how each of them might interact with each other. This is an important facet of this theory, for me, because it means that nothing is pre-determined. We can interact with other “strands” or “roots” of ourselves, or others, and perhaps even cause change by doing so. Who really knows?
Much of what takes place in this brilliantly written, heroically acted, and masterfully filmed piece of cinema history (and perhaps Human, too) fits very well into my own theory, which you will recall that I first wrote in the Navy (I discharged honorably in 2003.) But there is much that they left out!
For one thing, they never hit on the idea of cookie cutter people. These would be different from the other iterations of us that exist down different offshoots of our larger selves. These would be people who look alike because they are literally rendered from the same code (DNA). You may know them as doppelgängers. I call them cookie cutter people. The problem is that they exist because of some unseen barrier or limitation to the confines within which we live. If this is a simulation, it may be low on memory, for instance. You may have encountered a similar thing in the very popular GTA game universe. People show up over and over because it saves the system processing power. Something to ponder.
Another thing, which is incredibly important, but completely missing from the film is the concept of the narrowing. This is akin to the cause/effect of cookie cutter people, except that it isn’t an intentional distribution of resources. Rather, the narrowing only rears its head when something is amiss. It’s not so much a matter of low memory as it is a matter of a character file suddenly gone missing. When there isn’t enough information to properly render a scene, you begin to be forced down a narrowing.
Most likely, a narrowing represents a spacial experience of arriving at the end of a “root” that has no where else to grow. An extreme example would be, suddenly, without warning, all channels on your TV are the same show, and it’s all gibberish. As such, when one realizes that they are experiencing it, the narrowing can cause much anxiety and fear. Hopelessness may ensue. This is the end, well, ending. It is conceivable, however, that a similar effect of “narrowing” could happen in the event that two roots fuse together. The shape would be less symmetrical and spiraling, more hour-glass-ish. Who knows what that would look or feel like.
The film addressed the question of how to jump from one branch to another in a very creative way that allowed for some comedic relief at various points throughout the movie. Finding one’s “jump path” involves doing some anomalous, and often very weird, thing and then pressing “the green button.” I won’t spoil everything for you, but the plot device is very well employed. In my view it’s more about tuning in to a resonant frequency and then isolating all other noise, but hey, who’s keeping track?
But I suppose that what is truly eating at me is the way that they changed my overall description so drastically by altering only a few words! In my logical proof, I conclude that “in an infinite Universe (i.e. multiverse), all things exist everywhere at all times.” This is an important distinction from “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once.” My language allows for access to all points from all points. Theirs suggest an overwhelming experience that is not useful but actually debilitating, if not deadly.
Anyway, there it is. I’ve said my piece. If you’re still reading, may The Gods bless you with wealth and incredible sex!