"Galaxies Are Colliding" fan review

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Okay, this is WAAAY too long to put on IMDB, so it's going here for the time being:


Kind of a "Bagdad Cafe" as written by Timothy Leary, John Ryman's ingenious, Mojave-set comedy asks all the big questions about life, the universe and everything, and leaves a few possible answers strewn along the desert road.

Adam (Dwier Brown) is a man suffering from an existential crisis so big that "even the Germans don't have a word for it". He is a wide-eyed cynic, fixated equally on gloomy headlines and the wonders of the cosmos; one moment, he's contemplating the infinity of space, the next, he's flashing on images of starving children. One of his main concerns is that existence may ultimately be meaningless; when the galaxy of Andromeda collides with us (scheduled to occur in 2.3 billion years), all life in the Milky Way will be wiped out. Woody Allen used this for a joke; Adam is seriously worried about it.

Compounding the situation is his engagement to Beth (Susan Walters), a loving, but insecure woman who just wants a normal Protestant life in the suburbs. She flips when Adam gives up on sex, turns inward, and trades in their Honda for a beat-up vintage car because "everyone's got a Honda".

He relates his problems to easy-going best friend Peter (Kelsey Grammer), someone almost as off-the-wall as he is ("God may not be playing dice with the universe, but he probably flipped a coin"), but grounded in an earthy, sex-obsessed consciousness. A happily married man, he empathises with Adam's plight when he says that he "wants to need her".

On his wedding day, Adam has a nervous breakdown, and wanders into the desert in search of Truth. His story is told in three different time frames: the events leading up to his wedding, his travels through the Mojave, and his "funeral" (it's a long story), where friends and family discuss his life.

The movie skewers religion, Christianity to be specific; Adam engages in a game of "dueling Bible quotes" with a born-again Christian, and in one telling scene, we see a model of The Last Supper fenced in by barbed wire and cactus. Adam calls God an egomaniac for elevating Christ above those who die of starvation; they suffered much more, he argues, than Jesus did.

Adam finds his salvation in Margo (Wanda Quigley), a woman who, like him, is equal parts intelligence and naivete. A world traveller, free spirit and confidence woman who wants to become an actress, and recently left New York for Hollywood to avoid the casting couch (!), she meets Adam while trying to run out on the bill at a local diner. She is sexually experienced, and his quietness draws out a long and bawdy story -- at one point, she mentions being raped, and Adam falls to the diner floor. She asks if he's okay; he replies "I just needed to feel closer to the Earth".

After Adam has a cosmic revelation involving pie (you'll have to see it), they take up in an abandoned church, and have a very sweet love scene to "Ave Maria". Adam tells her that she needn't worry about getting into heaven, because "the atoms that make up the stars are the same atoms that make you -- you are heaven". With a nudge from Margo, he finds new reason to exist and a new, more optimistic outlook, based on the uncertainty principle: if reality depends on our observations, then we have tremendous power to affect reality.

The acting is pitch perfect. Dwier Brown is spaced out as Adam, but never forgets to emote, and shows the human vulnerability behind his character's intellect. Grammer, with his deadpan delivery, is an effective comic foil, and Susan Walters lends just the right amount of over-acting to her part ("Shoot him! Shoot him in a fit of jealous rage!")

The music, a mix of classical and upbeat country/western, serves the film well, and helps to illustrate the grounding of esoteric subjects.

A low-budget picture, "Galaxies Are Colliding" is not heavy on visual effects, but contains some striking scenes nonetheless: the Mojave desert at night, brief flashes of space, Adam passed on an unfinished strip of L.A. freeway. Much use is made of the natural environment, and of found objects as props -- the art installation with signs reading "Love Me", "Explain This", and "Feel This" comes to mind.

The film's opening assertion, that human beings are animals who think too much, may seem hard to reconcile with Adam's post-coital philosophy that human consciousness has the power to affect physical reality. However, when one thinks about it, it does make sense. Earlier, Peter had told Adam that what he needed was a way to release pressure (sexual and otherwise). Seen from this viewpoint, his change of heart was the result of chemical reactions, and reality hasn't really changed at all. The external shapes the internal.

On the other hand, if Adam's and Margo's getting together does have an influence on reality, then the external shapes the internal, shapes the external. Here, Ryman hints at the interdependence of consciousness and the world. Human beings don't have to die to find the eternal; they can change their outlook, and live as though they are part of a Master Plan. The universe can be destructive, but it can also be nurturing; it's up to us to decide which forces we want to tap into.

-- Inu (paul@nadisrec.com), August 01, 2002


Darn if you don't make this sound interesting. Now I want to see it. BTW; any scenes with two old Ford Galaxies meet head on? They were the loviest of the old 50's cars, fins to die for.

-- Barbara e. (Suesuesbeo9@cs.com), August 03, 2002.

I think the car was a 60's model. Glad you enjoyed my essay -- er, review :)

-- Inu (paul@nadisrec.com), August 09, 2002.

Oh come on now Barb, you said to Inu that youd check that out yonks ago (:

Dont mind me, just bored.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), August 12, 2002.

I did? Hmmm, well I picked up a copy of the Fountainhead a month ago and I haven't read that yet so I wouldn't be surprised.

-- Barbara e. (Suesuesbeo9@cs.com), August 12, 2002.

And I STILL haven't read to the end of The Politics Of Experience, or found myself a copy of Slaughterhouse Five! Oh well...

I don't blame Barb. Unless you find a copy on Ebay selling for three bucks, GAC is incredibly difficult to procure.

Dammit world, entertain me! :)

-- Inu (paul@nadisrec.com), August 13, 2002.

Oooh, Ebay! Nice idea! Btw, anyone see those original background painted cels circa Aeon Flux on Ebay? Supposedly that's what collectors look for.

-- Barbara e. (Suesuesbeo9@cs.com), August 13, 2002.

Hey inu, go see what Im fairly sure is the disgruntled behavior of that mark character. Impersonizing me like that, why Ill..!!! http://greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=009mBc

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), August 15, 2002.

Alright... who's the wise guy?

-- Inu (paul@nadisrec.com), August 15, 2002.

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