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The theme is Dreamy

In this first installment of a new series of monthly curated film lists, new Artblog contributor reek bell takes our readers on a tour through movies you should watch. Looking for something to do during self-isolation? Watch a movie from this list!

Man sleeping in the forrest, surrounded by trees.
Still image from “Tropical Malady.” Photo courtesy Kick The Machine.

For me, film has always been about dreaming. Dreaming of other dimensions, galaxies, time. Imagining myself in another person’s life, a fantasy, a new reality, inside their stories, landscapes, and worlds. Not always escaping, but as an adventure into something outside myself.

I will be sharing a curated list each month with you, the readers here at Artblog. The list will be curated by a theme, whether that is an emotion, expression, action or style. To start us off, I chose a favorite of mine, dreamy movies. Of the films I’ve chosen for this list, there is a variety of what I feel makes them dreamy:beautiful landscapes, romantic score, loose plot, little dialogue, the surreal, the atmospheric, and straight up weird.

Coming out of Black Futures Month, moving into spring, I found myself reaching out to the ethereal, contemplative, the uncertain, the possible. In winter I am dreaming of warmth, what to do with the renewed energy coming with the sun, and the projects that I want to move from plans to action. I think there’s something to be said about how active our minds can be in a time where our energy feels even more precious.

1. Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives)

Uncle Boonmee is an older man going through kidney failure preparing for death. Surrounded by loved ones on his rural farm in Thailand, the living are visited by spirits of the dead. We spend time with the family, and the ghosts of the past. There is beautiful mystery throughout the vignettes. What is a dream, what is real, a memory misremembered, or a tale?

The first time I watched this film I was spending much of my time in bed. Bored with all the shows I was watching, craving something that was enchanting. I don’t remember how, but luckily I found the filmography of one of my (now) favorite filmmakers, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. After watching, I felt so inspired. Reminded in my pain that I still felt passion for this art form. Film continued to remind me how much I need and love it.

(This film can be rented on Amazon.)

2. Atlantiques (Atlantics)

A group of construction workers, working without pay for several months, take on the ocean to try and find work, and avoid loan sharks and others of the sort. We find our main character in heartbreak, supposed to be marrying a man she does not love, while her true love’s life is uncertain in the sea. All the while, strange things are happening.

Atlantics is about love, capitalism, the power of rage, the power of spirits, and the power of friends. A haunt of mourning the deaths of life, dreams, and futures.

(This film is currently available on Netflix.)

3. Ventos de Agosto (August Winds)

Set in a Brazillian coastal town in the month of August, following a young woman who recently moved back from the city to be with her elderly grandmother. Delivering coconuts by day, she has a romance with a man who also works on the coconut farm. A researcher comes to town to study the winds which everyone finds quite odd. A body turns up to shore, and the two lovers obsess over its mystery. They make discoveries within the land, each other, and themselves. It’s a poetic tale of life and death, the mysteries of the ocean and what it claims. At atmospheric film with a loose plot and dialogue, but a poignant story. It’s full with the ocean, winds, the sounds of life, the sounds of quiet and their emotions.

(This film can be rented on iTunes, YouTube, and Vudu.)

4. J’ai perdu mon corps (I Lost My Body)

I Lost my Body is a unique animated film that follows a disembodied hand on its journey to be reunited with its body. We follow the hand along with a young man, who seems to have a loneliness about him, as he falls in love with a woman he met through his pizza delivery route.

Hearing this title made me think of dysphoria, the loss of your body as in the loss of connection, love, admiration. The film isn’t so much about that, but I went into it with that on my mind and found myself interpreting the story in different ways that it became more than the story it was telling. When I was watching this film, my friend came into my room when I was deep in it, upon seeing my face she was alarmed. The only words I could utter between sobbing were, “I’m okay… it’s just so beautiful.”.

(This film is currently available on Netflix.)

5. Tropical Malady

To start this list with Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and to end with another one of his film’s only feels right. This romantic fantasy follows folk tales, mysticism, a shy love story between a soldier and a country man in Thai forests. Their love is subtle, the viewer can only infer their hesitations, tepidly flowering along. Their story seems to end abruptly, the viewer is confronted with a blank screen for longer than most would find comfortable. We are then following the same soldier, on a quest to find a shaman shapeshifting tiger spirit in the jungle who ends up in fact being his boyfriend. A spirit that could morph into a man or animal. The soldier’s journey in the jungle is almost silent. It’s weird, it’s uncertain, it’s bold and bewitching.

(You can buy the film on Amazon.)

When I first started writing this, we weren’t all quarantined in our homes. The fear around coronavirus was growing. People were taking precaution, talking about strategies, and now we find ourselves living with much anxiety and uncertainty. Time is both moving fast and so slow.

I hope this list brings some light, comfort, and imagination into your homes. I hope our imaginations continue to inspire alternatives, creative ways to protect and support each other. I hope that you are reminded another world is possible, and now is a time to dream.

Two men riding on one bike together through a field with smiles on their faces.
Still image from “Tropical Malady.” Photo courtesy Kick The Machine.