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Vanilla Sky, Tom Cruise, Scientology

From: Garry (
Subject: Film Comment: 'Vanilla Sky' is linked to Scientology psychobabble
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
View:Original Format
Date: 2002-04-01 03:20:36 PST
FILM COMMENT Published by the Film Society of Lincoln Center March/April 2002 VANILLA SKY L. Ron Hubbard went from sci-fi author to founder of America's largest and most litigious cult. Card-carrying member Tom Cruise’s latest film has literally mind-boggling elements linking it to the practice of Scientology itself. - HOWARD HAMPTON <snip> Welcome to the Church of "Cryotainment," as one character in 'Vanilla Sky' labels the transcendental amalgam of fantasy, brainwashing, suspended animation-cum-"lucid dream," and Matrix-esque virtual reality the movie's hero emprisons himself in and from which he manually struggles to escape. A mysteriously familiar Englishman approaches Tom Cruise in a bar. <snip> ...the man says, "I'm here to help you." He will, he firmly insists, explain all the disorienting, painful, and unnerving experiences Cruise's character David Aames has undergone, but first: "You must overcome your fears and regain control. Take hold of your life again." He tells Cruise/Aames that he can take charge of everything, every person in the room: "...they might be only here because you wanted them to be. You are their God. And not only that, you could make them obey you...or destroy you." This scene is the paranoid-transcendental crux of 'Vanilla Sky,' where Aame's nervous breakdown/spiritual revelation converges with Cruise's own renown as the Church of Scientology's most famous convert: the overtones of protean self-absorption and therapeutic self-help here have a distinctly Scientological aftertaste. And the implanted/constructed memories smack of what Scientology calls "engrams," detailed mental image recordings that the "preclear" mind forever plays back and disastrously re-enacts. Which, in turn, has caused people to murmur that the movie itself might constitute some kind of recruitment tract for Scientology, as though the movie were speaking in jargon-coded tongues, providing indoctrination through glamour and celebrity and a baleful trip down false-memory lane that recombines pieces of nearly all the dreamed/artificial reality films of the past several years into one garbled, spasmodic/ecstatic conversion experience. <snip> For salvation takes the form of a blissed-out leap of faith from the top of an imaginary skyscraper, an exercise of "free will" that carries a whiff of the lemming-faithful of Jonestown and the Heaven's Gate suicide UFO-cultists. (We are meant to think - at least feel - David Aames will awake from the "Lucid Dream Option" to a new, authentic life, but were the Heaven's Gaters just as sure life in this world was an illusion and that they were headed to a far and better place?) The film is suffused with a vague aura of that cultish mentality, in line with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's origins as a pulp sci-fi writer, but here that sensibility is at least as threatening and uneasy as it is beckoning. Hardly Scientology's 'Going My Way' or even its Bells-of-Valhalla 'Breaking the Waves,' the conflicted semi-critical mass of earnestness and wide-ironies in 'Vanilla Sky' might instead just about pass for a romantically and anachronistic, blubber-soulful 'Last Temptation of Cruise.' The wonder of Scientology's church-cum-self-help-operation is that more celebs haven't signed up, because it is the quintessential Hollywood-friendly religion of antiseptic, twelve-steps-to-transcendence psychobabble. As plastic surgery for the soul, you go into Scientology and get a reprogramming mental face-lift. It's all as clinical and process-oriented as Rehab, with spiritual detoxification as the cornerstone. One is supposed to become "clear" of traumatic memories and fears, along with unproductive emotions and anti-social ("suppressive") personality traits. <snip> That is by far the creepiest nerve that 'Vanilla Sky' hits, what Cameron Crowe describes as a life defined by pop culture, where it is impossible to tell where pop leaves off and reality begins. Everything is sucked into this customized fantasy environment, where the dream is the cliche is the Truffaut poster on the townhouse wall. There is one thing that, more than merely symptomatic, is truly terrifying about 'Vanilla Sky.' While the film lovingly and apprehensively catalogues everything there is to wake up from in this media-overloaded excuse for a life, there is not a trace of any other world one would want to wake up to. Hollywood Gossip. Hollywood Scandals. Hollywood Gossip. Hollywood Scandals. Hollywood Gossip. Hollywood Scandals. Hollywood Gossip. Hollywood Scandals.


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