Sometimes I feel as if I should be a movie director instead of a writer because I’ll get really intense flashes of how something should look that can’t be properly conveyed with mere words. I admit it: I’m a child of the big-budget, flashy CG-ism that has infected movies as of late, so I love the mind-bending realities created by imaginative directions like Guillermo del Toro, Timur Bekmambetov, Spike Jonze, and
Peter Jackson James Cameron Jean Pierre Jeunet.
(For example: in my novel, there are flashbacks — the most wonderful exposition pieces ever created by mankind. For each flashback — I take the Forever Knight and Highlander* approach — if I were to be directing a movie, I would focus on a specific body part, say a back or an eyeball or lips and use that as a transition to the past. The camera would zoom into Gwennie’s gray colored iris and watch as the pupil spiraled outward like ink through water and then pan back to reveal a completely different time and setting. Likewise, I would have a scene where Gwennie starts hallucinating and sees a carriage from the 19th century walk down a modern-day street, and everywhere a hoof touches, time ripples outwards in small puddles until the entire shot would turn sepia and be suddenly in the past.)
One of the most memorable and visually striking movies I’ve ever seen is a Japanese flick by the very talented, yet highly disturbing, Takashi Miike called Gozu. He’s best known for Ichi the Killer and Audition, but Gozu is my favorite.
On the surface, it’s a Yazuka coming-of-age movie, but it’s also steeped in Chinese and Buddhist symbolism. Now, I haven’t seen it since it came out seven years ago, and I’ve learned much more about its sources and Mr. Miike’s inspirations since then, so I can only guess what the hilarious, creepy and intense movie is actually trying to say. The image that’s been burned into my mind — in a very long, long list of things that will
scar you stick with you — is the ox-headed man as seen on the cover:
In Chinese mythology, there is the figure of Ox-Head, a guardian of the underworld, sort of like an Anubis-type. To me, this symbolizes the death/rebirth cycle that’s at the heart of Gozu, but more importantly, gives me more fodder to scare the living daylights out of myself. Remember the frangipani dream about the flowers that were symbols of ghosts and death? Guess who made a guest-starring role in my dreams last night?
This was on par with Mr. Fedora and the bear-headed man, only this time Mr. Ox-Head up there was kneeling by my bed and breathing his ring-nosed, Theseus-bashing, Osiris-reincarnating, acrid breath into my face.** I was partly awake, but paralyzed, and I could feel my hair moving with every snort; my eyes must have been open because it was dark and I could see things in my room and just his bare outline. Like the frangipani, Mr. Ox-Head is connected to death, or more specifically, the guardian of the place that happens after death.
Go talk to Haley Joel Osment, m’kay? Oh, how about Jennifer Love Hewitt? Patricia Arquette? FRACKING JOHN EDWARD. Don’t talk to me if you’re dead. Unless you know, you’re undead, but not like a zombie undead, but a vampire undead. And not a 30 Days of Night undead, but a Dracula or a Buffy undead.
It’s either I’m haunted or my subconscious is telling me I really, really want to be a furry.
*Whenever I cut any sort of meat in two with a cleaver, be it a chicken breast or a fish head or even a piece of tofu vaguely shaped to resemble an animal, I pretend to get a quickening. New roommates have learned this the
hard awkward way.
**We have a quotations book at the coffee shop where I work and my co-worker (hi, Stevie! And Stevie’s mom!) has many, many of her sayings jotted down for the hilarity of future generations. When I told her about my latest dream, she said, “It’s like heaven and hell — in your face!” That immediately got written down. Another gem? “Is today still yesterday?”