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Vanilla Sky

Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, Kurt Russell and Jason Lee
Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Rated: R

Writer Cameron Crowe is a wonderful gift. He's best known for his real-life meets film scripts; Almost Famous, Say Anything etc. Here he's adapted a lesser-known foreign movie (Alejandro Amenábar and Mateo Gil 's Abre Los Ojos ) into a tremendously refreshing surreal Dali of film for the eyes and a cerebral trip for the mind complete with nightmare inducing facial prosthetics and cryogenic under currents, which he also directs. Vanilla Sky is no pompous Mullholland Drive where you need to take a swab of acid or be yourself, clinically insane before any of it makes sense, don't fear. It's intricate, true, yet surprisingly easy to follow. You'll be entertained with layers of scenes that meld together to create a brilliant journey into one man's personal hell.

Vanilla Sky introduces us to our anti-hero David Aames (Tom -what I lack in size I make up for in....millions- Cruise) living the oh-so-dull- smug-boy with a large inheritance life with exponents. He has a small stable of gal pals that pleasure him at his whim, a large group of quazi-friends that gladly sip his expensive top shelf drinkies and peruse his art collection in his multi-roomed New York lair.

He has a particular "F" buddy, Julie (Cameron- Jack Skellington- Diaz) , that's accidentally stepped over the buddy line and has fallen head over pillows in love with the thoughtless Blue Meany David.

David's oblivious and thoughtless towards the cast aside concubine and actually picks up his best friend Brian's (Jason Lee) girl at his birthday soiree( while fore mentioned psycho in the making watches with a martini perched in her maniacal little hand). Loath him yet?

This new interest, Sophia (Penelope- I just don't see it- Cruz), is wooed by the toothy playboy and they leave together. This does not go unnoticed by Julie...

Sophia and David spend a platonic evening together chatting, drawing portraits and generally doing that whole getting- to -know- you thing future couples of the world tend to do. When the day breaks and David exits stage left to head to his multifaceted business he is met by Julie --who had followed him to Sophia's apartment and waited - all night -for him to come out (note to men: NEVER A GOOD SIGN). Like a nunchuck he gets into her car and they speed off together.

Julie is, shall we say, over the edge. The Matterhorn's edge! David starts to realize getting into the vehicle may have been a mistake. Duh. Julie starts to decompress, and decides the best idea for the two is to die about now, and bombs off a bridge at about 80 mph.

Here's where the movie really starts to get brilliant. David has survived the accident ( kind of) and starts to sink into recovery hell. His handsome face has been destroyed and is now strongly reminiscent of a Creature Feature cast member the late great Vincent Price might keep locked in a dungeon. David's walk is now that of a John Merrick (aka The Elephant Man). His life is turned around like a carousel stuck on fast. Along with David we are catapulted into a mind trip that makes Hunter S. Thompson's works look like a whimpy fairy tale fare. Together we start to second-guess what's real in his life and what's just created by his mind. Wonderful.

I'm not giving away anything, don't worry. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the sharp turns and twists the film has in store for you.

Cameron Diaz is wonderful. Think Fatal Attraction meets Terry Gilliam. She steals the few scenes she appears in. Love this girl- and not in a clam digging way or anything Chastity fans

Thomas Cruise is good actor. He's also very handsome in that clean-cut chap- working -his- way- through- college- on- a- tourist's- snorkeling-boat -down- in -the- islands-with-no shirt- and a washboard- tummy way. In my lucid dreams he appears wrapped in an organic tortilla shell drizzled in a spicy, yet palatable, coriander dressing , a smidge taller and a smirk upon his delectable face...

Jason Lee is equally adorable. He's a tad hairy in this, but that doesn't diminish his appeal one iota. It's nice to see him outside of New Jersey. I wasn't crazy for his Heartbreakers but as a rental, it could be fun...

Penelope Cruz's accent is even more annoying than Selma (nilla) Hayek's -- if that's possible. In heals she almost comes to Cruise's nose so I'm guessing she's four eleven tops. I'm not a big fan of hers...The phenomenon were people are cast not for talent but popularity is unfortunately apparent in this girl. When there are so many talented, unemployed, actors roaming the streets I have to ask how this hideous fraud gets work, again and again. You know this film's purdy nifty keen if it it still gets fours stars with her planted in the middle...

Vanilla Sky is clever, well performed (by most) and a great escape into film. Cameron Diaz is spectacular, Cruise entertaining and believable. Get out and see this, but remember it's a thinker. You'll need to be on your toes. Perhaps avoid viewing after an infamous office party where the "spiced" eggnog directed you to humiliate yourself in ways never before imagined and your skull requires an infusion of Excedrin every four hours on the button...

Blunt Aside: Is there an Oscar© in VS for anyone? Nah. Diaz should be nominated ...Cruise didn't do anything he hasn't done before. It's still Crowe's boy. Unless Spacey kicks butt in The Shipping News...which he will per usual...(not that I'm biased or anything- mind you)

Snack Recommendation: Tequila shots and beer...

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