Dreams from My Real Father (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Dreams from My Real Father (2012)

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What makes a reprehensible film?  I don’t mean the films that are so boring and inept that you wonder why the cast and crew just didn’t disperse and try their hand at impressionist painting.  What I mean by reprehensible are the films so categorically irresponsible to the art by showing a creators show a strong spark of talent but choose to pursue the lowest of what humanity has to offer.  I think about Hellbound, The Doom Generation, or The Dictator – ­films that recreate our worst impulses and offer scenes that will stick in my mind forever because of how horrible they choose to see us without comment.  Those are the films that will stick with me until I am dead.

I will forget Dreams from My Real Father in a few weeks, despite holding the most disgusting opinions regarding the human race I am sure to see out of any other film this year.  It is inept to the core, incapable of spinning even the most paranoid and feverish fantasies about what it perceives as the worst of America into a palpable film.  This fear and anger plays out in a series of barely connected still photos peppered by the occasional speech or hilarious attempt at Photoshop animation.  I had the potential to be very angry at a film like this but instead it is worth every ounce of pity I can muster.

So pity director Joel Gilbert, a man who has already had another one of his films soundly lashed by Danny.  The two share common traits; a willing disconnect from reality, an overabundance of horrible special effects, zero involvement from any subjects of the documentary, and pacing that would be charitably described as glacial if it weren’t capable of brain-stopping moronic impulses every so often.  In the case of Dreams, I had to stop and rewind the film a couple of times before my brain came to grips with Gilbert stating that Obama’s father was not his real father by saying, “Not only is Frank Marshall Davis my biological father…”

Subtlety?  Nah, just throw the worst of paranoid right-wing conspiracies into a blender and post them as they come along.  Take a moment to picture that person, what must their thoughts be as they go to sleep every night?  Once you’ve gone through the necessary steps to reach that dark place and have, hopefully, come back unscathed put those images in a random order and watch Dreams from My Real Father.

Ah-hah. A commie from birth. Very subtle movie.

The images you formed and the philosophy you hate is present throughout the entirety of Dreams.  Thefilm functions more as a Dadaist presentation of those pictures that nightly visit the most racist person you know.  Its premise begins by picking a random prominent black artist (Frank Marshall Davis) with ties to the American Communist movement and suggests this is his real father.  Why?  Because all black men look alike, you see, and Gilbert takes great pains to showcase just how similar Obama is in his horrible eyes in an extended silent sequence highlighting just how dissimilar the two are.

What craft is evident in Gilbert’s filmmaking canon exists primarily by putting a picture of Obama on one side and Davis on the other then drawing fuzzy rectangles between their similarities.  Their features are similar only to the near-blind, racist, or those who find patterns in all shapes no matter their differences.  Gilbert goes on to suggest that Obama’s mother posed for naked photographs because it would piss off her daddy since that is the only reason Gilbert can reasonably exhibit for a white woman sleeping with a black man.  This woman who is supposedly Obama’s mother does not get the same side-by-side comparison with Obama because A) this woman is not Obama’s mother and B) that would require Gilbert stepping outside his comfort zone to see how traits pass on from parent to child regardless of skin color.

If you’ve been reading my articles for a long time you know that I cannot stand any degree of racism or sexism in film.  There are films I love that struggle with both, but do not replicate these ignorant comparisons in the slightest.  I am not angry at Dreams because it stretches its preposterous premise beyond anything we might call reality and drapes the production in a sub-Ken Burns style.  A folk band plucks strings in the background while Gilbert makes his comparisons and the narrator, who doesn’t even try to sound like Obama despite the intent otherwise, drones on dully for the run-time.  Really, if Gilbert wanted to stretch this out to eight hours he could sell it as the latest Burns film to a local Stormfront-sponsored public broadcasting station and no one would bat an eye.

So Obama's life is akin to a white girls fantasy land? This is not an appropriate metaphor.

Amongst the other disgusting accusations, Gilbert’s film says that all lesbians want to be men, Obama caused 9/11 and the housing market crash, and secret Islamic-Communist-Marxist-Hindu(seriously-)Atheist violent radicals are right outside your door.

Outside of the insular and hateful Cold War survivors who are looking to have something to fuel their paranoid delusions, who is going to watch this?  I watched it as a masochistic curiosity, but who is going to sit there and say Obama’s mother was a whore, his father wasn’t his father, all lesbians want to be men, blithely acknowledge non-whites look the same, and be stirred by this film of unthinking, unfeeling, hateful nonsense?  It’s dreadfully boring outside of the occasionally hilarious attempt at topical Photoshopping (love those red diapers) and speaks to a fringe audience so limited that any printing larger than 500 would have been excessive (this film was sent out to a million-plus registered voters free of charge.)

Gilbert, perhaps in an outcry of his superego, did try to warn us in the beginning by saying, “This film is based on actual events, interviews, and archives, as well as re-creations of probably events, using reasoned logic, and approximated conversations to provide a cohesive understanding of Obama’s history.”

Ah, the film is a lie, and at least we were told up-front.  Now, I’ll let the memory of it drift away like so many bland strings and still photographs.

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Dreams from My Real Father (2012)

Directed by Joel Gilbert.

Posted by Andrew

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