Following an ongoing discovery journey through his creative process, audio-visual artist and composer Ran Slavin presents “Call for Dreams”, a feature film that encapsulates and elaborates many of his previous inspirations and obsessions.
The film follows-up the Israeli artist’s first feature “The Insomniac City Cycles” another interesting piece of work set in Shanghai and Tel Aviv. Originally commissioned as an installation for Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2004, it has been subsequently evolved, enriched and mutated into a standalone feature.
“Call for Dreams” instead, started as a project involving a collection of dreams. Slavin placed an advert on social media platforms where he invited people to send him the stories and the plots of their dreams that he then used as an inspirational starting point for this intricate mosaic of fears, secrets and illusions that compose the subconscious landscape.
Eko (Mami Shimazaki) is a nocturnal animal. She lives in a neon-lit, rain-swept Tokyo in a blurry time frame between past and future where analog and digital coexist in harmony. One day, Eko phones the local paper and places an intriguing message in the “personal ad” page; it’s a call for dreams and the offer of a re-enacting service. Ready with her scooter, Eko is on call and we follow her on some of the jobs; a man had a dream of shooting a woman four times, a woman dreamed of being on an airplane filled with smoke, and so on. Eko is submissive and at the same time leads the game, a sort of mistress of illusion, a prostitute of dreams.
“When will you find something real to do?” the men at the ramen food- stall asks her in yet another rainy night. “There is no “real” any more, you choose to act in a reality of your choice” Eko replies, and not surprisingly, from this point onward, the narrative becomes more and more elusive and the line between reality and illusion disappears. Eko has stepped into the murky waters of a murder investigation, trapped in the underbelly of a city populated by Russian gangsters and bodybuilders, cassette tapes and troubled police investigators. Is she in her wakeful state or is she plunging into the rabbit hole of someone else’s dream?
Filmed seamlessly in Tokyo and Tel Aviv, “Call for Dreams” is an incredible sensorial experience, orchestrated by seasoned ambient-master Ran Slavin who has infused his crafts in every aspect of the movie and firmly owns it. He wrote it, directed it, edited and populated it with dreamy effects. Moreover, the images, utterly stunning, crisp and artfully framed are complemented by the composer’s own soundscape.
Our senses are taken for a ride and confronted with illusion, deception, and a subliminal sense of remembrance. The director plays with imagery and stereotypes that tickle and trick our memory; a neo-Tokyo that is always dark and rainy, neon lights, pachinko arcades, Kendo-practicing neighbours and ramen night-stalls are “so Tokyo” that it’s not Tokyo any longer, but a space in the mirror-maze of our fantasy.
Eko with her job/mission of re-enacting other people’s dreams is a rich and fertile narrative strand and it leads to a natural noir development. However, dream territory is a slippery one and I feel that the narrative at times drifts across directions and loses strength and grip in this work that sits on the edge between cinema and art installation, making it feel slightly overstretched.
On the other hand, the world that director Slavin has created is uniquely fascinating and atmospheric, and the occasional touches of sense of humor here and there keep the film away from a downfall in self-indulgence.