“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” Those fateful words spoken by Morpheus to Neo in “The Matrix” (1999) opened the door to an experience not only Neo was shocked to see but one moviegoers found themselves changed by forever afterward.
That movie popularized the theoretical notion that all of what you see and hear and feel and even understand about reality and the universe itself is really a vast computer simulation. We are being fooled into believing in a reality that is generated by something unknown, out there where the truth lies vast and cool and indifferent, to paraphrase Fox Mulder and H.G Wells.
But, like I said, it’s a theory.
A drama released in 2019 titled “The Mandela Effect” looks at this idea from another angle. And, for those who like to ruminate about things like this it’s not a bad way to spend a couple of hours.
Now streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime, the movie uses as a jumping off point the urban legend that there is a widespread phenomena in which people misremember certain things in the past. The suspicion is that this is evidence a certain leakage is occurring between adjoining universes, or something.
For example, some supposedly believe the famous South African leader Nelson Mandela who led a movement to overthrow apartheid, died in prison when in reality he died in 2013 at the age of 95 after serving as South Africa’s president from 1994-1999. In the film, we are shown the jacket for the children’s book series, “The Berenstein Bears,” then later it is revealed the book is really about “The Berenstain Bears.” Doctors uses it as an example of how the memory is an imperfect recorder.
In the movie, a digital game designer named Brendan (Charlie Hofheimer) and his wife Claire (Aleksa Palladino) suffer an unimaginable tragedy. In the throes of grief, Brendan cannot move forward, which makes his wife concerned about him. One day, Brendan discovers a piece of the Mandela Effect and it piques his curiosity.
At one point, he asks Claire to describe the face of the Monopoly game character on the front of the box. She describes it as a man in a top hat wearing a monocle. Then, he shows her the box and the man is there, but without the monocle. (Actually, the Monopoly man, named Rich Uncle Moneybags, never had a monocle. Ever. The confusion may have resulted in people misremembering the similar Mr. Peanut, who does.)
Now, Brendan begins to develop a fixation on the effect and whether it might be possible to prevent the tragedy from ever occurring, so, with his equally susceptible best friend and brother-in-law, Matt (Robin Lord Taylor), he contacts a scientist named Dr. Fuchs (Clarke Peters) to dig further. The reason is because Fuchs research centers on that theory of the universe being a giant computer simulation and that the Mandela Effect may in fact be glitches in the program, leaks that reveal a parallel universe.
I won’t go further, except to say what happens is interesting and to give props to writer-director David Guy for putting together a science fiction movie that is well put together and pretty absorbing as long as you don’t get interrupted while watching.
“The Mandela Effect” is not rated but does contain a sexual situation and some brief violence and language. It is streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime.
Tempo grade: B+
Also showing in the Taos Center for the Arts’ Big Screen @ Home series
When world-famous conductor Eduard Sporck tries to create an Israeli-Palestinian youth orchestra, he is quickly drawn into a tempest of seemingly unsolvable problems. The young musicians, having grown up in a state of war, suppression or constant risk of terrorist attacks, find themselves forming not a team, but two parties who deeply mistrust each other. Award nominated Dror Zahavi directs this constantly growing crescendo of a drama loosely inspired by Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
This film will be available to view Friday (May 22) through June 5, 2020.
An intimate look at Diana Kennedy, widely regarded as the world’s authority on Mexican cuisine. The author of nine acclaimed cookbooks and a two-time James Beard Award winner, Diana is called the “Julia Child of Mexico,” but prefers “The Mick Jagger of Mexican Cuisine”. The film features extensive footage of the fiery, charismatic nonagenarian on her property in eastern Michoacán, as well as interviews with several famed chefs.
This film will be available to view now through June 5, 2020.
Obsessed with Jackie Chan and action films, terminally ill Jo, a brave and witty nine-year-old, finds comfort in her dreams of being a superhero. When her mother takes her back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life, her rebellious teenage sister Mwix motivates the entire village of Maweni to rally together and make Jo’s dream come true.
This film will be available to view now through June 5, 2020.
How does Big Screen TCA @ HOME work?
- Go to tcataos.org/calendar/ and click on the movie you want to watch.
- Then, click on the WATCH MOVIE link. After that, it’s easy! You will “buy a ticket,” and be able to view the film.
- Watch on your computer, smartphone, tablet. Or, depending on the film, cast to your Apple TV, Google Chromecast or Roku.
- Instructions for how to watch on smart TVs are available at ticket purchase.
Why do movies cost between $10-$12? These offerings are new releases and/or not widely available films. If you were going to see this on a big screen, a single entry at the Taos Community Auditorium costs between $7-$8.50. If there are 2 or more of you, it’s a deal! And even though TCA does not set the ticket price (the digital distributors do), we receive 50 percent of the ticket sales.
Why are time frames for viewing upon purchasing a ticket different? Virtual cinema platforms differ depending on the film’s distributor. The entire film industry is working fast to pivot during this time when social gatherings are prohibited. So, for now, there is no industry standard and different organizations have different ideas for how to “present” films digitally.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres in Taos remains closed for the time being in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Until it reopens we will focus on movie reviews available online and through the TCA’s Big Screen @ Home series.