Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Only Dan Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche could make a girl swoon over Arnold Schwarzenegger

by Lizelle R. Din

If I were warned beforehand that Ultimate Reality was going to be what I would imagine a decapitated unicorn would look like -- spewing rainbows from its beautiful severed head, too agonizingly gorgeous to look away from -- then I would have said "hell yes" instead of just "yes" to viewing it.

This collaborative piece from Dan Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche combines selected clips from Arnold Schwarzenegger films with a visual onslaught of color, resulting in a kaleidoscopic masterpiece. Images of Schwarzenegger as a barbarian, a pregnant man, a kindergarten teacher, a terminator and a Mars intelligence agent presented layer upon layer swell from the screen in every direction. You are instantly engaged in the first movement by an image of Conan the Barbarian weilding his sword, and then clenching his fist in a realization of ultimate power as he flashes in a seizure-inducing pot of colors. It was possible that after only five minutes, I could have been brainwashed into thinking Schwarzenegger was no longer a man, but a symbol of what a man should look like, and ultimately brainwashing me into thinking that I have been dating the wrong kind of man.

In addition to the visual pounding your eyes are getting, Dan Deacon provides the perfect musical accompaniment. Although I feel Deacon is sometimes criticized for his synth-pop sound to be borderline hipster, Ultimate Reality would not be worth watching without his expertise. Imagine a classical symphony beautifully composed in three movements, but instead of violins you have electric guitar riffs and instead of wind chimes you have bells and whistles. You have to give it to him for being able to complete a classically formed piece with a Casio keyboard and a drum machine.

The most impressive and most engaging movement of the three is the first, combining Conan the Barbarian and True Lies. From there the second movement begins to creep me out with warped images from Junior and Kindergarten Cop of headless babies and a noseless Danny Devito. The third movement takes very memorable scenes from Terminator 2 and Total Recall for the big finish. Dissappointingly, I kept waiting for images from some classics such as Jingle All the Way and Batman and Robin. But at least I was not as dissappointed as I was when I had to sit through Daft Punk's long and drawn out Electroma. Not even seeing Jamie Lee Curtis' swiveling hips or mutant boy Kuato could be as unsatisfying as a scene of walking through the desert for 12 unending minutes.

Also included on the DVD are 2 bonus tracks that prove Jimmy Joe Roche doesn't need to break a sweat while dancing non-stop to Dan Deacon's beats, and that Deacon is in fact a certified knob-turner.

Ultimate Reality is available now on at