Total Recall

My way or my highway

It was 1990, and more than enough to send any Derrida fan into conniptions.
Reported on 3rd of August, 2016

Dear faithful reader:

You may not know but I’m populating this site with the scans from The Book (that means ‘bible’ in Greek), each with accompanying snark. Sometimes the snark goes on for more than a paragraph, and so I include it in the email list. It’s all in an attempt to diarize my life correctly, with movie tickets as a calendar. In 1994-1996, that would be full, indicating a full life.

Fine. I’ll put some doggies in.

Total Recall

1 June 1990 @ The San José Century 21

$15.00 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Of course I love Total Recall, even if it’s not very good. I love Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, even if he’s obviously the wrong person for the rôle, and dhr. Paul Verhoeven, the wrong director for the material and I love saying I love all the cool shit, when I really just three boobie girl.

I don’t love Ms. Sharon Stone. I’m not a monster.

Okay, I loved her in The Quick and the Dead. I’m not a monster.

Not even bothering to review the remake, I mention it briefly in a I-stand-by-it-positive spin on the much-detested Cosmopolis. Within, I imagined an alternate universe (hah!) where Mr. Colin Farrell had taken the rôle given to Mr. Robert Pattinson instead. In so doing, I created a wormhole, as Mr. Farrell had passed on Cosmopolis to take the lead in the ill-conceived but not terrible remake of Total Recall, the film that Mr. David Cronenberg was to direct years earlier right after the successful and absolutely solid narrative The Dead Zone.

Uncharacteristically, I decided to see if that was something I dreamed (hah!), or in fact true. As it happens, someone wrote a neat book about movies never made. It doesn’t contain lost masterpieces so much as failed scripts, but a very entertaining romp with the unfortunate title of Tales from Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made. I highly recommend it.

Possibly the only ticket I have from this theater. As I recall, we only drove over the hill because we couldn't wait the five hours for the screening in Santa Cruz. No regrets.

Possibly the only ticket I have from this theater. As I recall, we only drove over the hill because we couldn’t wait the five hours for the screening in Santa Cruz. No regrets.

In so reading, it turns out that the scene that everyone remembers from the movie (is this real, or is this ‘really’ real ‘real’?) did in fact come from Mr. Cronenberg. I love being right almost as much I love unconsciously concealing all the times I am wrong. Such as when it turned out it was Mr. William Hurt was supposed to be the lead, not Mr. Harrison Ford.

So with Harrison Ford as the lead (see how easy it is!), the film would have been awesome…as a fantasy never to be realized. It seems that Mr. Cronenberg had imagined something more along the lines of the near unwatchable Spider, and though I relish the chance to see his Second Peter Hyams rule masterpiece (his I Heart Huckabees or It’s a Wonderful Life or Big Lebowski), it’s better to imagine that timeline than live in it.


Nevertheless the book revealed that I was right all along by picking two differing outcomes as something I knew, and that Verhœven version was great. All the cool shit with alternate outcomes and spies spying on themselves did originate later, and more importantly were saved by dhr. Verhœven. From Mr. Gary Goldman, one of the late screenwriters:

I am sure that all of my good ideas would have been rejected by any studio and almost any other director. In Hollywood, ideas are anathema, and the bigger the budget, the more forbidden they are. The authorities are not very educated, but they can smell an idea at a hundred paces — and, like a giant in a fairy tale, they will sniff out the idea and rip it out. Only a powerful director can protect an idea.

There will be much quoting from this book in times to come, see ‘being proven right, taking pleasure in’ above, and in anything I have have said, written or thought.

So instead of bashing, let us remember the post Total Recall merriment; coming out of the theater, and my friend Richard giggling the film’s last line over and over: ‘Yes.’ Not very interesting, of course, but when preceded by ‘Is this real?’, it’s more than enough to send any Derrida fan into conniptions. ‘Yes.’

It may not be the adaptation the material deserves, but how much cool shit came out of it that was never copied again. So in the spirit of me by thinking both are the best one, I’ll give you this wonderful find: concept art from the original. Combine them in your mind. Maybe there’s a machine that does that.

The Take

There are surprisingly few films that take advantage of the dream/film relationship, and it did pretty okay.
Yeah, I saw it a bunch afterwards. This figure does not reflect the actual number of times, just my concealed embarrassment. That I’m going to see it again, of course.
Total Profits
I do think, especially reading all the failures in the book, that the film would work great set in modern times. This is the ‘Deadwood/John from Cincinnati rule’ (not to be confused with the ‘Second Season Deadwood rule’, though me saying ‘not be confused’ in any context…): change one thing, but only one. Having to explain the whole Martian revolution/oxygen stuff is fine, but a lot of talkie/talkie. I’d like to set in genre, with all the stuff the writers and directors lovingly referred to as ‘mindfucks’. Do it! I’ll give you…
Total Losses


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