Written, Produced and Directed by Kenji Harman
Cinematography by Khoi Ly
Edited by Kenji Harman
Starring Kevin Hayden and Tina Nguyen
Short Film Review by Euan Franklin
I’m all for artistic indulgences. Often they take us to places beyond our comprehension – shining a surreal, subjective perspective on our mundane world. But, we all know where the line is. Hyperloop Dreams stumbles over that line and ends up lost, unable to find its way back.
In a dark and dingy apartment, a Man (Kevin Hayden) wakes up from a nightmare, calms down, and kisses his girlfriend (Tina Nguyen) lying next to him. He then proceeds to insert a hearing aide into his ear, propelling him into a cluster of strange visions involving beeping objects embedded in jelly, bottled milk, and a long and silent haircut.
Surreal, dream-like narratives always open the floodgates to self-indulgence – it’s inescapable. But writer-director Kenji Harman has fallen so far that any whiff of character or story is irretrievable. The film degenerates from the shadow of an idea to a desperate effort to be whacky, attempting to construct somnambulant scenarios similar to those by Luis Buñuel and David Lynch, but ultimately loses a sense of narrative or aesthetic motivation.
The scenes have no shift or anything to suggest progress, which makes the film feel longer than 13 minutes. Harman’s cinematic style is slow and considered – a fresh take on the surrealist genre, but inspired by the pace of a slug. The films of Buñuel and Lynch dance from one bizarre scenario to the next, leaving insurmountable confusion in its path – whereas, Hyperloop Dreams has scenarios that may be alluring at first, but become repetitive by the end. The most draining example is the three-minute static shot of the protagonist getting a haircut. It’s fun for the first few seconds, but once the intrigue has worn off, I wanted to fall asleep and hope my dreams aren’t as boring as this one.
The strength of Hyperloop Dreams is in Khoi Ly’s blunt cinematography, which perfectly captures Harman’s still-life style and adds a special depth uncommon to other shorts set in only one apartment. And to Harman’s credit as a Producer, you can see the excellent production values within the vivid and well-prepared mise-en-scène, which convincingly inserts us into that weird, slow dreamscape. However, it is disappointing that Harman seems more impressed with the props than with the characters interacting with them.
Hyperloop Dreams feels like a failed experiment. Although the slow and considered rhythm brings something new to the Surrealist Table, the result is nothing more than a sluggish experience. There was little of the creative energy that electrifies the films in surreal cinema. It felt like receiving soda water when you ordered lemonade – it’s buzz with no flavour. It’s a dream you can forget about.