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SEA THAT THINKS, THE (DE ZEE DIE DENKT) (director/writer: Gert de Graaff; cinematographer: Gert de Graaff; editor: Jan Dop/Gert de Graaff; music: Rene de Graaff; cast: Bart Klever (Himself), Devika Strooke(Marga), Rick de Leeuw(Himself), Don Duyns (Himself); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: René Huybrechtse/René Scholten; Image Creations; 2000-Nederlands-in Dutch with English subtitles)

The oddball film is oddly attractive fare.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An artsy unconventional psychological drama about the illusionary world we create that we seem trapped in, where life is compared to a movie that we star in and might be just as unreal as a movie if we can’t let go of the “I” we create for ourselves. It’s directed with a droll humor and keen sense of playfulness by first-timer Gert de Graaff. It features innovative optical delusional effects, that make an almost impossible subject to film seem possible. De Graaff makes queries about the individual’s place in the grand scheme of things, suggesting we don’t know our real self because everything we say about ourselves is only a thought.

The cerebral thinking man’s documentary won the Joris Ivens Award IDFA, in the Nederland. It has young writer, Bart Klever, busy writing a screenplay for this film. The Sea That Thinks for the most part turns into a movie about a solitary man writing at home a screenplay about a man writing a screenplay and flipping out when strange thoughts fill his head. While writing and caring for an infant and his cats, the unhappy divorced writer is trying to get his shit together while distracted by his thoughts, surroundings, an unwelcome intrusion from the real world. The writer uses this working opportunity to reflect on his life, on his unhappiness, on the creative process, on raising his consciousness and on all his suffering that’s born of desire. The oddball film is oddly attractive fare. It tries to get at what is real and what is fiction by exploring how the writer’s immediate environment affects his consciousness.

It relates positively to the Buddhist way of observing, of seeing the thing itself. A way of seeing practiced through meditation, that has led to great Zen poetry and great insights into life.

This unusual film, a little bit like Being John Malkovich but stronger in its convictions as to what grit it takes to be a writer, was produced for Dutch Television. It never got a theater or DVD release in America. Distributors might have feared it was too heady for an American audience.

REVIEWED ON 10/14/2011 GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”