“I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.” Michael Caine on Jaws: The Revenge
Let’s start out with the obvious business of saying that Inception is brilliant (we’ll be working within some of the themes of Inception in this week’s column so consider this a spoiler warning).
That’s out of the way now and we can all relax. I say some obnoxious, hateful things from time to time, but I’ve no interest in controversially insulting the best film I’ve seen this year. I really loved the concept of the film.
However, unlike most people who have recently seen Inception, this is not my first experience with dream interaction through technology. In fact, I’ve been doing what Leonardo DiCaprio and co. did in Inception for ages, and I look considerably better doing it.
I can’t imagine that you’re interested in hearing what Michael Bay dreams about (it’s pretty harrowing), what I’ve been trying to get Jerry Bruckheimer to do (no luck yet), or how I accidentally said the wrong thing to Mel Gibson’s subconscious and caused something of a hubbub.
However, I think you might find the story of how I unwittingly gave Michael Caine the worst idea of his career quite interesting.
The story starts as many of my anecdotes do, with me and Michael Caine taking a nap together. The year was 1986. He’d had a bit to drink and I waited patiently for him to doze off. I tried to engage him in conversation by quoting some of his classic film lines at him, like, “Don’t blow up the whole car, just the doors, you banana!” and “I seem to be the only one here, so it probably is me you’re speaking to!”
He was surprisingly unreceptive, but his rage soon subsided and he nodded off. I set him up with the dream sharing equipment (which is actually called the Snooze-o-tron 2000), plugged myself in and delved into the dreams of a cinematic icon.
The first thing I noticed was that it was rather more ‘breasty’ than I might have expected. You’ve heard of the idea of the streets of London being paved with gold? Well, the streets of Michael Caine’s dreams are paved with breasts. I can’t tell you the number of times I nearly tripped on a nipple. If you thought it looked impressive in Inception when the city folded in on itself, you should see the incredible view of being enclosed in boobtopia. Truly, Caine has an amazing mind.
I remember hunting for the Batman Begins butler with an unexplainable sense of urgency. I had no idea what was driving me in the direction I was going in, only that I knew I was going the right way. The people conjured up by his subconscious seemed content to ignore me, entertaining themselves by bouncing up and down on the spot with gleeful expressions on their faces.
I first caught sight of the legendary actor as he ducked into a side street. I followed him down there and found myself in the middle of a musical number from The Muppet Christmas Carol. “Shit,” I thought to myself, “is this dream going to just be a race through Michael Caine’s filmography, including films that won’t actually be made for many years?”
“No,” Fozzie Bear assured me, “this is a one-off. Hey, I need your help with a gag. I need you to shout out ‘Hey, the comedian’s a bear!'”
I spied Caine in a pub and so abandoned the bear and made after the Italian Job star. As when he had been awake, Michael Caine seemed to have little interest in interacting with me. I’ve no idea why, as I was once again quoting him some of his all-time classic film lines, such as, “You shouldn’t punch me, I’m in my pants!” and “If he doesn’t survive the boxing match, he doesn’t survive.”
Fortunately, he eventually became so bored of my company that he fell asleep within the dream. I hooked him up to a dream version of the Snooze-o-tron 2000 and we went to the second level of his dream world.
In this second tier dream, Michael Caine seemed much more comfortable with me. We were sitting in a cinema watching Inception, which was very impressive as this was so long before Inception had been released. I felt obliged to be quiet owing to the cinema setting. Quite what it was about my silence that he found so endearing, I don’t know.
It was here that he confided in me that he had some concerns over his career. He was worried that he had taken a wrong step by appearing in the Woody Allen movie Hannah And Her Sisters, concerned that he was alienating mainstream cinema goers. I tried to reassure him.
“It’ll be fine, Michael, but for goodness’ sake be quiet. People are trying to hear the film!”
“The other people in this cinema are just projections of my subconscious, you bloody idiot. Now, what should I do?” he asked.
“Make something good, like Jaws.” I suggested. Jaws is my favourite film and I figured a hit like that could really do Caine some good.
“I should make Jaws?” he mumbled, with a confused look on his face.
“Well, not specifically Jaws,” I tried to explain, “but something like it. Figuratively, you should make Jaws. Literally, you should make a film that is a critical success and also makes a lot of money”
“Yeah, Jaws.” I wasn’t sure if he’d understood or not.
He sat with a pensive look on his face. A question was playing on my mind and given our newfound closeness, I decided to ask.
“What was with all the breasts in that first dream, Michael?”
Saying nothing, he firmly slapped me across the face.
I jolted awake. Now, I know that’s not exactly how it worked in Inception, but you have to be aware that Inception is just a film. This incident involving me and Michael Caine was in the real world and also in two different dream worlds.
I can’t be held responsible for Christopher Nolan’s disinterest in accurately portraying dream idea-giving. Although, that being said, I don’t entirely remember waking up from the first dream, so there’s every chance I’m still in some kind of a dream world and that the version of Inception I’ve seen is actually just a dream. I think..
Anyway, that’s the story of how I accidentally gave Michael Caine the idea to star in Jaws: The Revenge. Sorry about that.
Perhaps one of you would like to invade my dreams and drop off a better idea for next week’s column, otherwise I’ll have to tell you about the time I accidentally tricked dream Robert De Niro into starring in Rocky & Bullwinkle, Hide & Seek, Meet The Parents, Righteous Kill, Analyze This, Meet The Fockers, Godsend and Analyze That.