"Cog" Film Tribute

The Cog in the Wheel. The Ghost in the Machine. It is a concept that has been written, talked, and thought about a lot. One could say we live the concept every day. With skilled labor falling to a minimum (consider that the employee turn-around at Walmart is something like 50% annually), and people feeling more and more like cogs in their own wheel every day, it's no wonder that many movies have been made discussing the subject. So, as we come to the end of another week in the rat race, I thought I would cover a few 'cogs' for your consideration. Maybe you can make a weekend of it.

!SPOILER ALERT! Some Secrets and Plot Points Revealed

The Matrix (1999)

Probably the most well-known of the “Cog” films. So well-known that I won't even bother writing a plot summary. The metaphors in this movie are in-your-face and, though sometimes a little ham-handed, the dialog makes for great mottoes you can use in everyday life. And no, “Guns, lots of Guns.” doesn't count – though it is fun to say.

BEST COG SCENE: Morpheus and Neo walk through the Agent training program. Morpheus gives his best speech, dressed to the nines in his chocolate brown suit, green tie and snazzy floor-length leather jacket (his mental projection of himself obviously has a gay wardrobe consultant), this scene makes all the previous over-acting worth it. Morpheus tells Neo about all the other ghosts who love the machine that imprisons them. This is a good thing to remember when you want to rattle off some anti-consumer-crazy-speak at work to the woman with the designer hand-bag.

The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them
our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

Dark City (1998)

They built the city to see what makes us tick. Last night one of us went off.

The lesser known, but much better version of “The Matrix”. This movie delves into what it means to be human. What is a soul? Is it just a history of memories? Or is it something bigger?

PLOT: John Murdock awakes to find his memory is gone. A doctor phones and tells him that an experiment has gone wrong. What is the experiment? We are. The human mind and soul. John eventually discovers that he, and the hundreds of other humans that call Dark City their home, are subjects in an alien research facility. Every night, the entire population falls asleep, only to awake the next morning with an entirely different set of memories, and an entirely different life. The aliens need souls to be able to live forever, and just can't seem to figure out what they are. I'll leave the ending for you to discover.

BEST COG SCENE: My favorite scene would have to be when the clock strikes midnight and the entire world falls asleep. That is, everyone but John. John runs franticly through the city, screaming “Wake up!” at the sleeping people in streets. It reminds me of something I've always wanted to do in a room full of cubicles.

BONUS: The romance in Dark City between John and the woman who remembers him as her husband (the talented and dream-like Jennifer Connelly) is certainly better than the strange asexual relationship between Trinity and Neo.

I know this is gonna sound crazy, but what if we never knew each other before now... and everything you remember, and everything that I'm supposed to remember, never really happened, someone just wants us to think it did?
But how can that be true? I so vividly remember meeting you. I remember falling in love with you. I remember losing you. I love you John, you can't fake something like that.
No, you can't

Brazil (1985)

Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating.

The film for those “glass half empty” people who's office job has them wishing they were a 13th century blacksmith with rotting teeth and a lazy eye (there's got to be one of you out there).

PLOT: Sam Lowry is an average bureaucrat. He goes to work. He fills out the right forms. He eats at the right places. He ignores the right things. And then, one day, a typo convicts an innocent man (Buttle) instead of a terrorist (Tuttle), sucking Sam into a world of insane paperwork, complicated red-tape and rotting infrastructure. Director Terry Gilliam definitely knows how to twist you into a bitterly funny world where terrorist Tuttle turns out to be a plumber who wants to work without filling out paperwork and Sam ends up being hunted as a terrorist for trying to correct the mistake and free Mr. Buttle.

BEST COG SCENE: Tuttle (Played by Robert Deniro btw) is engulfed in a tornado of paper in one of the most painfully frustrating scenes I have ever witnessed. Sam tries to save him, but by the time he can pull away enough of the paper, he realizes, to his horror, that Tuttle is gone and all that remains are crumpled, useless, endless piles of paper. Warning: this scene will haunt you come tax time.

This is your receipt for your husband. And this is my receipt for your receipt.

Honorable Mention

12 Monkeys” Another Gilliam classic. Get it just to hear Brad Pitt scream “No More Monkey Business!”, you'll be saying it for days, trust me, I still haven't stopped and it's been 5 years.

“Serenity” follows the story of a spaceship crew who come upon a planet filled with dead people. How did they die? The answer is why it's part of the “Cog Film Tribute”.

Fight Club” This takes a different, more real-life approach, but we'll add it. It certainly speaks to the modern man and his consumer, technological-lifestyle.

"Blade Runner" Finally, someone casts Harrison Ford in a role he can play!

Equilibrium” is one that tried too hard, and came off very preachy and very rigid.