Photograph: Warner Bros.
The primary time I attempted edibles, I had a imaginative and prescient wherein a pair of harpies jogged my memory that sooner or later I’d die. The second time I attempted edibles, I hallucinated a endless procession of animals rising from a black gap. The third time I attempted edibles, I noticed palm groves bursting into flames, a dull desert changing into a maw of dying, and most wonderful of all, a blue-eyed Timothée Chalamet. However that was okay, as a result of I used to be at a TIFF screening of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, and all of these issues have been presupposed to occur.
Why was I seeing Dune excessive within the fourth-largest metropolis in North America? First, as a result of lots of the Dune critiques out of Venice talked about that its grand scale and vivid imagery made it a perfect film to see stoned. Second, as a result of since weed was legalized in 2018, roughly 87 p.c of Toronto storefronts have was hashish retailers. And third, as a result of I used to be joking after I pitched this story and didn’t anticipate my editor to really say sure. However I used to be bored and lonely, and had managed to snag a ticket for an IMAX exhibiting, so why not?
As you will have been in a position to inform from my first paragraph, THC and I are usually not precisely shut associates. Our relationship is nearer to the type you’d have with an overbearing colleague, or a not-especially beloved uncle. For that reason, having ventured right into a basement dispensary on King Avenue, I made a decision to go along with a comically unintimidating selection: a pack of pink, fruit-flavored gummies, the kind of medication you would possibly really feel snug giving a toddler. I ate one about an hour earlier than the film began, which additionally occurred to be 30 seconds earlier than I learn the bit on the packaging informing me that the medication might take 4 hours to begin working. With my luck, I’d get tremendous excessive simply in time for the closing credit, and wind up guffawing like an fool over the identify of prop painter Clare Baybutt.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. The gummies could have kicked in through the drive to the theater, or perhaps I used to be merely touring down probably the most enjoyable freeway in Canada. As soon as Villeneuve confirmed as much as give a quick bonjour, issues have been percolating. I knew this as a result of his Quebecois purr produced a deeply pleasurable ASMR tingle up and down my arm — a bodily sensation the filmmaker had by no means given me earlier than, though I did like Sicario. (I’d’ve favored it extra in the event that they’d instructed us whether or not Ario obtained higher.) All of it obtained much more intense as soon as Rebecca Ferguson, who performs Woman Jessica within the movie, got here out to do a captivating little double-act with Villeneuve. I don’t know what it was, however one thing concerning the distinction between their voices — his velvety growl, her European lilt — produced an oil-and-vinegar impact that had me absent-mindedly stroking my very own palm.
So, I used to be undoubtedly excessive by this level.
After which it was time for the film! There’s a difficult area plot that I’ll get into later, however for the needs of a excessive individual, that is what Dune is about: SPACESHIP GO WHIRRRR, CANNON GO BOOOOM, ORCHESTRA GO BRRRRAAWWRRRRRR. It takes place on a planet the place the rhythmic hum of equipment has turn into a matter of life and dying, which implies that, at a number of factors, the film is actually vibing — and my excessive ass was vibing proper there with it.
In one other improvement my weed-addled mind discovered immensely entertaining, every little thing on this film is both extremely huge or extremely small. There are sand worms the scale of the prepare that was the size of the Chrysler Building, and a capital ship that resembles a huge floating urethra, whereas probably the most harmful weapons are tiny floating darts that flit by the air like malevolent hummingbirds. The identical holds true for the cinematography, which alternates between intense close-ups and grandiose large photographs that make all of the individuals appear to be ants. It’s additionally the case with the solid: Our protagonist is Chalamet, who in an vital step for illustration is Hollywood’s first motion hero with Avian Bone Syndrome; the baddie is Stellan Skarsgård’s Baron Harkonnen, the long-awaited reply to the query, “What if Humpty-Dumpty, but evil?”
Right here’s what I knew about Dune getting in: It was primarily based on an acclaimed novel, individuals put on straws up their noses, and in some unspecified time in the future, someone says, “The spice must flow.” However this leaves loads that I used to be unprepared for. As an illustration, one factor they don’t let you know about Dune beforehand is simply how a lot of the story is dedicated to sci-fi forms. Which elites have import/export rights wherein provinces? What are the precise bylaws governing a management transition? If somebody needs to lodge a criticism, which regulatory physique should they contact? One minor character is launched as a member of 1 organizational hierarchy, however seems to be concurrently holding an vital place in one other org chart (a reveal that jogged my memory of sure sleazy parts of New York politics). I discovered this all enthralling, however that is perhaps the gummies speaking.
One other factor critiques have uncared for to say about Dune is that each jiffy, the film’s plot stops for a sequence of fragrance commercials that includes Zendaya wandering across the desert. In keeping with Villeneuve, these interstitial segments had been specifically filmed on IMAX cameras for the enjoyment of viewers like us. Once more, I believe a extra sober-minded viewer might discover these moments gradual, complicated, repetitive, and even all three. I couldn’t look away — and never simply because the display screen was large enough that I actually couldn’t.
After which, like this weblog publish, the film simply … ends. It’s an exciting callback to the style cinema of my youth, when movies like Kill Invoice and Matrix: Reloaded would cease in the midst of the story with no warning and also you’d have to attend a yr to get the decision. Besides with Dune, the hole will probably be even longer: The sequel hasn’t even been greenlit but. (Villeneuve used a big chunk of his time earlier than the screening to pitch us on Dune: Half Two, within the hopes that the theater was secretly crawling with Warner Bros. execs.) As soon as the credit began to roll, I used to be thrust again into the Canadian evening and wandered round a abandoned Exhibition Place on the lookout for the automobile that might take me and my colleague/unofficial babysitter again house. It had been 4 hours. The gummies had undoubtedly worn off.