SDFF: The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus
Every once in awhile an octopus comes along that changes everything.
Many people probably think “Paul the Psychic Octopus” was all bullshit. A pure coincidence, or worse—a con job. But I’ve got it under good authority that the octopus was actually psychic. What reason is there not to think he knew the outcome of the Euro Cup? Because he lived in water, and he was an octopus, and octopussies don’t know anything about what’s outside their water tank? All very interesting arguments, if you are trying to pigeon hole all octopussies and call them non-psychic entities. Sure, 99% of the time they are probably not psychic. But every once in a great while an octopus comes along that changes everything.
So of course there should be a documentary about him. The Life and Times of Paul The Psychic Octopus, directed by Alexandre O. Phillipe, is a homemade affair, meaning it was brought to us by folks from Colorado. What is the connection between Colorado filmmakers and the octopus? I have no earthly idea. But after seeing the documentary I’m not sure they were the best people to tell Paul’s story.
I think it is easy to tell apart the documentaries that really go for it, and the ones that play it safe inside the lines. Paul plays it really safe, which is kind of disappointing considering that the movie is about a fucking psychic octopus!
If someone told Dr. Seuss that a documentary was being made about a fucking psychic octopus, what would he say? Something like, “Oh the places you’ll go…”
I expected to see a documentary that illustrated the life and death of Paul in a fun way, with an inspired vision and unique voice. But this is about as straight forward of an examination of a psychic octopus as I’ve ever seen (and I haven’t seen many).
I didn’t really feel any sense of enthusiasm about the subject from the filmmakers. It was as though they found a great topic to make a movie about, and then went about doing it the way a corporation might go about inventing a soft drink. They played it as broadly as they could, trying to appease the masses, hoping to make the definitive documentary about Paul. It ends up backfiring; the end product is a generic, ho-hum affair that I hope Paul never saw coming.
See it or skip it
Monday, November 05, 6:45 PM
L2 Arts and Culture Center