Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality
November 2, 2016 10:11 PM   Subscribe

Don't read the description. Just set aside eight minutes and watch Never Happened.

The film is part of the DUST compilation:

DUST is the first multi-platform destination for binge watchable sci-fi. We feature science fiction short films and other content from emerging filmmakers with stunning visual effects, captivating plots and complex character explorations. Robots, aliens, space exploration, technology, and human experience are all a part of DUST.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (40 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
So, sorry to be so dense, but can someone please explain what that short was about or what it meant to convey? I'm not getting it. Sorry.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:37 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]



The wife had lost an earrring, same ear as the co-worker who had taken it off because it interfered with the memory wipe program.

The suggestion is that the wife was a cheater too, or at least had something to hide that required for her to get a memory wipe.
posted by kandinski at 10:45 PM on November 2, 2016 [9 favorites]

Here is what the director had to say about it.
Mark Slutsky - Director Statement for "Never Happened" :
Never Happened is set in a world much like our own, just a little different. A world in which we can manipulate our thoughts, our lives, just a little more than we already can. The technology in the film is fictional, but in many ways, I think we have always applied the same principles to the way we view our lives, the way we selectively tell ourselves our own stories
I think there is also the implication at the end that every time the husband goes on a business trip, he has an affair (hence the same rash). Additionally, the wife questions where her other earring is, implying that she has also wiped her brain, indicating misbehavior or misconduct. My guess, she realizes her husband is cheating on her, so she wipes her brain to not remember.
posted by joe_monk at 10:45 PM on November 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

Black Mirror Season 3 is crazy
posted by naju at 11:08 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some similarities and differences, but I think more effective over all - Memory Box (featuring music from one of my favorite ambient/drone artists, Tim Hecker)
posted by naju at 11:13 PM on November 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

Is it okay if I thought it was… only sort of okay?
posted by DoctorFedora at 12:37 AM on November 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

The actors were excellent, as was the deceptively easy direction/design/editing to achieve, for example, three distinct "looks" of the lover: Her seductive glances in the bar, the post-sex vulnerability, and post-wiped nonchalance. And the man's guilelessness looks easy to do, but isn't. The wife's role is purposefully flat, but the delivery of the last line has to be perfect and was.

There's more talent than work in the big salt licks. I wish earnestness paid. Good luck to them.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 12:40 AM on November 3, 2016 [20 favorites]

I had to watch it twice, and I'm glad I did.
posted by james33 at 1:51 AM on November 3, 2016

I took Johnny Wallflower's advice and am glad I did. Liked it a lot. Near-future scifi has always been a fave.

"Is the main guy's wife cheating or just blocking the memory of her husband cheating or something vaguely else?" is up to the viewer. I like that, too.
posted by mediareport at 2:53 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Memory Box was nice as well, naju, thanks. Even closer to where we are today, with a sharp emotional payoff at the end. I like that these are painted in dark tones but don't hit you over the head with the BLEAKBLEAKBLEAK hammer like Black Mirror does.
posted by mediareport at 3:07 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

That was just rediculous. Bluetooth devices never pair that easily.
posted by Stoatfarm at 4:11 AM on November 3, 2016 [19 favorites]

I would need elaboration of the payoff for Memory Box. In fact, its economy is achieved by what's insinuated versus shown. As though the audience has been given a chapter of a whole?

I feel potentially wholly daft to assert this if, but...

The nuances Never Happened achieve (lots of cuts, superb editing/pacing, and production design) had all the elements of drama despite the constraints of a short, its "twist", and "keeping it light". It works within itself and completes a premise. As one's resume/reel, its technically demonstrative. It might insult the writer/director, but I'd call it an exercise.

Memory Box demonstrates as much (maybe nearly as much) technical craft, but relies on what it hasn't completed, such as the first scene and what the protagonist attends in the bed, which we'll see (in one reality) is a doll with a bleach-blond wig (like the protagonist's) and of a memory of a child.

I'm reminded of Kubrick's fascination with coffee commercials in regard to Memory Box.

On Preview: LOL Bluetooth, but that animation of an app was superb and the cutting around it too.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 4:25 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Was there significance to the closeup of the glasses being washed by the wife at the beginning? Seems too obvious that it symbolized just "washing away the dirt every day". Any closeup in a movie that short must symbolize something big, right?
posted by waving at 4:57 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Meh. It reached too far too make its point, the technology is just too unbelievable. "Let's just erase the last hour" has so many technical trip-ups that everything just falls apart, let alone getting so selective on brain surgery.

Not buying people willingly erasing the memory of good sex either!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:25 AM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

My take on the Bluetooth not pairing is that it anchors the moment closely to the present time and that even if we are technologically advanced enough to erase memory so selectively, well, real life. I like that so much about this genre!
posted by waving at 5:44 AM on November 3, 2016

I'm slightly face-blind. The two women looked so much alike to me that I it took me a while to realize that the one in the car was not his wife, but a colleague.

Maybe I'm just jaded, but, short as it was, the piece seemed like too much fluff for a plot that, by now, is fairly well-worn as a sci-fi device.
posted by Weftage at 5:46 AM on November 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

Fun post, Johnny Wallflower, and thanks for the "Don't read the description" disclaimer. I behaved myself and watched it blind.

And to think, I accomplish selective self-deleting through more analog tactics such as alcohol and dissociative behavior. Good to know I can erase an email reply-all digitally someday.

(Ditto Stoatfarm; the seamless bluetooth connection propelled me to think this film short took place in the vast future...)
posted by Conway at 6:20 AM on November 3, 2016

I'm on team "wife was having an affair as well". Also, she's pregnant, and I think there's an implication that the baby is not the husband's.

Love little shorts like this, thanks for posting!
posted by Roommate at 6:50 AM on November 3, 2016

Finally started watching Black Mirror. I get the complaints about it and these shorts in turn (for different reasons) but damn, I am just SO OUT HERE for this genre. I love everything about it. Sci Fi was born in short fiction and its one of the greatest uses of it. More more more more!!!!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:12 AM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hi! Mark Slutsky here—I wrote and directed this short. I've also been a MeFi member since 2002 though I barely read or post anymore. But I am super thrilled to see my movie show up here and really interested in your comments. (Positive or negative, I'm just happy you're watching, so don't let my "presence" on the thread make you hold back.) If you have any questions about it, shoot.

Oh and that director's statement above is kinda terrible and I think I wrote it on no sleep in five seconds haha.
posted by saltykmurks at 9:20 AM on November 3, 2016 [38 favorites]

Hey Mark! While I didn't like the story, I very much like the directing and think you need a bang up job in that department! Just flesh out the story a little more, IMO.

Looks like you got a helluva lot of talent!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:27 AM on November 3, 2016

Thanks! And I was very, very lucky to work with some extremely talented people.
posted by saltykmurks at 9:28 AM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Agree wholeheartedly with the comment above re: the excellent performances. Top notch subtlety.
posted by asavage at 9:48 AM on November 3, 2016

I really enjoyed watching this--it had an intriguing premise, was tightly paced and had tasty performances, and was worth a second and third viewing. Good soundtrack and nifty payoff too. So for what it's worth, saltykmurks, this viewer would love to see more. Nothing better for me than a nice bracing short story.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:06 AM on November 3, 2016

Yeah, definitely post your next thing over in Projects, it's specifically designed to showcase stuff Mefites have done.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:13 AM on November 3, 2016

Will do—I was going to post my previous sci-fi short in here, is that a breach of metiquette?
posted by saltykmurks at 10:16 AM on November 3, 2016

It's fine to link it in a comment, sure. (It's not ok to post your own work as a post on the main page, but a relevant comment is fine.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:28 AM on November 3, 2016

Thanks for clarifying. So, for anyone interested, here's my previous low-fi sci-fi short, The Decelerators.
posted by saltykmurks at 10:35 AM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Great idea, but didn't enjoy as much as Never Happened due to the lack of a single character to focus on. The marvelous thing about NH is that we're right in there with the characters, as part of the story, rather than just watching disembodied voices and people.

But yeah, fantastic idea and maybe to revisit? Clearly you're very interested in time and there's a lot of story potential there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:46 AM on November 3, 2016

And definitely want to see what you do next!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:55 AM on November 3, 2016

Glass washing is a thing in adultery, when the lover visits the partner at home while the partner's partner's away. You don't want to leave two used glasses in the sink.

Also, carpet burns.
posted by Devonian at 1:21 PM on November 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

Hi saltykmurks! I liked it. I want a short film to get in, make its point, and get out and I felt like this was just long enough, with a nice bite at the end.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:18 PM on November 3, 2016

Yeah, count me also on Team Really Liked It, Ambiguity And All.

That's always going to happen in a short of this sort and I think the ambiguity around exactly what Mrs Protagonist was alluding to right at the end very much adds rather than detracts from the overall thing.

Top quality short stuff, look forward to seeing more.
posted by motty at 6:36 PM on November 3, 2016

OK, I clicked on the link before diving into the election thread yesterday, and today I had no idea - no memory - of why I had a Vimeo page open. Clicked on the video, got sucked in, and really enjoyed it. That was very well acted. "The same rash every time" - wow.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:02 PM on November 3, 2016

but damn, I am just SO OUT HERE for this genre

Oh yeah, me, too. And I have to add after dissing Black Mirror that on a pal's recommendation i just watched episodes 4 and 6 of the new season (after being turned off by the last half of season 3 episode 1) and they were both pretty damn good. Sad, and grim, but not quite as horrible with the bleakbleakbleak thing. I'm sure I'll finish the rest, being starved for smart scifi tv as I am, but wanted to note that at least.
posted by mediareport at 4:39 AM on November 5, 2016

And hey, Mark! Just watched your earlier short and think the idea is great - finding those perfect moments to extend forever, and the loss of people to those moments...really rich stuff. Could be even more powerful if you were to tell it without the voiceover, using dialogue and scenes from the friends' lives. I get that it was quick, but I think there's a great 20-minute film there.

And thanks for creating cool art in one of my fave genres. Don't know how I'd live without folks like you feeding my brain. :)
posted by mediareport at 4:47 AM on November 5, 2016

I would need elaboration of the payoff for Memory Box.

Well, SPOILER, but I'll try:

I really liked the reveal that, rather than just a standard internet creeper scenario, the couple were trying to use the virtual porn company to be intimate with one another after the husband's accident. That was a nice twist, but the emotional payoff I was referring to was that quick moment at the end when the wife pushes him to let her do the premium account sex while he watches and coaches over the net, and he says, "What if I don't want that? What then, Isabel?" and she says, "that's fine too" while the actress clearly conveys that she's missing sex and would take it from the job in a heartbeat, while her paralyzed husband watches from afar. I dunno, to me that captured a deeply human moment in a scifi setting, with real emotional power, and I liked it a lot.
posted by mediareport at 4:59 AM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

By the way, everyone who liked Decels but would prefer it with, you know, actual characters who talk and stuff, I am working on a feature version of it right now that's a little more like a regular movie.
posted by saltykmurks at 6:23 AM on November 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

That was my take on the ending too, mediareport. With a rewatch you can see the actress communicating this in her scenes with the virtual porn partner, too.
posted by naju at 5:44 PM on November 5, 2016

Yep. Knowing what she's been feeling about sex and her husband makes the 2nd viewing so much richer.

I'm usually not a rewatcher (I know I'm missing out, and have started to rewatch a few things to better capture those especially wonderful moments) but if there was ever a 10-minute scifi short that deserved a second viewing, "Memory Box" is it.
posted by mediareport at 5:53 PM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

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