A couple of years ago I was in Chicago, taking a cab from one bar to another with a buddy. Traffic was heavy with weekend drivers, and at one point somebody cut us off. It was typical driving behavior in Chicago, but for some reason it didn't sit well with our driver, a middle-aged Pakistani man who started flashing his lights and honking at the offending vehicle. At the next red light, the other driver got out of his car and revealed himself to be a big man with a short temper. Our driver was not intimidated, though. Like a lap dog going after a German shepherd in the dog park, he got right out and threatened to kick this guy's ass.

Though not in a hurry, we really didn't want to see our outmatched cab driver hospitalized. Luckily, the other driver felt the same way, returning to his car saying, "In your dreams." Our driver wasn't done, though, and he shouted back through his thick accent: "No, you are in the dream, sir!" Brilliant. He never backed down and ultimately won the fight with this seemingly simple statement.

I don't know if the guy drove away questioning his Cartesian "I think therefore I am" reality, but I like to believe he did. The statement, "You are in the dream," invokes a powerful idea that asks you to question the very foundation of your own existence. It is as though the cab driver was an agent out of The Matrix, which is screening on Friday the 12th at the EMP. Before the trilogy of Matrix movies became a comic-book history of philosophy emphasizing the importance of faith and Christian theology, it was about asking the audience to question the authenticity of their own lives. Sure, it doesn't always succeed on a story level, but it does have some kick-ass special effects that expanded the visual potential of the Hollywood dream factory.

Over at Consolidated Works, the whole question of how cameras affect perceived reality is the heart of the Id/Ego/Video series. On Tuesday the 16th, film curator Adam Hart will be screening a series of videos he commissioned by artists like deco dawson, Julie Talen, and others. Basically, he asked them to carry around a video camera with them everywhere for a week, and make a short piece about how this affects the people around them. You can hear more about this if you show up this weekend for Intimitaeten (plays Fri-Sun), a documentary that goes behind the scenes of a German gay porn video production company.

For the younger set and their parents, check out the Kids Are All Right collection of Russian animated short films at the Northwest Film Forum. Featuring shorts dubbed into English by actors like James Coburn, Mickey Rooney, and Kirsten Dunst, the Sunday-morning screening will also include games and prizes for the little ones. Maybe one of these kids will break out of the dream and be revealed as a middle-aged Pakistani cab driver. I, for one, wouldn't be surprised.

andy@thestranger.com

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