(I tried to post the below on Waking Life in the comments section, but it was too long). Here it goes:
Unfathomable! (These comments, not the movie.) Well, I loved Waking Life. The movie was a chore to sit through somewhere between the 30-45 minute interval, but after that, it got a second wind. I can see how blurry, existential dream-state(s) may be too monotonous for some people. But (spoilers!) I loved the inexorability of the movie...how the dream became a dream of itself and so on to the nth degree.
The movie captured a variation of personal belief that I have about death. (And I'm not alone in this belief about death.) I believe that one's final thoughts and emotions and feelings just before death persist for all eternity. (I hope I don't die a painful death.) We can accept that the brain can trick us in our perceptions of time. Boredom can seem to stretch for eternity; conversely, pleasure can go by quickly. (Certain drugs can have similar effects--for example, people undergoing general anesthesia wake up with absolutely no perception that time has gone by.)
I think most people (those that don't believe in the consciousness of a soul, that is) would also agree that if the brain is completely dead, then there is no perception, as perception is a neural phenomenon. This absence of perception is absolute nothingness, the nothingness itself being beyond perception. Therefore, if we take epsilon steps towards total nothingness), then we are left with the deduction that our last perceptions (before nothingness) are the only remaining perceptions before death. As the brain can trick us about the progression of time, these perceptions can languish for all of eternity: that is, as we can't perceive beyond our final perceptions, then those last perceptions last forever.
Until Waking Life, I can't imagine how a movie could remotely capture such a concept. And so it does--our hero undergoes (what I would interpret) an infinite regression of philosophical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual tracts before he dies. (And he doesn't perceive his own death--he floats on in his mind, which probably represents his absolutely last thoughts). Some of these tracts are insightful, some full of BS, some a mixture of both. These tracts are embodied by people he knew or people he didn't know, but had some knowledge about during his lifetime. The animation (as well as the painterly differences in the animation styles) reinforced the surrealness or hyper-realness of the experience. And maybe as the hero realizes that he has assumed an interative dreamstate that lasts through all of eternity with a lucidness that dreams don't have, he realizes he is about to die, and it helps him cope with it.
I see Waking Life as a spiritually embracing movie about death told entirely from the vantage point of just this side of abyss. (And can anyone think of another movie also from last year that could arguably have taken a similar POV?) Yes, the minute-by-minute blow can be difficult to tolerate at times, but as a whole, the totality of effects is far greater than the summation of its pieces. And where you stand relative to what you're watching is critical to appreciating the movie. Waking Life is a cinematic version of Pointilism.