14 February 2007 | junk-monkey
OK , Who's The Shortest Person Here? OK - You're The Boom Op.
This is an incredible movie. It's not got everything! No plot, no tension, no character (let alone character development) - what it HAS got is a virtuoso display of incredibly bad direction and a script that gives the word meaningless a new... er... meaning.
I suspect the director must have once had the concept of the Line of Interest (or the Centre Line, Director's Line call it what you will*) explained to him at some time but either forgot it almost immediately or just didn't get it because the camera is plonked down any old place and they shot whatever came into the viewfinder. Several times we get to watch people have long telephone conversations, but only from one end so we get to watch them say things like: "Yes I know all that." without having any idea what they have just been told. There are boom mikes in shot, tracks clearly visible, the DP does a great line in camera flares over people's faces and the sound levels are all over the place whole swathes of "dialogue" obscured by lousy songs. Though to be fair the sound problems may just be the quality of the DVD copy I saw; there was a lot of extraneous noise on the soundtrack (the songs ARE pretty sh1tty though). The script is bizarre; I honestly had no idea what was going on for the entire length of the film.
The film opens with 3 minutes of mocumentary footage of people relating UFO experiences to a TV reporter. Then the opening credits (which were illegible on the copy I watched). Open on a young man trying to make a phone call then a portentous Voice Over (a la Ed Wood) tells us this young man is about to overhear something that will change his life forever. He somehow accidentally overhears two military types authorising a scramble of jets to investigate a UFO. The young man stares out of the window for a long time then phones someone else to make an appointment with someone else who turns out to be a psychic UFO spotter (or something). He then goes to meet his professor who lectures him (and us) at great length about the possibility of Life in the Universe. He goes to see 'Dr Mansfield' (whoever she is, we aren't told) and they have a conversation that really started the 'What the hell are they talking about?' ball rolling. The last line of the scene is "When a circle is drawn - they meet." Work backwards from there. After that it was a downhill slide into utter incomprehensibility. Ending in a low rent 2001: A Space Odyssey rip-off and the final bars of Khachaturian's Spartacus playing as the alien's space ship, trapped under a lake for a thousand years, zooms off to the stars powered only by Alan's imagination. Yep, you read that right, a bunch of aliens sat at the bottom of a lake for a thousand years waiting for a bad actor with a bald wig on to come and power their spaceship with his imagination. Insane.
Favourite shot: Vivian and Alan sit in the back of the van excitedly telling each other some incomprehensible facts that are supposed to make the audience sit up and pay attention. They stop and the camera slowly zooms out leaving two bad actors sitting there waiting for the director to shout 'cut'. Luckily a huge lens flare obliterates them for most of it so we don't have to see them suffer too much.
Favourite lines (favourite as in they made more sense than most. Three whole lines before I went WTF? )
Prof: What do we know about electricity?
Alan: We know it's an energy source.
Prof: Like the imagination.
This is sublime stuff. Thoroughly recommended as a true awful classic. Seven out of ten on the Awfulometer.
* An imaginary line drawn between two or more actors (and / or objects). Keeping the camera on one side of that line for several angles on one scene will allow those shots to be edited together with ease. Cross the line during shooting and you start having real problems as the on screen relationship between characters changes. Edit between the two and you get characters swapping places with each other and jumping from left to right of each other etc. Trust me, it's an easy concept to grasp, I'm just not explaining it very well.