2 September 2000 | The_Movie_Cat
"The capitalistic society we are living in has absorbed all the innovations"
In an age where top-rated films involve Australians in xenophobic, concocted histories, or should-know-better Oscar winners in films about nicking cars, innovation seems rarely welcome.
It comes as no surprise then that the first film to be told via four separate panels on the screen, with continuous 93m takes and improvisation should only be shown on one single screen in the whole of the West Midlands.
What did surprise me, however, is that the film isn't that good. It is above average, though is too mainstream to really appeal to the artset, and too arty to interest a mainstream audience. The attention is directed around the four separate panels by virtue of judicious sound editing; dips and fades occurring throughout.
Of the four panels, while their fixations may merge or change, generally speaking they take the following form: the top two are the serious ones, the upper left seeing Lauren Hathaway (Jeanne Tripplehorn) using surveillance to listen in on her girlfriend's conversations, whom she (correctly) suspects is having an affair. The upper right is the dullest, a meandering affair with the self-absorbed Emma (Saffron Burrows) who goes through counselling and has very little interaction or involvement with the rest of the film.
Lower left are the cast-offs, often sharing perspective with its adjacent panels and mostly being used for light relief. Lower right, arguably the most interesting, is centred on a movie production meeting which allows for some industry parodies. These include movies such as "Time Toilet", "Bitch" and a hip-hop Soviet incidental music that offers "Can you dig it - Trotsky in da house!"
I did chuckle at the Asian staff member whose name - Connie Ling - produces sniggers when introduced, though Onyx Richardson's (Golden Brooks) assertion that black people get short shrift in film seems hollow when you consider the only thing her character gets to talk about is her colour, and that she's the only black cast member. The film's lesbian relationships also seem only there for titillation. Lastly, when you meet a character who pitches a film based around four separate panels and continuous takes (dismissed by a committee member as "pretentious s***") you realise that this film either isn't as clever as it thinks it is or too clever by half. Without the gimmickry - and it could easily get by with only half of it's four screens - this would be a forgettable 4. Therefore, isn't it a pity that the innovation wasn't applied to a better movie? 6/10.