Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Creative Control

Tone can be a tough thing to get across in a trailer; I think I saw the preview for this one a handful of times over the past month or so without ever really pegging it as a comedy before setting it described that way. In retrospect, the preview does have a number of the film's jokes in it, but two or the minutes just isn't long enough to see whether certain bits are genuine pretentiousness or the ironic variety.

Speaking of irony, I would normally be seeing this in Kendall Square, but my employer sent me to Frisco, TX (a Dallas exurb which consists entirely of highways, office parks, and shopping centers) to learn a new database tool. We spent a good chunk of Monday on user-experience stuff, then had dinner, which left me with about an hour to kill before walking to the mall where the only theater within miles. Bad news: because I was going to late-ish shows, there was no going through the mall like Google suggested, and circumnavigation the outside added a fair chunk of time. Good news: Adult evening tickets are $10.92 compared to the $12.79 at home. Well, good news for MoviePass; it doesn't really matter to me.

Still, the weird thing - one goes to movies as a diversion from other things, for the most part, and what do I wind up spending a bunch of time writing about here. User interface design. Here's hoping for something a bit further from work tonight, even if this movie was a lot of fun.

Creative Control

* * * (out of four)
Seen 21 March 2016 in AMC Stonebriar #2 (first-run, DCP)

There's a plot to Creative Control to go with its speculative elements, but truth be told, it's not at its strongest when either of those are front and center. Instead, it sings when the filmmakers find nifty little scenes that can be attached to those things, creating a moment that is true despite being absurd, satiric, stylized, or futuristic. By the time the film concludes, the lines that stretch from stay to finish don't much matter, but most everything in between is well worth it.

Those lines involve David (Benjamin Dickinson), an advertising man in the Brooklyn of the near future whose newest assignment is Augmenta, a next-generation set of augmented-reality glasses that he proposes marketing as a creative tool, commissioning eccentric multimedia artist Reggie Watts (Reggie Watts) to demonstrate their capabilities. He also gets a demo version to use for research, though another layer over reality may not be what he really needs: He's already popping pills, feeling disconnected from his yoga-instructor girlfriend Justine (Nora Zehetner), and maybe developing a crush on Sophie (Alexia Rasmussen), the girlfriend of his buddy Wim (Dan Gill). Not that he necessarily realizes this until he's creating an Augmenta avatar based on Sophie.

Star Benjamin Dickinson also writes and directs, and almost treats the film akin to its new technology at the start, introducing his main handful of characters with quick capsules of who they are, what they do, and how they are related to the others, a tutorial that cuts between them quickly enough to present them add together even when scattered across the city. Once that's established, Dickinson can start actually using these people for odd little scenes that build upon each other, seldom having to actually stop and explain anything. It's a good match for the dry comedy that serves as the film's backbone, allowing Dickinson and co-writer Micah Bloomberg to get to some fairly absurd places without spending much time worrying about explaining the joke or grounding it.

Full review on EFC.

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