Throws down the gauntlet with the very first shot, in which the camera glides sinuously all over the sprawling exterior of a university campus, caroming from one group to characters to another, for minute after self-consciously virtuosic minute, and just as you’re idly wondering whether Fred Ward is going to show up and start ranting about the opening of Touch of Evil, we suddenly pick up two film students engaged in discussion of that very topic, who then proceed to address The Player itself. Except that Altman’s achievement really is little more than a clever, hollow joke, whereas Yanagimachi has taken that sort of suffocating pomo referentiality as his subject. Ostensibly a fairly lighthearted havoc-on-the-set comedy, the film portrays a simulacrum of reality far more chilling than the one revealed in The Matrix — a world in which no person, act or object exists for its own sake, free of antecedent. What’s more — and this is just shy of miraculous, given the premise and milieu — it does so without any of the facile live-or-Memorex? rug-pulling that such treatises usually favor. (The genius of the climax, which keeps you poised on a serrated edge separating the merely horrific from the truly catastrophic, depends upon Yanagimachi’s commitment to unforced naturalism.) So dense and resonant that I couldn’t even begin to unpack it without a second viewing (already arranged, thankfully), and even then half of its appeal lies in the vivid yet offhanded sense of hectic collegiality that I was never able to articulate when trying to explain why I loved Irma Vep. Nor can I necessarily explain the gooseflesh I experienced Dwhen one character, reading DSM-IV diagnoses aloud in an attempt to understand the film-within-the-film’s protagonist, is joined by another character reading aloud from The Stranger, their competing voices gradually drowned out by an ominous orchestral swell that turns out to be diagetic. It’s the most terrifying lark I’ve ever seen.
1.50GB | 1h 55mn | 858×464 | mkv