FAST, CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL directed by Errol Morris; Columbia Tristar Home Video, 1998

I must admit, I was shocked at how much I liked this film. I've never been much of an Errol Morris fan. I found both The Thin Blue Line and Gates of Heaven to be a bit disappointing. Both had fascinating subject matters, but the films themselves were somewhat cold, distancing, and frankly, a little bit boring. That said, when I heard the new Morris film featured eccentrics like a lion tamer, a topiary gardener, a mole-rat specialist, and a robot scientist, I was worried. I figured he'd manage to take the life out of another bunch of great subjects. Far from it, indeed. This film just breathes life. Stunning cinematography and editing lead the charge, laying an exquisite backdrop for some hearty, grist-filled interviews. Visually, this film is a blockbuster—a mish-mash of stocks, looks, grains, color, black and white, crazy angles, crappy video, found footage, computer games, and talking head interviews (which are strangely and thankfully kept to a minimum). The visual storytelling is damn near poetic and likewise, the interviews are quite interesting. The four men featured are all delightfully weird and driven. The film's strength however comes from the way Morris is able to weave these interviews, based on such disparate topics, together; his ability to find common through-lines from subject to subject in an unforced manner. It's often in the editing that he manages to do so, running the voice of the robot scientist over footage shot at the circus. In essence using footage from one subject's story to illustrate the point of another subject. Ultimately Morris stirs the stories and images of all his subjects into quite a delicious stew.

-Danny Plotnick

AMAZON

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