The Fourth Dimension

The Fourth Dimension

**

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The trouble with rules in filmmaking is that they are made to be broken - Dogme 95 manifesto co-author Thomas Vinterberg even admitted to cheating in the first Dogme film, Festen. Throw multiple authorship into the equation, as is the case with this portmanteau film, and somehow rules start to seem at best an unecessary and restrictive embellishment and, at worst, roadblocks to a decent narrative.

Executive producer Eddy Moretti's "creative brief" - "inspired in so many (very different) ways, by his friend Harmony Korine", includes everything from the interesting, "It should blur the line between what is real and what is fake" to the tricky, "The director must direct one scene... with a blindfold on or over his or her eyes" to the downright obvious, "You must try to and [sic] make this film look very beautiful".

Copy picture

Given the huge brief - there are more than 50 stipulations in all - and the fact that none of the directors saw what the others were up to during the creative process, it's no wonder that the end result feels diminshed by comparison, like an elaborate joke set-up without a decent punchline.

The first of the segments - The Lotus Community Workshop - is directed by Harmony Korine and features Val Kilmer, both of whom will doubtless ensure The Fourth Dimension continues to do the festival rounds. The idea of a space-time shift here is embodied by Kilmer, who is playing a version of himself. In the bubble-gum pink drenched world of Korine, he's a motivational speaker, who gathers near-fanatical crowds at the local bowling hall with the promise of "awesome secrets". There is some amusement to be had from Kilmer's OTT performance as "a very well known entity" but the satire struggles to say anything particularly new and side episodes involving Kilmer's off hours with his cradle-snatch girlfriend feel under-explored.

The colour and comedy drains away in the second segment from Russian director Alexey Fedorchenko, who comes the closest of the triumverate to exploring traditional notions of the fourth dimension. Chronoeye uses muted tones to tell the story of a scientist (Igor Sergeev), whose equally muted life is stuck in the past that he is trying to invent a machine to look into. Fedorchenko's film shares a similarity with Korine's in that it is about skewed perspective, although here it is not the audience's perception of the character that is being played with but rather the central protagonist's own lack of awareness of what is going on under his nose. The story, while well acted, like Korine's previous section, feels over-stretched at around half an hour.

Rounding out the triptych is Polish director Jan Kwiecinski's Fawns - and the best is certainly saved till last. He gives some bounce and pace to his story of a group of young pals (Justyana Wasilewska, Pawel Tomaszewski and Pawel Smagala), who become lords of misrule in an evacuated town. His three characters may be exploring the 'forbidden' but it is ultimately themselves that they come to examine as they are forced to find a new dimension of compassion at odds with their previously self-serving actions.

Stitched together by nicely animated segments, there is no doubt that fun has been had in creating this 'collaborative' effort but that doesn't necessarily translate into good cinema, and many short filmmakers struggling to find festival time could feel justifiably aggrieved about all the hype this has had. Despite this, it will be interesting to see what new film fund - Grolsch Film Works - serves up in future, even if this first foray into independent filmmaking, though holding some promising fizz isn't quite as refreshing as it might have been.

Reviewed on: 18 Jun 2012
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Triplet of short films, conforming to a fixed 'creative brief'.

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Amber Wilkinson **

Director: Harmony Korine, Alexsey Fedorchenko, Jan Kwiecinski

Writer: Harmony Korine, Alexsey Fedorchenko, Jan Kwiecinski, Oleg Loevsky, Yaroslava Pulinovich

Starring: Val Kilmer, Igor Sergeev, Justyana Wasilewska, Pawel Tomaszewski, Pawel Smagala

Year: 2012

Runtime: 105 minutes

Country: US, Poland


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