Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Fourth Dimension (2012) Film Review
The Fourth Dimension
Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths
The Fourth Dimension’s collection of three short films comes to us as a co-production from Grolsch Film Works and VICE Films. The creative brief for each included some 40 or so statements such as: the director must film one scene while blindfolded, a stuffed animal must appear somewhere, people with “too much character” are good, show a glimpse of the “Fourth Dimension” and, give us magic. American hit and miss enfant terrible Harmony Korine, Russia’s Aleksei Fedorchenko and Polish Jan Kwiecinski responded.
Korine’s The Lotus Community Workshop follows a plump Val Kilmer playing a retired movie star turned motivational speaker, called Val Kilmer. On the one hand we see Val pumping and whooping up a circle of easy-to-pleasers at some LA skate rink. On the other, we see him hanging out with the very young-looking Rach (Rachel Korine), BMXing, swimming and playing video games. It’s not clear if she is Val’s wife, girlfriend or a teenager with whom he’s inveigling himself, but there’s a closeness between them that sits a tad uneasily with their stark age difference and his cosmic compliments to her.
In contrast to their softly spoken scenes, Val hoots on like a bummed, hippy version of Tom Cruise’s Frank Mackey when at the Workshop. He enthralls the crowd with a stream of ultimately meaningless anecdotes, mantras and life lessons. Accompanied by cheesy bleeping, blooping sound effects on the PA system, it’s an increasingly comical, satirical performance. The real Kilmer has great presence throughout and while the empty profiteering of a motivational speaker is an easy shot, the satire is ultimately on us. It’s as if Korine aligns with his Val character, scornful of an audience for letting itself be duped, knowingly, into considering that a film could possibly enlighten on whatever delusion it wants the fourth dimension to be. Val concludes that it’s cotton candy-ish. It’s well-filmed, self-aware, almost funny, irksome with it and I was glad it got out of the way first.
Fedorchenko’s Chronoeye takes the idea of space-time head on with a smart, low-budget twist on time travel. Igor Sergeev plays a brilliant loner scientist who has constructed a time machine that enables him to view the past on his computer screen, as it was seen by someone then. Trouble is, he has no control of whose experiences he sees, how he can use them, and the visions of great moments that he channels are from people with nary an interest in them. All the while the young dancer upstairs disturbs his work with her constant practicing.
It’s a quickly engaging piece with Sergeev giving a suitably dour, introverted performance to match Fedorchenko’s muted palette. The director also uses both Soviet era architecture, including a vertiginous unfinished Moscow tower, and inventively simple screen-within-screen shots well. With slight trace echoes of the likes of Pi and Primer, although Chronoeye’s conclusions are as obvious as some of its dialogue, it’s a diverting little journey nonetheless.
In contrast, Fawns completes the troika with a ringing emotional pop. Four hip-looking young party-hards arrive in a Polish town that appears to have been swiftly abandoned. They run amok with glee amid the ghostly setting, stealing cars, trashing shops and homes, in their own way abusing everything from a church’s sacraments to a young girl’s found diary.
Snippets from radios and a TV news channel, that old staple, gradually reveal that a natural disaster is devastating the country and a huge flood will soon reach them. Kwiecinski uses this ticking clock to twine mounting tension into the group’s antics as warning sirens regularly whine out across the town. Wilfully oblivious to the surging danger and more attune to their selfish recklessness and sexual jealousies, things start to come to a head when one of them might have second thoughts.
Kwiecinski manages to concertina significant development into the short running time and this pays off when the final scenes unexpectedly snap the characters into fuller focus (especially for Tomasz Tyndyk’s Pace). There is no neat ending but rather an effective sense of finding humanity too late as time runs out.
So, beer-fuelled films? Magical glimpses of the fourth dimension? Cotton candy filler? Well, this can be a very personal thing, you see ...Reviewed on: 02 Oct 2012