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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.09%
Worth A Look56.82%
Just Average: 15.91%
Pretty Crappy: 2.27%
Sucks: 15.91%

5 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Time Code
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Figgis has become a no talent hack."
1 stars

Cinema the way we know it is on the way out of the door; or at least that’s what director Mike Figgis wishes to believe. I once believed Figgis to be an ambitious, yet high ranking and bold director, but I renounce all that and stand in complete opposition. Figgis’ work was all a fluke --or at least that which was good. The skill he showed in what I thought was a masterpiece, Leaving Las Vegas, has never been quite apparent henceforward, and I am doubtful I will ever see it again. His latest “experiment” to call it by a nice name is Time Code, highly totted as the first all digitally shot movie, the first movie in all real time and for the benefit of us viewers, unedited --meaning it’s all one continuous shot. But it’s not that easy; Figgis cheated in more than one way. And the idea of calling this a movie, or putting it in the category of cinema, is simply preposterous and ridiculous.

Another “fact” about this waste of time (one is at a lack of words to call this, considering it is not a piece of celluloid): the majority of the movie was improvised. No feat for the actors in this, not just because it’s as obvious as day that they don’t know what they’re doing, but there is no story to tell in the first place. The idea of “wanting to know what your friends say after you leave the room” and all the other blah that went into this marketing campaign is admittantly an intriguing subject. Only Time Code is not the way to go exploring it. First of all, the screen is split into four different squares, all equal to the other, taking up its entirety. There are a handful of characters we follow around aimlessly, including a would-be production company (it has Holly Hunter, Xander Berkeley, Golden Brooks, Richard Edson, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Weber and a few others). Through the mess of things, they’re trying to cast a movie entitled The Bitch. (When the executive producers meet, the black woman, Brooks, argues that if they “cast a black woman as the title character, Bitch has got to come out of the title. It’s just derogatory.”) Then there’s an actress played by Salma Hayek, who’s the young lover of Jeanne Tripplehorn. Tripplehorn thinks she’s cheating on her, and she is with the Skarsgard character, so for the whole ordeal, Tripplehorn sits inside her limo listening to a bug she planted in Hayek’s purse, and waiting for her to come out of the audition. Skarsgard is a drunk, but I can only guess he was also seeing Saffron Burrow’s character, who, being the first person we begin to see when this “ordeal” starts is talking to a shrink about who knows what, and that who never finds out. Ever. Why or what her character had to do, is completely lost forever to me. A couple other actors who turn up for no reason in particular are Kyle McLachlan, Leslie Mann, Alessandro Nivola, Julian Sands and Laurie Metcalf. After seeing this, I would never go to an improv club featuring any of these actors. They couldn’t fake it worth a damn. Despite being “improvised,” Figgis still takes credit for writing the mess, and according to a New York Times article on this, Figgis shot it four times to decide which version he liked best. Wouldn’t you think that the fourth time you do something, it’s become a routine --such as playing a part. By then, the improvisation has lost the improv.

It was very obvious that none of these people were really friends with any of the others, and the idea of hearing what they had to say behind your back, lost its impact when there was nothing to be said. All the characters were just sleazy and untrusting. They were not even characters, so much as drawings, or cheaply done sketches. Time Code’s main tagline was “Who do you want to watch.” From that, one might get the idea that while all four cameras are all going with their defunct narratives, you wouldn’t quite catch everything going on in the other three sections. Aside from there being nothing to catch (something learned only after, or part way through), any person could have realized the marketing potential of trying to get people back four times to catch the other three storylines as they bled into the one you had seen. But Figgis is too uninterested for that. Figgis has gone through a variety of projects from serious tragedies like Vegas to the more superficial, One Night Stand, to some esoteric experimentationalism, The Loss of Sexual Innocence, to nonsensical period experiments: Miss Julie. I can only know give Figgis credit for material he has used to make things conducive, such as in Vegas and Loss, but all that made Stand worthwhile was some good acting and unusual sex. At first you want to respect him for the variety he ensues like it was personal interest that drives him, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But Figgis doesn’t just dabble, he does it to experiment, but doing so without thinking through his actions or taking any of it seriously. If he doesn’t take film seriously, how or why should those who do, take him seriously? Figgis is more interested in being the lone rogue to integrate new technologies, in this case, digital film, which will understandably be replacing the old celluloid cartridges. With the right lighting, right sound, and right equipment, it can only be an asset. Figgis uses it instead as a toy to play with, but doing so in an unintended way. Nothing he does is professional; even the amateurs of the trade have better sense to approach their work with a seriousness he has utterly been lacking. Figgis plays around with sound, as in the past with Loss and Julie, he makes dialogue inaudible without placing compelling images. It becomes a dull and droning waste.

Time Code is nothing more than a wrinkle in a long line of freshly washed shirts. There is absolutely no artisitic force nor merit behind it, rather than the exploitative technologies that are being pushed. Yes, we all acknowledge that the digital age is here, and no one is really getting in the way. Now if Figgis is so ready to not only jump on the bandwagon for it, but also steer it, than it’s suggested that he present something better to consume our time with. Time Code is a black hole of nothingness that obstenably sucks out any talent of the parties involved. It starts no where and goes no where. It has no point, sharp or dull. When that happens, I find no reason to waste my time. So I walked out when I saw it had no where to go, intravenous earthquakes and all.

Final Verict: F

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3856&reviewer=172
originally posted: 05/10/00 11:37:47
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User Comments

3/08/05 LarryV Even without the gimmick, it'd be great. 5 stars
6/13/04 MyGreenBed Interesting as a technical exercise. Beyond that...a complete and utter bore. 2 stars
4/16/04 Ove Christensen Very interesting but most as an experiment with cinematic form 4 stars
12/10/03 Agent Sands Terrific direction, camerawork, & improv from the cast, but some of subject matter is dull. 4 stars
2/19/02 megan cobain an experiment that paid off. an amazing film. revolutionary. 5 stars
12/18/00 Artist Freak Worthwhile if for nothing else than its approach to multilayered storytelling 4 stars
10/15/00 Psike Story loses the plot on occassion, but cinematic exploration is interesting. 4 stars
5/21/00 Jesse This film was hard to get used to and the only thing that bothered me was the Earthquakes. 4 stars
5/19/00 Thor-Leo Interesting; easier to track all 4 than I expected. Story's a mess; characters uninspired. 3 stars
5/16/00 Mr Cynic What an attrocious mess. Figgis has downfallen to worthless crap 1 stars
5/03/00 Heather Intriguing, innovative, original movie, worth it to see Jeanne & Salma have a snog 5 stars
5/03/00 PJ Pretty good, pretty inventive, but it's just not pure film. Figgis must loves Lesbianism 4 stars
5/01/00 MrShowbiz Figgis breaks new cinematic ground... and nearly makes a compelling movie to boot. 4 stars
4/30/00 Captain Highcrime Not hard to watch if you have a TV production background. 5 stars
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  12-May-2000 (R)


  14-Sep-2000 (M)

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