Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Benjamin Dickinson, Nora Zehetner, Dan Gill, Alexia Rasmussen, Reggie Watts, Gavin McInnes, Paul Manza, Jay Eisenberg, Himanshu Suri, Meredith Hagner, Jake Lodwick, Geneva Carr, Robert Bogue, Jessica Blank, Austin Ku
Written by: Benjamin Dickinson, Micah Bloomberg
Directed by: Benjamin Dickinson
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and drug use
Running Time: 97
Date: 03/18/2016
IMDB

Creative Control (2016)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Cyber Ciphers

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The black-and-white indie Creative Control, which opens Friday at the Opera Plaza and other Bay Area theaters, is set "5 minutes in the future," in Brooklyn.

This mostly entails see-through phones and laptops, and a pair of fashionable glasses — very much like Google Glass — that act like a smartphone. Unfortunately, the people in this future are shallow, selfish, and depressing.

Of course, that's the theme of Creative Control, that technology is robbing us of our humanity, but the film itself seems to have been robbed of that very thing: there's no humanity left to warn us about losing our humanity.

Director and co-writer Benjamin Dickinson stars as the bearded David, whose company is hired to advertise the new glasses. He's good at his job, even though it stresses him out. He frequently swallows what looks like buttons — an adorable future drug? — and gulps booze after work.

His girlfriend Juliette (Nora Zehetner, from Rian Johnson's Brick), is a yoga instructor who senses she's losing him but doesn't know how to reach him.

His best friend, fashion photographer Wim (Dan Gill), reaches him by texting him photos of his sexual conquests, both with models and with his girlfriend, Sophie (Alexia Rasmussen).

After a late-night, drunken kiss, David becomes besotted with Sophie and begins using his new glasses to have a virtual affair with her.

Unfortunately for Creative Control, the affair feels empty, just as every other relationship feels empty. It almost doesn't matter if these characters jump into bed with each other or with avatars of each other. It's hard to feel anything either way.

Not even the comedian Reggie Watts, playing himself, can add anything even remotely resembling a laugh (or a smile) to the proceedings.

On the plus side, the cinematography by Adam Newport-Berra is superb, creating a steely-sleek cityscape, and the digital effects are appropriately impressive.

If only the movie had done something... anything. It could have been dangerous like Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days or creepy like David Cronenberg's eXistenZ or tender like Spike Jonze's Her or mysterious like Alex Garland's Ex Machina.

Instead we're left with a handful of grim, empty characters. In this world, it would certainly make sense to want to seek a kind of refuge inside virtual reality, pills, booze, or sex. Better still, how about a different movie?

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