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L.A., real time. From her limo, the wealthy Lauren eavesdrops on her lover Rose's tryst with movie producer Alex Green. The assignation takes place in his company's screening room between meetings. Alex's wife walks from therapy to his office, tells him she's leaving him, weeps in a bookstore restroom, and walks home with a cocaine-sniffing actress friend for what may lead to sex. Alex is drinking, wants to quit work and move to Tuscany, laughs at pretentious movie pitches, and puts off Rose when she asks for an audition. A film director sees Rose and decides she's perfect for his next picture; she takes a screen test. She's ecstatic and calls Lauren: jealousy takes over. Written by
"Timecode" is not conventional filmmaking, which is the whole beauty of it. This is a totally improvised piece of cinema, shot on a hand-held camera for 90 minutes straight--not a single cut--and shot in real-time. Every word of dialogue is improvised, the only thing written is the story (also by Mike Figgis). The way it turned out is quite impressive. Of course, the process gets tiresome and repetitive at times, but overall it's a pretty fascinating work that will probably be better appreciated by the more open-minded moviegoer--as opposed to mainstream viewers who will probably view this as just plain weird.
I was really impressed by the talented cast filled with great actors who simply went through the WHOLE ENTIRE process without once messing up. If you watch all these behind-the-scenes specials with actors stumbling line-after-line, doing take-after-take, until they finally get it right the 100th time--it's astounding to see that the whole cast was able to pull this off without a scratch. Even with such talented actors like Stellan Sarsgard, Holly Hunter, Salma Hayek, Jeanne Tripplehorn, etc., I have to commend them especially for taking part in this risky project. This movie not only showcases their knacks for acting, but also their potential to try something new, innovative and quite difficult--after all, taking risks is one of the main elements in becoming a good actor.
This type of format does--at points--feel like a theatrical version of a "Big Brother" episode, but Figgis wrote a story with as much intriguing elements as he can possibly fit into a film of this scope. After all, this is supposed a day-in-the-life type of story and you don't want to be too far-fetched. So he tries to generate as much suspense and intrigue (involving the many smutty attributes of the stereotypical white-collar LA resident) as he possibly could. There are subplots involving drug abuse, alcohol abuse, homosexuality, philandering, jealousy and of course the biggest theme of all...Sex! Naturally, my interest did sometimes drift, but the material compelled me enough to be interested for the majority of the running time. I've never been a fan of those corny reality shows. Quite frankly, I think the kind of reality displayed on those programs is very dull. "Timecode" transcends the dullness of the reality shows and, in a way, the "Blair Witch Project" (which is another reality-based film shot entirely on a hand-held camera, but executed very poorly). The material is engaging to a degree, the actors perform it very well and everything is down-to-earth to preserve its sense of realism. My only criticisms lie in the "earthquake effects." Those looked totally cheesy, created entirely by camera tricks and actors pretending to be shaken up. In one of the closing scenes, Jeanne Tripplehorn is clinging on to a nearby bannister while you can see cars in the background moving along smoothly. He could've done without that pretentious trick.
I'm not saying this a great film, but it is one I'll remember for its unique sense of style and I will always remember Mike Figgis for coming up with this innovative method. If you're tired of mainstream cinema and feel anxious to see something new and exciting--this is a film I would recommend.
My score: 7 (out of 10)
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