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"In a movie, every action must have some semblance of reality," says a man who has just opened his belly up to expose a bunch of fake looking sausage links inside, "otherwise, I would just be some fool fiddling with his guts."
This wacky yet profound scene is exactly the sort of stuff you can expect for 90 minutes of beard-stroking, mind-fudging fun. As if making fun of itself, the movie takes us into surrealistic territory that would make Terry Gilliam faint. Shot entirely in a movie theater with only a minimal amount of props to denote location changes, this is the 2nd most minimalist film I've ever seen (the 1st being "Dogville" shot entirely on a stage with chalk outlines of a "town"). But don't let that scare you off; the visuals are anything but boring. There is a certain visual intensity that couldn't be created any other way.
The plot (although it isn't really the focus) is about a "migrant animation director" who is called in to finish an anime film after the original director mysteriously disappears, leaving almost no clues as to what he was up to. Methodically, the new director begins to piece together his predecessor's work but not so much in a literal sense as a philosophical sense. Herein lies the beauty of this film because there are some absolute gems of wisdom unearthed in his interviews with the crew: thoughts on the very nature of art & film and their purpose in the world. If you're an artist, musician, or particularly a filmmaker, you'll find yourself soaking up every word, despite their deceptively bizarre & corny presentation (like the guy I mentioned who's fiddling with his guts).
Oh, and did I mention that the crew begins to be killed off one by one in the most ridiculous ways? And I almost forgot to mention the strange ghost who appears from time to time. There's definitely a lot going on that'll spin your head. But the point is, as one character says in the beginning, a movie makes its own rules.
Definitely one of the best surrealistic films I've seen, "Talking Head" takes its place alongside my other favorites: Jan Svankmajer's "Faust" (which uses an odd blend of actors and life size marionette puppets), "Dark Mind" (an underrated indie gem about nerdy inventor who believes he's being tailed by the Russians), the aforementioned "Dogville" (an unsettling metaphor for human society) and the godfather of them all, Orson Welles' "The Trial". In "Talking Head" the comedy is the most pronounced, making it perhaps the most fun of the lot, but at the same time it packs some of the most challenging ideas making it one of the hardest to digest. In any case, "Talking Head" is a total mind trip.
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