Timecode (2000) Poster


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Ridiculously good
neil_mc7 September 2004
I am pretty sure that I will not see a more jaw-dropping piece of film-making for quite some time. To put the complexity of filming 4 continuous takes simultaneously and in full co-ordination into any perspective, is extremely difficult. And then to have such a dramatic climax at the end of 93 improvised minutes is pretty mind-blowing.

I'm sure plenty of people will scream "pretentious crap" - as the girl suggests in her meeting speech - but the innovative brilliance of this film should be applauded above everything else. For example, little things like how the camera is focused on Skarsgard in the meeting while his wife is having it away with another woman. And then bigger things such as each screen simultaneously focusing in close-up on their characters eyes. Unbelievable.

I'm sure this isn't everybody's cup of tea - some people just don't appreciate the concept of doing something unique and risky. Some people even go as far as criticising Mike Figgis for attempting this - when in truth, this experiment was never likely to reach the masses, so any accusation of arrogance/pretension are pathetic.

As for the story and acting, I have a sneaky suspicion that maybe the sound was turned down on certain screens in post-production when actor's were fumbling or struggling for dialogue, I also thought the sound should have been muted from the other 3 screens while we were focused on one - because at times we get mumbling from all 4 at once, which doesn't work. But none of this detracts from a truly great achievement from all involved - for actors to go 93 minutes undisturbed is very impressive.

A perfectly constructed and co-ordinated film, I am in absolute awe. 10/10
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A film doesn't have to be revolutionary for it to be brilliant.
Alice Liddel2 October 2000
Mike Figgis does a Robert Altman. Except, instead of creating a large narrative of interconnecting plot strands, he puts them all on four split screens. Is this therefore more subversive than Altman? I don't think so - Altman's method is an attack on Hollywood linearity, on conventional methods of 'connection'; his characters exist is the same space but are emotionally etc. miles apart. The characters in 'Short Cuts', like the city of L.A. itself, are a mass without a centre. Figgis, for all the supposed diffusion of his visual strands, actually reunites, glues together Altman's ruptures. In this way it might seem a more optimistic kind of film. It isn't.

'timecode' is being touted as a revolution in cinema, a new way of watching films. Instead of watching one screen and being led by a director, we are given four, and asked to make our choices. I was surprised at how panicked I was at this in the first 20 minutes, darting between scenes, wondering which one I should follow. This forced me out of the film much more disturbingly than anything by Fassbinder or Godard. But this alienation is deceptive. Firstly we are not really bombarded by four narratives - put 'pierrot le fou', 'diary of a country priest', 'vampyr' and 'branded to kill' on four screens, then you'd be confused. Figgis leads you all the way, gives you an illusion of choice, but rarely fulfils it. The focus is on one screen at a time - either the soundtrack is turned up loudest, the plot is more interesting, whatever. For long periods of time, you can safely ignore other scenes because there is nothing going on - for about 20 minutes, for example, Lauren sits in a limousine listening to a bug planted on Rose; this leaves us free to watch another screen and see what she's listening to. Other scenes are merely tedious - eg Emma droning to her shrink (a nod to Godard's 'week end', that famous end of cinema?) - so that you gladly look elsewhere. It is possible to listen to one scene, and flit around at the others to catch up on what's going on.

What I'm saying is, 'timecode' is not a difficult experience - after the initial adjustment, you watch the film as you would any other, especially as all the stories converge and are really only one story. Even at the beginning, the feeling is less one of Brechtian alienation than akin to being a security guard faced with a grid of screens - you rarely think about the physical processes of film or performance, as you would in a Dogme or Godard film.

So if 'timecode' is less revolutionary than it seems, that doesn't mean it isn't a brilliant film, a real purse in a pig's ear of a year (or whatever the expression is). One reason for this is the four-screen structure: I would have to watch it a few more times, but I was very conscious of the orchestration of the screens, the way compositions, or camera movements, or close-ups etc., in one screen were echoed, reflected, distorted in the others - a true understanding of this miraculous formal apparatus would, I think, give us the heart of the film, and bely the improvised nature of the content. Figgis is also a musician - he co-composed the score - and the movement here, its fugues and variations are truly virtuosic, almost worthy of my earlier Altman comparison.

But the content is great fun too. At first I was disappointed at the self-absorbed drabness of the material, the idea that we shouldn't be made to work too hard because we've enough to deal with the four screens. And, it is true, that the stories rarely transcend cliche. But, such is the enthusiasm of the performers (people like Salma Hayek obviously relishing slightly more useful roles than the bilge they're usually stuck in); the precision of the structure; the mixture of comedy and pathos, and the way the style facilitates both, that you're convinced you're watching a masterpiece. Quentin's massaging and Ana's pitch are two of the funniest things I've seen in ages, while Stellan Skarsgard's rich performance stands out all the more for its brittle surroundings.
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A daring, original piece of cinema
mattymatt4ever24 June 2001
"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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Too many degrees of freedom
Euphorbia25 November 2002
There is a rule in science that for an experiment to be meaningful, all the variables must be controlled but one. That rule could be applied to experimental cinema, too; at least it should have been applied to this film.

Time Code combines two experiments, one that has promise, and one that is doomed. The promising experiment involves multiple screens following different parts of the story in "real" time. The doomed experiment involves requiring actors to script and direct themselves.

In addition, this movie was shot in four simultaneous uninterrupted takes. Maybe this was an experiment, too, but it is comparable to live theater, which is not exactly a novelty. It is neither a good thing nor a bad thing -- and should be a matter of complete indifference to the audience, as long it works. Instead of cutting from scene to scene, our attention shifts from screen to screen.

The four-screen experiment did work reasonably well here, especially on DVD, where one can instantly back up to catch bits one missed. The multi-view device might even have been truly excellent in this film, had it not been for the other experiment -- the Absentee Director.

A feature movie is not an improv sketch. There is a reason that an army has one general, and that a movie has one director. Although each of these endeavors requires the effort and cooperation of many talented people, both a military campaign and a feature film must be focused on one person's vision and goals.

Time Code has the same fatal flaw as Dancing at the Blue Iguana. Each actor was instructed to invent his own character, and then to direct himself. In Time Code each performer was evidently told to make of his character a recognizable Hollywood stereotype. The result: eight variations on "coke-snorting pretentious but sycophantic loser," who all walk stiffly through their parts like zombies trying to perform soap opera. I cannot imagine how desperate a viewer would have to be, in order to care about any of them.

I suppose this should not reflect badly on the performers, although it cannot have helped their careers. I have seen most of them in other films, and they are all capable actors. It does reflect dismally on the director. Where was he hiding while the four cameras were running? Maybe he was busy watching four tumble dryers at the laundromat up the street.

Time Code might be worth a peek on dollar-day at the video store -- which is how I found it. Otherwise, forget it. 3/10.
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Form, form, form, form...
I respect the challenge that this movie presented. Four cameras running in real time, with synchronized events? Wow. But without an engaging story the challenge is equivalent to building a replica of the Empire State Building out of matches. Impressive but pointless.

If you are a movie student it is worth seeing. Maybe you can turn this great idea into a real movie.
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Awesome Effort
daveisit23 January 2001
A fantastic effort that narrowly missed out on being brilliant. I loved what this movie tried to do, although ultimately it became a little boring. I love real time movies, and I love long takes, in this case the whole movie. With a stronger plot and script for the actors to work with, this style could succeed. The one thing I noticed at the end of the movie was how draining it was trying to follow every conversation on each of the four screens.
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Impossible to watch
ceefoo20 June 2014
TIME CODE (not Timecode) was filmed in 4 continuous takes beginning at 3:00pm on Friday, November 19th, 1999. All of the cast improvised around a predetermined structure... WHAT'S THE POINT!?!

This film may being "artsy" or "experimental" but if the audiences viewing and enjoyment of the film is totally ruined as a result; then really: What Is The Point?

Going into the movie I didn't know what to expect and when I saw that the picture was split into quarters I thought "this is unusual" but was wondering WHEN the screen would turn into a single visual. It wasn't until about 15 minutes in that it occurred to me that - THE WHOLE FRAKKING FILM IS LIKE THIS! All 97 minutes. Even the flipping End Credits FFS!

Trying to follow a story from one of the 4 frames is very restrictive because although you can see 4 frames at once, you are only allowed (for obvious reasons) to hear one frames' dialogue clearly at a time.

And just as you are following THAT storyline, the filmmakers decide to fade down the volume and switch to a different frame. SO F***ING ANNOYING! What's most annoying is that this fail of a movie does have a brilliant cast, so it's a real shame that their efforts went to waste on this nonsensical idea for a feature film.
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A sure headache due to eye strain.
Mike23 September 2001
Sometimes 'original' does not mean good. Or 'daring' equate with talent. This movie has a tired old plot and not believable as presented. Plus someone capsulized it as 'an amazing experience'. Well jumping out of an airplane without a parachute at 10,000 feet, would also be an 'amazing experience', but it would only happen once in your life time. Unfortunately this may not be the case for this style of film making. Again this is just my opinion.
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ennui-31 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Timecode was a failed experiment. Four screens running simultaneously, running for 90 minutes in real-time. Sounds pretty intriguing, right? Sure.. If you assume that the plot is interesting, the characters believable and likeable, and the acting competent. (spoilers) This was not the case here.. It started off pretty good, with an amusing lesbian verbal exchange(You are a $@^#%$# SLUT!) but got progressively worse as the movie went on. A vapid sex scene follows, as well as some conversations between characters that seem to be completely impertinent and unnecessary. Seriously, I would've liked to see Salma Hayek get hit by a car or something in this movie, she comes off as sounding so "highschool drama course". One of the LEAST annoying characters dies in the end, and then they throw in a weak connection to this blonde woman who did absolutely nothing of import previously.

Seriously, skip this, or watch this as an example of how innovation doesn't always produce "sexy, tense and unnerving" results..
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Interesting...yet not
Joe6 July 2004
Watching the film, it was easy to see that it was a challenge to film. I think it was well directed and coordinated. If only I could get past the fact that the plot line is craptacularly boring. There is really very little memorable about the plot. I mostly entertained myself in the challenge of trying to follow as much of it as possible. It was kind of fun to see a conversation going on in one frame, and seeing that same conversation simultaneously taking place in the background of another frame. Thus I can't imagine wanting to watch it more than once. Good to rent, but not to buy. I made that mistake, but that doesn't mean you have to.
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awfully constructed
anthromayer17 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I have never seen a movie quite so awful as this. Producers went too far, adding to much artsy understanding. The average person who did not attend film studies classes would not understand some of the lingo spoken in the movie. What was with all the lesbian action in the movie? Is that part of the film industry? C'mon! (SPOILER) The last couple of scenes, when the funky white man is rapping to an opera undertone is the worst and actually made me laugh. I was actually embarassed for that actor, whomever he was. Don't bother watching this movie, it's a waste of two hours.
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The title gives the game away.
Spleen21 April 2001
"Timecode". What does this have to do with the content of Figgis's film? As we discover towards the end, without any chance of our being mistaken, nothing. It must be a reference to whatever device Figgis used to synchronise his actors. And that lets us know where his interests lay: in filming four simultaneous, 97-minute takes - certainly not in telling a decent story.

This lack of concern for anything except the technical challenge - we don't even get a sense of exhilaration at seeing Figgis pull it off - could not be more naked. On four occasions, there's an earth tremor. How do these little earthquakes help the film or the viewer? Not in the least - but it helps Figgis synchronise his actors. (Can you think of a LESS creative way of working a necessary synchronising device into the - cough - story? I can't.) Characters from different frames bump into one another now and then, and sometimes this serves an artistic purpose. Equally often, however, it doesn't. The characters aren't interacting; the actors are reminding one another which bit they're up to.

And here's the moment that really gives the game away. Towards the end, in the two bottom frames, we see a young director pitching her idea for a new kind of movie - and it turns out that she wants to make "Timecode"! Wow, self-reference! The last, and this case probably the first, refuge of the creatively bankrupt. I wanted to swear out loud. I'd been waiting over an hour for some payoff, some tiny sign of confluence between Figgis's four-frame device and the (cough) story he was trying to tell with it, and THIS is the best he could do? To add insult to injury, the movie our young director was pitching wasn't QUITE "Timecode". It was better. It had music by Hans Eisler, for one thing. (Apart from the melody sung during this pitch, the music in "Timecode" is banal, and it's used with a ham-fisted incompetence that has to be heard to be believed.) Also, our young director had a neat idea. She wanted to adapt a Borges story in which an old man and a young man meet, chat, and gradually discover that they're the very same person, at different stages of his life. "Each of the four main characters," continues our young director, "will be the same person, at a different stage of life." At this point our eyes scan the four frames to see if this is true of "Timecode", at least metaphorically. No, it isn't. Not even metaphorically. I felt like beating my head against the chair in front of me. Why was I watching Figgis's wretched movie? I wanted to watch HER movie!

As the young director points out, this kind of thing is the offspring of digital technology. Well, not quite. Alfred Hitchcock came up with the idea of a film without cuts in the 1940s, and more or less put it into practise with "Rope". It goes without saying that "Rope" is far superior. The irony is that it's also far truer to Figgis's avowed ideal of perfect continuity. In "Timecode" a vertical slash and a horizontal slash divide the screen into four. EVERY FRAME is cut into pieces - Hitchcock merely had a discreet, and to the best of his ability invisible, cut every ten minutes or so. (He also had a story, but I should stop harping on that.) Talk about a bad bargain. And it gets worse. The digital technology that makes Figgis's inferior vision possible also makes every frame look ugly. Add the fact that nothing worth looking at is going on in any of them, and what do we get? Instead of one good thing, a choice between four worthless things.

It may not have escaped your attention that the last few years have produced a pretty poor crop of films. 1999 was the worst year in living memory - unless you were exceptionally old in 1999, and could remember the transition to sound - and 2000 turned out, contrary to all reasonable expectation, to be worse. Even regression to the mean gives us little reason to hope that 2001 will be any better. Yet every so often a film comes along that makes the future seem even bleaker. "The Blair Witch Project" promised us nothing but incompetence from the next generation of film-makers; "The Phantom Menace" let the world know just how successful a technically sophisticated, creatively barren rip-off could be; "Scary Movie" introduced us to the novel idea of comedy without any actual humour. "Timecode" is yet another depressing sign of things to come. I'm sick of them.
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Technically innovative, Actually Boring
Danie-627 October 2000
Here's the concept –later explained by one of the fictional characters as she makes her `sales pitch' for exactly the same kind of movie to a group of producers. Over the course of 98 minutes, four separate stories were filmed simultaneously and without any cuts, with the characters eventually intersecting at the same venue in the dénouement. What we the viewer get, is a collage of audio and video from all four scenes, divided into four distinct quadrants on the screen. While this perhaps more realistically reflects life, where we are bombarded with myriad stimuli and must choose what we look at and listen to and interact with … as a viewing experience it is very difficult to watch and hear. But in the end, that really doesn't matter because the individual and combined stories are inane. I couldn't have cared less one way or the other about any of it. Touted as a `technical achievement' and a `revolution in filmmaking', I guess it is. But there is no value added by pushing this particular cinematic envelope. Apparently the actors improvised their dialogue, which solves the mystery of why a good screenwriter is worth her or his weight in gold. I'm with Norman Jewison on this one: a good or great movie is all about the story, and this one is boring. The characters are uninteresting louts, and frankly I didn't care if they all got buried alive in the earthquake that threatens them throughout the movie.
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Four In One - And It's Still Not Worth The Effort!
sddavis6330 June 2001
I see that many people actually liked this movie. I must have missed something. I thought it was dreadful. How Mike Figgis ever got nominated for an Oscar for directing this rubbish is a mystery to me.

My first complaint simply reflects the fact that I'm not much for gimmicks. Having the four storylines (often intersecting) on screen throughout the entire movie is a gimmick plain and simple. It was distracting and made it difficult to follow the plot as it developed. The first half hour or so of the movie was a muddle to me as I struggled to figure out how everything was relating. Once it all finally came together, we were treated to a relatively dull and unimaginative storyline that revolved around the shady morality of Hollywood. In an attempt to make this more interesting, some erotic (although non-sexual) scenes of lesbianism were included. Again - dull, dull, dull. And the ending of the movie was telegraphed almost all the way. You know what's going to happen; you just spend a lot of time hoping it happens soon so you can get this over with.

In my opinion, a disaster. 2/10 - and that's generous!
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Space Code
tedg24 September 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Architectural Location

Spoilers herein.

Much has been made of the three experimental techniques used here: unbroken takes; four screens; heavy improvisation. But there is a powerful effect that seems to be overlooked.

Film is inescapably two-dimensional, and many clever tricks of different types have been used to give meat to the narrative eye. The most interesting of these concern how to introduce visceral notions of space. Studying these is one of my film hobbies -- there are many clever ideas, but nothing with the immediacy seen here.

Its because very soon, you understand that the four cameras are near each other and all deal with the same time. People move from one frame to another, with the view often overlapping. In `regular' film, you get used to a single eye. Talented directors will play with this single note, shifting between god, an invisible person, the perspective of a character, the position of a virtual audience. Here, all cameras are uncompromisingly human, but because you always have these four eyes, you are given a particularly deep notion of space. In fact, it is hyper-real: a richer feel of depth than you can get with your own eyes.

Figges is particularly aware of this effect (though it doesn't come up in his DVD comments). The primary narrative involves the fellow splitting his attention (between two women) and involves the notion of films about film. It has a primary character who `listens' in on other frames, from (mostly) a car, expanding her virtual space. She's the center of the `action.'
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Film school geek gone mad
ponger25 May 2002
Too much. Too bad.

Screen split into four sections. Some seem connected. Some don't. Woooooooo.

It's got the "video" look. Glassy. Too bright. Too far away or too close. Shaky at times. Woooooooo.

The dialogue is hushed in three screens. Loud in one. Loud screen changes often. Draws your attention. Woooooooo.

All this can't cover up the fact that this film is essentially crap. Boring dialogue. Stilted acting. Pointless drivel. Boooooooo.

Too much. Way too bad to watch more than a few minutes.
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I can honestly say I have never seen anything quite like it...
yoda-the-goat21 November 2004
This movie follows a weird and wonderful concept of showing 4 stories that have some common ground.

Where it's a brilliant concept at first it's very disorienting, you don't really know where to look, the music gets too loud and drowns out dialogue, yet from what you can hear it sounds like the dialogue is important.

Once all 4 stories are running they don't seem to have the ability to keep the viewers attention. There is clearly 1 key story being told that all 4 stories are connected to yet as the dialogue keeps shifting from story to story you find yourself getting bored and confused, it's a lot like if you leave the movie theatre to go to the bathroom part way though a key scene then when you get back the story doesn't make scene as you missed a key development. Equally as difficult is where there are 2 or more scores of dialogue running at the same time.

I understand the logistical nightmare in shooting this film yet there are times where you don't know who 1 character is in dialogue with, it's like they are saying something important outside the window or to a wall.

The key relationships are very jumbled up and confusing due to the dialogue changes between the 4 stories.

Again a great idea, worth watching but only if you have the patience to get through the first 30 to 45 minutes otherwise don't waste your time or money.

I applaud the courage of the director and producers and feel if they could have worked out a better way of running the dialogue this would be an absolutely brilliant movie.
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ABSOLUTE CRAP! Just shows why we need cuts and a real script in movies.
pinokiyo3 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
My god... I'm warning you. This "movie" is absolute GARBAGE and SERIOUSLY a waste of time! I wouldn't even call it a movie. I had to watch this for a class so I didn't really have a choice. I wanted to turn it off so badly. I want my 97 minutes of life back! At least I didn't have to pay a dime for this mess. But then again, time is money... I should be reimbursed $100 for seeing this movie. The gimmick "movie" never gets any better. Trust me.

Sure, the idea sounds interesting (take four cameras and shoot simultaneously without cuts), and it was an ambitious attempt, I'll give that, but honestly, the end result is sooooooooooooooooo HORRIBLE. It's like a really bad student film.

This experiment just shows why movies need cuts, directing actors (even the big stars were horrible in most of the scenes), a real script with a real story, and most importantly, using a freaking boom mic (obviously they didn't use one because it would get in the shots). It is extremely boring and horribly shot.

You can tell which scene the director wants you to focus on by the audio level; the audio gain becomes louder for the one that should be focused on by the audience and the rest become less. The director cheats because while one scene that is being focused, the rest is just obviously dragging time doing absolutely nothing. For example, Jeanne Tripplehorn (Water World, Sliding Doors), I think she was supposed to be Hayak's lesbian agent or something... all she basically does is sit in her Limo 95% of the film(sometimes she gets out of it) wearing headphones to spy on Hayak. Wow. What a great part for her! I guess she accepted the role so she could make out with Salma Hayek.

That reminds me... what is up with the random lesbian scenes? Everyone seems to be lesbians and making out constantly like a porno flick. It's a pathetic device to keep the simple minded audience to keep watching. That's probably the only reason some people voted high. And of course they just have to have drugs in a movie... LAME.

And they also randomly throw in THREE pointless huge earthquakes within a few minutes from each other in this movie, just because they want to show off that the scenes are all connected (we'd probably forget they're all supposed to be connected if it wasn't for that gimmick effect). But so what? Obviously someone in the crew is just queuing all the cameraman with a countdown (probably with an earpiece) and then they all just shake the camera.

This movie literally is like a cheap student film. I'm not kidding.

Blair Witch Project cost less to make and was also experimental, but it actually was well-made and intriguing (they even had better acting!) and that's why it succeeded, even to the mass market, as well as the style repeated years later like Cloverfield.

The climax for the Blair Witch was worth it and was actually the best part of movie. For this movie, the ending is just as bad as the entire movie, especially the acting. It really falls apart. It actually turned into more of a comedy; the security guard doesn't do anything, and neither does the front desk lady or whoever it was, saying "You can't go in there" but they don't do a damn thing! Worst security ever. I mean, come on. There was absolutely nothing close to being real about this movie. People are so oblivious and obviously only acting on 'que' than anything close to being natural. Oh, and did I mention it turns into a porno flick every so often.

The gunshot just sounds horribly cheap. Hayak's reaction and everyone else to the gunshot is laughable. And out of nowhere, what is up with the girl, who was giving the pitch, all of a sudden just filming the dead body? -- And the lady in complete white, that was sitting outside with the security guard (why was he just chilling outside?!), seems like she was some sick person from an institute, just joins the scene as if she's some medical assistant but does absolutely nothing to help the guy. This movie was just so annoying, laughable and a complete mess.

I'd bet the cast weren't that impressed with the final result than they first heard about the idea and getting on-board. That Stellan guy probably accepted the role because he could do Salma Hayek and 'improvise' whatever sexual moves he could think of and get away with it.

If you pay close attention, the four cameras aren't really even synced exactly. For example, in one shot you see Hayak enter the conference room earlier than the other camera angle for a couple seconds off. That may be picky, but that's bad editing if you ask me, especially when the whole point of this experiment is to show that's actually totally synced.

1/10. (1 just for trying something new. -9 for the end results.)
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First step
xaviercromartie31 December 2000
The purpose of this movie was not to entertain with an extremely dramatic plot full of twists. It was just to show that it is possible to film four separate quadrants and make them work together. THIS film did not even have a real script or anything, and it didn't take much time to complete. In the future, a major production could be created. The only problem is that because the viewer sees everything at once, the film would have to be shorter (Timecode did get boring because it is 90 mins x 4).
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Loose the remote!
junk-monkey12 July 2005
As I sat down to watch this movie I was cursing because I couldn't find the remote. Lucky break for me! After a few minutes of uncomfortable misgivings, I mean! 4 screens of hand-held camera with weirdly variable sound - Oh God, what am I watching here? I slowly became hooked and hypnotised. I would suddenly realise that I had been so intent on the top left corner that the situation in the bottom right had changed from an interior with one character to an exterior following another and I hadn't noticed when and how this had happened. If I had the remote I would have been constantly stopping and rewinding and I would have totally destroyed the flow.

So, here's the thing thing. If you are watching this movie for the first time on DVD or VHS - loose the remote control!

Not a Great Film but an interesting and noble experiment. (And heartening to know there are still some grown-ups left in Hollywood).
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Inventive, but maddening
FilmOtaku22 September 2003
Films that are discovered through serendipity seem to be the most fun to experience. I still fondly remember the fateful evening when I went to the Oriental Theater to see Malcolm X and arriving late, so I picked the other film that they were showing simply because I was there and it was starting in ten minutes. That film being Reservoir Dogs. So when I saw that Time Code was playing on the Independent Film Channel, I thought that this was a film that a friend overseas recommended to me so I watched it. Unfortunately, this was not the film that he had suggested I see, but it turns out that it was a film that was enjoyable because of its presentation.

The plot lines involved in Time Code are fairly simple: We have a husband and wife who are going through tough times, a lesbian couple who are less than trusting of one another and a `day in the life' of a film production company. The stories intertwine, which is nothing new; the interesting feature is the cinematography. The screen is divided into four boxes, with one story being told in each - sometimes entering into the other's `space' but always connected in some way. It is essentially like sitting in a security guard's station and watching four monitors at once.

While this is innovative, it is also quite maddening at times because you may be getting into a particular story in one segment of the screen, but you are missing the activity in the other three. The director circumvents this problem at times by raising the volume in one of the segments during certain moments, but in reality it is pretty much the perfect film for someone with ADD, not someone who wants to sink their teeth into a story, because this film truly does not have a strong enough plot to merit watching it four times in order to get the complete impact of all of the story lines involved.

On a positive note, this film had an excellent cast, made up of character actors such as Xander Berkeley, Holly Hunter and Steven Weber. However, this is a novel film to watch once to see an interesting experiment, but beyond that it left me more frustrated than anything.
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Creative, unique experiment in audacious, bravura filmmaking.
Silverzero8 August 2003
`Time Code' is the first film to use the method of split-screen quadrants where four stories, done in real time, unfold onto the screen. And an audacious, refined experience it is. This technique was going to be hit-and-miss. With four stories, you can only watch one at a time, and by focusing on one you may miss some key elements in another story. All are loosely intertwined, some more interesting than others. There is no digital grading/ authentication done to the images, so the film looks perfectly realistic.

The sound is emphasised on one of the screens at a time, though sometimes it is hard to differentiate which one. While the stories are perfectly watchable, they aren't invigorating or compelling and are only worthy of a passive attention. The narrative is strong and continued in a series of earthquakes that would rank about a 4 on the Richter scale. This is the first occasion in which I can honestly say that characters get plenty of screen-time (in fact they are in every scene), but barely develop.

Case in point is Saffron Burrows whose character is barely ever emphasised upon and we are offered pretty much no guidance as to what's going on in her story. Jeanne Tripplehorn's part is pretty much wasted as 95% of her screen-time is wasted on her simply sitting in her limo, barely even talking. She shows her true colours in the end, but these revelations are made too late in the game to be indispensable. In the third quadrant, there are many big names such as Holly Hunter, Salma Hayek, Julian Sands (`Leaving Las Vegas', `Naked Lunch), Stellan Skargaard (`The Glass House') and Kyle McLachlan. There are solid, subtle performances all round from the ensemble, but the characters themselves are poorly written.

Still though, Mike Figgis' avant-garde risque direction is suitably original and proves to be a talent to look out for in the future. While it is an accurate portrayal of high-class Los Angeles, there is an over-emphasis on drug use and lesbianism that compromises the originality of it all. `Time Code' must have been a step away from `impossible' to film. As there were no edits and stories took place in real time as they interwove, there's no telling how many takes they had to execute.

If one actor were to forget their line after about 90 minutes, everything would have to start all over again from the top. It's a surprise that the film even finished shooting, but they pulled it off and that deserves admiration. The movie ends on a sourly climactic moment that may leave a bad taste, but seems perfectly in keeping with Figgis' bravura tone. If you haven't yet seen `Time Code' it's best you know the gist of the plot and sub-plots before watching it, or you'll be absolutely lost from start to finish.

One of the most groundbreaking, though not spectacular, movies in recent year, `Time Code' proves to be an intelligent, admirable effort. While this experiment is unlikely to be attempted again, this is the first and undoubtedly the best of its kind. It definitely should have received attention on Oscar night. Curiously enough, the sound effects editing is the film's strongest point. My IMDb rating: 7.4/10.
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Interesting Experimental Film
gbheron6 February 2003
What an idea! Use four different cameras to shoot a movie in real-time, simultaneously. Stage the action at a single office building and nearby streets. Each camera has a group of characters to follow as they act out their parts. For 93 minutes, the interwoven stories are filmed with no breaks, as actors sometimes move from one camera's line of sight to another. Just film the events as they unfold. Now here's the kicker. Theatrically show all four films simultaneously by dividing the screen into four quadrants. You watch the movie as it was filmed. The viewer's attention is focused from screen to screen by turning up the volume on one screen, and diminishing the other three.

And it works...just don't do it again.
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Ground-breaking film work with great cast and cool DVD extras.
DJBryBry-23 March 2001
From the director of LEAVING LAS VEGAS and STORMY MONDAY comes a black comedy about life in Hollywood with a stellar cast and an amazing concept.

Four continuous shots play themselves out on a screen split in quarters. The DVD comes with many great special features including a making-of diary from the director, a make your own audio mix - where you chose which screen to hear the audio from, and the full-length version #1. The theatrical release was version #15. Both are included on the DVD with the director's commentary. A must see for film students or any lover of original and daring cinema.
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gag me
RavenZ26 July 2001
If you are about to watch this movie, STOP and shoot yourself in the head. It will be less painful. You've read enough other comments to know what happens - or doesn't happen (like a story). This can only interest film students, not real people who like to watch a movie and be entertained. Unless you really enjoy watching Jeanne Tripplehorn stare into space, chew gum and smoke cigarettes. I'm not sure if this film or The Blair Witch Project was a bigger waste of time. Neither film has dialogue or a plot. They were both made up as they went along, and it is more than obvious. Do yourself a favor and get something else.
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