Shades of 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976) color Hal Hartley's cautionary sci-fi tale, set in a totalitarian future run by MultiMedia Monopoly. Jack Bell (Bill Sage), a cog in the corporate machine and author of a brilliantly soul-eroding scheme to reduce the ambiguities of human worth into the easily monitored "PHV" (Personal Human Value), which measures the variety and quality of sexual experience and is traded on the stock exchange, has a secret. He's "not from around here," future code-speak for an alien from Star 147X in the constellation Monday. In order to monitor the state of things on Earth, these disembodied extraterrestrials assume a mantle of flesh as they materialize in the ocean; the trouble is that they invariably become so entangled in the intricacies of being human that they're unable to shuck off their skins and return home. Jack came to Earth before the MultiMedia revolution and tried to flee in its aftermath. He failed and became a member of the revolutionary underground, "enemies of the consumer" who challenge the corporate status quo by having sex for the sheer fun of it. But he's so utterly disgusted by the overall state of things that he's on the verge of suicide when the newly arrived Girl from Monday (Tatiana Abracos) emerges from the waves. Hoping that if he shields her from human contact she might be able to go back, Jack hides her in his apartment. But the Girl befriends his coworker Cecile (Sabrina Lloyd), a lifelong conformist whose nonconsumer consciousness is in the process of being raised by a rebellious high-school student named William (Leo Fitzpatrick). Hartley's limpid, slightly smeared-looking dream of the shape of things to come aims to be both challenging and enigmatic, but winds up mired in a swamp of pretension. Jack's world-weary voice-over narration is always telling us things we should be seeing, and Hartley's nightmare vision of the future is old hat, from the bar-coded citizens and sedated teenagers to the zombified consumers whose aching hunger for stuff blinds them to their oppression by the ruling class. Hartley's score is lovely and he makes excellent use of digital video, but the film's paucity of provocative ideas is its undoing.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: Shades of 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976) color Hal Hartley's cautionary sci-fi tale, set in a totalitarian future run by MultiMedia Monopoly. Jack Bell (Bill Sage), a cog in the corporate machine and author of a brilliantly soul-… (more)