Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Movie Review: Creative Control

Creative Control
Directed by: Benjamin Dickinson.
Written by: Micah Bloomberg & Benjamin Dickinson.
Starring: Benjamin Dickinson (David), Nora Zehetner (Juliette), Dan Gill (Wim), Alexia Rasmussen (Sophie), Reggie Watts (Reggie Watts), Gavin McInnes (Scott), Paul Manza (Govindas / Brett), Jay Eisenberg (Hollis), Himanshu Suri (Reny), Meredith Hagner (Becky), Jake Lodwick (Gabe).

In case you had any doubts about, Creative Control confirms it – in the near future, Brooklyn hipsters will still be insufferable. The film takes place in that world of ironic beards and tech companies and yoga instructors and etc. that you know from a lot of indie movies – some of them even good. It is the “near future”, and the main character is David (Benjamin Dickinson – who also co-wrote and directed the film). He’s an ad agency executive, whose latest client is “Augmenta” – which is a company that has created a pair of glasses, like Google Glass, that allows you to everything your smart phone can do, while having the added benefit of making you look like a tool. The new development is what the company calls “Augmented Reality” that the try to explain why it’s different than virtual reality, but I don’t think I ever quite get why it is except its better. But there’s already a bigger Virtual Reality company out there, so David’s job will be to find a way to make Augmenta the cooler company – which of course means he hires Reggie Watts, playing himself, to be the spokesperson and do all sorts of cool things with the technology. If there’s one way to get hipsters on board, apparently it’s Reggie Watts - who, admittedly, is very talented – although this movie doesn’t really give a chance to show that. That’s because the movie loses sight of the technology itself, as David spirals downward into obsession.
David is living with Juliette (Nora Zehetner) – a yoga instructor, with a penchant for large, floppy hats. He is best friends with Wim (Dan Gill) – a womanizing photographer, who sends David all sort of texts with pictures of himself engaged in sex acts with whatever model is willing to fuck him. Wim does have a steady girlfriend when he isn’t banging models – this is Sophie (Alexia Rasmussen) – an artist, who David has a crush on, and will eventually bring to work with him at the ad agency. His crush starts growing more and more – and reaches obsessive heights when he uploads her image into his Augmenta glasses – and immediately starts having that image fuck him. He loses site of everything else around him – his job is in jeopardy, he drives Juliette away, he alienates Wim, and the real Sophie, but he cannot stop.
I can see how a movie like Creative Control could work – and, to be fair, I’m perhaps being a little snarkier than the movie actually deserves, as it did hold by attention in the first half of its 97 minute runtime as I wondered where it was headed. Its premise isn’t all that different than Spike Jonze’s her for example – and both films are really about becoming so lost in technology that we lose sight of the actual people around us on a daily basis. After a while though, it becomes clear that Creative Control doesn’t really have anything to say on its subjects. The glasses do not turn David into a dick – he was a dick before he put on those glasses – and Wim is even worse. The two main female characters are not sketched with any real depth to make them believable. Juliette’s own spiral down, because of David’s growing distance from her, never real feels believable – especially not as becomes loopy near the end and sleeps with another yoga instructor in a sexual experience she describes as having her see angels - unfortunately, while there is quite a lot of sex in the movie, this sex scene happens off camera, which is a shame, because I would have loved to see a sex scene that made someone see angels and have a previously sane character like Juliette start sounding like a cult member. I think the fact that the movie makes Rasmussen’s Sophie so much a cipher is deliberate – she is hard to read, because the film wants to make clear that David isn’t in love with her – just in the version of her he creates for himself to fuck. It’s still a shame though, since Rasmussen was so good in Zack Parker’s criminally under seen (and underrated) horror film Proxy, and I was hoping to see her into something great again. Oh well.
The film does look great though – I’ll give it that. I’m a sucker for new movies shot in black and white to begin with, but Dickinson and cinematographer Adam Newport-Berra do in fact find inventive ways to shoot the city, especially in some of the party scenes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dickinson made a really good movie one day – he’s got visual chops, and some interesting ideas. But Creative Control never really goes anywhere, and it runs out of steam on its way to its obvious conclusion.

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