Friday, April 27, 2012

Tribeca ’12: The Fourth Dimension

Representing the fourth dimension in 2D is quite the daunting challenge.  Fortunately, none of the filmmakers participating in a new hipster sci-fi anthology take it seriously.  Nor will annoying glasses be necessary when watching The Fourth Dimension (trailer here), three short films produced and assembled by Vice and Grolsch Film Works (cheers, mate), which screens again this afternoon as part of the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

In the opening The Lotus Community Workshop, Harmony Korine (yes, but don’t panic) takes us to a world much like our own, where Val Kilmer plays a low rent motivational speaker named Val Kilmer.  Addressing church groups in roller rinks, he passes off ego-centric tripe as New Agey pearls of wisdom.  Occasionally hinting at the metaphysical, Lotus seems more like a confessional piece from Kilmer, admitting to his fans: “I realize I was once Iceman in Top Gun and now I’m kind of a slob, but at least I still don’t have to work at a real job.”  This is a case where brevity is definitely Korine’s ally.  Given the relatively short running time, the self-referential joke maintains its novelty better than one might expect.

Making a bit of a concession to the film’s umbrella premise, Alexey Fedorchenko’s Chronoeye involves indirect time travel.  Employing some analog-style technology, a misanthropic Russian scientist (is there any other kind?) is able to glimpse into the past.  However, there is an attractive neighbor above him to remind viewers not to lose sight of the present.  Fedorchenko (probably best known for the strikingly austere road movie Silent Souls) maintains a fable-like vibe, preventing Chronoeye from descending into the realm of romantic cliché.

Jan Kwiecinski’s Fawns might come closest to revealing the fourth dimension, since it induces Armageddon.  Much like Abel Ferrara’s meandering 4:44 Last Day on Earth, doomsday vaguely involves global warmish-ing, but here it is more Biblical.  A cataclysmic flood has led to worldwide evacuation, but a group of Polish slackers are too cool to pay attention.  Instead, they careen about a provincial town, hinting at the sexual tensions within their group.  Suddenly though, the end of the world takes a serious turn for the aimless youth.  Frankly, none of the Kwiecinski’s characters are particularly well defined, but as a mood piece, it is quite eerie.

Defiantly disregarding the theme ostensibly holding it together, The Fourth Dimension lurches all over the place, but it is not without merit.  Indeed, there should be enough eccentricity in each constituent short film to satisfy some strange subset of cult film fandom out there someplace.  Recommended for those in search of a bit of bemusement, it screens again this afternoon (4/27) as part of the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.