Slipstream (2008)

by | Mar 10, 2008 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Slipstream  (2008)

Written, directed, starring: Anthony Hopkins
Also: Christian Slater, John Turturro, Kevin McCarthy
Studio: Sony Pictures 22790
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color
Audio: English DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, French
Extras: Making-Of featurette, Deleted scenes, Trailer, Commentary track by Sir Anthony Hopkins
Length: 96 minutes
Rating: ****

I haven’t seen this one in the theaters, so it may be a direct-to-DVD feature, which seems a shame considering all the big guns behind it. Hopkins claims to have never written a screenplay before but three years ago his wife suggested he should do one and direct it. He sent it to Spielberg who liked it and soon the independent production was underway with a number of Hopkin’s friends and fellow actors.

Most of it was shot in the desert near Las Vegas, and Hopkins used the latest Panamax Genesis HD digital video camera, which is more forgiving in lighting and color temperature and has a wider exposure range than 35mm film.  The image quality is superb – one wouldn’t know this wasn’t short on film.  The budget was clearly not huge, but the production shows the highest quality thruout, though the shooting all took place in 31 days. Hopkins even did the musical score himself.

Slipstream
is a brave, mind-tweaking experiment in storytelling on film, which won’t appeal to general audiences but will probably find acclaim from those who loved Momento, Last Year at Marienbad, and similar topsy-turvy films. There are also strong influences of Fellini, Bergman and other European directors in Slipstream.  Hopkins plays a throughly-baffled elder screenwriter dogged by some of the characters in his current movie script appearing in his real life.  Towards the end of one long and very intense scene in a desert cafe, in which the people in the cafe are being  threatened by two crazed gangsters from the screenplay, the artifice is completely broken as the movie crew, lights and equipment are shown and arguments break out among the director and actors about what to do next after one of the gangster-actors suddenly dies. Hopkins has a lot of fun toying with the egos of actors, producers, and others involved. Some of the actors are always trying to expand their roles in the movie, and one takes off on a long description and discussion of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers – then later its star Kevin McCarthy turns up in the film!  Tuturro outdoes all his previous over-the-top performances as the crazed Hollywood producer of the film-within-the-film.

The dreamlike presentation is supported by a barrage of visual tricks and avant experiments: images reversed in color, in contrast (negative/positive), and in motion (run backwards). There are also quick flashes of various iconic symbols, old-fashioned effects such as irising down to a small circle, and double exposures, plus fleeting images of past and upcoming scenes glimpsed on various TV sets in the background. Hopkins and his hardworking editor must have had a ball doing this! So much happens visually and plot wise in the vortex of this film that it demands being seen at least twice, but I should admit I’m not stimulated to do that right now.

– John Sunier

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