EIFF 2012: The Fourth Dimension
Posted on Tuesday June 26, 2012, 08:38 by Stephen Carty in Under The Radar
At the EIFF launch last month, immediately after new Artistic Director Chris Fujiwara debuted his sizzle reel to the press, one of the first questions to be asked by the attending journalists was, “What on Earth was that movie with the chubby Val Kilmer?” As it turns out, that movie was The Fourth Dimension and it’s not really a movie, but three tenuously connected shorts lasting half an hour each. Conceived by Vice Media bigwig Eddy Moretti, it’s a self-described mind-fuck where three different filmmakers were tasked with delivering three different stories that are all loosely (and that is very much a key word) connected via the thematic concept of time and space.
The first of this triptych of oddities is Harmony Korine’s The Lotus Community Workshop, which is also the most notable given the inclusion of Val Kilmer. Playing a surreal version of himself (or not – maybe he’s like that in reality) in a fearless, ego-eschewing meta performance, this chapter sees the former Batman having given up acting to appear as a schlubby, long-haired motivational speaker who delivers sermons at an arcade-come-roller rink. Rambling off on such nonsensical tangents that he makes Alan Partridge’s conversational digressions feel like well-planned detours (which, you suppose, they are), Kilmer is often amusing, and the cheap sound effects are a nice touch, although ultimately there’s not a great deal of satisfaction to be had.
Next up is Alexey Fedorchenko’s metaphysical Chronoeye, which takes the time and space concept literally as an anti-social scientist (Igor Sergeev) obsessively attempts to perfect an invention that will allow him to observe moments in history. Subtitled and set in concrete-grey Russia, it’s easily the most serious and downbeat of the three, yet it’s also the sweetest of the bunch as there’s a nice romance bubbling away between our sadsack protagonist and his dancing neighbour. It’s a bit ponderous and sluggish at times, but there’s a nice subtext (the scientist is so concerned with seeing the past that he is missing out on the present and potentially ruining his future) for those who like to look deeper.
The third and final section is Jan Kwiecinski’s Polish tale Fawns, which sees four hipsters wander around a town that has been abandoned in anticipation of a flood. There’s a nice ghostly vibe permeating this part, but aside from a handful of interesting moments (water seeping out from a drain, a shotgun encounter inside a house), it’s a relatively plodding section until the final few minutes. Indeed, the above description – “four hipsters wander around a town” – pretty much sums it up.
So, all in all, a weird trio of weird stories where weird characters do weird things. An abstract trilogy of short stories that has already proved divisive among arthouse fans, The Fourth Dimension is a challenging and surreal experience that is destined to baffle the popcorn faithful. That said, it’s still fun to see a pony-tailed Val Kilmer ride around on a small bike.