Friday, 9 November 2018

Twisted Pair (2018) - Movie Review

Hollywood serves not just as an example of one of the single biggest cinematic forces in our culture, but also a consistent showing that budget isn’t everything. If you hand a multi-million dollar project to someone who can’t even be trusted to direct traffic, you can’t expect the 0s in the bank to cover a lack of artistic vision, style or even just artistry writ large. Money isn’t everything, and in the world of cult cinema, that law holds true but in the diametrically opposite direction.

Low-budget filmmaking is in a better place now than it has been at any other time, since access to raw materials needed for cinematic expression are more widely accessible than ever. Hell, most of us have all we need to at least start shooting a film right in our pockets. But again, all that availability isn’t enough to cover up when a person clearly doesn’t know what they’re doing. And with The Room going mainstream as fuck over the last couple years, it seems that that mantle of “filmmaker who has no idea what they’re doing” has been taken by one Neil Breen, someone who has delivered what might be the single most incomprehensible film of the entire year. And it is fucking hilarious!

If you’re able to discern an actual narrative out of any of the man’s films, well done on managing to overthink cinema even more than I do. This is no exception. Rather than anything really to do with human duality or what happens when someone with the drive to right the world’s wrongs has the absolute power to do so, this serves as basically a clip show of sheer incompetence. The sets stretch as far as using the same university, complete with the exact same science lab being reused over and over, and the same adjacent walkway for the bulk of the film. He may have found enough money to find working laptops this time around, but that’s only because it’s clear that they came packaged with the space he managed to rent.

From there, we get facial hair that seems to be a bladed response to Justice League in trying to find the most distracting effects possible, replacing conspicuous CGI with highly reflective pieces of sticky tape. This is only dwarfed by the attempts at Forrest Gump-esque superimposing of Breen himself onto insane amounts of stock footage, which looks like it was funded with the equivalent of a fast food binge. Not that his habit of recycling the same footage lies solely with what he pulls from elsewhere; there’s a scene with three chain-up businessmen that involves literal copy-and-pasting of the actors to make the room look more occupied than it actually is. They also may have survived being shot in the genitals, but the film is edited with some combination of a blowtorch and a garden mulcher, so it’s not exactly easy to discern. It even feels like Breen was taking tips from other legendarily no-budget cult figures in making this, as the numerous explosions shown throughout look like they were pulled directly from James Nguyen’s Birdemic.

Of course, all of this is just the background for what the film is really about: Breen and his raging messiah complex. Every film so far, he has portrayed godly figures who have superhuman powers that, armed with a vaguely-established skill at computer hacking, plan to take down the equally-vague corruption and unaccountability of the government. With how much political corruption has been dominating the cultural mindset of late, you’d think Breen would stop trying so hard to say so little compared to pretty much everyone else. Here, while there’s a mild gimmick of him playing both the Lawful Good and Lawful Evil versions of that character, it stays true to that framework. The only real difference is the manifestation of his powers, which goes into two very different yet equally batshit directions.

Physically, he’s shown to have superhuman agility, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Said bound looks like what happens when Steve from Blue’s Clues and Puma Man crash-tackle each other in a drunken stupor. Metaphysically, his ill-explained powers to do with computers, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are Xeroxed from how the 90’s saw those technologies, before we had any real idea how any of them worked. You’d think with us actually having mass-produced VR technology today would clear up some of that, but Breen don’t wanna hear none of your sense. Nor should he.

Breen thinks that he is a true visionary, someone who is making art and speaking truth to power in a way that is genuinely important. He’s egomaniacal, without question, but it’s not the kind of egotism where you’d worry that the cult of cinematic personality around him is going to result in the makings of an actual cult. Instead, because he takes everything so seriously, so untouched by cynicism, and yet is so blatantly filled with bad decisions, it’s hard not to get swept up in just how baffling this all is.

Say what you will about films like The Room or Birdemic or even older staples like Plan 9 From Outer Space, they at least have some semblance of progression to them and a feeling that things are happening in sequence for a reason. Here? This is easily the worst editing I’ve ever seen, and combined with the mesmerising lack of production values, the stilted acting, and the raw bewilderment that is attempting to make sense of what’s going on in-between, it makes for the kind of film that needs to be seen. With a group of friends, all primed to have a hearty laugh at a man trying to turn ineptitude into its own form of high art. And the crazy thing is that, five films in, I think he’s actually done it.

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