Mind the Gaps


Tim McCann's nifty indie Revolution #9 also indulges in conspiracy paranoia, not to mention an Egoyan-esque taste for technologically mediated malaise. Twentysomething Manhattanite Jackson (a superb Michael Risley) becomes convinced that a TV spot for something called "Rev9"—actually a voguishly ambiguous fragrance commercial—is sending him subliminal messages, and not just the ones encoded by Madison Avenue think tanks. Writer-director-cinematographer McCann (Desolation Angels) precisely illuminates the frustrations of trying to help someone in the throes of a schizophrenic breakdown: Jackson's fiancée (Adrienne Shelley) finds him increasingly distrustful and hostile, and the mental health care network proves a nightmare bureaucracy.

Wide lens: Khanjian, Aznavour, and crew on the set of Ararat in Ararat
photo: Miramax
Wide lens: Khanjian, Aznavour, and crew on the set of Ararat in Ararat

Details

Ararat
Written and directed by Atom Egoyan
Miramax
Opens November 15

Interview With the Assassin
Written and directed by Neil Burger
Magnolia
Opens November 15

Revolution #9
Written and directed by Tim McCann
Opens November 15, at the Quad

McCann resorts to the default shorthand for mental instability (a jangling camera, with jump-cutting and time-lapse effects), but overall, both script and direction display an aversion to the obvious. And while the ideas about techno-saturation are far from novel, they're presented with a wry dark humor. In a priceless bit, Jackson, posing as a reporter, interviews the pretentious director of the Rev9 promo (Spalding Gray), and as the blowhard drones on about the first time he saw an Antonioni, Jackson impatiently cuts to the chase: "Can we get to when you became part of the reprogramming?" At its most mordant, the film recalls the young nihilist's self-diagnosis in Bresson's The Devil, Probably: "Seeing clearly is my sickness." Revolution #9 dares you to wonder: Has Jackson really lost his mind, or is he just a preternaturally perceptive media critic?

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