down the house
Atom Egoyan, director of TheAdjuster, talks angst with Trevor Johnston.
Atom Egoyan‘s previous features.
Family Viewing and Speaking Parts, 3
explored the basic human needs for domestic or sexual security within the context of his own abiding interest in the mediation of these emotions through modern video technology. The Canadian‘s latest offering, The Adjuster, continues in a similar vein, drawing a further set ofthought-provoking connections from its disparate array ofplot elements. Flitting between Elias Koteas‘s eponymous insurance man Noah, his censor spouse Arsinee Khanijian. and the bizarre adventures ofdecadent couple Maury Chaykin and Gabrielle Rose — who spend most of their time arranging elaborate fantasy scenarios within which to satisfy their penchant for exhibitionist sexuality— it‘s only gradually that the film‘s central themes emerge to reward the patient viewer.
‘The piece started to take shape for me several years ago when my parents’ house burned down and we had to deal with an insurance adjuster,‘ explains the 32-year-old writer-director, who‘s recently been
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working on a film version of Robert Le Page’s mammoth stage extravaganza Tectonic Plates. ‘He guided us through the charred remains and helped us make up a list of belongings to put in for the claim, and it struck me that ifsomeone was going through a period of psychological distress themselves, it would be a very odd job to have. All the time you‘re facing people who are in a very heightened state of calamity, and it puts you in this instant position ofpower and inﬂuence.
‘When I talked to a number of actual insurance adjusters, the issue that troubled them was whether they carried on and remained distant
from their clients or became emotionally involved with them. Actually, I believe everything one does in a society offers that choice between making an emotional investment or keeping the distance that enables you to perform a function ritualistically, without thinking about it. Basically, there are definite consequences to the process of really thinking about your life, and with TheAdjuster I wanted to look at a chain ofevents that might lead someone to facing up to the things that they don‘t want to confront.’
While the abundance ofoff-kilter Twin Peaks-ish humour in the piece makes it Egoyan‘s most
approachable movie to date, he has still managed to work in the element ofseIf-reference that remains for him the most satisfying aspect of his craft. ‘1 can‘t resist using a lens to identify its own function in the course ofa film at some point, because for me it‘s a strong character in any movie. even though it doesn’t have a speaking part. An artist can make the frame part ofthe picture, but for a filmmaker to question the parameters of his chosen medium seems to be just taboo.‘
The Adjuster plays Glasgow Film Theatre until Sat 6 June and Edinburgh Filmhouse from Thurs 18 June.
Thom Dibdin talks to the
team behind the computer ‘
graphics on The Lawnmower Man.
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time: to introduce the great moviegoing public to interactive Virtual Reality through a Stephen King film. But the plan has one major flaw. The movie stinks. The acting is wooden, dialogue dim, camerawork inept and the plot (bog-standard Frankenstein) so obvious that a brain-dead monkey would predict all the twists.
Which is all a bit sad, as interactive Virtual Reality (VR) is quite a neat idea. VR games already exist. You strap on a harness, put on a visor with videos in front of your eyes, hold onto the joystick and hey! you’re in a computer-generated environment. As you move your body and tilt your head, what you see
in the visor changes. Press one button on the joystick and you walk forward, press another and you fire your gun. lntense stuff, especially
when the pterodactyls come for you.
My legs were trembling and glasses steaming over after only two and a half of the allotted three minutes. In the film, VR is used as a plot device to turn the simpleton J obe (Fahey) first into a genius then, when combined with aggression-enhancing drugs, into a monster. In the process Dr Angelo (Brosnan, particularly encumbered
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with lumbering dialogue) introduces Jobe to various VR games and environments. These eight minutes, judiciously spread throughout the ﬁlm, are its saving grace. Just.
As the movie progresses, so the VR becomes more complex. First you experience an interactive wargame, then things become more complex as you zap through a game of Cyberboogie — a high speed helter-skelter— with the characters, and finally become a voyeur on a
an evolution during the movie.‘ Brad Hunt, Creative Director ofAngel Studios. responsible for the VR sequences, told The List. ‘We were interested in going as far as we could, given the budget and time constraints. Something which might define the new aesthetic of cyberspace.‘
Angel were brought into the project because of their track record on VR technology, but Hunt does not foresee Lawnmower Man-style games being available in the immediate future. ‘Computers are too slow,‘ he said, ‘we need a computer that’s 10,000 times faster than our fastest machine in order to do what the lawnmower man did in real time.‘ lfthe film is naff, it is hardly Angel Studio‘s fault, and Hunt readily admits it doesn‘t hold up: ‘but the computer graphics are great, so we are the stars of the show.‘
The Lawnmower Man (15) (Brett Leonard, UK/US, 1991) Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Fahey, Jenny Wright.
108 mins. Cannons: The Forge, I Falkirk, Kirkcaldy, Kilmarnock. Odeons: Glasgow, Edinburgh, A yr,
couple caught in ﬂagrante delicto in a ? Hamilton. A” UCIS. Glasgow. bout of VR sex. ‘We wanted to show j
The-List 5 ﬁnders” 15