User ReviewsReview this title
"Teknolust" is this process, in small. To some, it seems dull, to others, thoughtful. Some find it obvious and crudely drawn, others see it as a symbolic metaphor. Some belabor the obvious scientific inconsistencies, while others focus on the human side of things.
This movie is something of a landmark, being the first(?) feature-length production to be shot entirely in digital 24P. The sharp visuals are the result of this. (No technical stuff, but 24P is a step toward making digital video more "film-like". It is interesting to note that the director still chose to keep, and exaggerate, the "digital feel" for the production.) Tilda Swinton is definitely a draw -- one of my favorite actresses, utterly fearless, and it is delightful to see her with so much to work with. LOVED her interpretive dance -- sheer fun! Upon considering the reviews which felt the acting to be hopelessly wooden, I can see where they are coming from. But it may well be that this was a deliberate approach by the director -- doesn't Rosetta tell Ruby to be "more robotic" on her web portal, as she is starting to appear "too real"? The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that the slightly detached acting was yet another mechanism to make us question what is real and what is only presented to us.
The movie features many wry little jokes -- I love that Rosetta's geneticist associate is named "Crick" (Crick & Watson & Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962 for discovering DNA) -- and I suspect that further viewings will reveal more. Lots of little questions, too -- like why does Agent Hopper have little adhesive bandages on his face, in different places during the movie? Does he have a disease? There are also some interesting questions raised about our reality in a digital world. How many copies are we removed from the original? At what point does copy degradation set in? (The copy center employee who is fascinated by skewed, imperfect copies is a brilliant concept for a character.) For many people, daily and digital lives are overlapping. What would it be like if they blended, with just as much casual copying and exchanging of information? (A virus is essentially an information packet.) Is "real" reality ultimately more desirable than digital "reality"?
I look forward to watching Teknolust again. With an open mind. And a touch of dream. And some friends, to discuss it with afterward.
This film is weird and silly and stupid. It's watchable -- I sat through the entire thing -- but it's utterly baffling. Things happen for no reason, problems are resolved effortlessly, no real tension to speak of, the science is glossed over and meaningless, the dialogue is goofy, there are holes in the plot that can swallow suns, and it's all very strange.
Some of the sets are interesting, some of the acting is just plain bizarre. John Kornbluth -- the fat, bald man from "Haiku Tunnel" -- is particularly out of place. The picture's well filmed, and overall it's a very unusual movie -- but not unusual enough to be good. But not so bad that it's painfully bad.
I have this odd feeling that there was some sort of metaphor at work here. Is it all about feminism? Technology? Lust? Finding yourself? What the hell is it about? I don't know -- and neither will you, if you can bring yourself to watch this film.
Warning: It's cheesier than a mouse convention.
So it should be something worth watching. Yes? But I have to warn you off. This is written and directed by someone with such a shallow understanding of the issues involved that it is a self-parody. There are some truly interesting concepts that could have been explored if the science in this science fiction was actual science — or even if the concepts had been coherent and the writing good.
The general idea here is that seduction, identity, experience, cinema and something she calls "technology" are coupled in a way that matters and is interesting and embodied in a "virus." Also that what it means to be a woman and to desire desire circumnavigates these four points of a compass.
Although Tilda is more than capable of layered seduction, what we have here is manikin attraction. There is no hint of real seduction, either among the characters or with the audience. There are copious references to films, important and influential films. But they might as well have been posters on the wall as they are not integrated in any way with the film we see.
The real problem is that the idea of self-aware beings, vlogs (here called "portals"), human and computer viruses, DNA, and semen are somehow conflated as if they somehow were equivalent.
Tilda stars as a young woman in a university near San Francisco who is a programmer/AI researcher. She is a hidden genius who is profoundly lonely, so creates three clones of herself, independent robots consisting of code made flesh. The three each "are" a primary color and are named so. Tilda plays these women as well.
At night, they "download" selected seduction scenes from movies as dreams, but are generally bored as they are cooped up in our genius's basement. Oh, our genius is named Rosetta Stone. One of the replicants, Ruby, goes out at night — Jess Franco-like — and harvests semen from males she seduces by repeating scenes from movies. The semen is needed to feed the clones and to reinforce their immune systems. Those systems are "infected" with the virus that created them — the self-replicating virus being what brought them into being. The men in question become infected with this virus, which leaves them impotent and with a bar code on their foreheads.
I'm not making any of this up.
After several dozen cases of infected men show up, some goofy agency is called that inspects these sorts of things, and a gaggle of incompetent males is flummoxed. At the end, the key investigator is seduced by our heroine (the real one), while our vampiress falls in love with a guy who works on a "duplicating machine" (what we would call a xerox).
Oh, the investigative agency calls in a disenfranchised expert: "Dirty Dick" played by a sixty two year old Karen Black, who scopes things out, but does not interfere.
So much of this is designed to resonate with me, just by the accident of what I do and who I am. But it is such incompetent storytelling, so lacking in seduction and coherence, so empty of insight that it harms, a disease. "The Love Virus," is better, as bad as it is.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
Although Tilda Swinton's acting in this film is fantastic, the film itself left much to be desired for me. The script was really weak and the whole movie got bogged down in cheesiness. The production value of this picture was pretty impressive, though. All shot on digital video, it was amazingly clear and the computer effects were pretty impressive.
I would say to pass on this one, though.
One great line in the movie that really got me rolling on the floor was when Olive tells Marine that a virus that she just eradicated was from an attachment, and Marine responds that "Rosetta was right attachments are dangerous". Of course, this was double entendre, one meaning of the word "attachment" meant email attachments, while the other one meant relationships. If you didn't understand this movie the first time, then you owe it to yourself to watch it again to catch all of these little pokes at modern life.
You get what you expect. I loved Teknolust. I suppose I should change genders. I am a male (or at least I was at last check). Grr. Or should I say Girrly.
For most male Egos in Bushy Amerika this kind of `Fem-Film' is out-of-bounds.
This is a film for anyone who wants a chance to chuckle at the absurdities of modern life. If you don't go see `Master and Commander.'
I just finished watching it on cable now, in fact, and before I started writing this review I dashed over to half dot com and bought the DVD - this is how much I like the movie.
My rating: 7, which is equivalent to a high *** .
Wanted to add here my ratings for the last 2 films I reviewed - I've decided to show my ratings in these reviews, and I forgot on the last 2. Being Julia ~ 8 (equivalent to ***1/2, low) and Learning Curves ~ 5 (**1/2). See my review of A.I. for the rest of my rating equivalents.
While I can't fully forgive the exclusive use of Apple laptops (no, thanks, I'd rather have a real computer), or the scientific faux pas which were liberally sprinkled throughout the film, I was mesmerized by all the Tildas on the screen. She is reason enough to watch this, no matter how many plot holes or implausible scenarios there are. There is wry humour aplenty if you look for it, like the tea made from used condoms. Multiple viewings are likely necessary if you want to pick all of them up.
I think this is a film made by girls, for girls, but it's the first one of that sort that I can unabashedly say, as a man, that I enjoyed watching.
The "R"-rating is inexpilcable. Does a film get rated "R" for showing condoms? The "sexual" situations are all implied, there is no nudity and I cannot recall any harsh language or violence in the film.
The special-effects portraying souped-up computor interfaces are all part of the thin-guise of sci-fi genre and the film's humor. A microwave window doubles as a networked PC, "hard-drive crashes" pun erectile dysfunction.
Tilda is cast in the most lighthearted and cute role(s) that I have ever seen her play and her deadpan-pretty portrayal(s) delight the eye. Her three-way dance routine is very entertaining.
I felt that the theme of this film was the "joy of Life" intruding into and dominating technology.
I've read previous reviews - but if there's anything "artistic" about this movie (apart from fabulous dresses of the clones and a single-driver car), please point it out. If anything "pro-fem", point it out. It just cannot be seen from the screen nor heard from the dialogues.
Anyhow, it might be the worst investment of your 80 minutes. Luckily though, not more than 80.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** The men that have had encounters with Ruby all become impotent and get a rash on their forehead resembling a barcode which prompts Agent Hopper (James Urbaniak) to investigate and it leads to Rosetta whom he quarantines. Meanwhile, a nerdy and virginal copy-shop guy named Sandy (Jeremy Davies) meets Ruby and they talk of how difficult intimacy is and leads to them falling in love.
This film is directed by Lynn Hershman-Leeson who is making her second feature film effort after "Conceiving Ada" (also with Swinton) and while she shows great promise in her ideas it's the manner in which her films are told that comes under scrutiny. I'm definitely not one that wants a script to be obvious and dumbed down for general audiences (God forbid) but I do believe that this story could have been a tad more self explanatory. It does take a concentrated effort to follow some of this story but I do think that if viewers stick with it they might find enough substance to keep them interested. One is the casting of actress Karen Black as a transsexual private eye which has become typical in some of the roles in her career. Leeson's film does have an interesting look to it not because it was shot on high-definition video but just a uniqueness from the bar that Ruby ventures to and the living quarters that the three clones live in. None of this means much without the performance of Swinton who's presence alone is worthy enough to give this a look and she does an exceptional job of giving all four of her characters a distinctive persona of they're own. The films script asks enough interesting questions about making copies in our own image and what people really want (or need) in terms of intimacy but the end result is a film that's amusing but comes across slightly cockeyed.
Remember those "corporate bs generators" that randomly chose one word from each of 3 columns to create phrases that sounded like they meant something, but didn't? I think the writers for this movie combined a "computer bs generator" with a "virology bs generator" and used that to create the script.
Lame, lame, lame!!! Don't waste your time.
All I can say is wow. At first I was repulsed, then I became intrigued, and finally fascinated. Tilda Swinton treats us to a quadruple role. Not only is she the shy Dr. Rosetta Stone, she also plays her "offspring" Ruby, Olive, and Marine. She decides to mix her DNA with an experimental AI program and the results are interesting to say the least. There are plenty-o-synopsis type reviews out there, so if you want plot details, etc - please look elsewhere. I can tell you that one of the scenes at the beginning made me say "EEEWWWhhh" out loud. But, like a car crash - I couldn't look away. The acting is as mechanical as it should be - no more or less. The overall look of the film is very glossy and sharp. It definitely qualifies as eye candy. Tilda Swinton does a fine job playing all the lead characters, and Jeremy Davies is completely believable as the inept copy boy. This movie has plenty of tongue in cheeky-ness. This surprised me. I avoided all the online reviews until I could see it for myself, and was ready for something very artsy and serious. It does deliver that on some levels, but it's not near as cold and stark as it could be. Overall it has a good mix of technology, art, and humor - in a variable order.
Rosetta Stone (Tilda Swinton) is a research scientist. Yes, that's her name. No, neither she nor this story has a blessed thing to do with language or translation. Rosetta has created three copies of herself; dark-haired Ruby, blonde Olive and redheaded Marinne. Are they clones? Robots? Some sort of virtual constructs? Even if you haven't seen this film, your guess is still as good as mine. They're referred to as viruses in the movie, but this script also suggests computer viruses can infect human beings, so take that for what it's worth. Rosetta keeps her copies hidden away in color coordinated rooms, subjects them to old Hollywood movies as they sleep and communicates with them through her microwave. Yes, her microwave.
Rosetta doesn't appear to have anything for her copies to do, so they basically just lounge around until nightfall. That's when Ruby goes out to find food for the copies. What do they need to survive? Human sperm. Ruby goes out, picks up a random guy to have sex with and then brings the used condom home so she can use it to brew up some tea. Ruby also runs a website, called an "internet portal" in the film. It's not entirely clear what Ruby does on her site, but it's enough to make a fan of Sandy (Jeremy Davies), a loser who lives with his mom across the street from Rosetta and company.
The guys Ruby boinks start going impotent and sterile with red rashes between their eyes that turn into bar codes. That sparks an investigation by one of Rosetta's colleagues (John O'Keefe), an undefined federal agent named Hopper (James Urbaniak), and Hopper's even more undefined associate Dirty Dick (Karen Black). There's a whole bunch of floundering around where it's never all that clear what's happening with any of the characters, leading to what I can only assume is theoretically meant to be a happy ending for all involved.
Despite the nature of the story I just described, Teknolust has no nudity or sex scenes. There's also no real profanity or violence. The dialog stinks and the actors mostly appear to be engaged in some sort of competition to see who can look and sound most like a department store mannequin. There's some decent set design but when you notice that, you know you're watching an awful motion picture.
I could never tell the difference between when Teknolust was trying to be funny and when it was trying to be dramatic, which obviously means it failed at both. As best I can figure it, this film is an attempt at willful oddity, like one of those off, off, off Broadway plays where everybody's wearing galoshes and speaking Esperanto. This movie isn't really that odd, though. Even with the whole used condom tea thing, Teknolust is like some suburban housewife's tame concept of weird. It's the crazy ramblings of someone whose creativity was burned out by watching too many middle school plays.
Unless you're entertained by stuff like a character who whispers for no reason or another who constantly has a band-aid over a different part of his body, like Les Nessman from WKRP in Cincinatti, you should stay away from this movie. It's boring and gets more boring every time it pathetically tries to be interesting.
In Teknolust, she plays Dr Rosetta, and her three dumb ass clone, Ruby, Olive and Marinne. To keep alive, Ruby must venture out of their colour coded basement to collect sperm from willing males, which is then injected into the three girls hands. Without this life saving sperm, they cant survive. Things get complicated when Ruby becomes a wanted women for infecting these pathetic guys with a mysterious virus that leaves a bar-code on their forehead.
Apart from that, the film is incomprehensible. Jeremy Davis proves once again what a poor actor can do with a poor script, and Lynn Hershman-Leeson reminds us why films go direct to video.
On the plus side, i must say it did make me laugh. Try not during the scene where the clones have learnt a 'dance' and perform for their creator. Its the worst green screen attempt I've had the pleasure to witness...
I saw it at the Mondavi Center at Universtiy of California, Davis, where Lynn Hershman Leeson is a professor of technocultural studies and art.
After reading other's comments, I understand this is supposed to be an art movie (many of the excellent effects wouldn't show up on my small TV and VCR), but the script seems like it was written by a group of stoners saying "Wouldn't it be cool if...".
The script shows a complete lack of understanding of how computers and technology work. How is it that the SRA's can "scan a hard drive" and affect "infected" people miles away? The laws of physics are completely ignored. Rosetta says "anyone could create them (meaning the SRAs)"...exactly how could anyone create fully grown people? Any scene occurring in a lab just made me cringe.
The plot holes aren't just technical, such as the SRAs can affect the stock market and use credit cards, but don't know what money is? I was impressed with Tilda Swinton's acting, however most everyone else was acting at the same level as the script...poorly.
I rented this movie in the hopes on a movie which might challenge the intellect and probe interesting issues in technology & ethics, but instead I was bored and annoyed at how it insulted the audience's intelligence.
I'll not bother criticizing the absurd computer-related technicalities because that becomes unimportant when compared to the flawed and unstructured plot. If there isn't a good plot, a strong dilemma, it's hard for us to become attached to the movie. TEKNOLUST suffers from this problem, and I couldn't care more about what was going on. If it weren't for three plus one Tilda Swintons, I'd probably never had reached the end of the film. Even though, the movie is slow and uninteresting. The deficient plot translates in lack of cinematic rhythm. It's boring. Luckily, TEKNOLUST runs for no more than 80 minutes.
Not everything is awful, as you might expect. Apart from the nice use of colors, be it on the sets or in the wigs and costumes, there is some kind of wittiness in the tone of the movie that keeps us from leaving the theatre. Nevertheless, what ultimately saves this movie from being a total disaster is the glamorous Tilda Swinton.
The result is a commentary on discovering what it means to be alive and the relationship between technology and creativity. It's quirky, comedic view of the future reminded me at times of "A Clockwork Orange" without the nasty, violent undercurrent.
The highlight is Swinton's sweet, funny portrayals of Stone and her three creations, each with s strongly developed character.
Most surprisingly and gratifyingly, donuts are revealed as a major nutritious staple of the future.