Film: Living in a Duplicate World

Film audiences can be easily bought, and from the look of things it’s not expensive.

by Michael Bergeron

What were once man caves are now bona fide entertainment clubhouses. Day and date release of a movie is a reality and the small percentage of people anxious to see movies in theaters are dwarfed by the amount of people enjoying filmed entertainment on their couch.

The mystique movie palaces once represented no longer draws breath. It was all a dream from a previous century.

Should writing a review in the new millennium concentrate on proper freeze-points to allow audiences to dash to the kitchen instead of a parade of plot points? “You’ll want to hop to the bathroom during the defecation scenes in “Nomadland” and “The White Tiger.”

One person who will remain anonymous asked me to recommend a good ‘background’ movie. “I want to put on a film that I don’t have to pay attention to.” And that’s where we are in the 21st century.

A Glitch in the Matrix

To call Rodney Ascher a documentary filmmaker doesn’t do his work justice. His feature films are an unholy combo of slanted facts mixed with genre sensibility.

When Rodney Ascher makes a film it makes you want to watch other films to understand where he’s coming from. One of his previous efforts “Room 237,” which was about themes in Kubrick’s “The Shining,” spurred interest in that seminal horror flick to the extent that theaters played it in a double feature with “Room 237.” The film also demanded a return visit to “Eyes Wide Shut” if only to confirm that the club where Tom Cruise meets Nick Nightingale does not have lobby cards of “The Shining” on the marquee.

Ascher’s newest doc “A Glitch in the Matrix” is sure to boost interest in the 1999 film “The Matrix” but that’s the tip of the iceberg.

The glitch portrayed in the Wachowski’s groundbreaking film concerns a black cat that gives Neo the sense he’s having a déjà vu. Only he’s not having a senior moment so much as he’s seeing beyond the veil of so-called reality.

Ascher wants to dwell on simulation hypothesis that suggests that our waking reality is a computer simulation.

Footage of author Philip K. Dick talking about this dual reality at a 1970s convention forms a bracket into which Ascher stuffs clips from films made from Dick’s writings as well as plenty of reference points from “The Matrix,” as well as animated scenes that form their own spine.

The rapidity with which Ascher edits cultural keystone imagery with bizarre newsreel clips reminds of underground mind blowing films such as Craig Baldwin’s 1992 “Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America.”

Needless to say “Glitch” is a rabbit hole kind of film. Ascher draws a line that connects René Descartes to Keanu Reeves with movies like “Groundhog Day” and “The Truman Show” contributing to the dislocation.

Some of the films adapted from Dick stories include “A Scanner Darkly,” “Total Recall,” “The Man in the High Castle,” “Blade Runner” and “Minority Report” and their references give the film heft. If that’s not enough Ascher finds everyday people who testify to a simulation-believing existence in plain talk.

Dick seems a bit paranoid in the film’s defining footage of him from 1977 shot at a convention in France. Is this just the way he was in real life or is Ascher’s vision of alternate universes something that should make people search their storage sheds for body snatcher pods?

“A Glitch in the Matrix” premieres in theaters and VOD starting February 5.

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