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No Such Thing (2001)

A modern day fable.

Original Title : No Such Thing
Director : Hal Hartley
Writer : Hal Hartley
Genre : Action
Horror
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Willi Bär , Francis Ford Coppola , Friđrik Ţór Friđriksson , Hal Hartley , Linda Reisman , Cecilia Kate Roque
Music : Hal Hartley
Photography : Michael Spiller
Distributor : MGM/UA Distribution Company [us]
MPAA Rating : Rated R for language and brief violence.
IMDB ID : 0248190
Official site : http://www.mgm.com/nosuchthing/
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poster for "No Such Thing" by Hal Hartley (2001)
No Such Thing (2001) - Hal Hartley
 

Starring

Margrét Ákadóttir Rental Agent
Robert John Burke The Monster
Robert John Burke The Monster
 

Plot

Disgusted with human evolution and a society driven by instant gratification and voyeuristic sensationalism, a foul-mouthed Monster kills anyone who crosses his path. When a news crew sent to investigate the Monster disappears, their ratings-obsessed boss sends a guileless young woman to follow up on the story. This young journalist forges an unlikely friendship with the Monster.
 

Comments

Cinematic Doubt Cinematic Doubt Spoilers herein. I do not know Hartley's other work, and stumbled upon this as a result of a Sarah Polley survey. And I am wonderously aghast that I had not heard of this film. I have a hobby of watching postmodern films about the nature of film and truth. In this community, there are some clever notions but they pretty much depend on quoting each other. So when someone comes seemingly out of the blue with a perfect, wholly original construction, it blows me away. Oh, there is quoting here, lots of it from `Forbidden Planet' and its source `The Tempest' to `Smilla' and `Dancer' and lots of obvious chintzy stuff. But it is all presented humorlessly in a sort of reverse irony and gives you `Mulholland Drive' -- a construction from the constructed characters -- without you noticing. Some viewers actually think this is a `Beauty and the Beast' story! The game is that what we think of as a constructed world gone awry is just camoflage for a world that constructs us. The two feed each other with seemingly no escape. There are some lovely devices used as outlining material. -- The use of Iceland as an originating location for myth. Very, very abstract as is everything else including the performances. But this gives us a visual registration for the synthetic space of this world. This sort of thing was tried in say, `Babette's Feast,' but just didn't work. Here, the rarified air of abstraction is helped by the odd, minimalist, hypnotizing score. Short of Figgis -- whose notions are adventuresome but mainstream -- I can think of no other effective filmmaker/composer, except by stretching the notion with `Sweet and Lowdown.' -- The weaving in and out of the influence of `media.' It is hidden behind an Albert Brooks-like game of selfish media. But there is more there behind this `Our Man Flint' facade -- it is not just a selfish game, it is the creation of reality itself. -- The wonderful dialogue, anchored by a sequence at the beginning. This would have been what the film crew would have gotten, but the subject took over and recorded himself. Opening scenes are both a promise and an introduction to the world in which you have just been dropped. There are few better. This ranks with `Farewell my Concubine' in that first scene. -- The use of Sarah Polley. She has made some very wise career choices, following a sort of Parker Posey model of independent filmmaking. But Posey's filmmakers are Hollywood wannabees or skitmasters. Polley has worked with Gilliam, Cronenberg, Egoyam, Winterbottom and now Hartley. She adapts to their peculiar worlds. I am amazed and appreciative of her work and wish her a long career. I am tentatively giving this my highest ranking, a rare honor. It is so intellectually novel it belongs with a few similar cinematic statements (from say Rohmer and Wenders) that both create and question themselves . (The 4 of 4 ranking constitutes not the `best' films, whatever that means, but the most important and rewarding including the most competently innovative. It forms my recommendation for young people seeking to understand their visual minds.) Ted's Evaluation -- 4 of 4: Every visually literate person should experience this.
 
poster for "No Such Thing"
331 x 475
No Such Thing (2001) - Hal Hartley
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