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FAST CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL

SYNOPSIS:
Erroll Morris has made several acclaimed feature documentaries, including A Brief History of Time and The Thin Blue Line. This film examines the work of four men; a wild animal trainer, a topiary gardener, a mole rat specialist and a robot scientist.

"Oh, the things we do! Here in microcosm is the stuff of our daily lives – well, some of us; lion tamer, naked mole rat lover; robot designer – and a man who shears hedges into shapes like giraffes. We see them doing their stuff, sometimes for real, sometimes in staged and specially lit scenes. With the inherently fascinating subject of real people at their specialised work, Morris hopes to create a cinematic documentary by aggregating a series of supporting images that attempt to expand the context of his stories. Much is made of footage from Clyde Beattie’s films in black and white, the famous lion tamer who became a film star in the early days of cinema, doing his stuff. Other images are also persistently used. But these eventually overload the film to the point of distracting, instead of layering the subject. He and his editors also misjudge the structure: the film chops into each of the four stories, cross cutting from one to the other to the next, as if our attention spans were lacking. Once again, this distracts and lessens the impact of each of the stories. Finally, I was hankering for some personal insights, some details about their more private lives, to flesh out the stories more completely and more satisfyingly. I did, however, like the soundtrack by Caleb Sampson, often reminding me of Philip Glass’ work with its insistent variations."
Andrew L. Urban

"Intriguing, surprising, informative and thought provoking, Fast Cheap and Out of Control is a fascinating peek into the world of four obsessed individuals whose jobs are perhaps stranger than most. From the lion tamer who outwits his big cats to the ever-patient topiary gardener who shapes animals from hedges, the mole rate expert and the scientist designer of insect-like robots. Glued together by a complex music score that adds texture and pace, Errol Morris’ work is insightful capturing the huge enthusiasm of each to his subject. Oh the joy of discovering that the mole rats use the end chamber as their latrine! What a revelation to discover that a four legged chair when pointed to the lion will confuse and cause him to forget his initial plan of action, which might include you as a victim. The topics are certainly riveting. My main reservation is the constant to-ing and fro-ing repeatedly between subjects. I would have preferred an initial tease of who we were about to meet, followed by an in-depth exploration for each one. What Fast Cheap and Out of Control does really well is explore the relationships between the individual and his chosen field, allowing us to ponder our own motives and techniques for survival, which are not so different surprisingly that what we see on screen."
Louise Keller

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0
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FAST, CHEAP & OUT OF CONTROL (G)
(US)
Feature documentary

 

WHAT THEY DO: Dave Hoover, George Mendoça, Ray Mendez, Rodney Brooks

PRODUCER & DIRECTOR: Errol Morris

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Richradson

EDITORS: Shondra Merrill, Karen Schmeer

MUSIC: Caleb Sampson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ted Bafaloukos

RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace, in assoc. Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 11, 1998







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