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Teknolust (Mark's Take)

01/05/2003. Contributed by Mark R Leeper

Buy Teknolust in the USA - or Buy Teknolust in the UK

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This SF film plays like a throwback to 1960s mod film making. It is every bit as colorful as intended, but not nearly as intelligent. It plays like a college skit but for the digital special effects that allow four Tilda Swintons on the screen at one time.

Tilda Swinton gets an opportunity to play four characters, frequently all on the screen at the same time in this colorful but poorly thought-out attempt at a science fiction film. A scientist downloads her own DNA into a computer program and with self-reproducing automata creates three versions of herself in a computer.

They somehow have the ability to jump out of the computer and to walk around as real humans. It is not clear anyone associated with the production understood what a self- reproducing automata is.

Teknolust movie review

Nor did they understand much of the other science alluded to in the script. Instead this film is really closer in style to a tall tale. TEKNOLUST is intended to be whimsical with a sort of Pop Art view of the science fiction issues, though more often the humor fails. The bright colors and somewhat vacuous scripting reminds one of the mod filmmaking of the 1960s.

Scientist Rosetta Stone (Swinton) creates in a computer three computer images of herself (called self-replicating automatons, SRAs, though they never actually replicate in the course of the film). Each has a key color, dresses in that color, lives in a room of that color, and has a name that suggests that color. The programs have a life of their own and can leave the computer.

If that makes little sense, it is not expected to. Technical issues are pretty much ignored but for the occasional throwing in of a misunderstood technical term exploited in much the way James Bond uses "Project Grand Slam."

Swinton, who plays four roles, three of them as computer programs, can be a fine actress with her best known films being ORLANDO and THE DEEP END. Here she got a chance to take a break from serious acting and play with digital technology.

Her acting is usually a little staid and almost deadpan, in this film it is actually wooden, though that is probably a consequence of a process that has her talking to thin air where a digital image of herself will later be placed.

Probably the best similar acting job under those conditions was Jeremy Irons in DEAD RINGERS. Swinton is nowhere near as accomplished at the same task, but perhaps the director was also less demanding. The timing of these self-conversations is poor with pauses just a beat too long between a line and its response.

That makes them easier to mesh but less spontaneous sounding. The film was written, produced, and directed by Lynn Hershman-Leeson.

This is a film with smirk, a sly nod, and a wink to the audience saying, "We know this is all pretty silly stuff and we are laughing right along with the audience." The problem is that the audience isn't laughing. I rate TEKNOLUST a 3 on the 0 to 10 scale and a -1 on the -4 to +4 scale.

Mark R. Leeper

Copyright 2003 Mark R. Leeper

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