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Film: Fast, Cheap, And Out of Control
Sunday, August 10, 2008 - 3:00pm
If narratives are arrangements of incidents with precise beginnings, middles, and ends, then Errol Morris's exciting and singular Fast, Cheap & Out of Control doesn't really qualify. You can't even call it a documentary in any ordinary sense, because you often can't say exactly what's being documented. Four men are interviewed separately in Morris's film--a lion tamer (Dave Hoover), a topiary gardener (George Mendonca), a mole-rat specialist (Ray Mendez), and a robot scientist (Rodney Brooks)--and they recount the origins as well as some of the development of their passion for their work. Who they are apart from their work almost never comes up. We do learn early on that Mendonca married his employer three years after he met her and that Hoover had a fleeting friendship with circus lion tamer and 30s film star Clyde Beatty, his role model, but these are the only instances in which other characters impinge on the professional concerns of these men. Even Morris as interviewer allows his own voice to be heard only once--when he asks Hoover toward the end, "Do you miss Clyde Beatty?" Some of the footage that accompanies the talk is conventionally illustrative--showing us lion taming, topiary gardening, mole rats, and robots. Some of it is more associative--showing us circus performers, a cavorting bug in an animated cartoon, and old movie serials featuring Beatty, a robot, predatory winged creatures, and toppling buildings. What begins as a specific illustration of something one of the four men is saying sometimes mutates into something else entirely, and what begins as a nonspecific illustration of what one man is saying sometimes winds up illustrating much more precisely what another man says just afterward. Many of the passages of black-and-white "found" footage from the serials begin to seem like a kind of dream material relating to the past and to the imaginations of the four men, who are usually shown talking in color. But the contemporary black-and-white footage of circus performers, topiary gardens, mole rats, and robots makes it impossible to mark the points at which "fact" gives way to "fiction" and life gives way to reflection.

What: Fast, Cheap, And Out of Control (1997 Errol Morris)
Format: 35mm Film
Runtime: 80 mins
When: August 8th & 9th at 7 and 9:30 pm, August 10th @ 3 pm
Where: 5th Ave Cinema, 510 SW Hall St. @ PSU
Admission: Free for PSU Students, Faculty and Staff with ID; $2 for Other Students, Seniors and Children; $3 General Admission

For more information:
PSU Film Committee