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"Theoretically a much more paranoid conspiratorial phone-call"

Critic:

John McKeown

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Posted on:

4 Jul 2022

Film Reviews
"Theoretically a much more paranoid conspiratorial phone-call"
Directed by:
Jorge Villacorta, Michael Lake
Written by:
Michael Lake, Jorge Villacorta
Starring:
Jorge Villacorta, Michael Lake
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There’s nothing that isn’t theoretical in this self-described ‘Comedy, Crime, Drama, Horror, Thriller’ from actor-directors Michael Lake and Jorge Villacorta. Though ‘theoretical’, with its intellectual associations, is a far too flattering adjective. What I mean is that this 110-minute piece of filmed activity is devoid of anything resembling serious humour, crime, drama, horror, or thrills. The closest it comes to any of these genres is horror. As it left me completely aghast, not with fear, dread, or shock, but teeth-grinding irritation. Not least because they hide the incoherence of this ill-conceived product behind a mask of irony, which compounds the clumsiness of the whole thing.

 

“This exciting feature film has been inspired by the INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS DIVISION, created in 1950 to fight and promote anti-Communism through cultural warfare” the blurb to the film tells us. It begins with Michael Lake as ‘Intelligence Officer One’, speaking to camera, addressing an intelligence committee to explain that he wants the investigation into the assassination of John F. Kennedy reopened, and that he intends to pursue the investigation whether they approve or not. This opening ten minute segment is as clear as the film gets. The ensuing 100 minutes is exclusively concerned with Villacorta on a mobile phone outside some kind of mural monument, possibly in Mexico City. Who is this man? Our only guide is the blurb: “the Boss (of the CIA committee addressed by Intelligence Officer One?) must talk to the Pro Bono Spy Hunter (a ‘Pro Bono Spy Hunter’? Don’t they usually set spies to hunt other spies? And don’t they get paid an impressive salary?), his Valet, and face what seems ‘forceful replacement’.” The awkward syntax suggests that the Valet is the ‘Spy Hunter’, in which case the man on the mobile is the Boss. But, why is a CIA boss doing active field work? And very onerous field work at that, as he’s on his mobile phone for at least twenty four hours pacing up and down outside the monument-mural. Crucially, what on earth has this to do with the JFK investigation? The blurb also recommends that we watch the first episode of a documentary called ‘Hidden Hands, a different history of Modernism’ which, apparently, relates how the International Organizations Division sought to promote Abstract Art to counter the preferred Soviet Socialist Realism School of Art, because Abstract Art wasn’t (still isn’t) a good vehicle for promoting social ideals. I think I detected the mysterious man on the phone referring to something like this idea in the last few minutes of the film, but it’s very difficult, and very tiring, to try and follow what is actually being said, to whoever he’s speaking to (his Boss?).


One problem is Villacorta’s Hispanic accent which makes no concession to clarity of sound recording as he sashays up and down outside the mural, with the camera stuck right under his chubby chin. In a later section, when day has dawned, and the traffic flows, the camera pulls away and we see Villacorta in all his glory. Yes, Villacorta, as the film seems to be as much about a hilarious Him as any jubilant but nefarious spy. During this section of the film, Villacorta becomes slightly blurred (intentionally, perhaps to suggest the idea of a passers-by view) and his voice is drowned out for several minutes by traffic and the sound of a low-flying jet. Later we see, and

hear him, snacking in his kitchen at home, and - still chattering on the mobile - looking anxiously through the window, trying to detect signs of THEM, who are coming to ‘forcefully replace him’. There is one interesting line in this almost two hour sputtering body- and hand-held-camera jog through crypto-filmic narcissism: “power is just a tool to make a more comfortable life, especially if you’re a bit of a sadist.” That ‘bit’ surely must be Villacorta and Lake.

About the Film Critic
John McKeown
John McKeown
Indie Feature Film