TIMECODE

USA 2000 - 97 minutes
 

director.gif (905 bytes)Mike Figgis

CAST

Jeanne Tripplehorn - Lauren Hathaway
Salma Hayek - Rose
Stellan Skarsgård - Alex Green
Viveka Davis - Victoria Cohen
Kyle MacLachlan - Bunny Drysdale
Holly Hunter - Executive
Danny Huston - Randy
Golden Brooks - Onyx Richardson
Julian Sands - Quentin
Xander Berkeley - Evan Wantz
Richard Edson - Lester Moore
Saffron Burrows - Emma Green

 

Premiered: April 28, 2000

 



SYNOPSIS

Actress Lauren (Tripplehorn) and aspiring actress Rose (Hayek) are lesbian lovers descending from the Hollywood Hills by limo, Rose to an audition, and Lauren, under the pretense of running errands, to keep tabs on her girlfriend, whom she suspects is having an affair. Across town, Emma (Burrows) unloads in therapy. Meanwhile, at the Sunset Boulevard offices of Red Mullet Pictures, production executives and their assistants await the arrival of Alex Green (Skarsgård), a mogul powerful and egocentric enough to put his various sycophants through exasperating paces. Green is conducting an affair with Rose, all the while distraught at his estrangement from his wife, Emma. He and Emma are having coordinated nervous breakdowns.
 

button_box.gif (205 bytes)PRODUCTION NOTES/IMAGES:

On November 19, 1999 director Mike Figgis set out with four digital cameras and a good-humored, adventurous ensemble of actors to explore the multiple realities of filmmaking. The film was mapped rather than scripted. The actors were given outlines for their characters and situations. The map also indicated where they had to be at crucial moments, and the performers improvised accordingly. A cameraman was assigned to each of the four story lines, and the four synchronous films were shot in their entirety many times over. With no mixing and matching allowed, the only editing Figgis did was to choose one take.

 

button_box.gif (205 bytes)MOVIE STILLS:

button_box.gif (205 bytes)POSTERS:

 

button_box.gif (205 bytes)REVIEWS:

"The story, by Figgis, is effervescent, enterprising and Altmanesque. It's fun, for a Figgis film, combining elements of The Player and Short Cuts. Figgis' direction imparts an overarching tone of improvisational, light (soap) opera. It's an object-lesson in television "Q" ratings: when the screen's full of stars, they compete for the eye less through emphasized action than with charisma. Figgis orchestrates the action as fascinating choreography and awkward silliness."   ...Gregory Solman, Film Comment

"Beneath the impressive technical bravura lies some wonderful improvisational acting, ranging from Steven Weber and Holly Hunter's low-key schtick to Richard Edson's careening anxiety to the rich, strong emotionalism of Ms. Tripplehorn, Saffron Burrows and Mr. Skarsgård, whose entwined destinies send this satire staggering toward the precipice of tragedy."  ...A.O. Scott, NY Times

"Technically, it is brilliant, and Figgis deserves a lot of credit for even coordinating such a Herculean effort. But his screenwriting leaves something to be desired. In particular, none of the characters is all that interesting, and the film-industry-parody-within-a-film seems pretty hypocritical, considering how pretentious this whole idea is. Considering they're improvising, the performances are surprisingly strong. Skarsgård commands attention as always, while Tripplehorn is amazing, especially when you consider how long she's on camera."  ...Jeff Vice, Deseret News

Of the principals, Skarsgård and Tripplehorn fare the best because they have created real characters and a consistency to their acting... The stories are woefully melodramatic and the climax, which should have been powerful and unsettling, is comic. 'Time Code' is more intriguing for what it attempts than for its story and characters. Undoubtedly, the actors and crew had a whale of a time, but the same is not true for the audience."  ...Louis B. Hobson, Jam! Movies

"This deadpan comedy/noir thriller about Hollywood breaks up the screen into four pieces. In each quadrant, one long, continuous take unfolds. Each part follows a different group of characters until their stories converge. The separate sections were shot by four digital video cameras simultaneously in real time, that is, the story on the screen takes place in exactly the time it took to shoot it, 93 minutes... It is an astounding flight of imagination - to say nothing of logistics. The technique is fascinating, but 'Time Code' turns out to be more ambitious than it is satisfying." ...Bob Graham, San Francisco Chronicle

"Hayek's sexpot role is certainly easy on the eyes, and the charismatic actress is a game improviser, but best of all is Skarsgård in his darkly funny role as a tormented, self-absorbed philanderer whose life completely unravels over the course of the film. His character's gradual breakdown makes the most interesting use of the film's unique real-time filmmaking."  ...Chris Grunden, Film Journal International

"The evolving world of high-definition digital filmmaking has taken a giant leap forward with the arrival of Mike Figgis’ brilliant 'Time Code'. Openly experimental yet always entertaining, here is a demanding film that demands multiple viewings to fathom the nuances of its twenty-seven cast members as they improvise about the streets of Los Angeles, their story unfolding on four corners of the screen." ...Elias Savada, Nitrate Online

"Figgis and his four cameras and large cast of improvising actors execute this mad experiment brilliantly... One just wishes that the actual text of the film were a lot sharper and even funnier. It's easy to take potshots at the excesses of Hollywood, and Figgis avails himself of that temptation. Nevertheless, the actors, who bring different styles to the story, are game, and some perform brilliantly. Especially noteworthy is Skarsgård, without question currently one of the greatest actors in world cinema today, as the doomed producer."   ...D.K. Holm, DVD Journal

"'Time Code' might better be described as a voyeur’s delight. It gives you the dizzy sensation that you’re seeing an erotically heightened soap opera of everyday life as taken in by the omniscient eye of a multi-channeled surveillance camera."  ...Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"There may be a story buried here somewhere, and even splendid performances. We could try to extract them on a second or third viewing, but why use a style that obscures them? If 'Time Code' demonstrates that four unbroken stories can be told at the same time, it also demonstrates that the experiment need not be repeated. Still, I recommend the film. Mike Figgis is a man who lives and breathes the cinema."  ...Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times

"An audaciously unique and exciting film."  ...Shawn Levy, Oregonian

"A potent blending of comedy, tragedy, and romance, this is a film obsessed with quizzing its own role as a cinematic text, and forcing those who engage with it to do so actively and aggressively. We are as much a part of the filmmaking process as the financial backers, says Figgis, why should we let those behind the camera dictate what we see? 'Timecode’s' radical departure from cinematic convention represents not just a staggering technical achievement, but a profound rumination on the deceit of filmmaking, the masking of reality in service of entertainment, and the wide range of possibilities and perspectives that exist behind every story."  ...Ronan Doyle, Next Projection

"The story is not the thing in 'Time Code'. It's the way in which it is told that makes this one so intriguing."   ...Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald