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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> December 1999 >> Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
5 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
December 1999
IMDB Name:
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997)
Errol Morris
MPAA Rating:
PG for mild thematic elements.

Unexpected Connectedness

Errol Morris has a reputation for making excellent documentaries. I don't know anything about them except that he tends to make unexpected connections between things. In Fast, Cheap & Out of Control, Morris ties together a topiary gardener, a wild-animal trainer, a biologist, and a robot scientist in ways that make an increasing amount of sense both as the film runs and afterwards. The editing cheats in some ways, allowing an unexpected combination of words from one of the subjects to be heard over images from another subject. Thanks to Morris's insights into the relationships between the work of George Mendonça, Dave Hoover, Ray Mendez, and Rodney Brooks, much of what the subjects say is similar enough that this is an easier thing to do than you might expect.

Morris also deserves kudos for a very clever bit of hardware used to make his interviewee connect more directly with the audience. The Interrotron allows the interviewer and interviewee to look directly into camera lenses and still be looking directly at each other. Since the interviewer and camera can't be in the same place, this represents the removal of a fundamental limitation in the medium. If you look for such things, it's not hard to see that the subject is regularly looking directly into the camera. It is much harder to recognize the subtly different behavior, but it's easy to enjoy.

Sampson and Delightful

Whew! Now that's a really bad pun. Forgive me. Caleb Sampson's score is one of the highlights of Fast, Cheap & Out of Control. His combination of interesting orchestrations and light minimalism create a musical fabric as interesting as the movie's subjects. I was having trouble pigeon-holing Sampson's style, so it was with great relief that I saw Michael Riesman's name in the closing credits. Riesman is a frequent collaborator with Philip Glass and was involved in the original score for Koyaanisqatsi.

Other Opinions

Copyright 1999-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.