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The Final Cut

(2004)
Its nice to see a movie dealing with weird technology that isnt adapted from a Philip K. Dick story; here were in a world where implanted microchips can record all moments of an individual's life. The chips are removed upon death so the images can be edited into something of a highlight reel for loved ones who want to remember the deceased, from the deceaseds point of view. Those who edit these memories together are known as cutters, and the best cutter in the city (of L.A.?) is Alan (Robin Williams), a cool fish with almost no personality whatsoever. Alan is especially known for taking the memories of particularly unsavory people and turning them into upstanding citizens. When he accepts a client whose husband was involved with making the implants, however, his former protg Fletcher (Jim Cavaziel), who is now in cahoots with a protest group opposing the implants, resurfaces into his life and tries to pry the mans memories from Alan by any means possible. Its a neat concept, and writer-director Omar Naim thinks it through, from the protest groups to the seamy underground of tattooed rebels who use a specific sort of ink to block the implants abilities. We feel immersed in a different world, though Naim does borrow a staple from cyberpunk and has everything very retro cars are all from the forties and fifties, though costume isnt; but buildings are, and Alans enormous video set-up and his laptopare all made of wood (even the keys). This warping of the familiar helps the movie set a different tone and warns us early on that were in new territory (flashbacks are shot in such a way to resemble the washed-out home films of the sixties and early seventies, a neat trick). Williams delivers a very strong performance here. Alan is closed off emotionally as the movie begins (we are shown in a flashback at the beginning why), engrossed in his work; his friends, primarily fellow cutters, all urge him to take a break, but Alan lives for his work. He has a semi-relationship with a bookstore owner, Delila (Mira Sorvino), but she complains about his distance as well. As we get deeper into Alans head we understand his reticence is a front, but Williams is deft at slowly revealing his character. Cavaziel is good, but his character is less well-explained and his obviously fake beard is distracting. Sorvinos not around long enough to really make an impression, though she is given a powerful exit scene. Mimi Kuzyk, whom Ive never seen before, is aces as Alans fellow cutter Thelma, after Williams the best performance in the film. The endings a little abrupt, and the film, while clever, isnt perfect; but its smart, it explains just enough but not too much about its world and its technology, and the story is wholly compelling. This is certainly worth a look, even if you arent a sci-fi (or as they like to say now, speculative fiction) fan; sadly we dont get to see too many really smart movies any more, so you should check out the ones that slip through Hollywoods cracks. September 29, 2013

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