SXSW Film review: ‘Creative Control’ blends comedy, sci-fi

A scene from "Creative Control."
A scene from “Creative Control.”

Director Benjamin Dickinson’s dynamic second full-length feature, “Creative Control,” is far removed from his early music video work for artists like LCD Soundsystem, the Rapture and Q-Tip. Shot in gorgeous black and white with an expansive widescreen palate, this drama blends elements of science fiction with a touch of comedy for good measure.

Dickinson also co-wrote the script and stars in the film as David, an advertising executive in the not-so-distant future. He lives with his yoga instructor girlfriend (played by Texas native Nora Zehetner from “Brick” and “The Brothers Bloom”) and has finally reached a level at his job where he has complete creative control over the projects that he’s working on.

David is put in charge of a fully immersive tech product called Augmenta, a Google Glass-esque eyewear line that allows users to interface with video and chat messaging, use facial recognition features and even record your conversations. The same kind of hollow buzzwords and phrases that are thrown around town this week faster than the speed of light during the festival can be heard during his meetings (“this is totally on trend”).

Once he brings comedian Reggie Watts on board (playing himself in what one can only hope is a slightly exaggerated form), it seems like things are all set to please the client and successfully launch the product to the marketplace.

He has an antagonistic relationship with his best friend Wim (Dan Gill) at times, but they mostly abuse drugs and drink to incredible excess with each other. As David begins to fall for Wim’s girlfriend Sophie (Alexia Rasmussen) while simultaneously experiencing a lot of friction in his own relationship, he gets lost in developing an “augmented reality” version of Sophie using Augmenta.

As he begins to perfect her features and make the virtual Sophie increasingly realistic, his own mind-altering habits start to confuse fantasy and reality.

Paired with a classical soundtrack that layers compositions from the likes of Vivaldi, Bach, and Schubert, this stunningly imaginative film uses stark set design and innovative effects work to fully flesh out its universe (which is indicated only through the use of electronic devices).

“Creative Control” screens again at 3:45 p.m. Thursday at the Alamo South Lamar.

Author: Charles Ealy

Charles Ealy edits and writes about books and movies for the Ausstin American-Statesman.

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