Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Noah Hutton's just-barely sci-fi film, LAPSIS, makes smart, serious fun of Capitalism, Comcast, Amazon, Apple and more....

Imagine, I don't know, maybe a year or two ahead, with Covid and its permutations at least semi-controlled; a newer, nastier gig economy firmly in place; and internet technology evolved into something called "Quantum" -- which is the latest thing and necessary to have in order to not simply prosper but even exist and compete (of course it costs more, too). 

Quantum also requires a lot of workers laying a lot of cable to connect it all properly. This is the point from which the new-and-nearly sci-fi film LAPSIS -- written and directed by Noah Hutton (shown at left) -- takes off, and it's a point that seems so close to today in so many ways that I doubt most intelligent audiences will have any trouble following the plot and understanding exactly what the movie means to and for us "everyday people."

The movie's hero is an typical Joe named Ray (played with utter veracity and near-zero vanity by Dean Imperial, below), who currently works as a delivery man trying to take care of himself and a younger half-brother stricken with what sounds very much like some new variation of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 

When Ray gets the chance to go to work and make better money as a kind of Quantum cable guy, how can he say no? And so we're with him as he learns the ropes of this bizarre new "career," which, the more we find out about it, seems like the current shit-assed Capitalism (are we beginning to understand that there is no longer any other kind?) practiced by the likes of Comcast and its ilk, with working conditions akin to Amazon and Apple.

From the start, it's clear that everyone is cutting corners (Ray himself gets his "opportunity" via someone so clearly crooked that even his brother warns him not to go there). Soon enough our hero comes up against "unionizers" within the workforce; automated robots (below) designed to work around, if not outright against, their human "proles"; and some very large cubes (on poster, top) that might remind you of, hmmm, 2001, but that act merely as charging stations for this new Quantum process.

Those cubes are maybe the closest the movie gets to sci-fi. Everything else seems so everyday, it might be your next-door neighbor. And therein lies Lapsis' great charm and subversiveness. Even as Ray -- your typical guy who's so busy trying to make ends meet that he has given little thought to why they never can nor will -- is forced by the new co-worker/friend he meets (Madeline Wise, below) to confront what is really going on here, we, too, must look more closely at how our current economics and politics work: For the rich and corporate. Never for the rest.

As the plot's thriller elements unfold, Mr. Hutton's ability to connect all the dots comes beautifully into play. OK: He once or twice gets a little too close to preaching, but mostly his adeptness at weaving all this together into something socially, economically, culturally, politically significant is impressive indeed. And that expensive treatment center into which Ray places his brother (of course it does not accept any insurance) will give you the willies all on its own.

Alternately creepy, amusing, exciting and consistently interesting, Lapsis shows what can be accomplished when you combine intelligence, imagination, talent and concern. More, please, Mr. Hutton.

From Film Movement and running 108 minutes, the movie opens all over the USA and Canada via virtual theaters, VOD and digital venues this Friday, February 12. Click here for more information and venues, and think of this one as the perfect progressive gift for someone you love on Valentine's Day.

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