Visioneers (2008) - Jared Drake
I have to say I was a strong voice in trying to get this one in the shop and, having succeeded, feel a little sheepish that it stinks so much I couldn’t even make it through the whole thing. My interest was, more than anything, the casting of Zach Galifinakis (of Tim & Eric, Absolut Vodka and Between Two Ferns fame). Visioneers looked like it might have the same kind of aggressively bizarre outsider humour to it that the above titles have, the kind of thing Galifinakis seems to do well. I was hoping to catch a bit more of this before he disappears down The Hangover, jock-joke, Will Ferrel-esque, repeat-a-comedy drain (though The Hangover does look pretty awesome). Alas, Visioneers is pure indierockmovie wankery. It has the same quality to it that I can’t handle in Wes Anderson flicks—comedy that takes itself too seriously. I’m sorry to Wes Anderson fans (I imagine there are a few amongst us). Also sorry that I sound so much like a high and mighty film snot too. I really am trying to steer away from that!
One thing that got me thinking while dozing off to Visioneers was the peculiar way that Hollywood portrays banal, suburban American life (and by Hollywood I mean popular American cinema in general, including “indie”). What I mean is that surreal, soulless, almost cartoonish image of the suburban (i.e., Edward Scissorhands, Joe vs. the Volcano, Truman Show, etc.). Visioneers has a similar quality to it. It is like we are trying to make the suburbs more interesting by making them almost “sublime” in their banality. I’m not a good enough cultural theorist to understand what the collective motivation for this would be, but it’s interesting to think about. Now I sound like a snot and a film school wanker. I promise my next review will be about something I liked (and I will not use the word “sublime” again).