Friday, November 12, 2010

Camera Obscura: The Zach Galifianakis Movie You Never Saw

Comedian Zach Galifianakis has been one of the busiest and most sought after actors in movies, turning in work on three different TV series, 8 movies in 2009, and much more on the way. He's hosted SNL after his breakout role in the movie "The Hangover", and has at least 5 more films ready for release next year.

By luck or fate, I saw his fantastically funny film from 2008, which was dumped on DVD last summer, because no one knew how to market this sharp-witted and horrifying dystopian comedy titled "Visioneers".

Zach plays George Washington Winsterhammerman, a numbed employee of the largest company in the world, which apparently runs everything, though we never really find out what they do. The movie has some similarities to Terry Gilliam's "Brazil", but first time filmmakers Jared and Brandon Drake don't go in for huge and crazy effects, they use the numb and understated world George inhabits to create their satire. And it is a brilliant satire touched with melancholy. "Visioneers" also shows off just how good an actor Zach can be. George may be dull, but we empathize with his search for meaning and the absurdity of a very sad nation. A growing cult of fans of his work will love this movie.

These drones of corporate living of the Jeffers Corporation in the movie are suffering a new and unexplainable epidemic - people are suddenly exploding. One of the symptoms, say doctors, is having dreams. Poor George has started to have them - and fears he too might explode. His wife, played by Judy Greer, blithely endures her dullness by shopping or putting butter on everything they eat or reading the self-help book "10,000 Things To Be Happy About."

But no one is happy - attempts to locate or feel such a thing, or to feel anything, is a near-criminal act. The corporate mindset so controls the world, all greetings are done by giving the "jeffers salute" - which is flipping a bird at someone. The legendary Jeffers can't pronounce the word "chaos" correctly, so everyone says it like he does, pronouncing the "ch" as in the word "church". Even the President is a dim drone who does as Jeffers commands.

There are so many expert jabs at our world today - a sleepless George surfing through television channels hits perfect marks; workdays are punctuated every 60 seconds with a recording of how many minutes of productivity are left before the weekend; productivity, in fact, is meant to be everyone's goal, since a profitable corporation is more important than anything else.

You can watch the complete movie for free at Fancast.

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