Synopsis: In near future Brooklyn, an ad executive uses a new Augmented Reality technology to conduct an affair with his best friend’s girlfriend…sort of.
Release Date: March 18, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
It would seem as if writer/director/actor Benjamin Dickinson is making a play to become the millennial generation’s Woody Allen. First, he wrote, directed, and appeared in the hipster post-apocalyptic drama First Winter, now he does the same with the hipster techno-tragedy Creative Control.
Creative Control is about a young advertising exec named David (Dickinson) who lives in New York City, has a yoga instructor girlfriend named Juliette (Brick‘s Nora Zehetner), a fashion photographer best friend named Wim (Dan Gill from Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension), and a secret crush named Sophie (Proxy‘s Alexia Rasmussen), who also happens to be Wim’s girlfriend. David is tasked with creating an ad campaign for a pair of augmented reality glasses called Augmenta, which is essentially a suped-up virtual reality version of Google Glasses. When he gets into a fight with Juliette, he begins flirting with Sophie, and that prompts him to create a “virtual Sophie” within the world of the glasses. After a while, David starts confusing what’s real with what’s going on in his alternate reality.
Although it still has an avant-garde, film school vibe to it, Creative Control isn’t nearly as artsy fartsy as First Winter, and that’s a good thing – Creative Control is a much more accessible movie than Dickinson’s last effort. It may be full of scathing satire and witty social commentary, but Creative Control‘s depiction of its hero’s existential crisis does not feel like a comedy at all. Like First Winter, there’s not a whole lot going on narratively, with the characters just kind of meandering around and interacting rather than engaging in any real dramatic arc. Nevertheless, the controlled chaos aspect of David’s life makes for some fascinating viewing.
Benjamin Dickinson goes full Woody Allen in Creative Control; in addition to directing and writing (a duty which he shares with Micah Bloomberg of Stand Clear of the Closing Doors fame), Dickinson also casts himself in the lead (as opposed to his supporting part in First Winter). Dickinson also uses actors with whom he has worked before and is comfortable, so there is a natural chemistry that exists within the ensemble, particularly between Dickinson’s David and Alexia Rasmussen’s Sophie, and especially while they are communicating via text and using their eyes and expressions as opposed to their voices and inflections. The cast is also peppered with real-world personalities like Reggie Watts and Gavin McInnes that make it almost feel like a hip techno-docudrama, except that the events of the film are a little too whimsical to be considered credible outside of the suspension of disbelief that is demanded of a movie-viewing audience.
Will Benjamin Dickinson become the next Woody Allen? Time will tell. But Creative Control is an exponential improvement over First Winter, so he’s headed in the right direction.
Thanks to Benjamin Dickinson’s go-to cinematographer Adam Newport-Berra (All the Wilderness), Creative Control has a very distinct look to it. The film is presented mostly in black & white, with long conversational takes, captured with big anamorphic lenses, which are only occasionally interrupted by extreme close-ups and cutaways. Select parts of scenes have splashes of color which add an element of surrealism that never really lets the audience know if they are in the real world or just inside David’s head. The artistic photography gets a digital assist from Paris-based VFX house Mathematic, who supplies the hi-tech overlays and augmented reality effects which, at times, make the film appear just as chaotic as David’s life. The cinematography is really quite simple, but it is very effective for what it is. Creative Control has a futuristic look that still winds up looking both tasteful and timeless.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Benjamin Dickinson
- Producer(s): Mark De PaceZachary MortensenMelody C. RoscherCraig Shilowich
- Screenwriter(s): Benjamin DickinsonMicah Bloomberg
- Cast: Benjamin Dickinson (David)Nora Zehetner (Juliette)Dan Gill (Wim) Alexia Rasmussen (Sophie)Reggie Watts (Reggie Watts)
- Editor(s): Megan Brooks
- Cinematographer: Adam Newport-Berra
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Gina Correll Aglietti
- Casting Director(s): Eve Battaglia
- Music Score: Drazen Bosnjak
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA