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Fast, Cheap & Out of Control (1997)

Fast, Cheap & Out of Control may be Errol Morris' most unusual work yet. Morris himself calls it "the ultimate low-concept movie - a film that utterly resists the possibility of a one-line summary."

The film interweaves the stories of four obsessive men, each driven to create eccentric worlds of their dreams, all involving animals: Dave Hoover, a lion tamer who idolizes the late Clyde Beatty, and who shares his theories on the mind of wild animals; George Mendonça, a topiary gardener who has devoted a lifetime to painstakingly shaping bears and giraffes out of hedges and trees; Ray Mendez, who is fascinated with hairless mole-rats, tiny buck-toothed mammals who behave like insects; and Rodney Brooks, an M.I.T. scientist who has designed complex, autonomous robots that can crawl like bugs without specific instructions from a human controller. As the film proceeds, thematic connections between the four protagonists begin to emerge. The lion tamer and the topiary gardener look back at ways of life which are slowly disappearing; the mole-rat specialist and the robot scientist eye the future, envisioning creatures that may someday replace the human race.

The film's style is as adventurous as its subject matter. Working with Oscar-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson (Natural Born Killers, Casino) Morris utilizes numerous film formats and resolutions - including black & white, color, 35mm, l6mm, Super 8 and video, as well as stock footage, old movies and cartoons--to create a singularly impressionistic collage of images. Morris' trademark unblinking interviews were shot with his invention, the Interrotron, which allows his subjects to look directly into the camera lens and, at the same time, have eye contact (through an image projected on a teleprompter) with Morris. The film's unique vision is echoed by Caleb Sampson's haunting and powerful score.

Hilarious, sad, absurd, eerie and beautiful, Fast, Cheap & Out of Control is a film like no other. Starting as a darkly funny contemplation of the Sisyphus-like nature of human striving, it ultimately becomes a profoundly moving meditation on the very nature of existence.


Director/Producer...ERROL MORRIS
Executive Producer...LINDSAY LAW
Original Music...CALEB SAMPSON
Director of Photography...ROBERT RICHARDSON
Production Designer...TED BAFALOUKOS

Best Documentary, 1997
- National Society of Film Critics
- National Board of Review
- Boston Society of Film Critics
- Florida Film Critics Circle
- Society of Texas Film Critics
- Independent Spirit Award

Best Non-Fiction Film, 1997
- New York Film Critics Circle

Filmmaker Award, 1997
- IFP Gotham Award (first time ever awarded to documentary film)

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