States of Control (1998) from Tuna

States of Control (1998) is arty and pretentious, very talky, has no real plot, and no clear point that I could see, and is a terrible transfer with nearly no color. Interestingly, the trailer looks ok. Jennifer Van Dyck is the focus of the film. As the film opens, she is experimenting with sleep deprivation, and says that she fills in what she doesn't like about her life with fantasy. I gathered that nothing that followed was necessarily true. The rest of the film has her doing one strange thing after another. She is not happy with her snobbish and impotent husband, she is fascinated by the director and the author of a play that the theater she works in is doing, spends time saying profound but nonsensical things to her girlfriends, leaves her husband, has an affair, then builds a bomb, blows up a New York Porn shop, and escapes into the woods.

Ok, I can buy all that, but then she picks up her snub nosed 38 for the first time, and shoots a rabbit in the head for dinner. Some critics compare it to Antonioni, I compare it to toxic waste. 


Van Dyck shows her breasts twice.
 Scoopy's comments: if you've ever seen Antonioni's Zabriskie Point, you know that Tuna and the critics are not that far apart. Except that your wife's best friend would not drag you to see toxic waste. If a critic compares anything to Antonioni, I give it a wide berth.

Personally, I would hate to make a film and have the critics compare it to Antonioni. What does that mean, exactly? It's incomprehensible? It's vacuous? It's filled with fuzzy, muddled thinking? It's pretentious? It lacks focus? Antonioni was the perfect candidate for "short attention span theater", and Tuna's first sentence above could apply to many of his films, except that Antonioni's films are beautifully photographed. (Although this director, Zach Winestine, once worked a camera for Kubrick, so he must know something!)

DVD info from Amazon.

no major features

The New York Times gave this film a strange, left-handed compliment: "The symphonic score by Richard Termini is impressive, and adds all kinds of cosmic significance to Mr Winestine's frequent, unmotivated cuts to clouds scudding across a blue sky"

I wonder why they made a trailer. 

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews on line except the New York Times (see IMDb)

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.8 
  • With their dollars ... it was shown on one screen in NYC. It is not known if anyone paid to see it.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a F.

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