Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control (1997) - A Quick Review
The rhythm is immediately immersive, as if thrown into an event mid-occurrence; this, paired with the consistent motif of the montage of the western pop-cultural motion media, both contemporary and historical, asynchronously bound to a sweeping score by Caleb Sampson, merges a sensation of nostalgia and memory throughout the entire work.
This memory is an uncanny one, as Freud writes, ... the uncanny [unheimlich] is something which is secretly familiar [heimlich-heimisch], which has undergone repression and then returned from it, and that everything uncanny fulfils this condition.
It's the memory of a culture, commenting on the act of civilization, gracing even the act of being, — it is a latent memory, exactly as described by Freud, as if something were trying to leap out of the material, something repressed, something felt, even glimpsed, but hidden away before any awareness.
There is never an attempt to literally tie the four stories together.
The superstructure of the narrative whole, as designed by Morris, is in its method of production and sequence arrangement :: the hyper-specificity of the four professions, — a mole rat specialist, a topiary gardener, an artificial intelligence engineer, a lion trainer, — the acquisition of hyper-specific advice, hyper-specific consequences, ... at such a level of detail, the disparate stories begin to resemble each other, not in content, but in relationships // in structure.
And suddenly all four appear to tell one story.
This is a metaphysical notion, albeit quietly, as the basic principle outlining the associations is one straight out of the classical Mystery schools, As Above, So Below; that all systems of organization are reflective of each other, fractal, of a resonance coming from a primary essence of all existence (the center is unknown).
This means the way in which a sincere and observant lion trainer describing how one of his lions orients itself within its confines — "Once they've established this is their cage: this is where they eat, this is where they sleep, this is where they drink: all their creature comforts are connected with that cage, - you don't particularly want to leave it. They don't really consider themselves caged: outside the cage is the cage, inside is their world." — is also a revelation tracing the highest orders of human and cosmic form.
Aesthetically this is the emphasized; an idea of the metaphysics through hyper-specificity; how every little piece is always in reflection of a larger mysterious Unity; something Morris makes explicit not in what he shows, but what he doesn't show; that being, the virtual object sculpted by the coincidental presence of all the elements.
Also, this was the first film Errol Morris utilizing the Interrotron.
In the ultimate form, all of this stuff is looking at Other. The exploring and finding of animals that have absolutely nothing to do with any control that we as a person would have, that feeling that you are in the presence of life that exists irrelevant of yourself. That's the Other. And the Other isn't something to be feared; y'know, people are afraid of new, different, strange, ... but to me it isn't something to be feared, it's something to be wondered at, and looked at, and explored, ... Perhaps communicated with, — not to sit down and have a conversation, — but to take pictures of it and see if you can get the moment where the animal is actually looking at you and you feel there is a moment of contact: I know you Are. You know I Am. It's not something that happens everyday. You have to go out and look for it.
Screen captures from Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control (1997) directed by Errol Morris.