Successfully passing the lie-detector tests, he's enlisted as an industrial spy, though this gauche, twitchy malleable milksop hardly seems like Bond material. Cypher uses some CGI flash, but sparingly and very much to the point. What Natali and writer Brian King are interested in is telling a story as rigorously as possible, and their mathematical precision is what makes this labyrinthine intrigue - a classic example of the who-am-I-where-am-I mindfuck puzzler - so engrossing and enjoyable.The film starts in some future corporate HQ, where a man called Morgan Sullivan (Jeremy Northam) reports for a job interview. There was no reason for Spielberg to curb his show-off urge to regale us with an entire plausible future world, while Natali has to suggest his world using a minimum of simple broad strokes. In fact, this is a far better film, since Natali's budgetary limitations means he can never indulge in superfluous dazzle. But as in the best low-budget sci-fi cinema, generic borrowings not only provide a shorthand means of telling us what sort of universe we're dealing with, they also provide a short cut to the serious philosophical questions that often underlie the seemingly cheapest, most off-the-peg material.Initially, Cypher looks as if it's going to be a cut-price answer to Spielberg's Dick adaptation Minority Report. Cypher contains bits of Kubrick and Spielberg, a paranoid worldview taken piecemeal from Philp K Dick, a heavy salting of Hitchcock, a lacing of 007.
Cheapness is one of Cypher's primary virtues, along with its derivativeness. Natale has a true B-movie bargain-hunter sensibility: like Carpenter, Roger Corman or Eighties cash-in specialist Charles Band, he has a recycler's dislike for letting anything go to waste. A close second is Cube, the 1997 debut by Canadian-based director Vincenzo Natali. Since the film was set entirely in a series of near-identical box-like cells, every set simply recycled the same few sheets of plastic as walls, lit a different colour for each scene. Such Lego-like economy allowed Natali to build a self-enclosed nightmare world, complete with ready-made pop-Kafka existential dread. Natale's follow-up looks as though it cost a few dollars more to make than Cube, but not that much.
The most inspired instance of special-effects parsimoniousness in science fiction cinema was John Carpenter's debut feature Dark Star, in which he took a beach ball, stuck on a pair of claws and called it an alien. It was produced in London on a budget of small change, but it's the element that needn't have cost a penny - the disastrous script - that scuppers a promising debut.n.barber independent.co.uk. Emotional Backgammon (15) is a British independent film about the battle of the sexes. It's exemplary jump-out-of-your-seat fodder whether or not you've seen the previous episode.
Daniel Auteuil stars in Petites Coupures (15), a French bedroom farce without the laughs. The Man Of The Year would be a smart indictment of contemporary urban paranoia if it didn't meander off in so many unrelated directions.Jeepers Creepers 2 (15) is a cracking teen horror flick in which a school bus breaks down in the sticks, and is treated as a sardine tin by a giant demon bat. For want of anything better to do, the killer becomes a vigilante for hire, and, as his stock rises, Jose Henrique Fonseca's film proposes that these days Travis Bickle wouldn't be seen as a psychopathic loner, but as a pillar of society. Parents who go along will get a few chortles from Alex Borstein's swaggering teacher, while parents who don't go along can rest easy: it's all pretty wholesome and bland.In The Man of the Year (15), an unemployed Brazilian shoots someone dead after an argument, only to find himself hailed as a hero because his victim had been a thief. Never have so many pre-teen fantasies been distilled so astutely into one film.