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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Teknolust

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Jeremy Davies
Director: Lynn Hershman Leeson
Rated: NR
RunTime: 85 Minutes
Release Date: January 2002
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: James Urbaniak, Karen Black, Josh Kornbluth, Thomas Jay Ryan

Review by Harvey Karten
2½ stars out of 4

President Bush, playing up to right-wing zealots, is "offended" by the concept of cloning despite mounting evidence that the technology can cure serious illnesses. Maybe we can't blame him if he opposes the cloning of actual human beings since, after all, what if Saddam Hussein gained a foothold into that process? Osama Bin Laden? In any case the president might change his mind somewhat after seeing "Teknolust." Watching how one beautiful woman avidly seduces men, even those who look like Josh Kornbluth, even Dubya might have a chance with that centerfold material.

The sexy brunette who hits the streets somewhere in California is named simply Ruby. She approaches guys, even those who are so disorganized that they are not carrying protection with them, whips out a colorful condom for each one and proceeds to collect not their money but their semen. There's something about Ruby. The something about Ruby is that she's not real, or rather, for a while she's just a three-dimensional piece of autonomous software eagerly seeking to break free of her creator like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein monster. And like the Frankenstein monster, she does not like to be harassed (though she's pretty keen on doing the sexual harassment) and she thrives on affection. Cuddling is the one thing she needs to break free and become real. Give her love, love, love, crazy love and watch her blossom.

"Teknolust" is itself the creation of Lynn Hershman-Lesson, whose "Conceiving Ada" four years ago is a more complex fantasy contrasting the lives of a modern computer geek named Emmy with that of Lord Byron's daughter, Ada the 19th century woman who developed the forerunning of today's computer. Ada was played by the remarkable Tilda Swinton, a good choice not only for that pic but for computer-lover Lesson's current project, in that along with her beauty comes the vague feeling that she is herself an alien.

When Tilda Swinton's character this time around, Rosetta Stone, downloads her own DNA into a software program, she creates three clones of herself, Ruby Marine, and Olive. The clones and Rosetta are all played by Ms. Swinton and as photographed by Hiro Narita, their separate identities are flawless. Swinton can hug Swinton and you'd swear you're watching two distinct people clutching each other. Just as the U.S. must seduce some strange people in Saudi Arabia to keep America's lifeblood flowing, the young women need sperm in order to keep going and they don't mind men who look like strange people. They learn the womanly art of seduction by watching old films while they sleep, movies like "The :Man With the Golden Arm," and Ruby whose immune system is the strongest goes out into what is called "the jungle" to get her fluid.

The kicker is that consciously or not, the mousy, virginal bio- geneticist Rosetta has created women who can do what she cannot. She has no idea how to act romantic with men, leaving the clones free to clue her in. Despite the viruses that the accosted men temporarily develop which require their quarantine, all's well that ends well. Love is the answer.

The movie is remarkably short at 82 minutes and comes across mostly as a sketch for a fully developed comedy. Featuring the nerdy Josh Kornbluth (who starred in the abysmal ego-trip "Haiku Tunnel" not too long ago) and the interesting Jeremy Davies as a lonely, mama's boy-xeroxer who ironically lacks experience in reproducing (and who was hilarious in "Spanking the Monkey"), "Teknolust" gets an A for creativity but is difficult to feel other than respect for the job rather than what is prescribed for all of us--love.

Copyright 2002 Harvey Karten

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