A TOWER OF BABEL
Zoom uses real actors, animation and comic books
It´s Brazilian, it criticizes Hollywood and it isn´t boring
The film Zoom, by first time director Pedro Morelli, weaves together three different narratives to satirize, with intelligence, the clichés of cinema.
Emma works in a sex toy factory. Inspired by the generous busts of the dolls that she produces, she has plastic surgery to enlarge her breasts, but then regrets the results. While she comes up with an extremely unorthodox plan to get the money to remove her implants, she continues to write a comic book about Edward, a film director who´s tired of making blockbusters. In trying to prove his worth to Hollywood, Edward produces an art film about Michelle, a model who wants to be more than just a pretty face and decides to become a writer. She retreats to a small town on the northeastern coast of Brazil. While she tries to avoid her pedantic boyfriend, she becomes involved in a lesbian romance and begins writing the story of a girl who works in a sex toy factory who´s dissatisfied with the size of her breasts…
It seems confusing, but the Brazilian cineaste Pedro Morelli, 28, in his first film Zoom (a Brazilian-Canadian co-production which opened in Brazilian theaters on March 31) manages to connect these three stories, so that viewers who don´t know what´s going on beforehand, doesn´t feel like they´re lost on Mars after an hour and a half. At the end of all this, Zoom reveals its true purpose: to satirize the clichés of commercial cinema. Attacking Hollywood is cliché for authorial cinema, but Morelli´s film brings a freshness to this critique without being pretentious and delivers an entertaining film with a certain pop sensibility.
Zoom´s main innovation is the use of various types of language: live action (film as we generally know it recorded with real actors), classic animation and comic books. The story of Edward (the Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal), the Hollywood director tired of blockbusters, is told entirely through drawings. When it´s being written by Emma (the Canadian actress Alison Pill), the sex toy factory employee, Edward appears as a comic book character. When he becomes the protagonist of the film, he is transformed into a rotoscope animation – a technique in which animators draw on top of the movements of the actors captured on video. The scenes recorded with Gael as Edward were transformed into 20 thousand super-colorful drawings.
THE COMIC BOOK WRITER
The sex toy factory employee who´s dissatisfied with the size of her breasts. Her pastime is writing a comic book about a frustrated Hollywood director.
Between one story and another, Morelli makes fun of Hollywood. Edward´s producer demands that model Michelle (Mariana Ximenes) stop having a casual appearance, that she should instead have an impeccable hairdo, wear high heels and have chiseled abs, while she drives an impressive sportscar (which enters the film due to the demands of the sponsor) and is then kidnapped by her boyfriend in a helicopter. It doesn´t matter that it doesn´t make sense; what´s important is that it appeals to the audience. “Zoom is a parody, a slap in the face about how trying to meet artificial standards is senseless effort,” says Morelli.
Tired of making commercial Hollywood films, he tries his luck at making an art film about a model who wants to be a writer, but no one takes either one of them seriously.
Zoom´s journey began in 2008, when Morelli was an assistant during the filming of Blindness, Fernando Meirelles´s adaptation of the novel by José Saramago. Even as a 21 year old rookie, Morelli caught the attention of the Canadian producer of the film Niv Fichman. Five years ago, Fichman invited Morelli to participate in his program for new directors. The catch was that he had to come up with an unusual story. So Morelli created a story within a story within a story, inspired by the American director and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, author of the trilogy of Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002) and Synecdoche, New York (2008).
These three stories by Kaufman have one thing in common which is the breaking of the so-called “fourth wall”(the imaginary divide between fiction and the audience, which allows the viewer to accept all that happens on the screen as being real). The fourth wall is broken when characters realize that their actions are not real and the audience is reminded that they´re watching a work of fiction. The German playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was a great enthusiast of this device, believing that it encouraged the audience to watch his plays in a more critical manner. The viewer remains alert trying to discover if this is a real story or if it´s happening in someone´s head.”Kaufman plays with the logic of the world he creates and encourages his public to question the rules that he establishes in his screenplays,” says Morelli.
Fleeing all archetypes and running risks for being so daring, Zoom manages to cast a fun, original and Brazilian look at the cinema industry.
To prove that she´s not just a pretty face, she gives up her modeling career to write a book about a woman working in a sex toy factory