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No doubt, Contact's release is well-timed to resuscitate the original
and informative discussion surrounding the Great CNN-Lost World
controversy.  I saw the film this Saturday, and it's credits include a
veritable laundry list of media personalities from politics, journalism,
and other exposure-reliant fields -- Geraldine Ferraro, Dee Dee Meyers,
Bernard Shaw, Geraldo Rivera [ugh], Robert Novak, etc. etc...  More
interesting than the exstensive list of guest celebrities credited as
themselves -- a list long enough to make this film a sort of
(selective)snapshot of America's news/political reporting industry --
was the 'virtual' presence of POTUS Willam Jefferson Clinton, composed
entirely of cleverly recombined stock footage from hearings, press
conferences, speeches, etc.  One scene depicts a press-conference in the
White House press-room, shooting Ellen Arroway (J. Foster) reactions as
she stands on the sidelines.  The camera is tight on her figure and
face, next to her is a monitor ostensibly showing the TV feed of the
President's face being shot from the camera equipment that engulfs her
on either side, and the President's voice is rendered as coming from
BEHIND the audience, while Ellen Arroway looks over our shoulders at the
podium.  The effect is quite convincing and fascinating, in that it
touches on the character who does not appear theme also mentioned
earlier, much as Professor Oblivion in Videodrome consists solely of
recycled video content. In keeping with the way that Contact seemd to
collect recognizable faces like trophies, I found myself wondering and
waiting if President Clinton would oblige by presenting footage recorded
expressly for the film, or actually appear. I doubt it would or could
adversely affect the much-abused dignity of his administration a great
deal, and it would complete the cycle Reagan (actor turned President)
began by revealing the active president as an aspiring or practicing
actor...
        Additionally, I was struck by the relatively poor quality of the
virtual crowds, who seemd jumpy and spastic, like the animated audiences
in video-game backgrounds. It is ironic that digital effects masters can
convice us that we know what a dinosuar dead 80 million years looks like
as it runs through San Francisco, but cannot replicate a crowd of
demonstrators.
 
        Joe Lamantia
 
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