Review: ‘The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz’

Set in the present but infused with much of the same medieval-Jewish-apocalyptic imagery as his major misfire, "Simon Magus" (1999), Ben Hopkins' sophomore feature "The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz" is a jaw-droppingly juvenile slice of film-making that makes "Magus" look like a masterpiece. Beyond art school outings, pic's only audience will be the director's friends and family thanked in the end crawl.

Set in the present but infused with much of the same medieval-Jewish-apocalyptic imagery as his major misfire, “Simon Magus” (1999), Ben Hopkins’ sophomore feature “The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz” is a jaw-droppingly juvenile slice of film-making that makes “Magus” look like a masterpiece. Beyond art school outings, pic’s only audience will be the director’s friends and family thanked in the end crawl.

Largely lensed in B&W, with tinted sections in the latter stages, incoherent story follows a mysterious stranger (Thomas Fisher) who emerges from a hole covered by a garbage can lid and hitches a ride to London in a black cab. A total eclipse of the sun is due later in the day, and, as the stranger sequentially takes on the identity of everyone he meets (cab driver, government minister, etc.), chaos spreads in the capital, observed by a blind, corpulent police chief (Ian McNeice) who has connections with the Astral Plane. Humor is undergraduate, imagery muddled, and production values look like early Derek Jarman on a budget.

The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz

U.K.-Germany

Production

A Geissendorfer Films/G2 Films presentation of a Strawberry Vale production. (International sales: G2 Films, London.) Produced by Caroline Hewitt. Executive producer, Hans W. Geissendorfer. Directed by Ben Hopkins. Screenplay, Hopkins, Thomas Browne; story, Hopkins, Ben Cheek.

Crew

Camera (B&W/tinted, Metrocolor prints), Julian Court; editor, Alan Levy; music, Dominik Scherrer; production designer, Gideon Davey; art director, Jason Carlin; costume designers, Michele Clapton, Emma Fryer. Reviewed at Edinburgh Film Festival (Focus on British Cinema), Aug. 17, 2000. (Also in World Film Festival, Montreal -- Cinema of Tomorrow; Toronto Film Festival -- Contemporary World Cinema.) Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Thomas Fisher, Ian McNeice, Tim Barlow, Janet Henfrey, Will Keen.
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