Cleopatra Entertainment: The Shock of the Future (2019) - Reviewed

Images courtesy of MVD Visual

French film composer Marc Collin first began writing music for film in 1989 and though remaining under the radar for the duration of his career, Collin nevertheless managed to keep busy scoring films like Riviera, Kiss Me and most recently A Day, 365 Hours.  Around 2019 however, the musician for hire sought to deliver his own paean to the late 1970s Paris music scene which began to expand into electronic music with his first feature as a writer-producer-director The Shock of the Future.  A chamber piece set primarily in one flat being housesat belonging to a musician owning a cacophony of synths and sequencers, the film stars none other than Alma Jodorwosky the granddaughter of the legendary surrealist filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky in a film that’s celebratory of a style of music that was niche yet cutting edge at the time.

Ana (Alma Jodorowsky) frolics about a flat she is watching over adorned with electronic music equipment while also being tasked with generating music for a commercial project she’s not particularly interested in.  But when a friend passes through with a Roland CR-78 beatbox, she works out a deal for him to temporarily leave it with her so she can complete her commercial project and perhaps create her own personal project in the same breath.  As other friends pass through including a disc jockey showing off slick new electronic acts including but not limited to Suicide’s Frankie Teardrop, a singer named Clara (Clara Luciani) drops by to record some vocals for the aforementioned commercial project when Ana and she hit it off instead over a new track they rendered together. 

A movie whose small interiors take on a vastness when the camera closes in on the overwhelmingly detailed machinery of sequencers and synthesizers with the whole world lived by Ana largely existing inside this creative chamber, The Shock of the Future though miniscule and something of a musical revue with frequent needle drops proves to be a warm-hearted love letter to electronic music.  In particular, the film is concerned with distinctly female musical pioneers who changed the sonic landscape of listeners for decades to come.  Beset by a sexist alcoholic friend of the flat owner, hotshot music producers who turn their nose up at Ana and Clara’s creation and a generally male dominated marketplace more interested in Ana’s physical beauty than her creative genius, the film is a testament to all women who fought against the grain to have their sonic innovation broadcast out into the world.

Co-written by D’Elina Gakou Comba, lensed in 2.35:1 scope widescreen by Stefano Forlini whose camera careens lovingly over every corner, knob and wire connecting the synthesizers together, the film also features some original music by director Collin himself as well as numerous needle drops from Musiques Cerrone, Jean Michel Carre, Throbbing Gristle, Suicide, Supermax, The Droids, and many more.  Alma Jodorowsky is quite good in the role as a young innovator thinking miles ahead of everyone else in the room creatively and unable to help but divert from her preordained recording tasks to generate her own musical creations.  The supporting cast of characters who pass through the flat she’s watching are generally good though particular attention goes to Clara Luciani who helps her generate an original track.  Still, perhaps the biggest star in the room is the musical gadgetry itself which the camera treats almost like a living thing.

Released on DVD by MVD Visual through Cleopatra Entertainment, the disc includes an interview with Marc Collin and an image slideshow but otherwise there’s not much there.  A bit of a shame this is such a clandestine under-the-radar release as what is here should be an integral part of anyone interested in electronic music or has lived the struggle Ana has with putting her work out in a marketplace overrun by men.  As a collective revue of electronic music there’s a lot here that, when rendered in 5.1 surround sound on a home theater, is like having a rainbow of ear candy poured into the ear space.  As a microbudget French musical chamber piece, while small it proves to be a mighty little movie that will likely make you pull your favorite electronic albums off the shelf for a much-needed revisitation.

--Andrew Kotwicki