Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz (2001)

This has to be one of the strangest films of the year, a weird apocalyptic vision shot in the most mundane of London surroundings, with all too obvious budgetary constraints pushed asunder by the sheer energy of the director's imagination.

An extra-terrestrial, looking like an early 19th century bagman, materializes near the M25 and hails a cab. Soon afterwards he has exchanged his appearance to that of the cabbie, then assumes the body of a passenger, the Minister of Fisheries, and in that persona causes havoc at an international conference, unleashing war in the Far East. Later, having taken charge of the London Underground he reorganizes it to transport dead souls. The only person who has any inkling of what is going on is a blind senior police officer with a Ouija board and a more than passing acquaintance with astral planes.

In each successive guise adopted by the stranger more cataclysmic chaos entails until the Day of Judgement itself looms, with God portrayed as a nerdish security officer in front of a multitude of television monitors who whimsically decides to switch the Earth off in stages.

What makes Ben Hopkins' film more than merely eccentrically interesting is the extraordinary array of cinematic techniques he brings to it, providing a constantly diverting display of mood switches, visual pyrotechnics, and surreal jokes.

Hopkins was responsible for last year's innovative and somewhat neglected feature "Simon Magus" in which his talent for fusing reality and imagination was apparent. His new film quickly dumps reality altogether in pursuit of his quirky, bizarre and often hilarious perception of how the world might end.

"The Nine Lives of Tomas Katz" is released at the NFT.

End Credits

Director: Ben Hopkins

Writer: Ben Hopkins

Stars: Thomas Fisher, Ian McNeice, Tim Barlow, Janet Henfrey, William Keen

Genre: Drama

Length: 90 minutes

Cinema: 20 July 2001

Country: UK

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